Comforts of home

In case you missed it, my column in this Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald was a quick round-up of some of recent baked bites I’ve sampled at some of the Peninsula’s local bakeries. I’ll be reposting my reviews and stories from my weekly column for the Herald here on my blog along with extra photos that didn’t appear in print.

The last month has been a bit of a blur for me. I spent most of April traveling up and down the central California coast: San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, then San Francisco again — and again.

My travels revealed how important the smallest of luxuries — like a delightfully airy cappuccino or a small sweet treat — were to maintaining my sanity. Taking the time to enjoy the simplest of life’s culinary pleasures as the world buzzed by helped ground me as I jetted here and there.

I made sure to start every trip with a cup of Acme coffee — bold enough to power through my travels, but smooth enough for a slow-down sip.

In need of a quick breakfast on the go, I turned to the bay’s bakeries, and figured I’d share some of my favorite baked bites with you.

Vive la France!

Provence Bakery is tucked away off the beaten path in a Prunedale strip mall — not exactly a location most of us would expect to find fine French pastries. But never judge a book by its cover — sometimes the most unlikeliest of locations have the best food.

Looks can be deceiving. Tucked away in a Prunedale strip mall, Provence Bakery has an assortment of fine French pastries.

That’s certainly the case here — brothers Greg and Guillaume D’Angio craft some really tasty pastries.

When my friend and I headed up to San Francisco, we dropped by Provence Bakery to grab a bite to eat on the road. We picked up a couple croissants, but when we spotted the menu of sandwiches, we decided to linger a little longer.

I sampled the sausage and French brie sandwich — a baguette topped with sausage, brie, lettuce and tomato ($8).

The sandwiches start with bread made fresh in the shop — the French baguette was nicely tender inside, with that little bite of crunch outside. (You can also buy a petite baguette for $3.) The combination of savory, spicy sausage with the tangy, creamy Brie was unexpected. I was a little disappointed that the lettuce and tomato distracted from these bolder flavors.

The croissants were perfectly flaky and buttery!

Later in the day, we devoured the croissants — a plain croissant ($2.50) and an almond croissant ($3). The almond croissant was packed with almond paste — but perhaps too much paste since it was just a tad too sweet for my tastes. But the plain croissant was perfect — delicately buttery and flaky!

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pastries in this very unassuming shop. It’s a shame its location probably keeps it flying under the radar for most local foodies.

But it looks like that is going to change in the near future! Provence Bakery has plans for a second shop closer to home — they’ll open in the Del Monte Shopping Center this summer.

Provence Bakery is at 8051 San Miguel Canyon Road in Prunedale. 521-9459. theprovencebakery.com.

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