Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where culinary dreams take shape, batch by batch - Los Angeles Times

Check out this article on an LA-based incubator kitchen that's helping small culinary businesses get started.

"We want to be a place where people can start from nothing and grow -- and grow out of us in some ways," says Andrea Bell, the owner of Chef’s Kitchens Co-op, in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles."

Thanks to Mary MacVean at the Los Angeles times for this great article!

Where culinary dreams take shape, batch by batch - Los Angeles Times

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Huckleberry delivers

I blogged back in January about my mouth-watering anticipation of the bakery Huckleberry, a brain child of Santa Monica locals Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, a husband and wife culinary duo. Now that we're in April, I'm just now getting the opportunity to give this bakery the blog post it deserves. Huckleberry, Santa Monica's charming new foodspot, is located on Wilshire between 10th and 11th streets. It has been open since February and is starting to extend its hours into the Spring.

Zoe Nathan learned to bake at Tartine in San Francisco, so its unsurprising that Huckleberry has a similar inviting feel, as well as a familiar line of customers to match. Even with far more seating than Tartine, Huckleberry has been so packed on recent occasion that I'm now educated in the Huckleberry code of ethics. If you think you can just pop into line as if you're in a Starbucks, think again. I should start out by saying that Huckleberry serves Cafe Luxxe coffee, so I'm not implying a lack of good java. Coming to Huckleberry is not an experience of convenience, but rather one of appreciating and savoring thoughtfully executed food treasures. So perhaps you've noticed that you have to wait a few minutes in line? Well, there's good reason for that line, and I'm sure often it is rooted in customers confused and racked by indecision due to the taste potential of what they might order. Huckleberry is just the sort of place that The Great American Bakery Hunt loves to see: completely genuine, deliberate in its actions, and inviting to the bakery hunter. While it could easily become an LA baked good destination, it also still feels like a place where one can appreciate great food with a friendly neighborhood vibe.

Thought is put into their seasonal ingredients, items are made fresh, and customers really have to think before they choose. After only a few months of business, it already feels like a landmark on my city map, a place I'd like to linger with old friends over coffee and fruit crostatas. And who knew a maple bacon biscuit could be so good?

Huckleberry's creations are quality, with items such as fresh flatbreads "warm right out of the oven", homemade donuts (sorry Krispy Kreme on Wlishire), and the bustle of a bakery that means business. Their menu is featured on a spread of chalkboards and changes frequently with seasonal ingredients. This is also unsurprising in light of Nathan's ties to the farmer's market community.

With Huckleberry's thoughtful baking, I wanted to buy a tote bag to support in some free advertising, but I couldn't justify the $30 price tag, which I would estimate equals about 6-8 Huckleberry pastries. Huckleberry, I want to support you with an enviro-friendly canvas bag, but I work for a nonprofit! That $30 is going towards the pastries that eventually would go into that bag. Spending $30 on the bag means no pastries to tote in said bag. Do you see my dilemma? For the record, I would mop your floors, knead your dough, and/or continue to write glowing blog posts of your bakery in exchange for a canvas bag that I would shamelessly flaunt in grocery stores, swap meets, fitness centers, and various shopping trips across America. Or I'll wait until I win the lottery and we all know what my first purchase will be!

Until that happens, for now I'll stick with my $2 appalingly pastel but still endearing Santa Monica Public Library tote bag. But I'll be back for the pastries. These, my friends, are priceless.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Early morning baking

I'll be simulating the baker's life tomorrow, when I get up for some early morning dough prep for a camp pretzel making program! Making homemade pretzels with a bunch of kids and families? What could be luckier? I'll post some pretzel pictures when I'm able.