Flower Flour, 896 Willow St.
You’d have to live in Willow Glen to know about Flower Flour. This tiny, beloved French café, bakery and flower shop is tucked away in a 100-year-old building, four blocks off the main thoroughfare of Lincoln Avenue, on Willow Street.
Residents come here regularly for house-made French pastries, savory soups and crepes. Some come as a matter of tradition—every Christmas Eve morning, my daughter meets up with her former high school French teacher here for cappuccino and a sugar-dusted morning roll.
Flower Flour is the passion and life’s work of its owner and chef, Mimi Brown. She not only makes or supervises every pastry found in her case, but she also grows almost all of the fresh produce and herbs used in her creations. Her lemon bars are made with lemons from her own trees, squeezed by hand and made into luscious, rich bars. The organic Flat Dutch cabbage and heirloom carrots in the flavorful meatball soup I tried were grown with seeds Brown planted, cultivated, watered, weeded and harvested herself.
Brown also makes wedding cakes and bridal bouquets, in addition to owning a small country inn in St. Helena with a three-acre organic garden where she grows her vegetables, fruits and cut flowers for Flower Flour.
According to Brown, food should be a pleasure not only for its taste but also for its beauty. Conjuring up images of fresh peaches, brilliantly colored peppers and bunches of dark green chard, she states a simple truth: “You first eat with your eyes.”