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2011 - December seasonal specialties

rworange Dec 8, 2011 01:35 PM

Stores, restaurants and bakeries have those once a year treats. What is new? What do you buy year after year?

I liked Semifreddi's gingerbread. It is moist enough with nice spice that doesn't take over.

I always buy Cheeseboard's fruitcake.

Saul's Deli in Berkeley has it's annual outside latke and soufganiyot party on Dec 23rd. I liked this the year I stopped by.



I look foward to Masse's mini buche de noel. There are three flavors and it is great to buy a mini version without making a commitment to a $$$ yule log.

Masse's Pastries
1469 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

  1. s
    SFDude Dec 24, 2011 04:15 PM

    The Holiday Ravioli from Lucca's Deli on Valencia Street is excellent -- even better than their regular ravioli. They make it several times during the year (also Easter, Mother's Day and T-Day), but it is special.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SFDude
      Windy Dec 24, 2011 04:25 PM

      Funny, I don't like it at all although every now and then I try again. The cheese ravioli is my favorite.

      A note that Lucca on Valencia is Lucca Ravioli; the unrelated store on Chestnut is Lucca Deli.

    2. rworange Dec 24, 2011 04:11 PM

      No gourmet's dream but the two-bite mini brownie cupcakes with mint frosting at Raley's are really good. Picked them up by accident when I was going for the mini cupcakes.

      Went to pick up the buche de Noel at La Bedaine and could not believe the lines snaking out to the sidewalk at almost every bakery. Fortunately La Bedaine opened early today and I was in and out.

      I forgot how good this place is. they have a terrific leek and hazelnut quiche. it had just come out of the oven all warm, eggy, buttery crust goodness elegantly laced with the leeks and studded with tiny bits of hazelnut.

      The light yet coconutty macaroons were great too.

      As to the French macaron, Victoria bakery is making them now. The pistachio was actually quite good, nice filling, chew and good pistachio flavor.

      1. Windy Dec 24, 2011 03:59 PM

        Delessio has a buche du noel but I haven't tried it. We ended up with the malted vanilla cake that year, which was exceptional.

        I brought an Arizmendi gingerbread tea cake to Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit. ~$5, delicate and perfect.

        1. Glencora Dec 23, 2011 02:41 PM

          Toot Sweets has a yule log for 28.50 -- it's frosted white and seems to have a jam (strawberry? raspberry?) filling. It's less than a foot long. Seems pricey. My husband saw a larger one at B B west for half that, he says.

          Is a white yule log (as opposed to a chocolate or coffee buche de Noel) traditional? It's new to me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Glencora
            rworange Dec 23, 2011 06:33 PM

            The first time i had a white yule log was about a year or two after La Boulangerie opened in SF. It was some sort of tropical flavor and disgusting. i also had the other flavor and was less than impressed. I've never felt the need to throw money there again for a yule log.

            I went with La Bedaine because i know what i'm getting and didn't want to go with the unknown. i wanted to get to Feel Good, but couldn't make it. Maybe if this goes over well, I'll get one there for New Year.

          2. b
            bunnysitter Dec 21, 2011 10:45 AM

            Holiday Stollen at Nabolom Bakery - same dough as the challah, light on currants but with lemon meyer icing. Look forward to this and their pumpkin cheesecake each year.

            Stopped at Gaumenkittzel - stollen had a pretty crisp dark bottom, so I opted for their whole wheat loaf.

            1. s
              stanbee Dec 20, 2011 07:43 PM

              Choc covered Panforte, Sebastopol


              1. wolfe Dec 20, 2011 02:00 PM

                The Bakery in the Ranch 99 Richmond has a large Buche at special $30. It's probably 15" long with 2 extra tree stumps.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wolfe
                  Glencora Dec 20, 2011 05:45 PM

                  Thanks for the tip. What kind of decorations did it have? Any little mushrooms? Do you think I'd need to pre-order, or would it be available if I just showed up on the 23rd or 24th? I'm responsible for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day desserts for 30-plus people and just got jury duty, so I'm thinking I may cheat a bit.

                2. Melanie Wong Dec 20, 2011 12:52 PM

                  The panettone from Nightingale Breads in Forestville is fab.

                  Peppermint Bark from Williams-Sonoma arrived at our doorstep as a gift from a relative. A layer of bittersweet chocolate topped with a layer of white chocolate studded with big pieces of crushed peppermint. More peppermint and richer chocolates than other versions. This is the one to get.

                  Nightingale Breads
                  6665 Front St, Forestville, CA

                  1. foodseek Dec 19, 2011 11:53 AM

                    Any suggestions for a Buche de Noel to be had in San Francisco?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: foodseek
                      wolfe Dec 19, 2011 01:05 PM


                    2. rworange Dec 15, 2011 03:12 PM

                      Linda's Bakery on MacDonald in Richmond is taking orders for Guatemalan Christmas tamales ... with raisins, prunes and a slice of pepper. Chicken or pork $2.75

                      1. m
                        milklady Dec 15, 2011 01:12 PM

                        Masse's Pastries will have sufganiyot during all of Hanukkah (including this coming Tuesday, the first night of Hanukkah, starting around 10 am, though they are usually closed on Tuesdays).

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: milklady
                          wolfe Dec 20, 2011 01:56 PM

                          Very good and fresh but a little stingy with the jelly and $3 a piece. Nice gesture but I could have settled for the non-Hanukah jelly doughnuts at Hopkins Bakery. By the time I got them home I could have convinced them they were sufganiyot

                          1. re: milklady
                            rightstar Dec 20, 2011 04:54 PM

                            It was more flavorful and filling than the sufganiyot at Saul's. However, some of the dough didn't cook right and was soft and gummy.

                            1. re: milklady
                              milklady Dec 21, 2011 10:39 AM

                              I liked the one I had today from Masse's. It was $2.50 (pricey for a donut, I agree). It was filled with a lot of (fairly tart) raspberry filling. It was cooked well. The donut was small, and covered in sandy sugar.

                              I also liked the ones from Grand Bakery - they are all strawberry. They taste like they have a bit of orange flavor in the dough. They range in price from about $1.50-$ each depending on how many you buy.

                              1. re: milklady
                                wolfe Dec 21, 2011 11:41 AM

                                I guess day old they dropped the price. My left over tasted fine but no jelly??

                                1. re: wolfe
                                  milklady Dec 21, 2011 11:51 AM

                                  It was definitely made fresh this morning, not day old. I could smell the oil and it was a bit warm. It was full of jelly.

                                  1. re: milklady
                                    wolfe Dec 21, 2011 11:56 AM

                                    Well, whatever, yesterday they were $3.

                                2. re: milklady
                                  rworange Dec 21, 2011 12:14 PM

                                  Good to know (for next year) that Grand Bakery sells them.

                                  Has anyone tried See's holiday truffles - eggnog, cranberry orange or apple pie?

                                  I was in there and had to give up. One person at the counter ordered seven boxes and was picking them out ... one by one. Another older lady ... and this is no exaggeration ... took 15 minutes to pick out a half pound box. She would ask about each chocolate, think about it, disucss it. When she finished her box she said "I want another half pound box". The holiday spirit left at this point and so did I. Anyway, going to give it another try and was wondering about the truffles.

                                  1. re: rworange
                                    Ruth Lafler Dec 21, 2011 03:21 PM

                                    I wasn't crazy about any of the holiday truffles. The cranberry orange had too much orange (not in a good way, more of an orange-drink way), and the others were way too sweet. I'm a huge fan of the seasonal Mincemeat (lemon buttercream with nuts and raisins) though.

                                  2. re: milklady
                                    hyperbowler Dec 21, 2011 01:34 PM

                                    I tried the raspberry and the custard today. The doughnuts themselves were very good. The air holes didn't easily collapse, and it was neither too spongy nor too cakey. Sugar and oil content didn't overpower eachother, and it had a pleasant and consistent flavor. Goto texture overall, including the light crust and sparse sugar dusting. The jelly doughnut had some raw dough in the center, but otherwise they were uniformly cooked. I noted a slight citrus flavor, but could have imagined it.

                                    The custard was slightly eggy, but smooth. There was more filling in the custard than the jelly. The jelly was superb--- tart, thick in a natural way, and very fruity. The seeds had been strained. I've eaten a lot of jelly doughnuts in my time, and this had the deepest red color I've encountered. I agree with the above poster that it's pricey at $2.50 and they don't give you much filling. Still, it's a sizable doughnut, very fresh tasting and the jelly one is a better deal than anything I've gotten at dynamo, the (RIP) bombolini at the ferry building, or your standard doughnut place.

                                3. majordanby Dec 10, 2011 01:00 PM

                                  Fandango jams from Sonoma at the Berkeley Farmers Market only on Saturday for the first 3 weeks of Dec - next market on the 17th is the last. As far as i know, they dont sell anywhere else (correct me if i am wrong, please). However, they sell some unusual jams:

                                  Blueberry Merlot
                                  Peach Chardonnay
                                  Rhubarb Chutney
                                  Peach Chutney
                                  Strawberry Rhubarb
                                  Blackberry Zinfandel
                                  Indian Blood Peach
                                  Red Skin Peach
                                  Blackberry Plum Lime

                                  A few others I forgot. I always buy a few every year.

                                  1. Robert Lauriston Dec 8, 2011 01:53 PM

                                    You liked Masse's buche de Noël more than La Bedaine's?

                                    La Bedaine
                                    1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      rworange Dec 8, 2011 01:57 PM

                                      I like the option of a mini version so I can indulge more often. Can't beat the price on La Bedaine's. If I don't decide to try something new, I'd probably go for La Bedaine this year.

                                      1. re: rworange
                                        wolfe Dec 8, 2011 02:19 PM

                                        I remember it as peitite.

                                        1. re: wolfe
                                          rworange Dec 8, 2011 05:12 PM

                                          No. That doesn't look like them. They are single serving size about $3-$4. I did have some notes on this which stupidly I put in Chow lists that has been broken for months with zero word if it will ever be fixed. I'll stop by this year. They usually start selling them two weeks before Christmas.

                                          1. re: rworange
                                            Ruth Lafler Dec 12, 2011 09:33 AM

                                            Feelgood Bakery had individual slices of buche de Noel this morning ($4.50). I'm not an expert, so I'll just describe: a very thin layer of sponge cake rolled with chocolate ganache (light in texture, verging on mousse), frosted with a light coffee-flavored buttercream. Delicious and very rich.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                              rworange Dec 14, 2011 08:02 PM

                                              I had planned to go there this morning, but got sidetracked. That resulted in the happy accident of having some warm just-baked stollen at Gaumenkitzel.


                                              Anyway, I wound up eventually at Bonaire Bakery, a place you have written about in the past. It was my first visit there. They had a big fat yule log for $ 19. Have you tried that before?

                                              I got some Christmas cookies ... some were more successful than others. The two covered with powdered sugar were very good. They also had apple strudel, but there are only so many sweets I can eat.

                                              Oh yeah, pretty petit fours. Have you tried those?

                                              1. re: rworange
                                                Ruth Lafler Dec 20, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                The petit fours are pretty good.

                                            2. re: rworange
                                              rightstar Dec 23, 2011 11:54 AM

                                              When I got the mini Buche de Noel at Masse's the other day it was $6. Were you referring to last year?

                                              1. re: rightstar
                                                rworange Dec 23, 2011 06:27 PM

                                                Wasn't here last year. Maybe 2-3 Chirstmases past. Did you think it was worth the price? Which flavor did you get?

                                                1. re: rworange
                                                  rightstar Dec 23, 2011 08:26 PM

                                                  It was the black forest buche. The cake had a velvety texture with kirsch soaked cherries. My only complaint was that the portion was too small for my wife and myself. However, I didn't want to buy a whole log which was very expensive ($45 for the 10" and $60 for the 15").

                                                  1. re: rightstar
                                                    rworange Dec 23, 2011 09:01 PM

                                                    Yeah, that is the nice thing about those mini-logs ... being able to try them witout a major investment. if they still do the lemon, that was suprisingly good, especially since I like traditional usually.

                                                    1. re: rworange
                                                      rightstar Dec 24, 2011 11:54 AM

                                                      They had a lemon log when I went there.

                                            3. re: wolfe
                                              Glencora Dec 8, 2011 05:21 PM

                                              They were better looking than that. I have a picture somewhere. We bought two for, I think, 15 or 16 people and there was not quite enough. Thank goodness for the Christmas cookies.

                                              1. re: wolfe
                                                wolfe Dec 8, 2011 07:18 PM

                                                I guess my add on didn't take. La Bedaine has that Buche pictured now. It is about 10-11 1/2 inches at the bias cut end and about 6 inches at the tall end. It is $18

                                          2. wolfe Dec 8, 2011 01:38 PM

                                            Is La Bedaine making a Buche this Noel?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: wolfe
                                              rworange Dec 8, 2011 01:58 PM

                                              Haven't asked yet.

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