You don't need to travel to France or Switzerland anymore to find great pastries. They're right here in Sarasota. Dream of an espresso with a tiny twist of lemon, just waiting to be joined by a scrumptious pastry from one of these five shops:
1553 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 906-9575; 8527 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park, (941) 355-2323; cestlaviesarasota.com
While there are so many elegant pastries to chose from at one of our favorite French cafés, the buttery, flaky raisin roll, especially when you catch one first thing in the morning, is only made better with a cappuccino and a stroll downtown.
2732 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota, (941) 926-8422, paisanositalianbakery.com
Close to one you'll find at Mike’s Pastry in the North End of Boston, it is the lobster tail you want here. No crustacean from the sea, this incredibly flaky pastry is filled with creamy rich Bavarian cream and topped with powdered sugar. It is a true classic American-Italian pastry that might stain your clothes if you take too big of a bite, but it's worth the mess.
Multiple locations, panerabread.com
Call me crazy, but when I showed up with four cream cheese Brittanies to a recent meeting, I scored the account in five minutes after they devoured the flaky cupcake-sized pastries. Not too sweet—perfect for an afternoon pastry pick-me-up.
2166 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota, (941) 923-4313, scandinavian-south.com
You can now find Kringles in other stores, but the original and all its assortments are best from the freezer at this longtime Gulf Gate gift shop. While there are many flavors to choose from (cheese, turtle and cherry, to name a few), the most beloved is apricot, which has been discontinued, but will return in late March. The company from Racine, Wisconsin, knows we love the tender buttery flaky crust with the apricot jam smack in the center surrounded by a light glaze. I shall settle on a cherry and cheese for my next get-together until the real prize arrives.
5336 Clark Road, Sarasota, (941) 924-1234; 2117 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, (941) 552-9240; rendezvoussarasota.com
The Paris-Brest is a true classic in French pastry. The original was created for the Paris-Best-Paris bicycle race. French riders celebrated the heavy sugar rush that got them riding faster, while locals fell in love with the light choux pastry and praline-flavored cream. Sit down for this one and savor it.