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At Phoenix Bakery, it's not necessarily 'rose is a rose is a rose ... '

Gertrude Stein said, "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." But at Phoenix Bakery, not all roses are alike. Just ask the brothers Diaz -- Rafael and Manuel -- who have worked at the bakery for 38 years. You'll find them most days at the cake decorating station tucked into a corner behind the bakery's ice cream display (there's also a window into their workspace facing the street, so you can see them as you're walking by). Armed with their pastry bags and  rose tips, they turn tubs of frosting into the roses that top Phoenix's strawberry whipped-cream cakes.

Depending on the size of the cake, sometimes there are two roses, sometimes three. If you order one big enough, there might be five. Standard colors are red, blue and pink, but you can also special request purple, turquoise, whatever color you want.

The way you can tell who decorated which cake is to look at the roses. "Rafael made this cake," says one of the women who works behind the counter as she slides a blue rose-topped cake from the refrigerated case where they're stored until the next birthday or office party. "That's easy."  

For the full story about Phoenix Bakery and the man behind its strawberry whipped-cream cake, click here.

So, whose roses are pictured above?

Manuel Diaz's roses are the stylized ones in the photo; Rafael hews to tradition -- his roses have open centers and more petals. Choose your cakes accordingly.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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