Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cupcake entreprenuers featured in the New York Times

Elizabeth Olson profiles cupcake entrepreneurs in this New York Times article.

Bakery hunting deal for today only: Platine Bakery cookies on Groupon!

If you have not yet had the chance to try Platine Bakery in Culver City, today's deal on Groupon offers that $12 will buy you $25 worth of Jamie Cantor's much buzzed about cookies! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Porto's named by The Great American Bakery Hunt as best reason to hang out in Burbank/Glendale on your day off

Recently I visited Porto's Bakery, a family-owned bakery cafe establishment and the best reason I can think of to trek to Burbank (or Glendale) on your day off. Porto's has over 35 years of business under their belt, and this becomes crystal clear while ordering: an incredible diversity of fresh pastries line the cases, and the staff impressively runs the place like a well-oiled machine. I'm warned by Porto's regulars that one must have a system before walking into this bakery. It's a little like stepping into a bakery theme park: there are multiple lines for ordering, a limitless amount of desserts to choose from, and then complicating your decision is the Latin America-influenced cafe menu. Pastries I nibbled on included the spinach and feta croissant, the Refugiado (also known as their signature guava and cheese pastry), the Cheese roll, and a strawberry and cheese croissant. Naturally, I couldn't leave without getting my savory on, so I sampled a meat pie and a potato ball as well. What's particularly unbelievable about Porto's is that everything is so fresh, and yet, there's an incredible amount of volume in their bakery cases.

What makes me love this bakery even more is the fact that it has a neighborhood history. There's something really exciting about seeing a bakery business in action that has roots in the community, one that has grown from a family's original vision into a bustling success with two locations.

For more fun facts about Porto's, including a description of the 24-hour preparation process that goes into making their traditional Cuban crackers, read the Frequently Asked Questions on the Porto's website. It was impossible to sample everything in one visit, so watch out for more Porto's posts to come!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A farmer's market for every day!

Check out this handy dandy map of Los Angeles Farmer's Markets, courtesy of the LA Times.

Just discovered Hygge Bakery, a Danish bakery in downtown Los Angeles!

My heart is racing a little bit faster after just discovering Hygge Bakery, a Danish bakery in downtown Los Angeles. Several years ago, I studied abroad in Denmark and immediately fell in serious love with their bakeries. And to make my separation from the country even more difficult, I lived with a Danish family whose matriarch was a baker. To this day, I still keep in touch with her, and frequently have daydreams about the creations that came from her oven. It was a pretty blissful existence: even with the chilly weather, how could one ever complain knowing that at the end of the train commute from Copenhagen (school) to Roskilde (home), freshly baked homemade cinnamon rolls awaited you at the kitchen table?

Now a resident of Los Angeles, I've tried to keep the Danish culture in my life by going to Scandinavian events, including the Annual Scandinavian film festival that happens in Beverly Hills each year. But my heart always aches a little bit, to be back in Denmark, and to get another taste of the culture I fell in love with.

I won't get a chance to get to downtown to try Hygge until after the Thanksgiving holiday. But the idea of a bakery named Hygge already resonates with this bakery hunter: Hygge, Danes will tell you, is something we can't necessarily translate into American terminology, but a concept that is a huge part of Danish culture. Some web writers out there have taken a stab at the definition, so if you're curious to read about Hygge, check out this link at The Hygge House website, some musings over at The Danish Web, or if you'd like the Hygge 101 version, this travel article encourages you to "Hygge it out in Denmark." Better yet, just go to Denmark and enjoy the breathtaking baked goods and hygge for yourself.

Evil spammers force the Great American Bakery Hunt to enable comment moderation

Hey folks, while I'd rather be writing about bakeries than comment moderation, just a quick note about a matter of blog business:

After a series of unfortunate spam incidents in my Comments section, I am forced to enable comment moderation as well as word verification for all comments left on The Great American Bakery Hunt. I apologize in advance to all well-meaning commentators who will now have to take at least 30 extra seconds of their lives they will never get back to fully execute a sincere blog comment.

Thanks for understanding!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Can someone please remind me again why I'm not in Paris right now?

This recent New York Times travel article by Tony Perrottet documents a modern man's hunt through Paris as he tries to follow in the footsteps of Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimrod de la Reynière. Grimrod was a 19th century aristocrat famous in food history circles for his Almanachs des Gourmands: culinary guides to the city of light that reveal meals of Paris past.

Perrotet managed to reach Stohrer, a bakery and culinary destination still in business long after Grimrod's time.

Next time I'm in Paris, I'm going to Stohrer and ordering Le Baba Au Rhum, in honor of an old language teacher from the South of France who once described this to me as her favorite French dessert. (While I may not always remember every conjugation, I can usually tell you the favorite dessert of my French teachers.)

Salted caramel bar addiction

For the record, I could write an entire blog devoted to Huckleberry's salted caramel bar. Ranked #1 by The Great American Bakery Hunt as addictions you should keep through the New Year.

Here's to the holidays!

It seems to be a law of the universe that every food blogger loves the simple apple tart recipe of Alice Waters. I baked up this little number to share at the first annual pie swap day taking place at work this week, an event which yielded a surprising number of homemade pies. I took the liberty of making a tart, though technically it was pie-swap and not tart-swap day.

Did I mention that pie swap day also involved a large, precariously wrapped, fresh-out-of-the-oven turkey which a coworker and I transported via dolly from Whole Foods to our office, complete with the bird's juices leaking everywhere throughout the streets of downtown Santa Monica? (See the beginning of our journey, below, pre-juice leakage disaster.) Here's to the holidays!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some whoopie pies, straight from Philly!

Thanks to Lindsay, Philadelphia representative of The Great American Bakery Hunt, for sending us some whoopie pies, straight from Philly to LA! You're a gem, and we hope the east is treating you well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finding a whole lot of good in Echo Park

If you're in the Echo Park neighborhood, you can do something good, read something good, and eat something good all within a few minutes. (But beware, returns on purchases made at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart must be made BEFORE date of purchase.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

The studio apartment baking adventure continues

Thanks yet again to Mark Bittman for another great recipe. Tonight, I used his simple and quick "Fastest Yeast Bread" recipe to churn out a freshly baked loaf post-work. Not only was it a delicious midnight snack, but my entire apartment now smells like a bread factory. (Turns out, this is a pretty appealing phenomenon.) Who needs scented candles when I have flour, yeast, salt, water and olive oil?

More LA bakery hunting to come soon! Until then, just call me your average non-profit worker by day, yeast bread scientist/blogger by night.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A sure Sunday treat in the form of baked goods and indie rock

If you're interested in nibbling on some baked goods while seeing a jolly band, stop by the Sunday Hollywood Farmer's Market. Ideally, you'll also spring for one of Vera's Tamales (with the green salsa) before stopping at the edge of the market to appreciate the sounds of The Petrojvic Blasting Company. If you're not a fan yet, they'll probably charm you once you see them play the drums with their feet and sing strong and proud over the inevitable traffic and fire engine cacophony of Hollywood. It's as sure a Sunday treat as you'll ever find.