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Your favorite authentic European restaurant or shop in your hometown

My husband & I took a long walk yesterday along Lake Coeur d’Alene. As usual, whenever we’re walking by some of the shops, my eyes and taste buds dart over to the local gelato shop. It’s authentic, and he makes delicious flavors! Yesterday I had my usual pistachio and added a scoop of Gingerbread. So, I am wondering if you have a favorite restaurant or shop in your hometown that reminds you of Europe. If so, please name your country, town and shop or restaurant. If I delay my next European trip to 2022, I might be dropping into some of your recommendations!

USA, Coeur d’Alene, Gelato by the Lake. I greeted him yesterday with Buongiorno - very friendly native Italian. His “Prego” in response to my “Grazie” was music to my ears!

https://gelatobythelake.com/about-us/

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6515 posts

One of my favorites is only a few minutes away by foot. It's (also) a gelato place run by an Argentine couple who makes gelato that is simply indistinguishable to what I had in Italy or Europe (not surprising, since most non-indigenous Argentines are Italian or Spanish descendants). It's called "Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato": http://www.crgelato.com
The flavors are amazing and interesting (and constantly rotating), including some distinctly Argentinian (like dulce de leche and Yerba mate) and my all-time favorites hazelnut, pistachio, and wild berry.

I also love Neopolitan pizza run by a couple originally from Naples - again, it tastes like the "real deal" and is certified according to Italian standards (DOC). "Pupatella" is the place in Arlington, VA and in Washington DC. https://www.pupatella.com

Thank goodness for immigrants, they make our country a better place by brining their traditions and creativity.

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17900 posts

The Crepes Parfait food truck is currently visiting primarily residential neighborhoods in Virginia and a farmer's market in Maryland, because there's just not enough lunch traffic in downtown DC to be worth their while. I miss their as-good-as-in-France crepes. I monitor their location on Twitter (https://twitter.com/CrepesParfait); they also post on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/CrepesParfait). I assume they'll be back at some (lottery-assigned) downtown locations when DC reopens. Things will be more predictable then, but one should always check their social media for the plans of the day, because they can't work if it's extremely rainy or windy.

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21 posts

If you're in the U.S. visiting Madison, Wisconsin....I have two places to recommend. Clasen's European Bakery for take-home baked goods and candies. I can vouch for the bienenstich, the croissants, the rye bread......The second recommendation is a teeny, cozy restaurant called La Kitchenette which serves French food and, I think, run by a French family.

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2745 posts

Even though I live in a tiny little town, we are blessed with several fine places for European taste treats. There is a Dutch deli that imports most if their goodies from the Netherlands and Germany. A 10 minute walk away is a fine restaurant owned and run by an Austrian couple- he cooks and she oversees the dining room. Since it hot too cold for patio dining, we've indulged with takeout from them a few times, including my favorite melt in your mouth braised lamb shanks. We also had a shop that made wonderful gelato in the summer, and year round produced fabulous hand made Belgian chocolates. Sadly it succumbed due to the pandemic closures.

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2455 posts

One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants is Serafina. We were last there in Oct. 2019 to celebrate our birthdays. It’s in Seattle, east Lake Union. It reminds us of a small, charming Trattoria in Italy. It’s been consistently great for almost 30 years. We can’t resist their signature dish- Melanzane Eggplant involtini, ricotta, basil, tomato sauce, capellini aglio e olio. We started with a wonderful roasted mushroom soup, Arancini- mushroom risotto fritto, squash, pumpkin seed oil, Valle d’ Aosta fonduta. Dolci, Cioccolata- Flourless chocolate torte with vanilla gelato. Delizioso! Presently, I believe they are doing take out. We were looking forward to returning this fall since we missed our trip to Sicily. Serafinaseattle.com
Thanks Jean for this fun thread!

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1512 posts

Hungarian sisters have been baking in a small shop named for Crixa, the rabbit warren in Watership Down, since 1998.
They make Kifli and apple cake and walnut slices that rival anything you'd find in Budapest, because they've got the ingredients sourced from here on the Best Coast :-)

From their page:
"DO YOU MAKE EVERYTHING AT CRIXA CAKES?
Yes, everything is scratch-baked on-site. Scratch-baked means our cakes are made from flour, sugar, butter, oil, chocolate, or whatever basic ingredients they require – not from a package cake mix. It also means that we make all of our own doughs, like puff pastry, danish, and pie doughs, rather than purchasing them ready-made.
DOES CRIXA USE ORGANIC INGREDIENTS?
Crixa’s use of pure ingredients and slower hand-made processes isn’t new or trendy – it’s the way our better tasting baked goods have traditionally been produced."

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1802 posts

We live in Brooklyn but there is a Croatian butcher in Astoria, Queens that sells products he imports. Besides Candy and cookies, they have the best ćevapčići (sausage) and kajmak which is a Soft, spreadable cheese from Serbia. In our neighborhood we have many Greek restaurants, choosing one is difficult. There is one Lebanese restaurant, Le Sajj, that has the best hummus we have ever eaten. The owner told us he convinced his aunt to move to the US to work with him, she is the only one who makes the hummus.

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6211 posts

Two places come to my mind right off the bat. In Corvallis where I live we have the greatest local 'everything' store that reminds me of some of the stores I wandered into in Europe. It sells everything from cosmetics to furniture and everything in between. Excellent collection of fun gifts for kids and adults, gourmet foods from all over (including local), a kitchen store that Julia Child would appreciate including tons of artisan kitchen/dining linens. I did some Christmas shopping there today, including a lovely blown glass ornament and some crazy socks for my daughter. The Inkwell Homestore, Corvallis OR.

The other one that springs to mind is in the neighboring town of Albany OR. It's Novak's Hungarian Restaurant. Very authentic Hungarian and some other Eastern European delights and a bakery too. Their chicken paprikash is excellent!

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4388 posts

For some reason, Tulsa has a surprising number of really good Italian restaurants. Probably the most "authentic" is Villa Ravenna. They make their own pastas and serve dishes like cinghiale and others that aren't usually found here. And some Christmas Eve we're going to try their Dinner of the Seven Fishes... This place is probably the priciest Italian restaurant in Tulsa, but it's a real treat. Biga is run by an American of Italian descent; it's quite good with great pasta selections. Our own favorite closed last spring; they had a monthly wine dinner that was 4 small plates courses, each with an Italian wine, for $35, tip and tax included. Biga has a weekly wine dinner, also 4 courses, but larger portions, for $45 + tip and tax, but they don't limit themselves to Italian fare.

Ti Amo is locally owned, with a great atmosphere. I don't think it's as good as the others I've mentioned, but it's quite pleasant and not too expensive. We have friends for whom this is their favorite, so we occasionally meet them there.

There are several others that are well thought of locally, but we've never tried them.

There are two German restaurants. One of them, Seigi's, specializes in house-made sausages, and is run by a German immigrant. The other is run by a Polish woman, who figured German food would attract more people than Polish, unfortunately. Both places are highly thought of in the area.

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5536 posts

We've (Kansas City) lost a lot of good ones, so far. My favorite still open is Grünauers, an upscale Viennese place.

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661 posts

Wow! A real fun thread - food and travel, what could be better?

There is a fabulous German deli and market right in my little city of Burien called “Hans Sausage & Delicatessen” that you simply will be transported back to Germany upon entering. The aromas from all the meats and cheeses are heavenly. The selection of fermented veggies, pickles, mustard, beer, and treats like cookies and candies is fabulous also. During the holiday season they even have a selection of ornaments and advent calendars that remind me of my childhood in Garmisch.

Gelatiamo in downtown Seattle has excellent gelato - love my favorites pistachio and hazelnut but they also make a delicious rice flavor that pairs well with either of the nut gelatos.

DeLaurenti - is an Italian market and deli on the corner of Pike Place Market that simply has the best selection of Italian goodies and delights. I used to spend my entire lunch break shopping there. Now, that I’m retired and don’t travel to downtown Seattle much anymore, I kind of miss that time in this great market.

Il Corvo- A real hole in the wall place that had lines out the door for their fresh pasta. Only three pasta selections per day and it really took me back to those small trattoria’s in Florence I became accustomed to. Sadly, this little gem has closed due to the pandemic. The owner’s West Seattle restaurant, Il Nido, is probably temporarily closed until Governor Inslee changes the indoor dining protocols. But the food and service here is top notch.

Linda

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95 posts

Jean, perfect timing for this post! I plan to be in Coeur d'Alene on Sunday, and, although I wasn't planning on getting gelato, after reading your post and looking at the website and flavors offered at the Gelato by the Lake, it seems a trip will be in order! Who cares if it's 20 degrees!

One of my favorite local shops here is Spokane is the Kiev Market, which sells Russian/Slavic region products. Such a fun array of goods here! I'm able to obtain my farmer's cheese for pierogi here, and they have good kielbasa. I don't know if they started to carry these again, but previously I could buy Solidarnosc chocolate covered plums here. I am addicted to these!

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691 posts

We're lucky here in Kansas (as far Europe as you can get), We had a person who spent several years working in a Pizza place in Naples come home and brought the recipes and wood burning oven with him. His little restaurant has been a big hit.

In the small town of Mulvane, Ks there is an Italian family that set up a restaurant called "Luciano's" that is authentic italian food, even the ambience is like a evening in our favorite Italian restaurant.

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942 posts

The DC area is home to many immigrants so there are choice selections. The German Gourmet now run by Swiss where I buy my meat and chocolates, the small Ethiopian restaurant run by a woman who lived in both Ethiopia and Germany or the Argentinian gelato shop with the world's best homemade gelato outside of Italy..

We are lucky in America to have so many immigrants from so many lands willing to share their food with US. Long may it last.

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2237 posts

My favorite local restaurant that is evocative of Europe unfortunately is a victim of the pandemic. It was a spectacular white table cloth Italian restaurant named Renato's. The owner (Renato, of course) was born in Lucca and grew up along the Amalfi coast.

My new favorite for the area (and my prior #2) is located in nearby Greenville. The Schwaben House has a German chef/owners. Great food and ambience. Multiple servers speak German, so it's a good opportunity to practice my German, too.

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1190 posts

Not in my town and not European, but.....
For me no trip to Florida is complete with out a day spent in Tarpon Springs, a historically Greek fishing community with restaurants, bakeries, and views of the bay. The local Greek orthodox church holds a dive in the bay to find a special cross on Epiphany

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7955 posts

In the burbs where I live there are many restaurants to choose from. There is a truly authentic Italian place called Olive Garden. It’s almost like being in Italy. Lol! I hope you know this is a joke. We do have many restaurants, many of them chains. I can’t wait to get back to Europe!

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7971 posts

Jean! If it weren't so gray and gloomy again today I'd head there right now, lol! I took my SIL downtown yesterday and if I'd known I'd have left her to shop and headed for gelato. They look like they have a wonderful selection of dairy free sorbettos so that's awesome! Thanks!

Doric...used to love going up to Tarpon for Greek food when I lived in Eastern Hillsborough county!

Andrea....just laughing. So funny! If only those Italians in Italy would learn to cook right....

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3612 posts

Andrea, yes your “There is a truly authentic Italian place called Olive Garden. It’s almost like being in Italy. Lol!” did make me laugh! Ugh, heated up frozen food! It also reminded me of this post last year: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/but-i-prefer-the-olive-garden

I am really enjoying reading all of your comments! It makes me happy that so many places still have proud heritage restaurants and shops! I grew up in Iowa, have cousins in DC, NYC, Texas, Kansas and Colorado besides relatives in Iowa, so I’ll bookmark this post with your responses. I have had a lot of gelato daily in Italy (it’s the one thing I am very picky about with visible color, container type, consistency, density, etc.). and other locations and ate Gelatiamo when we lived near Seattle. When we moved to Coeur d’Alene, I had low expectations, but it is truly fantastic.

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68 posts

Fun thread.
I agree with Linda that Hans Deli in Burien is excellent (they were my customer in the past, and I can tell you that you could eat off the floor where they make their sausages).
I also like Bai Tong in Tukwila. They started as a restaurant for the Thai Airline crews that stayed in Seattle long before you could find Thai food everywhere (1989). The quality is still two steps above the average Thai restaurant.
Taqueria Casa Mixteca in Burien has excellent Mexican food from the Oaxaca region.
Love the paella and tapas at Andaluca restaurant in Seattle.
There are lots of good Italian restaurants, but I haven't found one that is as good as the great ones in Italy. I will try Serafina though when we can eat in restaurants again.
Oops...Just noticed the topic was supposed to be limited to European.

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5759 posts

Jane, now I am so curious about those restaurants in Tulsa! It has never occurred to me to try anywhere. Could be fun to take my parents next time I am home. (Although, if my husband is along, his is the only Italian cooking they want !)

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2455 posts

Ooooh I thought of another holiday treat that we enjoy at our holiday brunch. Danish Kringle from Larsen’s Danish Bakery in Seattle, WA. Since 1974 Larsen’s has been making their signature Kringle with layers of flaky buttery crust, enclosing filling of Almond Paste, topped with sugar and sliced almonds & shaped in the traditional pretzel shape. It’s a delicious masterpiece! Larsensbakery.com
(They also supply our local supermarkets as well.).

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154 posts

We live in Europe (France) so our hometown doesn't qualify, but we spent a short while in Dayton, Ohio. When our children were very young, we had some medical issues we had to tackle. Just down the street from the Dayton Children's Hospital is the Amber Rose restaurant. They specialize in eastern European food and my memories of lunches and dinners there are quite pleasant. I hope they make it through the pandemic.

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349 posts

Cafe Alsace in Decatur, Georgia

Decatur, adjacent to Atlanta, is home to a little corner of France in this cozy and charming restaurant owned and operated since 1997 by Alsace native Benedicte Cooper.

Decatur is a foodie destination and I could walk to dozens of restaurants from my house but Cafe Alsace is my favorite. I feel like I’m in France, in someone’s home, because it’s a tiny place with maybe 10 tables.

I love Benedicte’s fig-honey salad dressing, crepes, spaetzle, onion tart, coq au vin, profiteroles, and her homemade ice cream. Benedicte also offers lovely French textiles for sale such as kitchen towels, aprons, etc.

Sigh I’m hungry just writing about it.

Fun thread!!

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1660 posts

@Janis-I have eaten at Serafina in Seattle. Oh, about 25 years ago and I had no idea it was still around! I had a memorable meal there. Now, I will have to go back when I return to Seattle! (My hometown).

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2599 posts

Andrea, you beat me to it! We also have branches of that Scottish chain.

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1503 posts

In east Phoenix, the German Sausage Company makes the best sausage. The wieners are soooo goood. There used to be a German bakery next door ( it moved when the sausage company expanded ) and a German restaurant ( decided to close when the rent increased ).

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2144 posts

My little town near San Francisco has a wonderful German restaurant/beer garden called Speisekammer; the owners are from Bavaria and their food is quite authentic, including those little Nurnberg sausages. I am most likely to order sauerbraten or Jagerschnitzel. We had a totally fabulous Lithuanian restaurant up until this spring when the owner decided to move back to Lithuania--the food was so good it inspired me to visit Vilnius last year. They were the only Lithuanian restaurant on the west coast and I am missing it terribly.

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1038 posts

Andrea, you crack me up! And don't forget about Panera for... something... roomy tables, maybe!
Berkeley has a fabulous pizza place (The Cheeseboard) that's been around for decades. It's a worker's co-op (this IS Berkeley!) and they make only one kind of pizza each day. It started as a cheese shop and that's really evocative of France and Italy.
Some years back they added a bakery to their offerings and I think that they make the best baguette this side of Paris.

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488 posts

Andrea, thanks for the humor. And unfortunately, you are right, in our part of the world, it is mostly chains.

We did visit once a brew pub/restaurant that had wonderful tapas.

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1512 posts

@Christa -- I was going to mention Mama/Papa Lithuania in Alameda, and I didn't realize that they closed, darn!
It reminded me of the places my parents' generation would frequent off South Street in Phila.,
except for the amber tea, ha.

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59 posts

I love, love Greek food and was so happy to learn there's an authentic restaurant near where I live! LA and San Diego have their fair share of truly special Greek eateries, but I was so happy to have one so close to my place.

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867 posts

Accidental Southerner, I am going to be in Decatur for a few weeks over Christmas and have bookmarked Cafe Alsace. A meal of pick up ought to be perfect some night. Thanks!

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4388 posts

Travelmom, I did a double take when I saw you were planning to have a French meal in Decatur; my first thought was "Decatur Texas?" Lol

My husband is from Decatur TX. There's some good Mexican food there, as well as good Cajun food, and some dandy fried catfish, but as far as I know, no French bistros. Yet.

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867 posts

@Jane, lol! Yes, still not too much in Decatur TX last time I drove through, but it’s not far from Denton so it could happen! :)
Edit: and some day I am going to drive through your direction and “holler”.

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3062 posts

Here in rural America we would have to have a European restaurant or shop before I could have a favorite.........

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283 posts

Nancy--I love both of those places! The Inkwell was always a stop when I would visit our kids when they were in school there. When I was in school, it was way too expensive for a student budget;)

We are in a small town near Seattle, and a lady in our neighborhood came from Europe a couple years ago. She has a home business making the most delicious cakes and cookies. Down The Piehole is her business, and Gabby is absolutely a delight! She brought over an assortment of European cookies the other day. My husband calls her fudge "crack", so we joke about stopping by the crack house;)

I too love Larsens, but there is another place nearby that makes wonderful kringles. Byen Bakery has really good ones!

My favorite place in Seattle itself for croissants and quiche is Cafe Besalu in Ballard. For breads, right next door to that is Tall Grass Bakery, for some amazing European breads.

Not European, but I do love Twisted, an authentic Cuban place in Woodinville.

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2455 posts

@mikliz97, thank you for your recommendations in our neck of the woods! In addition to Besalu Bakery's wonderful croissants another favorite is Cafe Nouveau (Capital Hill) for their Twice Baked Almond Croissant's. Used to make a stop there on break from my contract work at the hospital across the street! I will have to check out the Kringle at Syen Bakery. Oh, and Twisted Cuban- (close by) Have enjoyed a catered meal (pre-Covid) at a Cuban party. Their Yuca Frita (Cassava Fries) "are to die for." Need to do take out soon!

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283 posts

Janis--I forgot another great place in Mill Creek. Mon Amie is in the QFC shopping center on 527 and 164th. Tiny place, but really good! Also on 527 but in Everett (between 116th and 112th) is L'Artisan which is really good, but no atmosphere (IMO).

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283 posts

Janis--Yes, Twisted is sooo good! It's close to us too, and we keep saying we need to do take out from there. I am usually not a mojito fan, but wow, theirs are amazing! Had a pineapple one there that I was not sure about, but the owner insisted I try it and it was excellent!

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24660 posts

Cafe Nouveau (Capital Hill) for their Twice Baked Almond Croissants

Why do they need baking twice? That's a new one on me.....

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2455 posts

Nigel, thanks for asking! Bakery Nouveau has built up a reputation for being one of Seattle’s best bakery’s. What puts them over the top-elevating them above so many other bakeries in the area-is just one thing- twice baked almond croissants that are one of the specialties of the house. They are extra crisp, flaky, chewy and soft all at the same time, filled with almond paste and topped with a gentle fall of powdered sugar & sliced almonds. They are incredible! Who doesn’t need a little bit of comfort & something sweet this year! The Bakery has 2 locations.

Edited to add: Let’s put it this way: “A Croissant on steroids!” LOL!

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2455 posts

mikliz97- Thank you for more recommendations in our area- only a 10 min. drive. I have heard of them. The photos on their website's are amazing. Merci Beaucoup.

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283 posts

I have heard of, but not been to Cafe Nouveau.

We have a really good Greek place near us as well. A friend grew up in Greece and and absolutely loves it, and I can see why. Kafe Neo, in Mill Creek Town Center. There is another location on 99 down in Lynnwood, but this one is minutes from home. Oh and a macaron place is across from it, Frost.

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4664 posts

There's a really nice Austrian-style cafe in Islington called Kipferl (which is German for "croissant"). I haven't tried their croissants, but they have really nice cakes and Austrian wines.

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3612 posts

mikliz97,

We used to live in Mill Creek just up the hill from the Mill Creek Towne Center. I’m very familiar with Kafe Neo! Yes, great food. Funny, we don’t think of Frost Doughnuts as European - probably because we never ventured past the wide variety of specialty donuts.

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2455 posts

Jean, I recently PM’d mikliz97. We are also fans of Kafe Neo in Mill Creek. We haven’t been there for about a year (pre Covid). May have to do a take out order soon.

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283 posts

Hi Jean:) I was just at Central market yesterday and thought about going to Frost as I have a gift card to there. I figured after all the holiday goodies though, I should wait a bit;) That area has grown so much! I remember when the town center was just a field. Then a Mexican restaurant went in, and they had mariachi bands on the weekends. We could hear that from a friends house.

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661 posts

Janis, there are actually three Bakery Nouveau’s. The original in West Seattle on California Avenue, one on Capital Hill near the hospital AND one in Burien on 153rd. If you make your way to the Burien location, as you walk in, look down.

The twice baked chocolate croissant is also fabulous.

Linda

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661 posts

Sometimes I hesitate to recommend restaurants and/or businesses in West Seattle because of the bridge being out BUT - A really intimate and wonderful tapas restaurant in West Seattle is Itto’s. Although until they are able to open for indoor dining again, I would keep this in mind for a tapas experience not found very much in the Seattle area. Delicious Spanish and Moroccan dishes and the service was very personable on the 2-3 occasions I ventured inside.

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2455 posts

Linda,
Thanks for mentioning the multiple locations of Bakery Nouveau. The only location I have visited is Capital Hill. And you are spot on about the chocolate croissant as well. You can’t go wrong!

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2455 posts

I was recalling a Swedish cookie that we were able to purchase over 15 years ago. It was known as Alice’s Stick Cookies. Alice sold her cookies online or at local stores in CA. (Bay area). She hailed from Los Altos, CA. Unfortunately she retired in 2011. That said, I did some research and found a recipe with the same ingredients. It’s called Bruna Kakor. It’s like a cross between Shortbread and Biscotti. I found the recipe on www.Penzeys.com. It calls for Lyles Golden Syrup & Vanilla Sugar. Looking forward to trying the recipe.

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1660 posts

Ethnic food is tough to come by in Anchorage. There is a restaurant called West Berlin my husband likes, but I don’t care for it as much. Sausage, Snitzel, no thanks!

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1190 posts

An area in iowa w authentic German food is the Amana colonies.... it was a religious society that did group living, farming,woolen weaving, etc. Now has great restaurants and shopping. Is very close to iowa city. It might be a good locale for a "safe" trip this summer for anyone within driving distance

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283 posts

All this talk about croissants in Seattle made me place an order at Cafe Besalu for tomorrow morning. The kids are moving, so I will take a bunch of these over for everyone that is helping. Might have added a couple other things as well, that will not be shared;)

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3612 posts

Doric8, I’m glad to see you mentioned the Amana Colonies! I graduated from the University of Iowa and worked as an engineering intern at Cedar Rapids. Our work group had a wonderful dinner at the Amana Colonies, and I still have a beautiful wool plaid stadium blanket my mother bought me from their shop.

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3612 posts

Mikliz97, yum! Our daughter’s family is moving back to the Seattle area soon. I “feel obligated” to support that shop when we visit! LOL!

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283 posts

Jean--Love that, haha! I texted our daughter last night and told her about my order. She was so grateful! She misses it as her last apt in Ballard was just a short walk to it. Magnolia has been a great area to live, but not the same options;)

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283 posts

I can attest that the quiche at Cafe Besalu is still the best ever! The ham and Swiss croissants and almond croissants are pretty darn good too! The kids were all thrilled with the goodies yesterday, and two of them had not been to this place and loved the items. I brought the quiche home for my husband and I. Sooooo good! Plus they only do online orders right now, and curbside pickup. So I never had to get out of the vehicle, which is a big deal for me during the pandemic.

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2455 posts

mikliz97, Thanks for your updated “attest” for Cafe Besalu! Definitely is on our radar for “drive by” goodies! And yes, appreciate the curbside service. ;)

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283 posts

I went to Frost this week. Bought a box of macarons, yum! The marionberry one was both beautiful and delicious, not too sweet. They had some cute bags of them made up for Valentine's Day.

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3612 posts

I just made a batch of macarons last weekend- vanilla with a raspberry cream filling. Marionberry macarons would be wonderful!

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283 posts

Jean--Yum! We took a class on making macarons while in Paris once, and thought we would try it at home. So far we haven't, but I should!

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75 posts

What a wonderful thread! My mouth is watering and I'm taking notes!

Thanks for the tip about the Hungarian bakery in Berkeley avirosemail.

One of our favorite local bakeries here in San Mateo, CA is Backhaus Bread & Pastries. Started by a woman who moved to California from Germany and missed German bread; her heavy seeded rye loaf (my husband lovingly calls it "the brick") is authentically Westphalian. It's marvelous sliced thin and piled high with either smoked salmon or my homemade smoked Great Lakes whitefish paté. We also love her Christmas stollen, but golly it sells out fast. Occasionally she makes a marbled rye that takes me right back to my childhood; I sure wish she'd make it more often! In addition to German specialities, she also makes fabulous French baguettes, almond croissants, chocolate croissants and country loaves.

Not too far away in Pescardero is Harley Farms, a wonderful farmstead goat dairy that makes lovely fresh goat cheese, including ricotta. It fills the void when I'm longing for the wonderful fresh sheep's milk ricotta in Sicily or Malta.

Lastly, Chef Roy Shvartzapel of Oakland (who worked for Pierre Hermé, Ferran Adria and was mentored by panettone master, Iginio Massari) makes the lightest, most ethereal, most delicious panettone I've ever tasted. My MIL declared the traditional candied orange and raisin we sent her for Christmas the best gift she's ever received. I think that makes me her favorite (and only) DIL ever! wink wink ;-)