Category Archives: Bakeries

Morning Treats at Rose Bakery Cafe

I’m convinced the best mornings involve sleeping in, getting a run in and enjoying a leisurely breakfast outside in the sun.  While this doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, on the days I can stop and smell the roses, I take advantage.

Recently the Englishman and I decided to have a morning just like that.  We slept in (which for me is anytime past 6 most days), went for a nice run and then decided that we should have breakfast in the sun at the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar.  But first we had to pick up our breakfast provisions from Rose Bakery Cafe.

I had never been to Rose Bakery Cafe, but every time I passed it on PCH I always saw packs of people enjoying a variety of breakfast, brunch and lunch goodies, so I knew it must be good.

Rose Bakery Cafe offers a variety of tantalizing breakfast options including breakfast burritos, various egg dishes and oatmeal.  Since we were taking our breakfast to go on this particular visit, we decided on more portable items which included a couple of croissants, a cinnamon sugar doughnut and a cup of fresh fruit.  I’m already planning on trying some of the savory breakfast dishes on my next visit.

I also have to give special recognition to Rose Bakery Cafe for offering almond milk (!) as an option for all of their drinks.  I was able to get an iced latte made with almond milk which is practically unheard of at any bakery/coffee shop in OC with the exception of Whole Foods.

Armed with our box of breakfast delights, we headed across the street to Sherman Gardens to relax and enjoy our food in the sun.  I was quite eager to dig into the box and try one of the large croissants, especially since the last croissant I had been at Le Pain Quotidien in February.

I am pleased to say this croissant did not disappoint!  It was nice and warm and literally melted in your mouth.  It’s nice to know that there are a couple of places in OC that serve really decent croissants.

I also tried a few bites of the cinnamon sugar doughnut and it was quite good.  The doughnut was a cake doughnut (my personal favorite) and I loved the crumbly sugar topping on top.

Overall our first venture to Rose Bakery Cafe was a success.  I got to enjoy an almond milk latte, had some delicious baked goods, and most importantly, I literally got to stop and smell the roses.

Rose Bakery Cafe, I think we are going to become fast friends.

Lunching at Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien was always favorite stop of mine when I lived in the L.A. area.  I enjoyed the open-faced sandwiches, freshly baked bread, and delicious beverages.  But when I moved to Orange County, there was not a Le Pain Quotidien in sight.  Until now.

As luck would have it, Le Pain Quotidien opened in Fashion Island this past fall, and I’ve been itching to make a stop there.  When my mom suggested we burn off some of our Thanksgiving dinner by facing the Black Friday crowds at Fashion Island I made sure our lunch stop was at Le Pain Quotidien.

The interior of the Fashion Island restaurant was very similar to the ones I had experienced in LA – lots of big communal tables, glass displays of freshly baked goods, and a patio area.  Since it was a beautiful Southern California day, my mom and I opted to sit on the patio.

After perusing the menu and ordering much needed glasses of iced tea, I finally decided on the Paris Ham and Gruyere Tartine.

I was very pleased with this dish.  It came with a trio of different mustards and little cornichons on the side.  The ham and cheese were also very flavorful.  It was light, but not too light and left me satisfied.

My mom ordered the Tuscan Bean and Proscuitto salad, which I became immediately jealous of as soon as it emerged.

The salad came with arugula, parmesan and basil croutons which basically looked like cubes of Le Pain Quotidien’s freshly baked bread.  I tasted some of her salad and it was excellent.  Mental note made.  I will be ordering this next time.

It was a lovely lunch and the perfect fuel to get us through the rest of our Black Friday shopping.  I definitely want to make a stop at Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast in the near future, as their breakfast pastries cannot be beat!

Sorry for such the long hiatus, Le Pain Quotidien.  But fear not, I WILL be dining at you again in the near future.

Le Pain Quotidien

401 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Revisiting my Youth at Blue Ribbon Bakery on Main Street

If you are a big Disney fan, then you know that the Blue Ribbon Bakery is a staple on Main Street U.S.A in Disneyland.   It’s the go-to spot for delicious baked treats, hot beverages and Mickey Mouse shaped cookies.  It’s also known for their delicious (and really big) cinnamon rolls.

Growing up in Orange County, I spent much of my youth at Disneyland, and as I got older, I even had an annual pass for those teenage years when aside from going to the movies, Disneyland was the place to be.  I have fond memories of spending many an evening at Disney with my dear friend Kristin, riding a couple of rides and then hitting up the Blue Ribbon Bakery for a decadent dessert, which almost always included the (really big) cinnamon roll with extra frosting.  The treats from Blue Ribbon Bakery were always something special and often the highlight of a Saturday night excursion to the theme park.

It’s been years now since I owned an annual pass to Disneyland, and my visits have been less and less frequent.  Recently, the Englishman and I ventured over to the land of the mouse and I figured it would be a perfect time to introduce him to the magic that is the Blue Ribbon Bakery.

When I stepped inside the bakery I was greeted with the aromas of freshly baked goods and hot coffee brewing.  The bakery case filled with goodies looked just as delicious as ever.

After much deliberation the Englishman and I decided on a shortbread snowman, holiday biscotti and a pumpkin muffin to take home.   Unfortunately the shortbread snowman faced an early demise on the Tower of Terror ride at California Adventure (ie: got crushed in our bag) so aside from a few crumbly bites, we didn’t really get to enjoy it.

First up was the holiday biscotti which was covered in red and green sprinkles and white icing.  The biscotti was a bit too crumbly for my liking but the flavor was nice.  It had some pistachios in it which added in nice flavor, but I prefer my biscotti to be hard and crunchy, and less cookie like.

Then it was the pumpkin muffin’s (complete with chocolate Mickey) turn.  The muffin had nice flavor overall, but wasn’t very strong on the pumpkin front.  If you hadn’t told me it was a pumpkin muffin, I would’ve just thought it was a nice spiced muffin and that was it.  More pumpkin please!

So was the Blue Ribbon Bakery as magically delicious as it was all those years ago?  To be honest, no.  It was still very good, but definitely not the best baked goods I have had in a long shot.  Granted, I didn’t get the (really big) cinnamon roll so maybe that is what was missing this time around.

Regardless, it was still nice to visit the bakery that had me so enamored in my teen years and see the happy kids eagerly biting into their Mickey Mouse shaped cookies while their parents enjoy a few moments of silence with their coffee.  Some things at Disneyland may come and go, but at least Blue Ribbon Bakery will always be the same.

Apple Picking at Oak Glen with No Apples

What’s that you say?  Apple picking with no apples?  Yep, that’s right.  Of course, it wasn’t my intention to go apple picking and come home apple-less, but unfortunately that was the case when the Englishman and my parents decided to head up to Oak Glen for a day of good ol’ fashioned apple picking.

Oak Glen is located at the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, and is about an hour and a half drive from where we live.  Our first stop was Riley’s Apple Farm, which is known as being one of the more popular fruit farms in Oak Glen.

The farm itself was quite cute – old Colonial-looking buildings, a bakery and a tavern were all on the property.  The place was packed, so we figured this is where all the good apples were.  Alas, we were wrong.

Riley’s Apple Farm had PLENTY of pumpkins, lots of raspberries, and even a few strawberries here and there.  But not an apple in sight (unless you count the apple cider donuts).  Apparently apple season was not so hot this year, and they were out of apples completely.  Sigh.

No apples to see here folks

We hopped back in the car and headed up the road in pursuit of finding an apple farm that actually had apples to pick.  By this time we were also getting hungry and my dad suggested we have lunch at Apple Annie’s, which is supposed to be a crowd favorite in Oak Glen.

After a few missed turns we found ourselves at the Oak Tree Village, which reminded me of a mini street fair with craft booths and food vendors.  There were lots of vendors selling yummy goodies such as cinnamon sugar almonds and spicy peanuts, but there was not an apple in sight.  We finally found one stand selling different varieties of apples in baskets.

Deceiving Looking Apples

The cost for the apples was astronomically high ($1 per apple!!) and the apples themselves were mushy!  You would pick up an apple from the basket and you could just feel how mushy it was.  Not good, Oak Glen, not good.

By this point we had resigned ourselves to the fact that a. we would not be picking fresh apples, and b. we would not be purchasing fresh apples either.  But it didn’t matter because a meal at Apple Annie’s was sure to turn the day around.

Welcome to Apple Annie's

Everything about Apple Annie’s reminded me of Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner (the restaurant at Knott’s Berry Farm) – from the line outside, to the casual country decor, and Apple Anne’s even had Knott’s Berry Farm jam!  Unfortunately, Apple Annie’s doesn’t live up to the same hype as Mrs. Knott’s.

The menu was pretty simple – sandwiches, salads, hot entrees and burgers.  Since I’m a bundle of fun with my food allergies, I decided to go with a grilled cheese sandwich and a salad.  The salad came out first.

Would you like some salad with your dressing?

Unfortunately, this was a bit disappointing.  The lettuce was brown on the edges and the vegetables were kind of flimsy.  I ended up pushing a lot of the salad around and not really eating it.

Then came the grilled cheese.  In theory this sandwich would be awesome, but alas it was not.

Say no to American Cheese

The sourdough bread was tasty, but the plastic-tasting American cheese that was on the inside was NOT.  I was disappointed because grilled cheese sounded good, but at least I had Apple Annie’s apple bread to look forward to (more on that later).

My dad and the Englishman had the french dip sandwich with fries and they both seemed to enjoy their sandwiches.

Sandwich Success!

My mom had a chicken salad but apparently I felt the salad was not worthy to be photographed.  Sorry, mom.

After lunch we wandered into a couple more shops and ended up buying some homemade apple butter that looked good.

Apple Butter for the Win. Best purchase all day.

Finally, it was time to wave the white flag and head on home.  It was evident that we were going to leave Oak Glen without any apples to our name.  But we did have apple bread to look forward to.

Once we got home the Englishman and I decided to try some of the famous Apple Annie’s apple bread.  After one bite we realized this was not apple bread but actually a sugary sweet apple cake.  Apple BREAD this was not.

Apple Cake masquerading as Apple Bread

While it may seem like the trip to Oak Glen was a total bust, we actually ended up having a bit of fun.  It was nice to get out of the city for a while, and the Oak Tree Village was a bit of a hoot, even if the food wasn’t that good.

If you have a hankering for serious apple picking, Oak Glen is not your best bet.  But if you have a hankering for a giant apple pie, petting zoos, cinnamon sugar almonds and an old-time gun show, then Oak Glen’s your place.