There is this Italian caffé and bakery near our home. I'm not much for pastry, Italian or otherwise, but come Christmas I always buy a panetone. It is my firm belief that the panetone at this bakery is the best outside of Italy. It's not a traditional Milanese panatone as it is flecked with rich, dark chocolate. But the chocolate is used with good sense and I like it. Every year I look forward to eating it on Christmas morning. And I look forward to the ritual of going to the bakery and buying it.
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A trip to the city is a time-honored holiday ritual, no matter which city is yours. When I was a young boy, New York seemed to be the greatest Christmas city in the world. Only forty miles from my home, New York seemed so far away, so hugely exotic; a Christmas wonderland. Now, New York actually *is* far away, almost 3000 miles from my home here in Northern California. These days, a holiday trip into San Francisco evokes the same memories, albeit not as chilly or white.