Sunday, August 30, 2009

a seemingly innocent trip to Barnes and Nobles prompts a hungry drive up the coast of California

Put a food blogger in the cookbook & food writing section at Barnes and Nobles and watch her salivate over jacket covers for hours on end.

The store has a powerful force-- with so many recipes at your fingertips, you feel like you could master every international cuisine if only there was enough time.

Once you step inside those aisles, you're convinced you must read books like A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in America and Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South.

And then there's the jacket covers that indulge the dreamer in every food blogger. For example, why can't everyone be like Liz Thorpe, who left a "normal" life to work at Murray's Cheese and then wrote The Cheese Chronicles, thus becoming America's sweetheart of cheese expertise?

Scanning these aisles are also a great way to discover bakeries on the map, which is how I determined I'll be visiting the Big Sur Bakery in the near future. Tucked away in a spot off of Highway 1, the Big Sur Bakery serves baked goods out of a 1930's wooden farmhouse. They recently released a cookbook, which means I'll probably have to digest its pages in anticipation, then enlist a friend to join in an impatient, hungry drive up the coast.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bacon bundt cake!

I have to get my hands on some of this as soon as possible.

a heart full of determination on a Saturday morning in Santa Monica

I woke up abruptly this Saturday and knew what I needed to do: quick like lightning, change out of those pajamas, cue the giant sunglasses, start up the Volvo, and navigate through the frightful maze of the Santa Monica city parking structure. If this was going to happen, things had to go according to plan.

It's 10:45 am on a Saturday in Santa Monica. Do you know where your alligator is?

The alligator is the ever-so-elusive breakfast pastry sold by The Bread Man at the Saturday morning 4th and Arizona farmer's market. And if you wake up too late, you've got no chance of capturing one. If you think you can make up for it at the Main Street Sunday market, think again: The Man only sells alligators on Saturdays.

Now, I've had many a morning where I've ventured out on the same mission, only to be confronted with disappointment. Sold out. Alligators go quickly, and I'm often working against myself since sleeping in brings me almost as much satisfaction as a great bakery hunt.

But today, my belly was empty and my heart was full of determination. I parked as quickly as possible, and started making my way to the street level. I passed a couple in the structure, waiting for the elevator. Amateurs indeed. After trotting down three flights of stairs, I glanced up. They had followed my lead after experiencing the notoriously slow elevator wait, but there was no getting in my way. The first and only rule about pursuing the gator is that you have to assume every market shopper is your fierce competitor. Today, I was certain, was the day the heroine would get her alligator!

The alligator represents the perfect marriage of cinnamon, sugary icing, and pecans, all atop a sweet pillow of doughy pastry. With a cup of strong coffee on a weekend day, this is everything your Saturday breakfast should be.

I power walk down the alley that connects to Arizona, arrive to the market, and stake my claim. With only three alligators left, I'm just in time.

I tell the vendor, a friendly older gentleman, that I'll take two. He then proceeds, with gloved hand, to delicately scrape the remaining pieces of icing-covered pecans from the bottom of the box. It was destiny. This wise man knew that the forgotten pecans, having fallen from their purchased alligator brethren, belonged with a true baked good enthusiast. It was the kind of gesture that one would never request or expect, but one the pastry lover secretly hopes for. I could have hugged him. (I wonder if he chooses someone during every market to bestow this kind gift upon?)

I've been away from my west LA apartment for the past 3 months, living in a desert town barren of fresh baked goods. Thanks, Bread Man, for a great homecoming with that extra special extra pecan touch. I'll surely return-- whenever I can wake up in time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Homemade graham crackers and mix CD's

This is the 2nd article in our official, annual, based-on-real-life "True friendship series" brought to you by The Great American Bakery Hunt":

True friendship means sending The Great American Bakery Hunt nut-free homemade graham crackers to snack on since we've been headquartered for the past two months in a nut-restricted workplace. And then adding to that some awesome mix CD's (with playlist notes; one CD jazz influenced, and one indie rock, in case you were wondering.) Thanks Justin!

Vanilla & Comics

This is the 1st article in our official, annual, based-on-real-life "True friendship series" brought to you by The Great American Bakery Hunt":

You know a true friend when they send you vanilla bean to cook with, blackberry honey, and comics in the same package. Thank you P!

Cupcakes in a jar via the US Postal Service

Imagine my surprise when The Great American Bakery Hunt received a whole package of cupcakes in a jar one sunny afternoon from the Bangerang Bake Shop! The sender? Well it was none other than Meera Bonbonerie, regional representative of The Great American Bakery Hunt, Cincinnati chapter. Meera is one of our most thoughtful contributors here at TGABH, and we salute her always. We're pretty sure she sent these to us while traveling the West Indies, but you just never know for certain where M.B. has landed. From Florida to the Nati, from California to the West Indies, we know she's doing great things out there wherever she is, and finding all the best baked goods along the way! (We'd most like to picture her atop the seat of her folding bicycle, sipping on Newman's Own lemonade and chompin' on a frosting-topped cupcake.)

Meera, you've outdone yourself once again!