Who says we can’t we go trick-or-treating for caviar and croissants?

Tsar Nicoulai Caviar

Photo courtesy Tsar Nicoulai Caviar

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The week before Halloween seems like an extremely appropriate time to talk about: TREATS. But not mini-Snickers and boxes of Nerds and Milk Duds. We’re talking Real Grown-Up Treats. And when it comes to treats, the definition is completely subjective. For some, it’s a rich chocolate dessert, for others, it’s a bowl of perfectly crunchy, salty potato chips. Regardless of what form it takes, a treat is an item that gives the eater singular pleasure, and often goes along with a feeling of reward. For me, one such item is caviar. I’ll fully admit that since becoming a food writer those salty, fishy little pearls have become far more available to me. But, I’ll never forget the first time I tasted it as post-college 21-year-old attending a fancy wedding in Miami, where chefs served generous portions of beluga caviar from huge tins nested into an enormous block of ice, alongside ice cold shots of Grey Goose Vodka. Since then, I’ve found much more low-key ways to enjoy that treat, buying a small jar to make special occasions more special, or simply to treat myself. Tsar Nicoulai has a variety of caviar at different price points, all of which are worth a taste. We recently had a tasting of the Estate, Select, and Reserve caviars at the Sunset offices, which we paired with crispy potato chips and creme fraiche: the ultimate treat.

—Ellen Fort, food editor

Maya’s Corner

Photo: Maya Wong

Life Is Short. Treat Yourself to a Croissant.

My version of trick-or-treating doesn’t involve a last minute costume and it’s not designated to October 31. I think of the indulgent activity as more of a year-round thing, for example: navigating through the city in search of a quality laminated pastry. That’s not hard to come by in San Francisco. We’re spoiled here, which means I’m surrounded by treats. Constantly. Almond croissants from Arsicault Bakery, kouign amanns from b. patisserie, morning buns from Tartine Bakery, cardamom lattice buns from Jane the Bakery — these treats beat a miniature bag of orange and black M&M’s any day. A good croissant, like any laminated pastry, should have a crispy exterior that flakes (oftentimes dramatically — this is not the time to be self-conscious) as you bite into it. And inside, there should be many, many layers of chewy (not tough, but chewy) dough that smell of butter with just a hint of yeast. This has been my laminated pastry checklist during any croissant-driven adventures, and it’s served me well. And if you see a limp, soft-looking croissant somewhere in your pastry travels, beware: it’s a trick.

P.S. Have you read our guide to the best bakeries in the West?

—Maya Wong, assistant editor

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Looking for more inspiration? Head over to Sunset Recipes for our fall cooking highlights.