Tuesday, April 29, 2008

straight from the Nati the Great American Bakery Hunt receives some mouth-watering butter cookies

A Great American Bakery Hunt sincere thank you goes out to Meera, regional representative of The Great American Bakery Hunt, Cincinnati chapter. After a visit to California, Meera recently
sent us a package of The BonBonerie's finest selection of iced butter cookies. The cookies were truly irresistible, carefully packaged, and surprisingly intact (for such a delicate melt-in-your-mouth cookie). The colorful butter cookies were ready to be eaten and delightful, and they lasted no more than a few hours of my work day before I gobbled up every last bit (with the help of my fellow coworker, another lucky recipient of the BonBonerie's package). It was a great and very thoughtful surprise, as well as history making for The Great American Bakery Hunt, as it remains the first and only bakery discovered in the uncharted state of Cincinnati. Meera, you have helped T.G.A.B.H. reach unprecedented locations on the bakery map! Going back to those third grade history lessons, I can only imagine that this feeling is akin to the sentiments felt by early explorers as they discovered new and distant lands. Evils of colonization aside, it's always pretty darn exciting to explore! Grab your compass, Meera, and follow the scent of vanilla West-- you will always be welcome to explore with us when you're back in California! Kudos, also to the BonBonerie, I will surely visit you if ever I'm in the area-- your butter cookies left me wanting more indeed.

The City Bakery: more than meets the eye!

I recently discovered the City Bakery, a famous New York transplant, just a 10 minute drive from my apartment. Its LA location is nestled within the Brentwood Country Mart, a trendy shopping center around San Vicente and 26th.

Don't let it's upscale appearance fool you: While the City Bakery's cafeteria-style selections offer customers such choices as roasted endives, they also sell freshly made down home dishes like their Mac and Cheese by the pound. Granted, this is a $10 a pound purchase, but this piping hot M & C definitely looks better than your typical boxed macaroni.

There is something so inviting about this bakery-- friendly service compliments an enticing variety of baked goods, including a famous Pretzel Croissant that has a legendary following from its East Coast beginnings that has now reached the diaspora of baked good lovers across the country.

As a California native who only recently made my first trip to New York, I never knew until last year the abundance of bakeries I was missing out on in The Big Apple. It's nice to get a piece of that here on the West Coast.

Thus far, I have made two trips to The City Bakery. I've tried two of their apple creations, the apple sticky bun and the miso apple muffin (made with yogurt instead of butter). I found both to be a fresh and satisfying experience. Yet what I was most pleasantly surprised by was their chocolate chip cookie, a large, soft, and fresh find among the often too-crunchy or over-baked cookie landscape of Southern California.

The benefits of The City Bakery extend beyond the food-- it is also an oasis from the heavily wi-fi'd out coffee houses of Los Angeles. While I applaud free internet access and caffeine in one spot, it's refreshing to discover an opportunity to unplug and read a regular newspaper-- to sip your cappuccino, get newsprint on your hands, and enjoy some quality baked goods.

It's fitting that this bakery experience made me feel as if it was keeping me in touch with the surrounding world. After doing some more research, I discovered that The City Bakery is tied to another baking venture dedicated to environmental awareness. Birdbath, Neighborhood Green Bakery, bakes in their East Village location and transports goods by bicycle-driven cargo rickshaw to their West Village shop. Milk and cream served in the store comes from a family farm north of Manhattan. And, they offer a 25% discount if you arrive on skateboard or bike.

With my love for alternative transportation, baked goods, and dairy products combined this bakery sounds like my cup of tea!

I'm still waiting to try the legendary Pretzel Croissant-- it seems like a croissant of these legendary proportions warrants a special occasion, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Summer is just 'round the corner

Thanks to one lovely individual, I had the great fortune of trying DeLuscious Cookies this past Sunday. It's worth noting that DeLuscious delivers fresh cookies AND milk throughout the LA area.

The cookies made for the perfect conclusion of a busy weekend up at camp. With summer just around the corner and the weather warming up, these arrival of the cookies was destiny. Their unexpected presence begged for an ice cold glass of milk, a refreshing contrast to the sunny weather. And once the day's work was wrapping up late Sunday afternoon and I got my hands on some moo juice, I couldn't help thinking it was the perfect Sunday.

It's great to explore some new bakeries, and it's even more fun when it's by surprise. Random acts of cookie kindness are the best kind, in my opinion. (I've mentioned before my love for that famous cookie-giving scene from Man on the Moon). It's especially nice to stay in the know as the summer approaches, since the Great American Bakery Hunt will be taking it's annual camp hiatus come June. Eating these cookies from DeLuscious, fresh and scrumptious as they were, also inspired me to do a little of my own baking. With a recipe from my King Arthur Flour Cookbook, I created a milk chocolate chip, orange zest, & pistachio recipe, made with almond extract. It's been a great few days for The American Bakery Hunt!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Best breadbasket on the West Side

The best breadbasket on the West side might very well be at Le Pain Quotidien. The breadbasket comes with a variety of their freshly sliced breads & a selection of jams, and is a perfect breakfast to enjoy with a cup of morning tea. I'm also a fan of ordering their hummus on the side, a nice savory addition to the breads! Please write in with your vote for the best breadbasket on the West Side. As always, I am taking suggestions!