masse's pastries

As with restaurants, the Berkeley/Bay Area has a plethora of cupcake shops (and carts!), bakeries, creameries, and the like. I must confess now that I am not, or rather, was not, a fan of baked goods. It took this girl multiple baking frenzies and multiple trips to Crixa Cakes to finally convince me that yes, I love cake. (I am still on the fence about cupcakes. I don't know if I'll ever like them.)

But this post is not for Crixa or cupcakes. It's for Masse's Pastries, a little cafe in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Masse's specializes in the most beautiful, delicate cakes and pastries, but this post is about their cakes. There's nothing better than sitting in a quaint cafe on a sunny afternoon with friends, eating cake and drinking tea.

We got three cakes between the three of us--N ordered the mango mousse, a definite must have, I got the chocolate hazelnut (with gold flecks!), and Mel got a guava something or other, I forget.

But they're all delicious. We've also tried the blood orange with chocolate, which is divine, to put simply, the raspberry mousse, the key lime mousse--yes, they like making mousse, but the mousse is so light and melts in your mouth, that you can't help but inhale it and savor it at the same time. Yes, I am not making sense, but this is how Masse's makes me feel--incoherent. And yes, it is a good thing.

Above (from a friend's birthday): blood orange, raspberry, mango, and keylime mousse. So much love.

Masse's Pastries
1469 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709


happiness in the form of cakes

i first heard pchung was going to propose to jen on wednesday and i was super super excited and super super happy and every positive feeling you can possibly feel. in my happy state i decided i just had to bake something for them. dude serious dilemma. but i finally settled on double chocolate cake from smitten kitchen. i've wanted to bake a cake for a long long time, but was always way too lazy. but since this was super super special, i had to do it.

i spent three days on this cake because i didn't have 5 + hours to spare in a single day. friday afternoon i did the raspberry filling. my bad at not documenting each step but again i was lazy. it was really easy. food processors=easier life. straining out the seeds was kinda a hassle but it was fine. i fridged it until i needed it which wasn't until two days later. i would suggest not making this first. when i took it out of the fridge to spread on the cake, it became solidified in a almost gelly consistency. i had to bring it to room temperature and mix it like crazy but it turned out fine. make this the day of, it'll probably be better.

the next day i made the cake. it was easy, except my pans were different sizes and i had SO MUCH batter that i used three cake pans. and it finished baking in like 40 minutes. good thing i checked cause it smelled done. its good to make this the day before since you need to wait for it to cool down.

sunday morning, i made the frosting and halved the recipe. it was surprisingly easy. i cooled it in an ice bath and assembled the cake. i had to shave off the volcano like dome to make t it looked really really ugly so i decorated it was raspberries. the frosting got hard so the raspberries wouldn't stick so i used a dab of icing as glue.

yay! i actually didn't get to see it eaten but i did eat the scrapes and it tasted pretty good. :) it wasn't as hard as i expected! its very do-able and a good recipe!
happily engaged :) and no, not cause of the cake (stolen picture from jen)

okayy, so there was another cake i made for melody and jr's birthday! i was super excited for their birthday too cause they're super cool and awesome! i decided to bake cranberry vanilla coffeecake since i found fresh cranberries! it was cranberry season! i love surprises :)

the ugliness because i ran out of powdered sugar. it looks diseased...

ahh, much better!

the recipe calls for vanilla bean which is i did not have because i am cheap. so i added vanilla extract to the cranberry mixture and the cake itself. i'm sure it would taste much more delicious with the vanilla sugar. a very do-able recipe!

recipe courtesy of epicurious

- n


a cote

There's quite a selection of casual fine dining in the Berkeley/Bay Area, and with the Alice Waters organic sustainable New American cuisine movement and all, everyone's trying to be green, upscale, but still California casual, food-forward, innovative, but modeling home cooking... I could wax on and on, but let me just say that it makes for an interesting fusion of confused restaurants.

Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough to appreciate casual fine dining. I mean, we're from a small suburb in southern California, where casual fine dining meant Applebee's. I kid. Not really.

In any case, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite restaurants near Berkeley. If you take a stroll (or drive or bus ride) down College Ave, you'll inevitably come across restaurant after restaurant after restaurant--but tucked discreetly in the Rockridge district, you'll see a sign that looks like this:

This is a picture of the menu, but the logo is what I was referring to. When you walk it, it's dim, but not dark; there are candles lighting the couple of tables to your right and the bar area to your left. A hostess or host will greet you and you'll be led past the kitchen to the back area, where there are more tables lit with candles. Then you'll notice that it's actually a patio, you can smell the air from the outside, and the last bits of sunlight trickling in. (Please excuse my tendency to be verbose--I just wanted to detail the ambience.)

A Cote (means next to in French) is a small plates restaurant, tapas if you will, specializing in French-Mediterranean fare. Tapas are meant to be enjoyed communally, so I would go with 4 to 6 people and try everything--it's all good.

My favorite dish is the mussel dish (the menu reads: with Pernod from the wood oven). How rustic does that sound! The plate is huge (my poor cholesterol levels were dying here, but I couldn't resist, it's so delicious) and filled with mussels. At the bottom is a light, creamy broth with beautiful crusty bread to sop it all up. Mmm, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

We went for my friend Jen's birthday, and she ordered a fromage (meaning cheese in French) plate that came with candied walnuts, toasted almonds, walnut levain bread, sliced apples and poached figs. I don't remember which cheese she ordered (am not a big fan), but it was creamy and mild. It went so well with the nutty flavors of the bread and the sweetness of the fruits.

The last time I went, I didn't take pictures, but we had ordered all of the desserts--I really wish I had taken pictures because they were so, so amazing. I can't even pick out one that stood out, because they were just all so good.

In other words, you can't go wrong with this restaurant. The service is wonderful, the food is delicious--what more could you ask for?

5478 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618-1552


i can always use good chinese food

for melody and jr's birthday, the girls went to great china for dinner.

it was my first time and it was delicious!

so we ordered a small double skin. it was alright, not too fond of it. it was like glass noodles but made of mung bean and had random stuff in there like shrimp and squid. we mixed the mustard and soy sauce into it which gave it a wasabi like flavor, which i didn't mind ($12.95 not worth it). and sizzling rice soup (charged by person, they seriously know how to get our money). yumm.

of course we had peking duck. i think this was probably my favorite. i can't believe they didn't have the fat on the skin...even though i don't like it, but yeahh. duck is good :) ($29.95)

we ordered this crab thing that had an egg yolk on top and got mixed all together. i think its sauteed crab meat? to eat it, you put the crab mixture in between the 饅頭. omg i super like 饅頭 and it was best when it was warm. the crab thing itself was alright ($19.95). not my favorite. i think it had an interesting taste...

we also ordered jess' favorite chinese string beans ($8.95). i wouldn't really consider it a veggie dish but it was good. and also another really good dish cause i love tofu was braised tofu ($7.95). it was delicious!

so overall, i would definitely say you should eat here. its really good chinese food which is super hard to find up here, especially in berkeley where the closest we come is lotus house or sun hong kong. service on the other hand sucks a lot. the waitresses were rude and sucky. it is a bit pricey and they charge for rice (in socal you get rice for FREE!). but yes, if you are craving good chinese food, this is probably the place to go.

2115 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA94704

over and out,


food is life

i like to bake.

almond pear galette, recipe courtesy of cheri

- n



Vegas is known for its high-end cuisine, but my family is not known for appreciating such food--I blame it on the fact that we're Asian. Since we're Asian, we HAD to get the best deal on food--so we had buffets (only 1 meal a day! My family told us to save our appetites. A little ridiculous? Just a smidge). We waited for the M buffet for over 2 hours and we waited for the Paris buffet for over 2 and a half. Just a little crazy? I think so.

The dessert selection at M's Stubio B was awesome. It didn't make up for the mediocre food, but look:

They had around ten(?) delicious gelato flavors that they made fresh there, different kinds of mousses, creme brulee, flan, all sorts of cookies, pies, and cakes...I could go on and on. They also had wedding cakes on display. We didn't get pictures of everything, but let me leave you with pictures of Jean Philippe's Patisserie in Aria (there's one in Bellagio also, with a HUGE chocolate fondue).

Aren't they gorgeous?

It solidified my preconception about Vegas--it's all looks, all glitter and glamour, but no substance. Of course they're going to do well on the desserts--it's the last thing you'll eat!

Not that I'm complaining. They may be twice as good to look at than to actually eat, but that doesn't stop us from enjoying it (though the price might...a little).



Hello friend! We are two sisters who don't get to see each other as often as we'd like, and as we share a passion for food, we thought we would use this blog as a sharing experience, not just between the two of us, but with you also! So welcome to our world of lazy, crazy, amateur cooking and baking, restaurants and bakeries we like, and so on and so forth.