After a visit to El Carmen and a stop for a ham and gruyere croissant at the Little Next Door, my friend and I (who recently moved to the Fairfax area) wandered down to Mani's bakery. To my pleasant surprise, this bakery has rare late night hours and even better, offers gluten free, sugar free, and other specialty products for people with special diets. Since I am friends with many individuals that are often searching for these options, I was thrilled to see that Mani's offers a warm, inviting bakery experience with the thoughtful touch of clearly listed ingredients and a variety of options. I have heard wind of or visited only a few bakeries on the West side that cater to special diets (including Jamaica's Cakes, which offers vegan products, among other things). What I liked about Mani's is that any person working there that night could tell us what their favorite product was and why-- they really seemed to take pride in what they were delivering to the bakery consumer. The bakery, at around 10:00 on a weekend night, was crowded and full of conversation and life-- bakery culture at its finest, if you ask me. I'm looking forward to another visit to this bakery and would definitely recommend it as a place to try in LA. On a sidenote, the ham and gruyere croissant from the Little Next Door was also delicious, and a good place to visit if you find charm in French accents.
In keeping with the spirit of specialty product discoveries, my friend April recently visited Bob's Red Mill during a family trip. Because the people of Milwaukie,Oregon-based Bob's Red Mill were kind enough to speak with her about gluten free products, I have included an excerpt below about her experience there when she just so happened to meet Bob himself:
"Bob’s Red Mill has been processing whole grains for 38 years and is proud to offer many gluten free products, a line they continue to develop each year. Recently they have also dedicated part of their warehouse where only gluten free products are milled. I was so excited when my family mentioned Bob’s Red Mill was based in Milwaukie, OR, just a few miles from my aunty and uncle’s house! We had to visit! As we were eating breakfast on Saturday morning, sitting right behind us was Bob Moore, founder of Bob’s Red Mill! Of course, I couldn’t let a good opportunity pass... He also introduced me to Lori Sobelson, Program Director of Bob’s Red Mill. Lori is their gluten free expert in many ways. She is very knowledgeable about all things gluten free, puts together recipes, does cooking classes, and is even presenting at the upcoming annual Gluten Free Culinary Summit! Lori took about 45 minutes to share gluten free knowledge, show me different products, tell me about leading gluten free authors, cookbooks and new GF research/discoveries. She has also offered her contact information to us if we have questions that she could answer or help us in other ways."
If anyone knows of other gluten free or specialty bakery products for other diets, please support the Great American Bakery Hunt and send me an email about your discoveries. I would love to pass these resources along to people I know!