I recently visited LA's Magnolia Bakery to buy some treats for the road on my way out of town for work. It was my last stop after a few days off visiting LA, and I needed a taste of home.
Los Angeles was cruel to me that night, because it took me more than a half an hour to find a parking spot. My refusal to valet for a 10 minute bakery visit combined with my unwillingness to risk a car towing left me driving the streets, unwilling to give up what I felt the city owed to me. In town for two days, I just wanted a few sugary sweet Magnolia cupcakes and an iced molasses cookie--but first, the little matter of parking my vehicle.
Once inside, I let the Magnolia Bakery folks know how dedicated I was to patronizing their business, despite the parking woes that befall their location. I am certain they are more than sick of parking complaints due to their home on busy West Third-- but I wanted them to take my struggles as a compliment. I probably would have waited longer...
I saw a group of girls who parked their car in a questionable spot, in a neighborhood adjacent to the bakery storefront. Exiting their vehicle, they looked around nervously, and you could see it in their eyes: if we get caught, it's worth it. I won't lie, City of Los Angeles, I thought about it-- but never one to live on the edge, I waited patiently for my delicious carbohydrate loot. Of course, my patient waiting also involved me cursing my overly responsible sensibilities. But refusal to valet has its unexpected advantages-- if not for the many instances I have searched LA streets for free parking, I would never have experienced exploring new neighborhoods on foot. And in a city where most of our time is spent driving and relying on Ira Glass podcasts to entertain us (awesome as they are), we know that the act of exploring new neighborhoods as a pedestrian can feel like a rare activity to treasure.
After a long drive back to my out of town office, I decided one molasses cookie for the road wasn't enough. Luckily, I own the Magnolia Bakery cookbooks and we have a handy dandy toaster oven in our work apartment, perfect for spontaneous molasses cookie projects. Summertime is the busiest season at work (did I mention I am living here?), so my summertime baking is minimal-- but the toaster oven is always here for me when time allows and inspiration strikes.