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BiteClub: Meet the new cronut, the Kouign Amann

Move over cronuts, Kouign Amann are the "it" pastry of the moment. With its deliciousness turned up to an 11, this menage a trois of croissants, butter and cake (kouign amann literally means "butter cake") is about as decadent as breakfast gets. With layers of puffed dough, caramelized sugar and more butter than should be legal, they're so worth whatever caloric damage inevitably follows.

And no one makes them better than Celine Plano, the new pastry chef at Pascaline Gourmet Shop. It's in her blood, after all.

Having grown up in Brittany, Plano is well-versed in the complex and unforgiving creation of Breton's most famous cake. "These are from where I'm from," she says, pointing the kouign amann (pronounced "queen yamman") among the meticulous rows of muffins, scones, breads and cakes she's made that morning. And unlike the leaden American pastries made with heavy bread dough, most of Plano's patisserie are based in brioche or layer puff pastry.

But wait, there's more! Plano is just half of the dynamic French duo behind the newly-opened breakfast and lunch spot along Gravenstein Hwy. (next to Mom's Apple Pie).

The other half of the team is Didier Pascal Ageorges, the former culinary powerhouse of Chalk Hill Winery, SF's Ritz-Carlton and Hotel du Palais Biarritz in France. Plano worked with Ageorges at the Ritz-Carlton, and is Chef and Technical Advisor to Callebaut, the world’s largest premium chocolate manufacturer.

Not that sweets are all you'll find at Pascaline Gourmet Shop. Open just a few weeks, they're open for lunch as well, with simple but luxurious salads, and sandwiches (Croque Monsieur). The team also does catering and events, and Didier said they plan on including pop-up dinners and other surprises as they settle into the space.

Stay tuned for more tastes from Pascaline. (The din of people asking about this spot was getting pretty loud, so I figured I'd go snarf some goodies to give you the heads up.) Um, yeah. Why are you still reading this without a mouth full of pastries?

Pascaline Gourmet Shop, 4550 North Gravenstein Hwy, Sebastopol, (707) 521-9348, open Tuesday through Sunday, 7a.m. to 7p.m.

Ninebark Replacing Fagiani’s in Napa

The vintage Fagiani’s sign in downtown Napa has gone dark again. In fact, it’s gone altogether.

After just three years, the upscale/retro Fagiani’s Bar/The Thomas restaurant is shuttering. Call it the curse of the building, which was the site of the town’s most notorious murders, or the revolving door of chefs that came and went from the restaurant. Whatever the reason, the NYC hospitality group behind the 2012 opening, AvroKo, is reinventing the restaurant as Ninebark (the name refers to a woody bush native to the region).

What’s really captured our attention: AvroKo has partnered with Michelin-starred wunderkind Matthew Lightner to open the restaurant and handle all of their West Coast culinary operations. And that means not just a new Napa restaurant, but whispers of a second restaurant in Calistoga, and likely other left coast eateries.

Lightner rose to fame as executive chef of Castgna in Portland, Oregon, then received two Michelin stars in NYC after opening Atera.

His new focus for the restaurant and rooftop bar will be “California-focused, market-forward cuisine based around “innovative preparation techniques”, with proposed menu items like scallops with bottarga, seaweed and buttermilk; skewers of fatty tuna, shiso, peppercorns and sorrel and savory porridge with smoked fish, heirloom rice and sourdough.

The Thomas/Fagiani’s is slated to close at the end of July, and Ninebark will hopefully open in early August. Call us stoked.

The Patio coming to Petaluma?

Rumblings that SoCal's Patio Restaurant Group is eying Petaluma for their next restaurant. The wildly popular San Diego restaurants (three Patio locations, Swell Cafe, The Front Porch shop and the forthcoming Fire Side Cafe) have acknowledged the rumors, but officially say they’re still in discussions about the grand opening and logistics. “It will be part of The Patio Group family,” said reps. More details soon.

Still hungry? Check out Heather's always updated dining blog at BiteClubEats.com.

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