Walnuts in crumb cakes and tall apple pies. White creamy cheeses and DIY meat boards. Crab cakes and quiches wrapped up for the mail. These are just a few of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite things.
And luckily, they can all be yours as well.
Off and on since the late 1990s/early 2000s, the media and talk-show superstar has chosen an annual list of her favorite products -- first on her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and later in her magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine. The list is said to have been inspired by the classic Sound of Music song “My Favorite Things.”
A collection of new favorites came out at the end of 2019. Along with luxurious soaps and cozy pajamas was a batch of tasty food choices produced by shops and restaurants around the country.
For me -- a fan of Oprah and The Sound of Music -- the list has always been irresistible. So, when I had a chance to visit one of the 2019 inductees, the Cake Bake Shop in Carmel, Indiana, I couldn’t wait to sample one of Oprah’s faves firsthand. I was happy to find that it more than lived up to the hype. The cakes were delectable, and they were complemented perfectly by Cake Bake’s enchanting atmosphere.
Of course, for a quick and convenient taste, you could order all of Oprah’s Favorite Things online. But here’s an even better option: Travel to the quaint and sometimes out-of-the-way spots that have produced the culinary offerings that make the list.
From the boroughs of New York City, to the suburbs of St. Louis, Baltimore, or Boston, or the rolling hills of coastal Northern California, the shops and restaurants that produce Oprah’s Favorite Things (to eat) make for perfect side trips or full-blown foodie pilgrimages.
Here are a few of the places to travel to sample some of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Note that some of this information was gathered during a hosted press trip. All opinions remain my own.
Cake Bake Shop In Carmel, Indiana
Walk into the elegant Cake Bake Shop in the Carmel City Center in suburban Indianapolis and be ready to feast your senses.
First, the brilliant white decor with its sparkling chandeliers and white-suited servers will wow you. Then, the sweet scent of buttercream will entice you. And finally, the decadent cakes, layered high and interspersed with colorful icing, will satisfy any sweet tooth you might have.
Oprah’s 2019 favorites included two of Cake Bake owner Gwendolyn Rogers’ signature crumb cake flavors -- Blueberry, a moist breakfast cake with fresh blueberries and zested lemon, and Maple Walnut, a coffee cake featuring cinnamon, walnuts, and brown sugar and topped with Vermont maple glaze.
Along with its dizzying array of sweet treats, Cake Bake has a full menu of casual chic offerings. For brunch, try a towering slice of custard quiche with ham, rosemary, and goat cheese, or the rustic wild-mushroom soup-of-the-day served with a toasted French baguette.
Cake Bake is located in the City Center of Carmel, a bustling suburb of Indianapolis about 45 minutes by car from Indianapolis International Airport. Convenient accommodations are available nearby at the modern Fairfield Inn and Suites, or, after mid-2020, at the new music-focused Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection, which will be just steps from Cake Bake and Carmel’s Palladium Center for the Performing Arts.
The Blue Owl Bakery In Kimmswick, Missouri
Appropriate for its location along the Mississippi River, quaint little Kimmswick, Missouri, is known far and wide for a unique take on an American standard: Levee-High Apple Pie at the Blue Owl Bakery.
Oprah helped to make owner Mary Hostetter’s Levee High Caramel Apple Pecan Pie a national sensation nearly a decade ago by choosing it for her 2011 list of favorite things.
Not only is the pie a sweet and succulent delight, but it comes with a story as well. It was inspired by the Great Flood of 1993, when an earthen levee helped to save the store.
The Blue Owl Bakery is also a charming restaurant where the menu includes wholesome favorites such as spinach and artichoke quiche, a Sunday chicken dinner, and chicken salad croissant -- all served in a homey atmosphere.
Kimmswick capitalizes on its rustic river setting with a strawberry festival in the spring and an apple butter festival in the fall. At just 25 minutes south of St. Louis, the town makes for a perfect day trip. Kimmswick is a 40-minute drive from St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
Cowgirl Creamery In Pt. Reyes Station, California
From a buttery triple-cream cheese to a dense blue-veined Stilton-type selection, the Cowgirl Creamery in Pt. Reyes Station, California offers fresh organic cheeses in a pastoral setting.
The concept for Cowgirl Creamery started in a renovated hay barn in downtown Point Reyes, a village that serves as the gateway to the stunning Point Reyes National Seashore.
Oprah brought national attention to the creamery in 2014, when her list featured the Cheese Holiday Collection, a trio of cheeses including Cowgirl’s signature Mt. Tam, a creamy and elegant triple-cream cheese named after majestic Mt. Tamalpais; Hop Along, a semi-firm organic cow’s-milk cheese; and Point Reyes Bay Blue, a rustic cheese with blue-green veins, similar to Stilton.
Pt. Reyes Station is located about an hour and 15 minutes northwest of San Francisco and about an hour and a half from the San Francisco International Airport. Cowgirl Creamery offers tours/classes on Fridays. The creamery’s products are also available at a number of other Bay-area locations, including the San Francisco Ferry Building Cheese Shop.
Lee Lee’s Rugelach In Harlem, New York City
For a rich, flaky pastry that is steeped in cross-cultural legend, Lee Lee’s Rugelach has been the go-to spot for decades.
The legend originated back in the 1960s, when Alvin Lee Smalls arrived in New York City from his home in South Carolina. He is said to have discovered a recipe for the traditional Jewish treat, rugelach, in a newspaper, and soon perfected his own version -- “leading to the beginning of a cross-cultural legend in the Village of Harlem,” according to Lee Lees’ website.
Oprah chose Lee Lee’s rugelach as one of her favorite things in 2018, citing the irresistible combination of “traditional Jewish rugelach made from scratch by a black baker in Harlem.”
Lee Lee’s is located about a 10-minute drive from Manhattan and a half-hour drive from New York City’s JFK International Airport.
Lady And Larder In Los Angeles, California
Cheese, meats, crackers, jams, honey, and mustards -- the ingredients to craft a dazzling charcuterie board are all right there at Lady And Larder in Los Angeles.
Oprah chose the DIY (do it yourself) cheese and cured meat board as one of her favorite things in 2019. The board comes with everything needed to serve 10 to 12 people, including a whole wheel and two wedges of California cheese, plus prosciutto, salami, honey, mustard, almonds, pistachios, dried apricots, dates, raisins, crackers, serving spoons and spreaders, and a wooden serving board.
Lady and Larder is located in the Westside region of Los Angeles, about a 25-minute drive from the Los Angeles International Airport.
Pappas Seafood Market In Parkville, Maryland
Billed as serving Maryland’s best crab cakes, Pappas has been a mainstay in suburban Baltimore since the early 1970s. The cakes originated with Mark Pappas, a native of northern Greece who immigrated to the U.S. in 1956.
Pappas’ crab cakes made it onto Oprah’s list of favorite things in 2015. “These perfectly seasoned Maryland crab cakes have more fresh, sweet lump crab meat than I’ve ever seen in a cake,” Oprah said at the time.
Visitors can get a taste of the famous crab cakes, freshly cooked, at Pappas Restaurant and Sports Bar in Parkville, Maryland, located about a half-hour drive from the Baltimore/Washington International Airport.
Tatte Bakery And Cafe In Brookline, Massachusetts
From tartines to traditional shakshuka to salads and sandwiches, Tatte Bakery and Cafe is beloved in the Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge area for its healthy and hearty offerings.
Tatte Bakery and Cafe got national attention in 2014 when Oprah’s Favorite Things listed the bakery’s Petit Quiche Assortment, a selection of mini quiches including creamy custard and zucchini, asparagus, artichoke, tomato, and onion offerings.
More than a dozen locations of Tatte Bakery and Cafe can be found throughout Boston and its suburbs. The original location can be visited on Beacon Street in Brookline, located about 20 minutes from the Boston-Logan International Airport.
Want more food and travel inspiration?
- These are the best gelaterias in Italy (and what to order when you visit).
- Read up on where to get the best waffles in Belgium.
- Visit the best places to eat paella in Barcelona.
And, consider these delicious city-specific food crawls, too: