Employing organic ingredients, the baking buffs at Nightingale Breads stock shelves daily with fresh-baked loaves. Composed of organic flours, grains, and seeds, nine varieties of dough are proofed overnight before meeting the heated gape of a traditional wood-fired oven. The shop’s colorful interior greets bread-winners with a lineup that includes Forestville french ($3.50/loaf), cinnamon raisin ($6.50, available only on Thursday), and seeded-sourdough sandwich bread ($5), perfect for encasing deli meats or idiosyncratic love letters.
Though Andrea Ballus's wedding frustrations propelled her into reality-television fame, the camera never focused on personal drama—instead, it zoomed in on the cupcakes. As she planned her marriage, Andrea couldn't find a bakery innovative enough to cater her reception. Rather than settle for tired designs, she decided to create her own cupcakes, mixing confections in signature flavors and garnishing them with edible art. These concepts led to the first incarnation of Sift—a dessert venue whose ingenious edibles have since won first place on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars and returned to compete on Cupcake Champions.
Sift's current cupcake menu pays homage to classic tastes as well as cunning combinations, from the snickerdoodle and red velvet cakes to the Knock Your Sox Off—a bavarian-cream-filled vanilla cake dipped in chocolate ganache. Visitors can pluck their favorites from the onsite displays or order custom servings that suit a wedding or party theme. In the past, Andrea and her staff have festooned cakes with images of cheerful dragonflies, company logos, and Pink Floyd album art as well as holiday graphics for New Year's and Christmas. They can even infuse the cupcake batter with a chosen wine, resulting in nearly perfect food and drink pairings.
Alongside their signature item, Sift prepares a separate catalog of nostalgic desserts, including whoopie cookies, macarons, and ice-cream sandwiches.
Microroasted organic, fair-trade coffee and a green business certification earned Yo el Rey Roasting North Bay Bohemian's award for Best Cafe/Coffeehouse in Napa County for two years running. Customers can sip on self-serve coffee ($2.75) or fortify a cappuccino ($3.25) or mocha ($3.75) with an extra shot of espresso ($1) for a beverage as energizing as flossing with downed power lines. They can also nibble at sweet treats like cookies, scones, and croissants ($3–$3.50) while letting their gaze wander over monthly art exhibits, or through pages from the small library's collection of books. This Groupon can also be used toward the purchase of any coffee beverages, including doubles and large-size drinks.
The oenophiles at Napa Valley Toffee Company satiate cravings for local flavors with tastings of Napa-produced wines and luscious homemade chocolates. Synchronized sippers can indulge in a hodgepodge of five red and white nectars, each harvested from Napa-grown grapes, bottled by local wineries, and approved by the California Raisins. Though wine flights vary by tasting, guests can expect to nourish their palates with gulps from small case lots and nibbles from local vendors, such as Napa Farmhouse 1885, and Verve Coffee of Santa Cruz. Before heading home to wash off purple handlebar mustaches, sippers can treat themselves to $20 worth of goodies from the shop, where bottles of 2009 sauvignon blanc ($20) and Rescue Red ($15) hobnob with eight-ounce boxes of house-made chocolates ($11) and Drink the Leaf loose-leaf tea.
“My love of chocolate making came from my mother, who is from Newfoundland,” says Vintage Sweet Shoppe owner Debbie Dever. To stave off boredom during the region’s harsh winters, Debbie’s grandmother taught her children to craft candy and treats. Her mother passed the skills she learned on winter days down to Debbie, who channels her passion into her handmade truffles, flavored fudges, and chocolate-drenched nut clusters. Her signature wine-infused truffles pair sips of champagne, port wine, and Napa Valley vinos with complementary chocolates chosen based on cocoa content and willingness to tell embarrassing stories about their compatriots. Dever’s team of innovative chocolatiers has been making chocolates for more than 30 years and also hand-mold chocolate-covered wine bottles—featured on the Food Network—by shrink-wrapping full bottles of wine before coating their surfaces in dark or milk chocolate, leaving each label framed by an edible exterior. The shop also serves espresso coffee drinks, frozen yogurt, and ice cream.
Dessert is the favorite part of any kid's meal, but Toni Chiappetta took it to extremes. As a child, she would bake her own cakes and sneak bites of the pies at her parents' luncheonette. She learned her earliest techniques from her mother, but went on to study at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and bake for several prominent restaurants. Eventually, this path led Toni back to the small kitchen in her apartment, where she baked in an oven no larger than a breadbox. As she delivered her sweet samples to local distributors, her talent quickly propelled her into a full-size professional kitchen and then to the current home of Sweetie Pies inside the Hatt Building. She still oversees her bakery's operations today, but leaves much of the day-to-day business in the hands of her small-but-capable staff.
In an onsite café, Toni's crew creates savory tarts, paninis, and wraps, as well as individual-size pastries and cakes. Inside the bakery, they churn out cookies in mouthwatering combinations of chocolate cherry and oat coconut walnut. They also fill 10-inch pie crusts with blends of apples, peaches, and berries—nabbing the attention of Food & Wine magazine and Rachael Ray, who ranked the bakery's pumpkin pie No. 1 of the season in 2008. To commemorate nuptials, the staff builds two- and three-layer custom cakes in flavors such as chocolate fudge and carrot and adds ornate decorations and edible cue cards for best-man speeches.
Delighting North American taste buds for a quarter century, Yogen Fruz's scoopers blend vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt with a dozen fresh fruit flavors available in low-fat and no-fat varieties. The yogurt base combines with fruit mix-ins, such as blueberries, kiwis, and mangoes, to fashion sweet treats healthier than a high-fiber medical degree. Patrons can speckle their probiotic-infused scoops with 16 toppings, adding texture and flavor with options such as cereal, nuts, fresh fruit, and chocolate. Smoothies, fruit cups, and fruit-yogurt combos are also available.