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Because Missing Out Is Never Fun!

Family Cookie Company

Discounted ice cream?  Yes, please!

Family Cookie Company
302 Spring Street
Suisun City, CA

Should you find yourself in Solano County with a hankerin’ for ice cream sandwiches, you’re in luck!

The first time I stepped inside the Family Cookie Company, I knew something special was brewing there.  Then, the nice young lady behind the counter explained why the bakery is so unique.

The Family Cookie Company isn’t your typical bakery.  This humble operation supplies the irresistible cookies found in It’s-It ice cream treats; you can even buy It’s-Its by the case at largely discounted prices here.  At a mere buck apiece, I was able to stock up on Big Daddys, Super Sundaes, and several varieties of the original It’s-Its including the elusive Cappuccino that is hard to find.  If you think your trip home might be too lengthy for ice cream to survive, make a mental note for next time (or hold an ice cream-eating contest on the way home).  You can still buy cases of their tasty doughs in a myriad of flavors including Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate Macadamia, and Snickerdoodle.

Now that you’ve read this, pay a visit to this bakery that’s been in business for over three decades…and don’t forget your cooler!

Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting


Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting
109 Locust Street
Santa Cruz, CA
Buttercup Cakes on Urbanspoon

I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes, so the fact that I visited this adorable bakery twice in 24 hours should tell you something.

Let me clarify that a little: I’m not a huge fan of the CONCEPT of cupcakes.  I like food to be mobile, so walking around while peeling a fluted paper cup off of a top-heavy baked good tends to make both me and my outfit nervous.  At least it did during my visit as part of the Santa Cruz Food Tour.

Buttercup Cakes was one of the highlights of this tour.  I was offered a choice between a Blood Orange Cupcake with Earl Grey Frosting and…something else.  I pretty much ignored anything else that was said after “blood orange” since I’d never heard those words in the same sentence as “cupcake”.

I took my cupcake and trotted off down the street, but came to a screeching halt after one bite.  What the?!  This bite was infused with flavor and my taste buds exploded!  A rich orange flavor permeated the thick cake without being too sugary-sweet, and the delicate tea frosting was the perfect foil.  It was unique without being over-the-top, and a far cry from the lesser impressive cupcakes at so many shops which have popped up recently.

I planted my feet until the last crumb was finished and made sure any frosting on my fingers wasn’t wasted on my silly paper napkin.  I found myself back in the shop less than 24 hours later, stockpiling German Chocolates and other delicacies that didn’t last long on the car ride back to the valley.

Petaluma Pie Company

You don't have to tell me twice...

Petaluma Pie Company
125 Petaluma Boulevard
Petaluma, CA
Petaluma Pie Company on Urbanspoon

Nestled in a shady courtyard a few yards from bustling Petaluma Boulevard is the Petaluma Pie Company, teasing passersby with smells of fresh-baked, buttery pie crusts oozing with hot fruit mixtures or savory meat fillings.

There’s not much to the interior of the bakeshop; then again, what more do you need other than a coffee condiment bar, a glass case displaying glistening fruit pies, a menu listing that day’s savory pie options, and a few tables where you can sit and scarf it all down?

A “Hand Pie” sounded a little more reasonable that a pot pie or beef-filled concoction so early in the morning, so my buddy and I each ordered the Bacon & Egg, an option not on the menu board but suggested by the nice girl behind the counter.  We settled at a table outside with delightful views of a speakeasy and local tattoo shop before stabbing into the golden crust with our three-pronged forks.

A flaky crust sealed and crimped in an empanada-style half-moon encased fluffy scrambled egg and crispy bacon.  This would be a great snack to have handy while window-shopping if you’re not prone to getting pie crust shards stuck in your lipstick like I am (classy).

Try their sweet and savory options, and wait to apply your lipstick until after breakfast.

Randy's Donuts

My kind of famous in L.A.!

Randy's Donuts
805 W. Manchester Boulevard
Inglewood, CA
Randy's Donuts on Urbanspoon

To be honest, I came for the photo opp.  Giant donut on a roof?  Check.  Camera?  Check.

Eating was an afterthought, given the fact that the previous day I enjoyed a double-cupcake breakfast.

I couldn't resist, though; everyone seemed to be salivating over the smells of sugar, cinnamon and coffee that wafted from the kitchen and into the otherwise smoggy LA County air.  I chose a chocolate cake donut, and managed to shove each last tender, fudgy crumb into my mouth in seconds.  A jelly-filled monstrosity was saved for my mid-morning "snack".

Will I be back?  Maybe not for a repeat snapshot, but definitely for an apple fritter…tomorrow.

Gayle's Bakery

Drop your jaw in 3...2...

Gayle's Bakery
504 Bay Avenue
Capitola, CA
Gayle's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Beach eats aren't just limited to cotton candy and corn dogs (not that there's anything wrong with that!); truly outstanding dining options can be found if you're willing to wander inland a bit. Gayle's Bakery is one of these spots in laid-back Capitola. 

"Bakery" may be a bit of a misnomer, since they offer so much more than your typical neighborhood bakery. Walking in, I noticed what seemed to be a neverending glass case and counter that snaked around a corner and ended at the other side of the building next to the espresso bar.  At the front was a wide variety of hot deli items such as thick, eggy casseroles, roasted meats, pastas and sandwiches made-to-order. Moving down the line I encountered dozens and dozens of mouth-watering flaky pastries, sky-high cakes, plump pies, tarts and unique breads.  The full-service espresso bar was the finish line where I ordered a mocha before finding a window seat to watch locals walk their dogs and diners devour humongous fruit and cheese danishes.

I wanted a hot breakfast this particular morning, and the scents from the casseroles accosted my nostrils when I walked in.  A huge pan of Fresh Corn Frittata was staring me in the face and I thought this would be an interesting, more healthy alternative to a croissant.  A large square was dished up and my fork plunged into the light and tender egg mixed with cheese, fresh corn kennels and a few secret ingredients.  It was rich, like a quiche, but light and airy at the same time.  Corn kernels added a distinct crunch to the soft texture and it all came together as it melted in my mouth.

My mocha now seemed to be an odd pairing, but it all somehow worked; and minutes later, I found myself completely satisfied...but sneaking bites of my friend's croissant for good measure.

Donut Factory

Next time I'm not sharing.

Donut Factory
23 Fair Lane
Placerville, CA

A co-worker told me about the cabeza-sized cinnamon rolls here.

When my boyfriend and I woke up one Saturday at 5:15am to get ready for a big 7:00am yard sale, only to find I was a week early, we naturally decided to take a road trip for breakfast (after my boyfriend shook his head in disappointment, of course).

So there we were, after only four hours of sleep, driving 45 minutes to a non-descript donut shop
in the middle of Placerville.

We walked in and immediately spotted the oversized treats.  I told the lady behind the counter that we drove all the way from Elk Grove for these cinnamon rolls because of a co-worker's suggestion, and she mumbled something in a mysterious Asian (?) language to her husband (?) and he exclaimed, "Really?" as if we were crazy.

Moments later, we tore into the embarrassingly large monstrosity, exposing gooey layers of warm pastry, butter, cinnamon and cream cheese frosting.  You can choose between cream cheese frosting and sugar icing, but is that really a choice?  Cream cheese wins every time. My half was washed down with a delicious White Mocha, because clearly there wasn't enough sugar already involved.

I'm never going to pass through Placerville again without snagging one of these.  Now, that would be crazy.

Sweetie Pies

Innocent facade.  Sweet, sweet evil inside!

Sweetie Pies
520 Main Street
Napa, CA
Sweetie Pies on Urbanspoon

I'm not sure what it is about travelling that makes me want to devour everything in sight, but that's precisely how I felt during a quick afternoon trip to Napa last Saturday.

I have a sweet tooth.  Not one that causes me to crave a mint after dinner, but rather one that makes me want to shovel fistfuls of sugary anything into my mouth even after eating a four-course meal.  On this particular afternoon, I had just begun my attempt at digesting chowder and half (I swear!) a tri-tip sandwich as I walked by Sweetie Pies.

This adorable little bake shop sells pies - and lots of them - in both standard and individual sizes.  I had my eye on an individual Strawberry Rhubarb, glistening with juices from beneath its clear to-go packaging, until I spied cream-filled cake rolls, chocolate-dipped cupcakes and jars full of moist, chewy cookies.

I chose a towering Raspberry Coconut bar cookie that featured a thick, luscious layer of tart jam sandwiched between coconut streusel and the heftiest graham cracker crust I've ever seen.  I somehow made my way through a small crowd snaking around the pastry cases only to find there were more treats to choose from!  My willpower went into high gear to avoid hoarding creamy whoopie pies.

By a sheer miracle, that Raspberry Coconut bar arrived home completely intact.  The first bite was heavenly.  The crunchy brown top layer of coconut gave way to a tender macaroon-like texture, and the raspberry jam provided enough moisture for that crackery crust.  It was a brick of sugary goodness, one I'll definitely make a trip back for.  I'll add a half-dozen whoopie pies to that order, too.

Mahoroba Japanese Bakery

(Chocolate) Hats off to you, Mahoroba!

Mahoroba Japanese Bakery
4900 Freeport Boulevard
Sacramento, CA
Mahoroba Japanese Bakery on Urbanspoon

After seeing their ads in the Sacramento News & Review and driving by a million times, I finally stopped in to check out Mahoroba.

For waiting this long, I'm a fool!

Whoever created their recipes must have sold his or her soul to the devil, because the product here is unbelievable.  Doughs are phenomenally soft, fillings are light, airy and not too sweet, and the marrying of the two is simply perfection.  No sweet tooth today?  Pick up a savory bun with hot dogs or dim sum  baked right in.  That's right, I said dim sum, people!

The Chocolate Hat may look like a typical donut, but the quality exceeds what you'd find at your local Winchell's or Yum Yum.  And, unlike a maple bar or glazed twist, I can probably smoosh that entire soft Chocolate Hat into my mouth in one bite.  I mean, if I had to, of course.

Besides the Chocolate Hat, I sampled the flaky, tender Apple Danish and their famed Kobe Cream Delight, a soft dough ball filled with deliciousness that'll make you wish you had clipped the buy one, get one free coupon from the SN&R.

Support family-owned bakeries.  Go now.  What are you waiting for?

Marie's Donuts

Simply dough-licious.

Marie's Donuts
2950 Freeport Boulevard
Sacramento, CA
Marie's do-Nut Shop on Urbanspoon


I enjoyed quite possibly the best chocolate donut EVER at Marie's.  It was moist, with just enough chocolate icing and a dusting of Valentines Day sprinkles.  Chocolate donuts generally tend to be on the drier side...not here.

Next up was an old-fashioned with cinnamon and sugar, the likes of which I'd never seen or tasted.  And finally, the lightest glazed twist I've ever shoved into my gullet.

Finishing it all off with chocolate milk was a BAD idea.  So was eating three donuts after a week-long low-carb diet.  Ughhhhhh.....

Spaans Cookie Company

If it's good enough for Grandma,
it's good enough for me.
Spaans Cookie Company
333 4th Street
Galt, CA

Back in the 80s, my Grandma would trek "all the way" to Galt and bring packages of Spaans cookies back to Stockton.  I vividly remember soft, brownie-like mounds of chocolate and thick, buttery crescents studded with almonds.

Luckily, Spaans is still in business and they're still turning out those Fudge Brownie cookies (by the bucket now, hooray!) along with two dozen other varieties.  Among the various samples I managed to shove down my throat when I thought the cashier wasn't looking were the soft, delicate Gingerbread.  Holy moly - I wish I never knew they were only half a gram of fat and 40 calories each.

I'm in trouble.

Old West Cinnamon Rolls

Breakfast of champions!

Old West Cinnamon Rolls
861 Dolliver Street
Pismo Beach, CA
Old West Cinnamon Rolls on Urbanspoon

When I see a line out of any establishment's front door, it's usually a good sign.

In this case, it was a GREAT sign.

Propping open that front door allowed the fragrances of sugar, cinnamon, nuts and cream cheese to make their way down the street...clearly calling out to passersby who hadn't even considered breakfast yet.  These were aromas coming from an open kitchen manually cranking out some of the best rolls I'd ever encountered.  Cinnabon and its artificial, overmanufactured sweetness had officially been put to shame.

With so many choices of ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls to consider, it's amazing I didn't piss off everyone in line behind me.  Raisins or no raisins?  Walnuts or pecans?  Cream cheese on top, or on the side?  The winner was a Walnut Roll, with nuts on top and peeking through layers of warm, chewy dough speckled with sugar and cinnamon.  Each bite was dunked into the generous plastic container of frosting, with the last bite used to wipe that cup clean.

I savored that last bite, then looked forward to the six and a half hours of cardio that would be required to balance it all out.  Boo.

Mee Mee Bakery

I could watch this all day.

Mee Mee Bakery
1328 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA

There seem to be a jillion bakeries in San Francisco, half of which are located in Chinatown; therefore, your fortune cookies must be infinitely better than most if I'm gonna write home about them.

Chinese bakeries typically offer a mixed bag of sweets: buns, cookies, etc.  But only at Mee Mee's have I found actual mixed bags...of fortune cookies!  I grabbed a huge neapolitan mix of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, a steal at four bucks.  After sampling each of them, I would have paid twice as much.

A variety of other traditional cookies, breads and pastries round out the offerings.  They also create giant fortune cookies, perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, or very polite break-ups.  Sweet!
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