Sunday, April 10, 2011

Special delivery!

Special Birthday Delivery: Tulips from the Santa Monica Farmer's market & mini chocolate bundt cake filled with strawberries!  I had a lot of fun making this birthday treat.  A special thanks goes out to the lovely Sur La Table staff for helping me choose the best bundt pan for the job!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Some people count sheep if they can't fall asleep. I count loaves of AFrame's hot and crusty 5-grain pan de sal...

On March 21, 2011 I sank my teeth into AFrame's loaf of hot and crusty 5-grain pan de sal as I sat with 5 friends for dinner at the Culver City establishment.  I've thought about it more than a few times since.  Now, I was already in a jolly state from the outstanding cocktail they created for me while I was waiting for a table.  And while I generally love the experience of a picnic style meal, I could have devoured that little loaf all on my own.  So warm and so perfectly paired with a slab of butter, I enjoyed every bite I could get my hands on (but yes, I did the right thing and shared.)  Thanks to the fine folks at AFrame for such a great overall experience.

A perfect morning of west side wandering in Santa Monica

I recently took this picture during what I would consider to be a perfect morning of wandering here, there, and everywhere in Santa Monica.  First, a stop by the farmer's market for daisies and beets.  Next, a quick stop to find a baguette to nibble on.  And lastly, a trip to the west side's Spice Station to buy some teas for my Danish host mom to try during her visit in town (although I could spend hours in that store just for cooking inspiration alone.)  I'll be posting more on my host mom's visit soon!   

The definition of good fortune at The Great American Bakery Hunt

The definition of good fortune at The Great American Bakery Hunt is having great people in your life who spontaneously deliver pastries to you from bakeries outside your own city.  On several occasions, friends have blessed me with caring tastes, treats, or nibbles from a delicious travel-worthy bakery, either one they are visiting as a destination or perhaps one from their current residence, bringing me a brownie, tart slice, or whoopie pie as they pass through California.

There was the time Alexis brought me a massive oatmeal cookie from Levain Bakery in New York.  April, a frequent contributor to the hunt, has contributed with deliveries from San Diego, San Francisco, and even Maui.  Meera sent 'cupcakes in a jar' and cheesecake through the mail!  And Justin sent homemade graham crackers via the good old USPS.  So many people have contributed to the hunt that there are too many highlights to mention, although I have been grateful for each and every bite.

Most recently, friend of the hunt Lindsay stopped at Andersen's in Santa Barbara and left me a surprise pastry, waiting on my desk at work.  My heart belongs to this Andersen's pastry, and Lindsay knows this-- it's a version of a Danish dessert I can't seem to find anywhere else in the US, so there has been a constant yearning for it since the day I left my study abroad program in Denmark.  My Danish host mother, Lone, associates me with this pastry to such an extent that every time she sees one, she says she thinks of me (she's a baker by profession.) My love for this pastry is so great that Lindsay might as well have left a million dollars on my desk.  Lindsay is also a fan of sending pastries through the USPS-- so you never know when a box of whoopie pies may arrive in the mail with her famous loopy handwriting urging you to enjoy their decadence.

Then there was a recent special delivery from Alex-- which she packed on her flight from Washington to California and hand-carried to my office from Seattle's Macrina bakery.  Sadly,  these treats never made the journey into my stomach, but her actions were still heroic in the eyes of The Great American Bakery Hunt.  Long story short, Alex traveled to California to volunteer, thought she was going to see me for a work event, and didn't know I was away for a series of days off.  Her enthusiasm for pastry travels can be clearly seen in the photo below, where both Alex's smile and the box of pastries light up the room.  When she arrived at my office, this photo text message arrived from fellow bakery hunter April:
"Do you know what this box says? Macrina.  Alex brought them for you.  Sorry you're not here but we'll take care of business and eat them for you.  With love from Alex."    
Thanks to Alex for being so incredibly thoughtful and bringing this lovely box of pastries to California.  While I'm sorry I could not be there to enjoy them, I am happy that good people who appreciated pastries were around to get the job done.

And I had to appreciate the follow up text message with a snapshot inventory of all the goods: "A peek from the inside.  Chocolate macaroons, vanilla macaroons, fruit bar, pecan bar, toffee brownie, plum roll.  Believe it. True story.  About to eat them all."  Thank you to Alex for bringing the joy of the hunt, all the way from Seattle to California.  And thanks to all of my friends who think of me when they're within smelling distance of a bakery.  You are all gems and I am lucky to have you.