This is the third post in the “An Unforgettable Anniversary Weekend In Sonoma” series highlighting Sonoma Valley and surrounding areas. Other posts in this series include Addendum and El Dorado Kitchen.
You can’t stop by Sonoma Plaza without visiting this quaint little bakery, which has been serving up all sorts of delectable baked goods in the area for close to twenty years.
Named after the Basque region in France (the area near the Pyrenees between France and Spain), the original owners wanted to pay homage to the region from which they emigrated. They brought over old world European baking methods, producing beautifully crusty loaves using traditional stone hearth ovens.
I spoke briefly with the current owner, Harman Bajwa, who took it over from the original owners less than two years ago after the original owners decided to retire. Bajwa told me he very much intends to preserve what the original owners worked so hard to build. He has kept the original staff, historic photos, and menu items.
This little boulangerie is very, very popular, and it's not hard to see why. All you have to do is to start looking around.
Loaves and loaves of all sorts of artisanal breads, such as crusty baguettes in various sizes, pull-apart “monkey” breads, and rows and rows of cakes, pastries, and cookies, are displayed around the various walls.
A large chalkboard up ahead lists their sandwiches and various coffee options. They have many of the standards (such as Pastrami, Reuben, Grilled Cheese, and Tuna Melt), though there are also some more unusual sandwiches that you don’t find as often,
Prosciutto and Brie
such as the Prosciutto and Brie (which was delicious) and the Tri Tip Sandwich, served with horseradish-Gruyere cheese.
During peak times, such as morning or lunch, the entire place can be packed. Locals and visitors alike sit at the few available tables , sipping on cappuccinos and nibbling on their morning pastries and savory breakfast sandwiches. An even larger crowd patiently waits in line to order various baked goods to go.
The bakery’s most famous item is the Beehive Cake, a sweet Danish cake made with custard and honey almond praline. Rachel Ray featured this dessert on her show, “Forty Dollars a Day.” You can buy a whole cake or order by the slice.
It’s moist, creamy, not-too-sweet, and overall a very enjoyable dessert. To me, it tastes very similar to a top-notch Boston Cream Pie, without the chocolate, of course.
For pastries, we loved the “Morning Roll”, a gorgeously delicate multi-layered cinnamon roll that has the finesse of a croissant but the flavor of a cinnamon bun.
It’s fantastic, and totally brings back memories of the similar type pastries Bryan and I used to eat at Carberry's in Cambridge (now closed) or at the Pacific Street Café.
Those who love raisins will enjoy a thick slice of their raisin toast with butter for breakfast. They make a huge variety of different types of breads, many of which are used on the sandwiches that they sell.
The ham & cheese breakfast sandwich is satisfying and rich, made with their all-butter croissant. One very fun thing to do is to pick up sandwiches to bring along to enjoy at a picnic in the vineyards (which is what we did - more on that later!).
They are known for their sourdough, which is very good (though I still give ACME Bread Company a bit of an edge in terms of the complexity of the sour taste).
All in all, this is a fantastic little bakery and most certainly worth visiting if you’re looking for a breakfast or lunch spot (or just a place to fuel that coffee addiction) while in Sonoma Valley. It’s very conveniently located in the middle of Sonoma Plaza.
For fun, order some sandwiches to enjoy during a lunch picnic overlooking the vineyards. It’s a wonderfully relaxing way to enjoy the area.
Disclaimer: this trip was organized by the Sonoma County Visitor's Bureau. Some of the activities and meals in this series, such as this meal, were paid for by the owners of the establishments.
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