January 30 is Croissant Day

[Updated: January 2021. This post is not sponsored.]

Nespresso Café in San Francisco

In 2019, I learned that January 30 is National Croissant Day in the United States from the Starbucks mobile app!

Starbucks app

I couldn’t find the origins of this “national day” to celebrate the flaky, buttery French pastry, but as a fan of all things French, I’m glad someone made it up.

Just for fun, here’s a round-up of my favorite croissant-related content, followed by a few pictures of my favorite croissants!

  • This is a funny Vine. They call it the “croissant drop” #relatable
  • I admit I say “kraw-Sohnt” because to me, saying it the French way (with the nasal “kwa-Soh”) outside of France sounds pretentious. Here’s a short video showing how to pronounce croissant in English

Canvas tote bag I got from a boutique in Toulouse

In southwest France, chocolate croissants are called chocolatines. Imagine my delight in asking for one by name at a Farmers’ Market near Toulouse:

from the farmers’ market near Toulouse

When I returned to California, I noticed chocolate croissants being sold as chocolatines at a local bakery:

from La Farine in Oakland, California

from CDG Paris airport

from La Châtaigne in Lafayette, California

from Tartine in San Francisco

from Urth Caffé at LAX

from Steak & Lobster Restaurant at London Heathrow

from CDG Paris airport

Ah, if only I could, I’d have a croissant in Paris every day!

Back to reality… I love the mini croissants from Safeway:

pack of mini croissants in a clear container

Signature Kitchens natural butter croissants from Safeway

I like to eat them plain or I fill them with Nutella, apricot jam, or chicken salad. These mini croissants may not be made in France, but they satisfy this Francophile just the same.

Enjoy your Croissant Day! 🥐

Donut Petit in Alameda, California

I learned about Donut Petit a few years ago when I spotted their float in Alameda’s 4th of July Parade in 2017 (see above). This weekend, I finally got the chance to visit the cute little bakery.

A little word about petit

Recalling the handy acronym BAGS (beauty, age, goodness, size) that I learned in my French classes, I know the word petit (meaning small or little) should go before the noun.

So while I’m tempted to call the charming little donut shop Le Petit Donut, I just tell myself, “Do not (be) petty!” (Donut Petit!)

Just a guess, but perhaps the name is supposed to sound like “bon appétit”…?

The pale blue paint, gold accents, and wicker bistro chairs give the shop an elegant, French-inspired appearance, as well as an inviting atmosphere. However, due to physical distancing protocols, there’s currently no dine-in, only take-out.

Behind the glass, I could tell they had creative flavors, such as lavender, lilikoi (passionfruit), and Mauisadas (Hawaiian sugar donuts filled with pineapple).

They looked appetizing, but I wasn’t in an adventurous mood. Instead, I ordered pastries that looked familiar: a brownie croissant, a chocolate twist, and a pair of French crullers – one glazed and the other with chocolate icing sprinkled with rainbow nonpareils. As a lagniappe, they gave me a blueberry cake donut.

I’d never seen a brownie inside a croissant before. It tasted OK, but it felt a bit strange to bite into a baked good inside another baked good. Sadly, the glazed French cruller was disappointing. I was expecting it to be light and airy, not greasy and dense.

Maybe next time, I’ll get out of my comfort zone and give their matcha or guava donuts a try! 🍩

Do you like donuts? I love maple bars. 🍁 Tell me your favorite flavor in the comments below!

An Impromptu Layover in London

postcard design by C. Foster

“Keep calm and carry on”

After my connecting flight to Paris was cancelled due to severe weather conditions, the airline gave passengers hotel accommodations for the night. There were several airport hotels, but to our delight, the airline booked a rather fancy one for my family and me.

Look at the gorgeous chandelier that welcomes guests in the lobby:

We spent a couple of minutes fumbling in the dark before we read the sign saying you had to insert your door card (room key) in a slot on the wall to make the power sockets and lights work:

Snacks we bought from Marks & Spencer and Boots in the airport:

Look! Mariah Carey is on bags of crisps here

Giraffe

flat white

fish and chips with a side of pea purée (mushy peas)

non-alcoholic Elderflower Collins

Breakfast buffet at Steak & Lobster (restaurant in hotel):

Our stay was brief, but it was comfortable.

Like it says on the umbrella tag, the lovely hotel provided shelter from the storm:

After the tasty breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and caught a shuttle back to the airport.

Finally, we were on our way to Paris. Or, were we?

Another delay

We experienced a 90-minute delay in London. The captain told us that he was not confident to fly due to an earlier issue with one of the instruments. This meant we had to board another plane!

While we waited for the tram to take us to the new aircraft, the captain invited passengers to visit the flight deck of the plane, an Airbus A320! We got to briefly chat with both the captain and first officer!

After we boarded the new plane and got settled in, the captain informed us that the ramps and passenger stairs were stuck and couldn’t be removed from the side of the plane!

About 30 minutes later, we were ready for take off. Finally, we were on our way to Paris, for real.

From there, we’d catch our flight to our third/final stop: Berlin, Germany!

*More to come on our visit to Berlin

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I want to share a few of my favorite things that I discovered this year (2019). These things are not the most expensive, most popular, most beautiful. These things are simple. But they bring joy to all my senses and that’s what matters! Check ’em out – they might just make you happy, too!

For fun, I wrote this list set to the melody of the Rodgers & Hammerstein song, “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

Come sing along with me:

🎶 Gratitude bracelet and pecan tea cookies

Tiramisù kit and ‘Big Island’ shortbread

Two ‘Frozen 2’ songs that I love to sing

These are a few of my favorite things…

 

Lavender chamomile probiotic tea

‘Typo’ metal pens with monogram ‘D’

Organic deodorant that will not sting

These are a few of my favorite things…

 

Croissants from ‘Tartine’ and ‘Topdrawer’ postcards

“Dreaming Time Again” and “Reasons I Drink” –

Feelings of nostalgia these new songs bring

These are a few of my favorite things… 🎶

Gratitude bracelet from Energy Muse:

from Energy Muse

Image: Energy Muse

Pecan Tea Cookies from Specialty’s:

Tiramisù kit by Forno Bonomi:

From World Market

Image: World Market

Assorted Shortbread from Big Island Candies:

From Big Island Candies

Image: Big Island Candies

Initial Ballpoint Pen by Typo/Cotton On:

From Cotton On

Image: Typo/Cotton On

Organic deodorant by EO:

From EO Products

Image: EO Products

Croissants from Tartine Bakery:

 

Postcards from Topdrawer:

Music:

What are a few of your favorite things? Tell me in the comments below!

Note: this post is not sponsored and the links provided are for informational purposes only

Two French Bakeries and the Blue House in San Francisco

In my blog post, If You’re Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Watch These Videos Filmed There,” I described how a blue house in San Francisco inspired Maxime Le Forestier to write a French song entitled, “San Francisco.”

I recently got the chance to see the house on 18th Street made famous by the song:

I happened to walk past la maison bleue en route from one French bakery to another French bakery! Quelle coïncidence!

Tartine (600 Guerrero Street)

Ever since my colleague told me about Tartine, a French bakery in the Castro District that he and his wife liked to frequent for brunch, I’d been wanting to go. Thankfully, I relied on my Maps app to find it.

There’s no sign on the building with “Tartine” on it, but you’ll know you’re at the right place when you spot the line out the door. Was the patisserie trying to be unassuming or anonymous? Either way, I figured it added to the mystique.

Once inside, it’s a tight squeeze. I did notice that people were pretty good about eating then promptly leaving so other patrons could have a seat. There were a few tables and chairs outside, too.

While you wait, you can read their laminated menus while you hum along to pop music they play inside at a deafening volume. (Maybe that helps clear the tables…Brilliant!)

Don’t expect service with a smile, though. I got the impression that the people behind the counter and pastry case take themselves too seriously. Fortunately, I have the superpower to tune out the ‘tude and focus on what I came here for:

The pain au chocolat was divine. A billion buttery and flaky layers with gooey dark chocolate inside. My cafe au lait was served in a bowl, like they do in Paris!

Le Marais Bakery (498 Sanchez Street)

I had read positive reviews for another French bakery called Le Marais Bakery. It was three blocks away from Tartine, so I decided to check it out while I was in the neighborhood.

This chocolate chip cookie was delicious:

On that note, have a sweet day! 🍪

How Jewel Made Me Think of Breakfast

“I got my eggs and my pancakes, too/ I got my maple syrup, everything but you…”

-from “You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel (J. Kilcher/S. Poltz)

Today (May 23) is Jewel‘s birthday! I heard this hit song of hers the other day and its delicious lyrics inspired this post about my favorite meal of the day: Breakfast!

Breakfast, you were meant for me

Any time of day, I can eat traditional American breakfast foods, like yogurt with granola, bacon, sausage, hash browns, fluffy buttermilk pancakes with butter and maple syrup, and bagels with lox and cream cheese, to name a few.

But on weekday mornings, when I’m pressed for time, breakfast is something simple. I’ll grab a fruit or pastry to eat with coffee before I head out the door.

Here are some breakfast foods I enjoy when I have a little more time to savor them.

Homemade breakfast:

My younger daughter made this Egg in the Basket

In France, I remember enjoying a tartine, or toasted baguette with butter or homemade apricot jam. I remember the sweetest Joker orange juice, too:

Le petit-déjeuner chez M. Didier

Sometimes I’ll try to recreate it:

Breakfast in restaurants:

that’s not a saucer, that’s a plate! Giant butter croissant from Piedmont Café & Bakery in Oakland, California

avocado toast from The Bistro in Rancho Cordova, California

When you make eggs, do you “break the yolks and make a smiley face” like Jewel sings in her song? 😀

I’m curious about breakfast foods from around the world!

Tell me in the comments below: What’s your favorite breakfast?

La Farine: French bakery in Oakland

This photo was taken at the Rockridge location of La Farine, a French boulangerie and pâtisserie in Oakland, California:

I’m tickled that “chocolatine” is catching on outside of Toulouse, France, where I learned that’s what they call a chocolate croissant (also known as pain au chocolat)!

chocolate éclair, shortbread, and a chocolate espresso cookie from La Farine

I wanted coffee to go with my chocolate espresso cookie, but learned that they stop making coffee at 4:30. So I went next door and got a cappuccino from Peet’s instead.

Overall, it was a nice Sunday afternoon break!

My related post:

Farmers’ Market (link)

For more information:

La Farine (link)

La Châtaigne: French bakery in Lafayette, California

La Châtaigne is a French bakery located in Lafayette, California (about 22 miles/34 km east of San Francisco).

Located in La Fiesta Square, the patisserie overlooks the parking lot, so there isn’t much of a view, but it’s perfect so you can enjoy your pastries and conversations.

My family and I got to La Châtaigne around 12:30 on a Sunday. Maybe we should have arrived earlier because their display case was half-empty (or half-full for those of you who are optimists!)

The cashier was quick to acknowledge the slim pickings, but apologized, and pointed out what was left: madeleines, a couple of leaf-shaped breads (fougasse), about a dozen croissants, several slices of Opera cake, and one slice of quiche.

no brewed coffee, only espresso drinks here!

the bakery also sold jam, caramels, and candies from France

In a few ways, it was like being temporarily transported to a Parisian bistro. For example, there were small tables with wicker chairs. There were dogs tied to table legs by their leashes. There were a couple of well-dressed ladies clutching their designer handbags. You could hear the Madeleine Peyroux version of “J’ai deux amours” emanating softly from inside the bakery.

I’d be reminded I was in California, though, when I’d see the occasional cyclist or 20-something in yoga pants come through. Also notably absent were ashtrays on the tables and cigarette smoke. Unlike Paris, smoking is banned in many public places in California.

Overall, I liked this little bakery. I like how it has the grab and go feel of a donut shop, but with the sit-down experience of having your food brought to your table on actual plates and cups. The pain au chocolat was fresh baked, buttery, and flaky. The Americano was delicious, as well. I’d like to come back to try their other pastries.

For more information, visit the La Châtaigne website

Bonne journée / Enjoy your day!

Have you been to La Châtaigne? Tell me in the comments below!

Farmers’ Market Near Toulouse

One of my favorite things to do with my family is visiting market halls and open-air farmers’ markets. I love the idea that many food vendors prepare their artisan cuisine on site using fresh ingredients produced by local farmers. I appreciate the abundance and the variety. Plus, I love the possibility of discovering something new.

I’ll never forget the time I went with François, Rachael, and their boys to the Sunday Farmers’ Market in Tournefeuille (about 12 km/7.46 miles from Toulouse in southwest France). In addition to food grown locally, the market featured produce from other countries in Europe, as well as Asia, and Africa. Talk about a treat for the senses!

I marveled at all kinds of marinated olives from Morocco…

There were organic Medjool dates from Israel, fennel from Italy, and dried apricots from Tunisia. I also saw deep purple eggplants, bright green avocados, and Napa cabbage from Spain.

I heard the tapping noise of a steel skimmer spoon as the chef scooped a generous portion of his aromatic paella from a 3-foot wide pan into a paper container for a customer…

I was mesmerized by the machine making radiatori pasta. François got some fresh mushroom ravioli, which he made with a rich and creamy Parmesan sauce for dinner that evening.

6FF4E806-6DC1-47B4-BA82-A01D256A0432

I remember seeing jars of what looked like foie gras (fatty liver of duck or goose) and feeling a bit guilty. I know I shouldn’t have felt bad since the delicacy is not banned in France like it is in California. On the other hand, seeing the French-style salami had me hankering for a saucisson-beurre-cornichon (sausage, butter, and mini pickle) sandwich!

B0BDF52D-0C4A-4EAF-8784-27779641120E

One of the things I enjoy most at farmers’ markets is the aroma of fresh baked bread. When I noticed the man selling fresh baked baguettes and pastries had one chocolate croissant left, I had to have it!

img_6596

For breakfast, I usually have yogurt, a banana, and dark roast coffee with a splash of half-and-half. When I want to treat myself, I have a butter croissant. And when I really want to be indulgent, I have a chocolate croissant. I learned that, in France, these goodies are called different names depending on the region.

pain au chocolat in Paris

So when I ordered the chocolate croissant, I was delighted to ask for it by name the Toulousain way: Je voudrais une chocolatine, s’il vous plaît!