Local Treats

Let us praise those commercially packaged goodies made right here in the Bay Area.  If you can’t find them in your neighborhood store, refer the manager to this Web page.  One thing most of these local treats have in common is availability at Whole Foods Market.  If this Texas company is aware of Bay Area’s finest, the other stores should get with the program!

The Bay Area’s Wine Country is one of the world’s top winemaking regions.  Thanks to its agricultural heritage, the Bay Area is also home to artisan cheese makers.  There may not be too many orchards left in the area, but the ones that have survived are still producing jams, preserves, and the like.  And a new generation of artisans is continuing the Bay Area’s long tradition of making the best breads and confections.

Classic Bay Area (1850s – 1950s)

Ghirardelli Chocolate (1852), Marin French Cheese (1865), Jelly Belly Candy (1869), Greenlee’s Bakery (1924), Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream (1928), IT’S-IT Ice Cream (1928), Bud’s Ice Cream (1933), Straus Family Creamery (1941), Kozlowski Farms (1949), Treat Ice Cream (1951), Polly Ann (1955)

Essential Bay Area (1960s – 1980s)

Peet’s Coffee & Tea (1966), Petaluma Poultry (1969), Niman Ranch (1970s), Donsuemor (1976), Otis Spunkmeyer (1977), Odwalla (1980), Bakers of Paris (1981), The Acme Bread Co. (1983), Aidells Sausage (1983), Semifreddi’s Bakery (1984), Sugar Bowl Bakery (1984), Sconehenge (19xx), Grace Baking (1987)

Standard Bay Area (1990s – present)

Marshall’s Farm (1990), Artisan Bakers (1992), The Bay Bread Group (1995), McEvoy Ranch (c1996), Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker (1996), Cowgirl Creamery (1997), Recchiuti Confections (1997), XOX Truffles (1998)

 

Local Treats

Let us praise those commercially packaged goodies made right here in the Bay Area.  If you can’t find them in your neighborhood store, refer the manager to this Web page.  One thing most of these local treats have in common is availability at Whole Foods Market.  If this Texas company is aware of Bay Area’s finest, the other stores should get with the program!

The Bay Area’s Wine Country is one of the world’s top winemaking regions.  Thanks to its agricultural heritage, the Bay Area is also home to artisan cheese makers.  There may not be too many orchards left in the area, but the ones that have survived are still producing jams, preserves, and the like.  And a new generation of artisans is continuing the Bay Area’s long tradition of making the best breads and confections.

Classic Bay Area (1850s – 1950s)

Ghirardelli Chocolate (1852), Marin French Cheese (1865), Jelly Belly Candy (1869), Greenlee’s Bakery (1924), Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream (1928), IT’S-IT Ice Cream (1928), Bud’s Ice Cream (1933), Straus Family Creamery (1941), Kozlowski Farms (1949), Treat Ice Cream (1951), Polly Ann (1955)

Essential Bay Area (1960s – 1980s)

Peet’s Coffee & Tea (1966), Petaluma Poultry (1969), Niman Ranch (1970s), Donsuemor (1976), Otis Spunkmeyer (1977), Odwalla (1980), Bakers of Paris (1981), The Acme Bread Co. (1983), Aidells Sausage (1983), Semifreddi’s Bakery (1984), Sugar Bowl Bakery (1984), Sconehenge (19xx), Grace Baking (1987)

Standard Bay Area (1990s – present)

Marshall’s Farm (1990), Artisan Bakers (1992), The Bay Bread Group (1995), McEvoy Ranch (c1996), Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker (1996), Cowgirl Creamery (1997), Recchiuti Confections (1997), XOX Truffles (1998)

 

1850s-1950s

 

1850s-1950s

Ghirardelli Chocolates

Ghirardelli Chocolate, San Leandro (1852, ghirardelli.com, lindt.com)

Ghirardelli chocolates may be more popular with tourists than chocolate aficionados (Ghirardelli Square may have something to do with that).  Nevertheless, any company that’s as old as California has been an American state must be doing something right.  The current product line includes baking chocolate and hot cocoa.  Founded by an Italian immigrant, Ghirardelli’s ownership has changed hands a few times since the early 1960s.  In 1998, it was sold to Lindt & Sprungli, the Swiss company known for its brand of Lindt chocolates.  There’s a Ghirardelli factory outlet at the East Bay headquarters.

Local and national retail:  Cost Plus World Market (worldmarket.com); Longs Drugs (longsdrugs.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); Pak N Save (safeway.com); Rite Aid (riteaid.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Save Mart Supermarkets (savemart.com); Target (target.com); Walgreens (walgreens.com); and others.

Rouge et Noir Artisan Cheese

Marin French Cheese, Petaluma (1865, marinfrenchcheese.com)

As the oldest cheese manufacturer in the country, it’s only fitting that this Sonoma County company accomplished in 2005 what two California wineries managed to do in 1976:  upset the French in competition.  Marin French Cheese’s Triple Crème Brie won in its class at World Cheese Awards (finefoodworld.co.uk) in London.  One of its more unusual products is quark, a tangy soft cheese that’s a staple in Germany.  If you enjoy ricotta, you’ll probably like quark.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Bi-Rite Market (biritemarket.com); The Cheese Board Collective (cheeseboardcollective.coop); COPIA (copia.org); Cosentino’s Markets (cosentinosmarkets.com); Costco Wholesale (costco.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Farmer Joe’s Marketplace (farmerjoesmarket.com); Gene’s Fine Foods (Saratoga/Pleasanton); Genova Delicatessen (Oakland/Napa); Lucca Delicatessen (luccadeli.com); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); The Milk Pail Market (milkpail.com); Molinari’s Delicatessen (molinarideli.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); Raley’s (raleys.com); The Real Food Co. (realfoodco.com); Sunnymount Produce (Sunnyvale); Village Market (villagemkt.com); Village Market (villagemarketsf.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); Zanotto’s Downtown Market (zanottos.com).

Jellybeans

Jelly Belly Candy, Fairfield (1869, jellybelly.com)

Founded by German immigrants (the company’s former name was Herman Goelitz Candy), Jelly Belly remains family-operated.  President Ronald Reagan loved jellybeans so much he made sure they were stocked in the Oval Office and on Air Force One.  The company makes about 50 flavors of jellybeans, including such popular choices as Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Root Beer, Grape, and Licorice.  Jelly Belly also markets 10 flavors of Sport Beans and five types of chocolate-flavored jellybeans called JBz.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Cost Plus World Market (worldmarket.com); Longs Drugs (longsdrugs.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); Oliver’s Market (oliversmarket.com); Piedmont Grocery (Oakland); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Raley’s (raleys.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Save Mart Supermarkets (savemart.com); Sports Basement (sportsbasement.com); Target (target.com); Village Market (villagemkt.com); Walgreens (walgreens.com); Wal-Mart Stores (walmart.com); and others.

Cinnamon Bread

Greenlee’s Bakery, San Jose (1924, greenleesbakerysj.com)

You can have this bakery’s signature cinnamon bread with or without raisins.  Unlike other local bakeries, Greenlee’s makes sure its products are available at farmers’ markets (pcfma.com, urbanvillageonline.com, cafarmersmarkets.com, cafarmersmkts.com).  The company’s current owners prove that America is still a nation of immigrants:  he is from Germany, and she is from Mexico.  Their daughter operates Café Rosalena next-door.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Bruno’s Market and Deli (brunosmarket.com); Cosentino’s Markets (cosentinosmarkets.com); DeMartini Orchard (demartiniorchard.com); Encinal Market (Alameda); Farmer Joe’s Marketplace (farmerjoesmarket.com); Gene’s Fine Foods (Saratoga/Pleasanton); Green Earth Natural Foods (San Francisco); Piazza’s Fine Foods (piazzasfinefoods.com); Piedmont Grocery (Oakland); Sigona’s Farmers Market (sigonas.com); Village Market (villagemkt.com); Zanotto’s Downtown Market (zanottos.com).

Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream

Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Oakland (1928, dreyers.com, dreyersinc.com, nestle.com)

Founded by William Dreyer and Joseph Edy, Dreyer’s is now a $2 billion company.  Think of Dreyer and Edy as the Hewlett and Packard of the ice cream business.  The company was the first to introduce Rocky Road in 1929.  By the late 1970s, Dreyer’s had become the leading ice cream manufacturer on the West Coast.  In 1981, the company went public and began selling ice cream under the name Edy’s east of the Rockies (probably to avoid confusion with Breyers, an established brand in that part of the country).

Dreyer’s merged with Swiss food giant Nestlé’s American ice cream business in 2003, joining forces with Haagen-Dazs.  Nestlé acquired the company three years later.  As a wholly owned subsidiary, Dreyer’s is no longer a public company.  It still operates an ice cream shop at its headquarters on College Avenue.

The one that got away:  To gain federal approval for the 2003 merger, Dreyer’s had to sell the Dreamery Ice Cream and Whole Fruit Sorbet product lines to a competitor.  That’s a shame because Dreyer’s/Edy’s Dreamery Vanilla always performed well in taste tests.  It’s much harder to find the current owner’s Dreamery products (dreameryicecream.com) in supermarkets.

Local and national retail:  Supermarkets everywhere.

IT’S-IT Ice Cream Treat

IT’S-IT Ice Cream, Burlingame (1928, itsiticecream.com)

Hardly anyone gives ice cream sandwich a second thought these days.  Well, somebody had to “invent” it.  George Whitney first served vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate in 1928, and IT’S-IT was only available in San Francisco until the 1970s.  It wasn’t until the 1980s when this local food was sold outside the Bay Area.  Even now it’s only available west of the Rockies.  Indeed, for a minimum order and service fee, you can have IT’S-IT delivered anywhere in the Bay Area except the Wine Country.  No wonder it was named “the official food of San Francisco.”

IT’S-IT comes in four flavors:  vanilla, chocolate, mint, and cappuccino.  The company also offers slight variations with different “buns” (chocolate chip cookies or chocolate wafers instead of the classic oatmeal cookies) and ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts.  You can spot this local treat’s plant as you drive through the Peninsula on U.S. 101 near the airport.

Local and national retail:  Albertsons (albertsons.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Raley’s (raleys.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Save Mart Supermarkets (savemart.com); Smart & Final (smartandfinal.com); and others.

Bud’s of San Francisco Ice Cream

Bud’s Ice Cream, San Francisco (1933)

Berkeley Farms, Hayward (1910, berkeleyfarms.com)

Wherever you travel in America, you’ll find local companies making ice cream in every region.  Some of these vendors would eventually go national a la Dreyer’s and Ben and Jerry.  Bud’s didn’t hit its stride until it was sold to the namesake founder’s cousin, Alvin Edlin, in 1952.  By the 1970s, this Noe Valley ice cream shop had become quite popular in San Francisco and beyond.  Edlin sold the business in 1980, and Berkeley Farms later acquired the company in the early 1990s.  You can still find what made Bud’s famous (Bittersweet Chocolate and Brown Cow Palace, for example) on the West Coast.

Local and national retail:  Circle K Stores (circlek.com); Dehoff’s Key Market (various locations); DeLano’s IGA Markets (delanomarkets.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Fastrip Food Stores (fastrip.com); Jetro Cash & Carry (jetro.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); PITCO Foods (pitcofoods.com); Rite Aid (riteaid.com); 7-Eleven (7-eleven.com); Smart & Final (smartandfinal.com); Walgreens (walgreens.com); Wal-Mart Stores (walmart.com); and others.

Dairy Products

Straus Family Creamery, Point Reyes Station (1941, strausfamilycreamery.com)

Before hot tubs made it famous, Marin County is better known as California’s oldest dairy region.  Founded by a German immigrant, Straus continues to sell milk in quaint glass bottles.  Its European-style butter contains less moisture than most, making it ideal for cooking.  Straus also makes ice cream (five flavors) and yogurt (including a maple syrup version).

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Bi-Rite Market (biritemarket.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Elephant Pharm (elephantpharm.com); Farmer Joe’s Marketplace (farmerjoesmarket.com); Good Earth Natural Foods (goodearthnaturalfoods.net); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); Raley’s (raleys.com); The Real Food Co. (realfoodco.com); Village Market (villagemkt.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com).

Kozlowski Farms Apple Butter

Kozlowski Farms, Forestville (1949, kozlowskifarms.com)

A family business started by the daughter of Spanish immigrants, this orchard in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley produces 70 spreads, vinegars, dressings, and sauces.  The array of spreads includes jams, preserves, fruit butters, jellies, marmalades, mustards, and chutneys.  Newbies should start with Kozlowski’s Apple Butter, concentrated applesauce for grownups.  Besides Apple Butter, the most popular items are Blackberry Syrup & Sauce, Red Raspberry Vinegar, Blackberry Jam Seedless, Mango & Apricot Roasted Chipotle Grill Sauce, Mustard, and Honey Mustard Dressing.  You’ll find Kozlowski’s pies in Wine Country markets.  The company also provides canning services for other orchards such as C.J. Olson Cherries (cjolsoncherries.com).

Local and national retail:  Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); and others.

Treat Ice Cream

Treat Ice Cream, San Jose (1951, treaticecream.com)

For a company that’s been making ice cream for more than half a century, Treat is still relatively anonymous.  That’s because it does mostly OEM business, allowing customers such as Lunardi’s Supermarkets to put their names on Treat’s products.  Its customer base consists of dozens of local ice cream parlors, restaurants, and caterers, plus a handful of supermarket chains.  Among the 40 different flavors of ice cream, Coconut-Pineapple and Banana Nut are clear winners.  The founder’s favorite is something called Tin Roof Sundae, a combination of vanilla, fudge, and peanuts.  His wife prefers Strawberries ’N Cream.

Treat also makes a smaller assortment of low-fat and seasonal flavors, as well as a few sherbets and sorbets, and vanilla frozen yogurt.  Keep in mind you won’t find all 40 regular flavors in stores.

Local and national retail:  Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); and others.

Polly Ann Ice Cream

Polly Ann, San Francisco (1955, pollyann.com)

A longtime favorite ice cream parlor in San Francisco’s Sunset District, Polly Ann has added more Asian-inspired flavors, thanks to the current owners’ background.  This explains why you will only find their products in Asian supermarkets.  Since all major ice cream companies make Green Tea, Dulce de Leche, and Mexican Chocolate these days, Americans are ready for Lychee, Red Bean, and Sesame.  In addition to the 50 regular flavors of ice cream, Polly Ann also makes ice milk bars (Popsicles).

Local and national retail:  Lion Food Center (various locations); Marina Food (various locations); 99 Ranch Market (99ranch.com); and others.

 

1960s-1980s

 

1960s-1980s

Coffee

Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Emeryville (1966, peets.com)

Before Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse (chezpanisse.com) made people rethink what they ate and where food came from, Dutch-born Alfred Peet started a similar coffee revolution in the same neighborhood.  Sure, Peet’s is not as well-known as Starbucks Coffee, but his place in the history of coffee consumption in the U.S. is secure because his company was the original gourmet coffee roaster.  That and the fact the founder of Starbucks was a Peet’s employee.  The company’s focus is on selling ground coffee and whole coffee beans.  You can still visit the late Peet’s first store in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto.

Local and national retail:  Bel Air Markets (raleys.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); QFC (qfconline.com); Raley’s (raleys.com); Ralphs (ralphs.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Save Mart Supermarkets (savemart.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

Rocky and Rosie Chickens

Petaluma Poultry, Petaluma (1969, petalumapoultry.com)

In 1986, Petaluma Poultry introduced Rocky, the first commercially available free-range chicken.  A smaller version called Rocky Jr. was marketed two years later.  This Sonoma County farm’s chickens are fed a vegetarian diet that contains no antibiotics.  The latest addition is Rosie, a free-range chicken raised on organic feed.  Rosie weighs slightly more than Rocky Jr. and is a pound lighter than Rocky.  Petaluma Poultry also sells chicken franks called Rocky Dogs.

Local and national retail:  Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

Natural and Organic Meats

Niman Ranch, Alameda (1970s, nimanranch.com)

Niman Ranch started out with its own cattle.  Today its beef, pork, and lamb products come from a national network of 600 farmers and ranchers, who use a vegetarian feed with no antibiotics and no hormones.  Bill Niman published his first cookbook in 2008.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Trader Joe’s (traderjoes.com); and others.

Madeleines

Donsuemor, Alameda (1976, donsuemor.com)

Named after founders Don and Susie Morris, this bakery makes only one thing:  the small French teacake immortalized in Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past.”  Donsuemor offers madeleines in four varieties:  traditional, dipped, lemon zest, and chocolate.  This East Bay company used to package these buttery, scallop-shaped cakes in chic, gold-striped plastic bags made in France.

Local and national retail:  Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (coffeebean.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Nordstrom (nordstrom.com); Peet’s Coffee & Tea (peets.com); Ralphs (ralphs.com); Trader Joe’s (traderjoes.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com).

Outside California:  Albertsons (albertsons.com); Balducci’s (balduccis.com); The Food Emporium (thefoodemporium.com); Gourmet Garage (gourmetgarage.com).

Otis Spunkmeyer Muffins

Otis Spunkmeyer, San Leandro (1977, otisspunkmeyer.com)

If Acme Bread represents one end of the spectrum—low-key and no Web site—Otis Spunkmeyer is quite the opposite.  Of all the local companies profiled here, it’s the only one whose products you can find in vending machines.  Back in the 1980s, this East Bay bakery with the memorable name was the darling of the press.  Otis Spunkmeyer was originally a chain of retail cookie stores and then shifted to the wholesale business by 1983.  Its muffins were a cut above the likes of Hostess CupCakes.  The current product line includes cookies, breads, coffee cakes, muffins, brownies, Danish pastries, and bagels.

While many of the local artisan bakeries try to manage business growth carefully, Otis Spunkmeyer is not exactly a boutique bakery.  Its customer base comprises business cafeterias, schools, restaurants, healthcare facilities, government agencies, supermarkets, mass merchants, convenience stores, drugstores, and vending machine operators.

The company Web site is primarily for the wholesale customer, which makes it fascinating for consumers.  For instance, the site mentions the shelf life of muffins after thaw—if only we knew when a retail store thawed said muffins.  By the way, you’ll find these muffins on supermarket shelves next to such industrial brands as Svenhard’s, Entenmann’s, and, yes, Hostess.  So grab yourself an Otis Spunkmeyer muffin and wash it down with Snapple—the experience will bring you back to the 1980s.

Local and national retail:  Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); and others.

Fruit Juices

Odwalla, Half Moon Bay (1980, odwalla.com, coca-cola.com)

Initially based just south of the Bay Area, Odwalla relocated to a small coastal town off Hwy. 1 in San Mateo County.  It makes over 30 fruit juices and about a dozen food bars.  All its juices are flash pasteurized (the company learned its lesson after an E.coli problem in 1996).  Odwalla ceased being a public corporation when it was acquired by The Coca-Cola Co. in 2002.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Cosentino’s Markets (cosentinosmarkets.com); Dehoff’s Key Market (various locations); DeLano’s IGA Markets (delanomarkets.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Elephant Pharm (elephantpharm.com); Good Life Grocery (San Francisco); Hardesters Market (various locations); Longs Drugs (longsdrugs.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); Nugget Market (nuggetmarket.com); Pak N Save (safeway.com); Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy (pharmaca.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Raley’s (raleys.com); The Real Food Co. (realfoodco.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Save Mart Supermarkets (savemart.com);  Tofu Patties (various locations); United Markets (unitedmarkets.com); Vallergas Market (vallergas.com); WinCo Foods (wincofoods.com); and others.

Palmiers

Bakers of Paris, Brisbane (1981, bakersofparis.com)

True to its name, this bakery on the Peninsula specializes in French baguettes and palmiers, the puff pastry cookies also known as palm leaves or elephant ears.  It also makes ciabatta, dinner and sandwich rolls, and an assortment of pastries (croissants, scones, muffins, and Danish pastries).

Local and national retail:  Cal-Mart Supermarket (San Francisco); DeLano’s IGA Markets (delanomarkets.com); Farmer Joe’s Marketplace (farmerjoesmarket.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

Artisan Breads

The Acme Bread Co., Berkeley (1983, acmebread.com [finally in 2010!])

Founded by a Chez Panisse alumnus, Acme Bread played a major role in the artisan bread movement that started in the Bay Area in the 1970s.  The aptly named Acme is to bread what Chez Panisse is to California cuisine.  Though its main focus is the wholesale market (supermarkets and restaurants), Acme does some direct retail business at the Ferry Building Marketplace (ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/acme_bread_company.php) and the original Berkeley location.  You’ll also find Acme Bread at farmers’ markets in Sunnyvale and Mountain View.  Its main products are baguettes and their bigger cousins, batards.  The bakery also makes cinnamon currant bread, brioche, and kulich.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Costco Wholesale (costco.com); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); Woodlands Market (woodlandsmarket.com); and others.

Memo to Acme Bread:  We can all respect the fact that Acme doesn’t do any PR.  But this is the 21st century, and the company should launch a Web site because it is just another communications tool like the telephone.  What information should Acme put on its site?  Well, a list of all the stores that sell Acme breads would be a start.

Sausages

Aidells Sausage, San Leandro (1983, aidells.com)

The Bay Area may not consume as much meat as other parts of the country, but it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate quality meat products.  Former chef Bruce Aidells makes his sausages using natural casings (pork or sheep) and no phosphates.  His East Bay company produces more than a dozen sausages and links.  You can also select from three kinds of meatballs.  Aidells has published several books since 1990.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Bel Air Markets (raleys.com); Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Cal-Mart Supermarket (San Francisco); Cosentino’s Markets (cosentinosmarkets.com); Costco Wholesale (costco.com); DeLano’s IGA Markets (delanomarkets.com); Diablo Foods (Lafayette); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Farmer Joe’s Marketplace (farmerjoesmarket.com); Food 4 Less (food4less1.com); FoodMaxx (foodmaxx.com); Gene’s Fine Foods (Saratoga/Pleasanton); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); Mill Valley Market (millvalleymarket.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); New Leaf Community Markets (newleaf.com); Nob Hill Foods (nobhill.com); Nugget Market (nuggetmarket.com); Pak N Save (safeway.com); Petaluma Market (petalumamarket.com); Piazza’s Fine Foods (piazzasfinefoods.com); Piedmont Grocery (Oakland); PW Markets (pwmarkets.com); Ralphs (ralphs.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Sam’s Club (samsclub.com); Scotty’s Market (scottysmarket.com); Smart & Final (smartandfinal.com); Village Market (villagemkt.com); Woodlands Market (woodlandsmarket.com); and others.

Artisan Breads

Semifreddi’s Bakery, Emeryville (1984, semifreddis.com)

Self-proclaimed bread and pastry nerds founded Semifreddi’s, another artisan bakery with East Bay connections.  The company’s breads include the usual suspects:  baguette, batard, egg bread (challah and cinnamon twist), ciabatta, levain, rustic sourdough, and rye.  Semifreddi’s also makes sandwich rolls, dinner rolls, and hamburger buns.  The bakery’s line of pastries ranges from Danish and scones to croissants and cupcakes.  The family-owned company’s personable Web site represents a good balance between commerce and personality.  (Acme Bread, what are you waiting for?)

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Lunardi’s Supermarkets (lunardis.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Trader Joe’s (traderjoes.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); Woodlands Market (woodlandsmarket.com); and others.

Petite Brownie Bites

Sugar Bowl Bakery, San Francisco (1984, sugarbowlbakery.com)

Sugar Bowl’s Madeleines and Petite Palmiers are pretty good, but this family-owned bakery’s bite-sized chocolate brownies are so good you can’t believe they’re out of a tub.  They’re moist and not too heavy—just right for those of us who aren’t chocoholics.  Warm them up in the microwave if you really want to indulge (they’re fine at room temperature).

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Costco Wholesale (costco.com); 99 Ranch Market (99ranch.com); QFC (qfconline.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Walgreens (walgreens.com).

Outside California:  BJ’s Wholesale Club (bjs.com); Uwajimaya (uwajimaya.com).

English Tea Scones

Sconehenge, Berkeley (1980s, sconehengeco.blogspot.com)

Cute name aside, this company’s packaged scones are as good as anything freshly baked at your local bakery.  Some of the best choices are honey pecan, cherry, ginger, currant, and cranberry/apricot.  Skip the apple cinnamon unless you love cinnamon in everything.  These scones are great straight up, but some of us are always looking for an excuse to bring out the lemon curd.  The company also operates a café in Berkeley.

Local and national retail:  Country Sun Natural Foods (countrysun.com); Sunnymount Produce (Sunnyvale); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

Memo to Sconehenge:  A lot of companies want a dream Web site.  Until that wish becomes reality—and most sites are less than ideal—it behooves any business at least to put up a one-page blog that provides the most basic information (what the company does, where the products are sold, and company background).

Pugliese Bread

Grace Baking, Richmond (1987, gracebaking.com, mapleleaf.com)

This East Bay company is so particular about its Italian bread it trademarked the name Pugliese, an unusual move for any bakery.  Grace Baking’s Pugliese (Puglia is a region of southern Italy) is a rustic loaf available in three versions:  regular, sourdough, and with black olives (Olive Bread).  The company makes three more sourdough loaves, potato bread, and baguettes.  Like Southern California’s La Brea Bakery, Grace Baking’s breads are partially baked and then shipped to retail stores where they finish baking.  Grace Baking has expanded its business at a faster pace than other Bay Area bakeries.  Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods acquired the bakery in 2002.

Local and national retail:  Costco Wholesale (costco.com); DeLano’s IGA Markets (delanomarkets.com); Lucky (luckysupermarkets.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Safeway (safeway.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

 

1990s-Present

 

1990s-Present

Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey

Marshall’s Farm, American Canyon (1990, marshallshoney.com)

Bees may be dying all over the world, so get your honey while you can.  Marshall’s Farm, based in Napa County, claims that eating local and seasonal honey might keep hay fever under control.  Well, it couldn’t hurt.

Local and national retail:  Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Cowgirl Creamery (cowgirlcreamery.com); Good Earth Natural Foods (goodearthnaturalfoods.net); Oakville Grocery (oakvillegrocery.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); The Real Food Co. (realfoodco.com); Village Market (villagemarketsf.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com).

Artisan Breads

Artisan Bakers, Sonoma (1992, artisanbakers.com, boudinbakery.com)

The founder of Artisan Bakers helped the three-member U.S. team win in the Baguette and Specialty Breads category at the 1996 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (Bakery World Champanionships), a quadrennial event starting in 2010 at the Europain (europain.com) trade show in Paris.  He was part of another winning team in 1999 (this time as the coach).  Besides award-winning breads, this Wine Country bakery also makes Danish pastries, pies, and tarts.  The company formed a partnership with Boudin Bakery in 2004.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Bi-Rite Market (biritemarket.com); Good Earth Natural Foods (goodearthnaturalfoods.net); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Petaluma Market (petalumamarket.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); Village Market (villagemkt.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

La Boulange Brioche Buns

The Bay Bread Group, South San Francisco (1995, baybread.com)

The traditional brioche is a muffin-sized soft roll shaped like a tam o’shanter.  Some people like to make French toast with slices of brioche when it’s shaped like a rectangular loaf.  The Bay Bread version looks more like hamburger buns and tastes great as is.  To ensure more control over the supply of organic flour, the company became a partner in an organic mill in Utah.  In order to sample the bakery’s long list of products, you’ll have to stop by one of its La Boulange retail stores in San Francisco.  You should also check out French-born founder Pascal Rigo’s 2003 book.

Local and national retail:  Trader Joe’s (traderjoes.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

McEvoy Ranch Olive Oil

McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma (c1996, mcevoyranch.com)

Nan McEvoy is not your typical rancher.  Her grandfather founded the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1860s; she herself served as head of the newspaper’s board from 1981 to 1995.  This little retirement project has turned into a cottage industry.  The Sonoma County orchard started with olive trees from seedlings imported from Tuscany and has grown to include lemons, apples, pears, and bees.  So in addition to Tuscan-style olive oil, her ranch also produces honey, lemon curd, lemon marmalade, apple butter, pear jam, and cured olives.  The California Olive Oil Council named McEvoy Pioneer of the Year in 2004—it’s never too late to start a new career.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Andy’s Produce Market (andysproduce.com); Bi-Rite Market (biritemarket.com); Bolinas People’s Store (Bolinas); Cal-Mart Supermarket (San Francisco); The Culinary Institute of America (ciachef.edu); Dean & DeLuca (deandeluca.com); Dry Creek General Store (dcgstore.com); Glen Ellen Village Market (sonoma-glenellenmkt.com); Good Earth Natural Foods (goodearthnaturalfoods.net); Lombardi’s Gourmet BBQ & Delicatessen (lombardisbbq.com); Mill Valley Market (millvalleymarket.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Nugget Market (nuggetmarket.com); Oakville Grocery (oakvillegrocery.com); Oliver’s Market (oliversmarket.com); Palace Market (Point Reyes Station); Paradise Foods (foodsofparadise.com); The Pasta Shop (rockridgemarkethall.com); Petaluma Market (petalumamarket.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); Sign of the Bear Kitchenware (Sonoma); Sonoma Market (sonoma-glenellenmkt.com); Sunshine Foods Partners (Saint Helena); Toby’s Feed Barn (tobysfeedbarn.com); Tomales Bay Foods (Point Reyes Station); Traverso’s Gourmet Foods & Liquors (traverses.com); United Markets (unitedmarkets.com); Woodlands Market (woodlandsmarket.com); and others.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bars

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Berkeley (1996, scharffenberger.com, hersheys.com)

Something of an acquired taste, Scharffen Berger’s bittersweet dark chocolates are not for everyone.  The name should look familiar because one of the co-owners had founded and then sold Scharffenberger Cellars, a champagne producer in Mendocino County.  Now that chocolate manufacturers are trying to place an emphasis on source and content (a la wine appellation), you might say this Bay Area company was ahead of the game.  The Hershey Co. acquired Scharffen Berger in 2005.

Local and national retail:  Andronico’s Market (andronicos.com); Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Fog City News (fogcitynews.com); Mollie Stone’s Market (molliestones.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

Artisan Cheese

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station (1997, cowgirlcreamery.com)

Continuing Marin County’s dairy heritage, Cowgirl manufactures triple-cream, aged cheeses called Red Hawk and Mt. Tam.  The company’s cheeses are made from Straus Family Creamery’s milk (strausfamilycreamery.com).

Local and national retail:  The Cheese Board Collective (cheeseboardcollective.coop); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); The Pasta Shop (rockridgemarkethall.com); Petaluma Market (petalumamarket.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); Woodlands Market (woodlandsmarket.com); and others.

Recchiuti Chocolates

Recchiuti Confections, San Francisco (1997, recchiuticonfections.com)

For those people who eat with their eyes, Recchiuti is a very special place.  Some of the chocolates are decorated with drawings and block prints, looking like cave paintings in some instances.  Piedmont Hazelnut resembles a chocolate diamond; it’s made of toasted hazelnuts from the Piedmont region of Italy coated in milk chocolate.  And Rose Caramel looks like a miniature éclair.  The company’s key lime pears/apples (fruit slices soaked in key lime juice and then dipped in dark chocolate) and champagne truffles have won rave reviews.  Co-owner Michael Recchiuti actually found time to publish a book in 2005.

Local and national retail:  Bi-Rite Market (biritemarket.com); Dean & DeLuca (deandeluca.com); Fog City News (fogcitynews.com); Rainbow Grocery (rainbowgrocery.coop); The Real Food Co. (realfoodco.com); and others.

XOX Truffles

XOX Truffles, San Francisco (1998, xoxtruffles.com)

Chocoholics in general—and truffle connoisseurs in particular—are quite familiar with XOX Truffles, a shop started by Fringale’s former chef and his wife.  The company makes about two dozen liquor and non-liquor truffles, including favorites like Caramel, Earl Grey, and a l’Orange.  To make sure all bases are covered, XOX Truffles offers a few vegan selections as well.

Local and national retail:  Berkeley Bowl Marketplace (berkeleybowl.com); Draeger’s Markets (draegers.com); Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com); and others.

Outside California:  Bhoomi Café & Chocolate (bhoomicafe.com).

Feed me:  If anyone wants to nominate another off-the-shelf item that’s locally produced—and off the hook—write to us.  Do you own or represent the companies mentioned on this page?  If you feel your retail information should be changed in any way, we should talk.

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