One of the highlights of my food explorations of Lancaster County was the discovery of the springerle cookie, a type of “picture” cookie which traces its origins to Northern Europe where it has been made for over a thousand years. They’re delicious. And they are gorgeous. Using molds that depict scenes of peasant life, nature, biblical stories and more, these cookies were used in part to communicate stories, and reflect a remarkable level of craftsmanship and detail. You’d mistake them for fired ceramic Christmas ornaments, in fact, because they are every bit as intricate. Here in Lancaster County, they’ve been a part of Pennsylvania Dutch culture for over 300 years thanks to the German immigrants who brought the tradition here.
Flavored with anise this cookie is somewhat like a shortbread and is commonly served with tea for dunking. The springerle is not crisp though, rather just cakey enough for a nice chew as one bites into it. You can find excellent examples of these, in anise and other flavors, as well as Christmas ornaments made from the same molds, at a german tea house in Strasburg, PA, where the same family has been making them for over 100 years. The family operates a stall at the Lancaster Central Market as well, so you can find them there, too, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Here’s a link to their website. I think they’d make fabulous gifts so check out the mail order options!
15 East Main Street
Strasburg, PA 17579-1409
About Springerle Cookies
For over a thousand years in Europe, hand-carved molds have been used to imprint “picture cookies.” These cookies have been historically used as betrothal tokens, tellers of tales and to celebrate daily life. Springerle molds first came to Lancaster County circa 1710 among the most treasured possessions of the Pennsylvania German immigrants. Our Springerle cookies and ornaments are made from replicas of molds painstakingly copied from original molds in museums in Germany and Switzerland.
We use only the finest ingredients to make our cookies, and follow the traditional European recipe. We offer cookies in lemon, orange, orange vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate, almond, vanilla and traditional anise flavors. Some are accented with edible gold paint. Our ornaments are made of a durable ash/paper pulp mixture and hand painted. We hope you enjoy this taste of the past!
December 15, 2010 | Categories: bakery reviews, Food, food reviews, Pennsylvania Bureau | Tags: anise, christmas, cookies, dutch, Food, gift ideas, gifts, lancaster central market, PA, pennsylvania, pennsylvania dutch, springerle cookie, strasburg | Leave a comment
“Without a doubt the best find in years.”
That still holds true. I’ve been going through some of my reviews on Yelp.com and found my Bakesale Betty review, penned 4/2/2007. At that time, I’d been hearing early reports on Yelp.com about this phenomenon in North Oakland, and decided to plan my first foodie roadtrip to check her out- destination eating. Now, three and half years later, the lines are still present every time I’ve gone, the food is just as good, and Betty has opened a second location. It’s not an exaggeration to say the excitement of hearing about and discovering Bakesale Betty through Yelp.com inspired me to become more involved in the local foodie community and since then, I’ve used Yelp to plan other foodie roadtrips, too. Of course, any trip to the East Bay incorporates a stop at Bakesale Betty, now a true mainstay.
What I loved from day one was the visible presence of owner Alison Barakat and her husband, both of whom on that first visit worked the line and despite the crowd, gave us and everyone else their full attention, even following up with us after we’d ordered and taken a seat outside. Conscious of the fact that people were waiting, they’ve always been generous with samples for the line, often cookies warm from the oven. And the food is superb. Really, with the volume that Bakesale Betty produces on any given day, nothing appears to fall through the cracks. Betty employees always seem cheery and the food never fails, whether you’re there for lunch, or coffee & a dessert.
(between 49th St & 51st St)
Oakland, CA 94609
Neighborhoods: Rockridge, Temescal, North Oakland
What I’ve had:
the best scones. Large, somehow not moist but not dry either. All the scones have the candied ginger component, and maybe that ‘s part of the trick. They’re coated with a gorgeous layer of sugar which makes them crystaline. And, they’re huge; I always get one (if not three more) for the freezer.
Cookies. Often offered as samples, and often warm. Large thin(ish) disks. Chocolate chip are more crispy than chewy, but with some moistness at the center and plenty of chips.
Strawberry Shortcake. It has never been my favorite dessert, until I tried it at Bakesale Betty. In fact, it was slipped in our bag free since we’d had particularly long wait. I think I liked the shortcake as much as the big, fresh strawberries. It all came together as more than the sum of its parts.
Chicken Pot Pie. Food PORN. It’s incredibly thick, filled with huge pieces of pulled chicken and a savory binding cream full of vegetables that will satisfy you on every level both physical and spiritual. This is comfort. You can take it home and pop it in the freezer and bake it whenever you want.
Fried Chicken Sandwich. Twice dipped in buttermilk and lots of black pepper, this is one huge piece of white smothered in a light, bright vinaigrette slaw. Green peppers balance that fat pretty well- this is an exciting sandwich, served on a fresh-baked roll.
Beef Brisket Sandwich. Just as good as the chicken, this time the players are beef brisket slow-cooked and melt in your mouth tender, dressed with horseradish, caramelized onion and … potato chips. Yes, potato chips. This is now my favorite one.
Egg Salad Sandwich. Big pieces of hardboiled egg held together with olive oil rather than lots of mayo. It’s really good but with the other items on the menu. . .best scenario go with a friend and get one of each, and share.
Here’s that first review:
“Without a doubt the best find in years.Buddies and I made the trip to BB’s from SF having read such great reviews here. It was soo worth it, and I encourage anyone reading to make the pilgrimage. Hit around 1.30 on a sunny Saturday afternoon, a short line, but cheery. We, three of us, ordered the fried chicken sandwich to see what the buzz was bout and chowed down in a sunny spot outside. FOOD PORN. And it got better: we ‘d eyed all the baked goods ordering and definitely planned on getting sweets to go. . and out of nowhere Betty‘s husband comes out to chat. Friendly. Brings us four cookies to sample. YUM. Betty also came out to chat with us. Friendly. Clearly they LOVE what they do and it shows in the food experience. We went back in for the banana bread and can say it’s top notch. So if you just want a casual, fun, and above all delicious moment in your day, a trip to Bakesale Betty‘s is it.
KUDOS, we loved it!!”
September 10, 2010 | Categories: bakery reviews, Food, food reviews, lunch spot reviews | Tags: Alison Barakat, bakery, Bakesale Betty, best, chicken pot pie, cookies, East Bay, Food, fried chicken sandwich, lunch, Oakland, restaurant, rockridge, scone, telegraph avenue, temescal | 3 Comments
I don’t know what it is but there’s been a wave of new bakeries this year and they’re good, real good. Many are in and around SOMA. And, many of them seem to be run by women with tattoos. I think that’s hot.
Pinkie’s Bakery is a powerhouse. I think these may just be the best cupcakes you’ll find in this cupcake-saturated town. The cake has a nice, firm edge, which I like. It gives the cake structure and provides nuance as the flavor and texture gives way to the moist cake center. The frosting strikes a masterful balance between butter and sweet. And the women who serve them are hot.
The cookies are equally fantastic. The chocolate chip will blow your mind, sort of a medium size cookie that is on the thick side, allowing that soft, dense and moist center with the crisp edge that I enjoy so much. Lots of chips, redolent of brown butter.
But don’t limit yourself to the cupcakes and cookies, here. Their morning breads are pretty amazing. I’ve never seen, nor tasted, a bear claw so good. The weight of it! There’s a nice density and substance when you bite into it. This is what real, organic flour and butter do for food; this is why I’ve forsworn supermarket bakeries. This is the reason.
Next, I want to try their fresh-baked breads. . .
And strangely, I want to get a tattoo. Would that make me a better home baker?
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 556-4900 neighborhood, SOMA
Thu-Fri 8 am – 4 pm
Sat 9:30 am – 4 pm
August 25, 2010 | Categories: bakery reviews, Food, food news, food reviews | Tags: bakeries, bear claw, breakfast pastries, breakfast pastry, cookies, cupcakes, Food, fresh baked loaves bread, pinkie's bakery, pinkies, San Francisco | 7 Comments
Having come to the Filmore to check out the Saturday Farmer’s Market there (which you should do, too) I spied a new cookie shop and had to check it out. The aroma of fresh baked cookies that met me as I walked in the door of Bumzy’s Cookies was lovely, and felt like a warm hug!
The owners are very friendly and greeted me just as warmly, immediately taking the time to introduce themselves. They’re a mom and daughter team, and their names are Sheila and Toni (Bumzy) respectively. They asked me my name and a lovely conversation ensued. Many samples (fresh from the oven) were had.
The cookies absolutely taste like your grandma’s, or mom’s, or ones you might have had at a church or school bakesale. (The peanut butter even has the fork marks on top! I LOVE that.) These are a crisp variety of cookie and depending on how close you’ve timed it, just might be hot out of the oven! In fact, Sheila says the recipe has been in her family for several generations, passed down from mother to daughter. The result is heavenly with a tall glass of milk. While the peanut butter was my favorite, I also bought the chocolate chip (two varieties) and the sugar. All are good.
The space is airy and cute; the kitchen feels like a home kitchen, with cabinets and all. I love the home-like look and feel they’ve achieved, and look forward to seeing how they complete the rest of the store. There’s an open space by the window that would be perfect for a “living room” sofa, maybe a plant or two, and coffee table to enjoy the cookies while hanging out with Sheila and Toni.
I can honestly say my visit to Bumzy’s, meeting Sheila and Tony, and sampling their cookies, was the highlight of my day and I look forward to going back!
1460 Fillmore Street
(between Byington St & Ofarrell St)
San Francisco, CA 94115
You know I love a discovery, a real find. There’s a gem that’s opened up in the neighborhood where I work and it’s called Goody Goodie cream & sugar.
Conveniently located next to a stella-r coffee shop, Vega (see my review of Vega, here), Goody provides the knockout of the ‘one, two’ punch to be found on Folsom Street between 8th and 9th. While Vega will fix you up with a top-notch coffee, Goody provides the sweets and even sandwiches, made daily from market-fresh ingredients. While I got there too late for the sandwich today (farmer’s market nectarine, tarragon and Mt. Tam cheese, yeah really!) I had my pick of many cookie options and a super special surprise, a sample of the wafer, made of a combination I’d really never thought of but it SO works.
Old School Chocolate Chip– so good. More than half the cookie IS the chocolate chip, sort of melted and fused together. I’d dare say 3/4 the cookie is chocolate, in fact. They use semi-sweet, which I like best. . . this is not a cloying sweet cookie. I ordered the “Bite-Me” size, which is the small option; at between 1-2 inches, they’re thick and the perfect size to sate your chocolate fix. Go with them so you can sample more 😉
Circus, a semi-sweet chocolate chip with caramel corn baked into the cookie. Equally good, the chips are now layered with notes of caramel and the buttery savoriness of the popcorn- another winner here.
Wafer of cocoa nib and oil cured-olives, what can I say but this is the standout, if only because the flavor profile is so new to me and works so well. Going either sweet or savory, this would be a great addition to your dinner party, either as an appetizer with a wine and cheese pairing or incorporated into a dessert. It’s absolutely fine on its own too, and I heartily recommend you try it.
Like Vega, Goody caters to sidewalk traffic- there’s nowhere to sit. Rather, you’ll place your order through the cute set of clapboard windows under an old-fashioned awning. The look is quaint for this gritty neighborhood, hence the “goody goodie” name. . . ??? Of course this belies a sassy streak- after all, they call the little cookies “Bite-Me”s and mix chocolate and olives; I love the delicious incongruity of it all! Salty and sweet, Sassy and cute, you will find both converge at this neat spot. You can expect certain items on standard rotation and some changing daily specials, depending on what’s been found at the farmer’s market. They’ll even tell you the optimal wine pairing for anything you buy, as wine is another passion of the store owners.
While taking the many options in and trying to decide what to order, I had the best conversation with one of the owners, ranging from a shared love of local food and farmer’s markets, to cookies, to wine. . . you get the idea. These folks LOVE food, and they LOVE LOVE LOVE what they do. You can tell they will be doing a lot of experimentation here. How can you not love a business like this? And it’s all reflected in the product, which is amazing.
1246 Folsom St
(between 9th St & 8th St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
August 6, 2010 | Categories: bakery reviews, Food, food reviews, local businesses I love, lunch spot reviews | Tags: bakery, cafe, cookies, folsom, Food, Goodie goodie, Goody goodie, goody goodie cream & sugar, lunch, sandwiches, SOMA, Vega | 7 Comments
I just checked the weather on my Yahoo! homepage and learned that we may hit record low temperatures this evening, July 1st.
Here’s the report:
“Tonight: Partly cloudy skies. Gusty winds during the evening. Near record low temperatures. Low 51F. W winds at 25 to 35 mph, diminishing to 10 to 15 mph.”
Just another summer evening in San Francisco!
As I rode home from work and the gym on my scooter, shivering and watching the fog blow in, I had an odd and intense craving. . . Ice-cream. It defies explanation and yet, in that moment, nothing else would do.
So L. and I put on our jackets and walked down the hill to a really great ice-cream place that’s fortunately a few blocks from home, Bi-Rite Creamery. And the line was around the block. It always is, even on a cold night like this. Like it is on rainy nights, and on winter ones. The secret is out; Bi-Rite has even been covered in national media like the Food Network and The New York Times, which reports that Bi-Rite has served up to 1,500 scoops in a day.
Salted Caramel is a perennial favorite flavor and has put them on the map. The other flavors are inventive too, like the delicious Brown Sugar with Ginger Caramel Swirl, or Ricanelas-a cinnamon base with snickerdoodle pieces. (It bears mentioning that they use fresh, local and organic ingredients, responsibly sourced, for their products but then, who on this foodie block doesn’t???)
While their hard dipped ice-creams are what makes them famous they only started serving soft serve a few months ago, so we went for that. (The fact that the soft-serve line was only half the length certainly was a bonus on a cold July night!) I ordered a malted vanilla and it was fabulous, silky in texture and deeply perfumed with my favorite flavor.
Cleverly, right there in the window where you place your order, they prominently display piles of house-made cookies, cupcakes and pie. Damn them. In my bag went a gorgeous dark chocolate cookie dusted in sugar (I’m a sucker for anything dusted in sugar, really) and a vanilla cupcake with salted caramel creme filling and a buttercream frosting, lightly dusted with sea salt.
My corruption is complete!
Tip: be sure to get the punch card when you pay, buy ten cones and you get the eleventh for free;-)
July 1, 2010 | Categories: bakery reviews, Food, food reviews, ice cream reviews, Life in San Francisco, local businesses I love, restaurant reviews, San Francisco tourism, tips, What to See in San Francisco | Tags: baked goods, bakery, Bi-Rite, Bi-Rite Creamery, cookies, cupcakes, dipped, ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, soft serve | 3 Comments