Rosh Hashanah treats & Russian River food festival

Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown Wednesday, is celebrated with a meal that incorporates symbolic ingredients such as raisins, apples, figs and honey, harbingers of sweetness and good fortune for the year ahead. Noe Valley Bakery, an excellent neighborhood bakery opened by Mary and Michael Gassen in 1995, will be offering four different kinds of challah ($5/$5.50), a braided egg bread with a light, cake-like texture (plain, poppyseed, sesame seed and raisin); an airy apple cake ($10) studded with apples and topped with buttery streusel; a fig tart ($4.50/$25) with almond paste topped with fresh figs; and a rich honey cake ($10) with almonds and raisins. When they started, the Gassens specialized in dense, chewy fruit breads. Now the bakery turns out breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, pies and a new line of voluptuous cupcakes ($2-$2.50), like a Boston cream pie cupcake filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with fudge frosting. I buy their flaky croissants and crumbly orange-currant scones every Saturday at their booth at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Noe Valley Bakery, 4073 24th St., San Francisco; (415) 550-1405 www.noevalleybakery.com

RUSSIAN RIVER FOOD FESTIVAL

Mark your calendar for a culinary day trip! Sept. 30 is the fourth annual

Russian River Food and Winefest at the Monte Rio Riverfront Meadow. Taste elegant western Sonoma wines, sample food from local chefs, buy produce directly from farmers, take in cooking demos and enjoy guided cheese tastings. Admission is $25 in advance, $30 at the event. No pets or anyone under 21 admitted.

Find out more at www.russianriverfoodandwinefest.com.

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