Monday, March 27, 2017

Easter Sweet Treats In The City

Dashing about the city this past weekend, determined to whittle away at my list of errands, I could not fail to notice the enchanting decorations and baked goods which filled the shops and bakeries in anticipation of Easter.   

My first port of call was the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market early on Saturday morning, where I spotted this stylish gentleman going about his business.

Chronica Domus
Surely, a 'Best Dressed' award is owed to this exquisitely turned out gentleman
Photo: Chronica Domus


Alongside the usual weekly purchases of fruits and vegetables, I popped one of these charming foil-wrapped chocolate rabbits into my wicker market basket. He will be secreted away until Easter morning when he will make a welcome appearance in Patience's Easter basket.

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A colony of foil-wrapped chocolate rabbits
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
Yet more rabbits, of the marzipan variety, are grouped together on a green glass cake stand
Photo: Chronica Domus


Rabbits, of course, are a popular symbol of Easter here in the United States.  When I was growing up in England, it was all about the egg.  Every confectioner worth their salt would manufacture hollow-shelled chocolate eggs and fill them with all manner of sugary concoctions and small toys. Attractively decorated in piped sugar icing or colorful foil, the eggs were the apple of every child's eye. Enthusiastically snapped up by eager parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, they were presented to junior members of the family.  I recall my sisters and I receiving many such ovoid treats in the run up to Easter, and the excruciating wait we endured until the big day arrived when we could finally devour them with gusto.

Chronica Domus
What child would not delight in receiving one of these charming confectionery laden baskets early on Easter morning?
Photo: Chronica Domus


I noticed that the freshly cut flowers for sale at the farmers' market possessed an air of Eastertide about them.

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Bunches of pastel colored ranunculus and anemones reminded me of dyed Easter eggs awaiting the hunt
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


Out and about again on Sunday, my family and I enjoyed lunch in the North Beach area of the city which is famed for its Italian restaurants and food markets.

Chronica Domus
If you are in the mood for old-fashioned Italian comfort food, I highly recommend a leisurely lunch at Piazza Pellegrini where everything is delizioso!
Photo: Chronica Domus


A postprandial saunter around Washington Square found us greeting this rather amiable fellow:

Chronica Domus
A friendly dog mascaraing as an Easter lamb
Photo: Chronica Domus


A partial view of Washington Square with the twin spires of Saints Peter and Paul church framed against gray skies
Photo: Chronica Domus


I was delighted to spot a familiar baked Easter specialty when we made a pit-stop into Victoria Pastry Company, an Italian bakery in operation since 1914 and located at the edge of Washington Square.

Chronica Domus
Candied citrus peel provided an unexpected Italian twist to this English Easter treat
Photo: Chronica Domus


A tempting tray of hot cross buns was calling my name.  Well, perhaps not the entire tray.  It has been many years since I've seen these buns for sale though I recall eating untold numbers of them in England where they remain a popular Easter baked treat.  The sweet spiced current-laden buns are sold by practically every baker in the land on Good Friday, when they are traditionally consumed. As you may already know, I champion tradition, but I was not prepared to wait another two weeks to eat my prize.  I happily shared it with Patience upon our return home, where she quickly proclaimed it to be scrumptiously delicious.

Chronica Domus
"Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns"
Photo: Chronica Domus


Tell me, do you have a particular favorite Easter sweet treat that you look forward to sampling at this time of year?


Nota bene: I am neither paid nor do I receive recompense in exchange for applauding products or services within my blog.  I do so because I enjoy them.  If you are a kindred spirit, you too enjoy recommending nice things to fellow good eggs.


34 comments:

  1. Hello CD, How lucky you are to have such nice markets with beautifully arrayed merchandise. We have many markets here, but they tend to run early, so that lets me out. Even so, they would have to work hard to equal the charm of California markets. As a special touch, I really liked those jade glass cake stands--proof that modern products can be attractive and high quality.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim,

      I think the farmers' market I attend on Saturday mornings must be one of the best in the country and I feel fortunate to be able to shop there for our fruits and vegetables, and much, much more.

      So pleased you liked the cake stand. I've several similar pieces here at home (made in the 1920s and 1930s) and I always associate the color with those early decades of the twentieth century.

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  2. Hot cross buns are my favourite! They are still very much a tradition here. I no longer eat baked goods due to my diet restrictions (celiac) but I remember many hot cross buns eaten around Easter when I was a kid.
    I buy them for my family still but bizarrely they are not fans.
    Such lovely photos from the market, thanks for sharing CD. xx

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    1. Hello DaniBP,

      Pleased to read that hot cross buns are available in Canada too, but feel bad that you are not able to partake in the pleasure of nibbling on one or two yourself. My husband had never sampled one until I gave him a bite from Sunday's foray to the bakery. He declared it "pretty good". There's hope for him.

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  3. I think a hot cross bun with a cup of Assam tea would be perfect. However, I have two vivid Easter memories...When I was a child, my late father brought home a decorated dioramic easter egg that was too pretty to eat. The dyed sugar shell contained little chocolate figurines in a pastoral setting. The second memory was an Italian vacation many years ago that coincided with Easter and seeing the vast variety of Perugina hollow chocolate eggs in their festive wrappings. They are readily available from US vendors now, but in the 80s they were rather unique to Italy.
    Best,
    KL Gaylin

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    1. Hello KL Gaylin,

      That is exactly how my daughter and I enjoyed our hot cross bun, with a strong cup of tea.

      I always thought those dioramic eggs were magical and I'm still in awe of the skill required to create them. I've not seen one in years so thanks for the reminder to seek one out one of these days.

      I still have a hard time finding those hollow chocolate eggs wrapped in foil here in the United States. They are in every grocer in England and all the major confectioners take pride in creating their version each Easter. I hope you occasionally indulge in a Perugina egg for old time's sake. I saw some for sale at one of the stores in the Ferry Building on Saturday, which is right by the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.

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    2. Wikipedia has an explanation
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Bunny

      Spud

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    3. My apologies, I meant to post the above reply to Coulda shoulda woulda's comment.

      Spud

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    4. Thank you, Spud. Well, that explains everything. Blame it on the Germans!

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  4. I dont do the easter egg thing though I give them to people but I do the hot cross bun thing for sure. Your market looks good and I love the flowers there. I do wonder why the easter rabbit thing -why is it the rabbit perse? I get the egg thing of course but I don't know how it became the mascot of Easter? Other than that bc I don't do Lent, I don't have that sense of relief that many who do Lent feel so maybe I should do Lent next year?!

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    1. Hello Naomi,

      I don't think many can resist a good hot cross bun so glad to read that you are an avid partaker in a tradition I've known since I was a wee gal.

      As cute as rabbits are, I will never understand their significance to Easter. I'm wondering if small children might be under the impression that they lay eggs.

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  5. Hello from Vanessa in Sydney! My earliest memory is Easter-themed. I toddled into the living room on Easter Sunday in the 1960's and was utterly struck dumb by the sight of two foil wrapped treasures sitting on top of the (enormous) television. One was a magnificently coloured Rooster, the other a sort of Br'er Rabbit character in overalls with one shoulder down. I remember standing transfixed before them, not daring to touch, and wondering how in the world they got there as they weren't there the night before!
    Hot Cross Buns? In this part of the world you have to love candied peel, which is a challenge for many children.

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    1. Hello Anon,

      Thank you for sharing such a delightfully joyous Easter memory, and one that I can fully relate to having had similar experiences with the foil wrapped chocolate treats we received as children. Ours were always egg-shaped and always welcomed.

      I've always loved candied (citrus) peel and I'm glad to say my teenage daughter does too. I do make an exception with those ghastly bright red cherries though. Nope, you can keep those!

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  6. Hello CD,

    Hot cross buns for me! I'm rather surprised they're a rarity in your part of the world. They're in abundance here in Australia in many forms - with and without dried fruit, gluten-free, with chocolate nibs and on and on. Somewhat ridiculously, they start to appear in supermarkets on Boxing Day.

    Easter holds some special memories for me as my father and his brother were confectioners. My uncle opened a shop in the 1930s and customers travelled from far and wide to purchase his goods. He retired in 1963 and closed the business but he and my father continued to produce Easter eggs for my father's own shop for many years after. Weeks before Easter the preparations would begin with the breaking of 20kg blocks of chocolate. The real work happened on Sunday mornings - in my mind I can still conjure up the distinctive aroma of freshly tempered warm chocolate. Soon every inch of spare space was covered with beautifully arranged baskets and boxes of chocolate bunnies, hens and eggs. My father and uncle worked together like two expert dance partners, so in tune with one another there was hardly a need to communicate. A sight to behold and a special memory for me at this time of year. (Thanks for indulging me.)

    Spud

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    1. Hello Spud,

      What splendid chocolatey memories you have of your father and uncle. I can only imagine the delectable smells coming from the melting pot. What visual feasts your eyes witnessed when all was said and done. I might just have been tempted to scoff a few bunnies and eggs myself, hoping I would not be caught in the act.

      I've not heard of hot cross buns with chocolate as an addition. To think, they are sold as early as Boxing Day - incredible! We are still eating our mince pies then.

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    2. This is one of the most beautiful memories I have ever read in my life!
      What a delightful job "Confectioners"; and what a lovely partnership! I won't forget this one!

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    3. Yes, Penelope Bianchi, Spud's memories are magical, especially the way she describes her father and uncle's teamwork, akin to a hand meeting a glove.

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    4. Thank you so very much for your comment, Penelope Bianchi. I am genuinely and deeply moved that my anecdote struck a chord with you.

      And I do love potatoes ;)

      Spud.

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  7. Hot cross buns always make me think of my late father. He always brought some home whenever they were available and I never realized they were associated with Easter until I was older. He was a fan of hot cross buns. My favorite memory of Easter was of the dioramic sugar eggs. I was fascinated with the fact that they had these scenes inside them and were so beautifully decorated on the outside as well.

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    1. Hello slf,

      Isn't it funny how we associate certain foods with people. I'm glad that hot cross buns are a pleasant reminder of your father. Have you seen them for sale yet in your part of the world? I'm now on the hunt to track down more so wish me luck.

      Also, I agree about the dioramic sugar eggs. They are miniature works of art and quite beguiling in their beauty.

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    2. Yes, I recently saw them in the bakery section of our supermarket. I was tempted but held off as I have been trying to cut down on the calories. However, seeing this post has changed my mind and I've decided to indulge myself. Afterall, my father would approve!

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    3. Pleased to read that hot cross buns have made an appearance in your locale. I'm sure your father would approve if you ate one on his behalf; diet be damned! Enjoy it.

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  8. Yet another charming post! My Dear Mother always had Easter eggs hidden and baskets laden with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans on the dining room table that she unsuccessfully implored us not to gorge on til after Sunday School and buffet at the club but what I really want to know is did Miss Bottle have her charges postprandial saunter with a book on your head?

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    1. Alas, GSL, Miss Bottle did not. All books in her classroom remained open upon our desks, waiting to be read under her firm guidance.

      What a lovely vision you share of young GSL secretly scoffing away at his Easter basket with relish and gusto. Jelly beans do that to me too.

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  9. Charming post......beyond! And both you and San Francisco are so civilized.....what a delightful read and peek! And that gent is very elegant! I am so happy to see him!

    (please ask people to stop spelling it peak!) Oh so cranky in my old age! A peak is to climb.....a "quick look" is a peek! Lordy!!!

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    1. Hello Penelope Bianchi,

      In our increasingly casual city, it was a delight to have laid eyes upon that elegant gent shopping at the market. Civility at its best!

      Oh, and let's not forget the word pique, as in "you have piqued my curiosity". Peek or peak will not do!

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  10. I love Easter. It's the prettiest holiday. I love chocolate bunnies. I had a chocolate allergy as a child and could never have them and am making up for lost time!!

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    1. Gosh, Jen Lawrence, a childhood chocolate allergy! How torturous. I'm glad your allergies have subsided as you've grown.

      Happy bunny eating!

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  11. Hang on - you don't get Hot Cross Buns in the US?? I am shocked! They are so delicious, and sweet, that I'd have thought the US market would go crazy for them! I succumbed to them the other day. I've been buying them for the children, and avoiding eating them myself as once you start... it's hard to stop. Here they make an appearance in the shops after New Years eve. I kid you not. We have a 4 month Hot Cross Bun season now and they are everywhere, not a specialty item. I tried making them once, but they turned out like rocks.
    As for the easter chocolates - those bunnies you showed were wonderful. We have mostly the usual symbols of Easter - chickens and rabbits and lambs, all rather incongruous as it's Autumn here now. But we have some Australian additions - Bilby chocolates (Bilbys are a sort of small rabbit like marsupial that is endangered). They started out as a money- would- be- donated -to- help- save -them type concept, then all the commercial manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon, and lots of Australian children now just think of them as traditional Easter symbols.

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    1. Yep, that's correct. Hot cross buns are a wee bit difficult to find in bakeries, at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was a pleasure to behold that tempting tray at the bakery we stumbled into in North Beach.

      I love the fact that Australia celebrates its adorable marsupial in chocolate. I've just viewed a photograph of an Easter chocolate Bilby and know that children in America would squeal with delight if one of these adorable treats turned up in their Easter baskets.

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  12. Here I am arriving somewhat late to your blog but then I have only recently reawakened in the blog world. I enjoyed this post. One thing that I like at Easter is a simnel cake. I think it's the combination of marzipan and fruit cake that does it for me. I make mine and somewhat conceitedly, I like to think they are rather good!

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    1. Welcome, Kirk! It's never too late to join in on the fun here at CD.

      I too love Simnel cake and miss the taste of my dear sister's cake - she makes hers every year. I've noticed that marzipan is not widely used here in the United States, or at least it isn't as compared to Europe, and that the words "fruit cake" can sometimes send shivers down American's backs. Perhaps that is why I've yet to see a Simnel cake for sale at a bakery here. I'm sure yours tastes scrumptious!

      Thank you again for leaving a comment and I do hope you return again, and often.

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