Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Bakeries

Some sweet news: Carmela Ice Cream to open shop; Proof Bakery in Atwater; Sweet Lady Jane expands [Updated]


Small-batch ice cream company Carmela Ice Cream is set to open its new shop in northeast Pasadena and plans to roll out a vintage ice cream truck. Carmela Ice Cream Artisanal Creamery will produce ice cream and sorbet -- in flavors such as brown sugar vanilla bean, strawberry buttermilk and lemon basil -- on site, where co-owner Jessica Mortarotti also will offer goods such as custom toppings from Valerie Confections, teas and marshmallows by Sugarbird Sweets & Teas and cupcakes from Blue Cupcake. The store is scheduled to open this month. 

2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, www.carmelaicecream.com.

Weeks-old Proof Bakery in Atwater Village is in full swing (Wednesday to Sunday). Owner Na Young Ma offers a full line of pastries -- financiers, palmiers, cakes such as caramel-apple spice with mascarpone creme, tarts, well, you get the picture. And Yeekai Lim, the architect-turned-barista behind the Cognoscenti Coffee pop-up shop, is serving Four Barrel coffee.

3156 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 664-8633. 

[For the record, Dec. 7, 5 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Yeekai Lim as the owner of Proof Bakery.]

Sweet Lady Jane's Santa Monica location has officially opened on Montana Avenue. Founder Jane Lockhart has brought her cakes, pies, tarts, cheesecakes, cookies and more to the Westside (the original Melrose location opened in 1988). Expect to find all of Lockhart's hits, including the seven-layer chocolate cake and the marzipan-enrobed princess cake. And chocolate tacos (florentine cookies filled with chocolate mousse and covered with chocolate curls). 

1631 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, www.sweetladyjane.com, (310) 254-9499. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Jessica Mortarotti with her Carmela ice creams. Credit: Karen Tapia-Anderson / Los Angeles Times

3 food events you should know about: Mexico's bicentennial at Test Kitchen; 'Tampopo' at Royal/T; '13 Days of Halloween' at Village Bakery


Mexico 2010: The Test Kitchen this week celebrates Mexico's bicentennial by hosting Baja chefs Diego Hernandez, formerly of Restaurante Uno in Tijuana; Ismene Venegas of Restaurante La Contra del Parque in Ensenada; and Guillermo Barreto of El Sarmiento restaurant in Ensenada. On Wednesday and Thursday, the three will prepare a spontaneous six-course menu; $50 per person. On Friday and Saturday, Joshua Gil of Mitla, the modern Oaxacan restaurant that he and Bricia Lopez plan to open next month, is offering a five-course menu for $55: sopa de guias with squash vines, chepil, zucchini stems, blossoms, chochoyote and chinicuil sauce; tlayuda of white white beans, mole coloradito, avocado leaves, cactuses and shrimp; braised turkey with hoja santa, black beans, poleo and bean masa tortillas; venison with yellow mole; and guava sponge cake with Oaxacan chocolate and goat milk caramel. 9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 277-0133, testkitchenla.com

Ramen and a movie: Royal/T starts its fall entertainment line-up for "Nighttime @ Royal/T" on Wednesday with a screening of Juzo Itami's "Tampopo," the classic cult film about ramen culture in Japan. Before the screening in Royal/T's back lounge space, Jordan A. Yamaji Smith, a lecturer in Japanese studies and comparative literature at UCLA and Long Beach State, will discuss "Food, Sex, Satire in Modern Japan." A special ramen menu will be available in the cafe starting at 6 p.m. The film starts at 7:30 p.m.  8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-6300, www.royal-t.org.

Countdown to Halloween: There are still a few days left of "13 Days of Halloween." Until Sunday, the Village Bakery in Atwater Village is featuring a different Halloween treat each day. Peanut butter and dark chocolate "monster eyeballs," bandaged Rice Krispie treat mummy heads, green marshmallow witches' fingers, and meringue ghosts dipped in chocolate and toasted coconut have been a few of the featured baked goods that baker-owner Barbara Monderine has dreamed up. 3119 Los Feliz Blvd., (323) 662-8600, www.thevillagebakeryandcafe.com. 

 -- Betty Hallock

Photo: Balloons over the Angel of Independence in Mexico City in celebration of Mexico's bicentennial. Credit: Marco Ugarte / Associated Press. 

'Just Desserts': Black and white and read all over

Judges with L_sm Wednesday night's episode got a little close to home, as the "Just Desserts" cast descended on the L.A. Times building to cater our 128th birthday party.

The chefs were all baffled by the challenge, which required them create pastries devoid of color, utilizing only black and white. The task was like taking away the primary colors from a pack of painters, and no one seemed pleased. Given they don't make black disco dust, Zach was in quite a jam.

Michael Liaskonis of Le Bernardin came over from the Big Apple to judge the episode, which had me wondering, "Where's the local flavor?" And more importantly, "Why wasn't I invited?" If this were high school I'd have been face-deep in a pillow.

While I maintained my cool, Heather certainly did not. When her white chocolate Rice Krispie treats went missing a la pea puree, she immediately assumed it was her nemesis Morgan who absconded with them, barking to the rest of Team Diva (Zach, Heather and Yegit) about her disgust of her competitor. It's hard to believe someone so bitter has dedicated their life to sweets.

Erik, who was moping around the supermarket while shopping for ingredients, felt defeated too early. Gail and the gang thought that his Mississippi mud cake with earl grey whipped cream and hot fudge sauce was beautifully plated, and Johnny Iuzzini stated it was his best dessert yet.

Morgan The monochromatic match really pushed the contestants. They extracted the essential flavors from items like tea and fruits and utilized various textures to create visual appeal. Morgan's sticky toffee pudding and chocolate date cake with banana anise cream and coffee Kahlua jelly, pictured at right, was a perfect example. His columnar design was inspired by the design of our paper, and visually it worked.

But it was Yigit's chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, berry compote and almond milk ice cream that made headlines. He took home his first quick-fire win, beating out the rest of the boys that were in the top rung.

The three remaining ladies' desserts were deemed the worst by the judges, and even though Danielle's ill-planned 128 petit four plate lacked insight and flavor, Erika and her gluey ice cream got sent home.

Thank goodness it wasn't our local girl. We love L.A.!

--Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo: From right, Gail Simmons, Michael Liaskonis and Dannielle Kyrillos. Courtesy of NBC UMV.

Magnolia Bakery opens on 3rd Street


On hot, hot Saturday (so hot that the frosting on your cupcake might have melted faster than you could say red velvet) the long-awaited Magnolia Bakery opened. 

The bakery on the corner of 3rd and Orlando streets is the Los Angeles outpost of a small chain that started in New York’s West Village in 1996 and is credited with starting the cupcake craze. It has been owned by Steve and Tyra Abrams since 2007. The L.A. bakery has been a year in the making, housed in what used to be a neighborhood dry cleaner. “This is a great day for former New Yorkers,” said one customer, who braved an out-the-door line that formed even before the shop opened at noon. 

The new bakery is done up in mint green, black-and-white checkered floors, hanging pendant lamps, big ceiling fans (whew) and fresh flowers. In an open work area, employees frosted cupcakes, which come in more than a dozen flavors. The menu also features icebox pies, layer cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, puddings, and brownies, bars and squares.

Over the sweltering weekend, customers came in short shorts, workout gear, even on crutches. One cashier looked up from behind the counter and said, "This line is insane." 

But nobody was complaining. There were free samples of banana pudding and red velvet cupcakes. 

8389 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 951-0636, www.magnoliabakery.com

-- Betty Hallock

See more images after the jump.

Continue reading »

Sugar rush (Part 2): More Magnolia Bakery, Sweet Lady Jane and Sprinkles

Sprinkles In more bakery news, the cupcake deluge continues:

Magnolia Bakery of New York says it expects to open its Los Angeles outpost, long under construction on 3rd Street, this summer. Yep, another cupcakery.  

Magnolia Bakery, 8389 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, (323) 951-0636, www.magnoliabakery.com.

Sweet Lady Jane announces that its second location in Santa Monica is expected to open in the fall. The new location on Montana Avenue at 17th Street in Santa Monica will be slightly larger than the original -- in business on Melrose Avenue for 22 years -- with the same lineup of cakes, tarts and pastries.

Sweet Lady Jane Santa Monica, 1631 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, www.sweetladyjane.com.

Sprinkles furthers its mission for world cupcake domination by expanding to San Diego. It will be the ninth retail location of Sprinkles Cupcakes. Besides the original Beverly Hills store, there are Sprinkles(es) in Newport Beach, Palo Alto, Dallas and Scottsdale, with plans for stores in Chicago, Houston, Washington D.C. and New York. The Sprinklesmobile mobile cupcake truck was launched in Los Angeles last summer.

Sprinkles San Diego, 8855 La Jolla Village Drive, www.sprinkles.com.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Sprinkles cupcakes. Credit: Christine Cotter/Los Angeles Times

Sugar rush (Part I): Grand openings for John Kelly Chocolates and Plaisir Bakery; Cookie Casa pops up


John Kelly Chocolates celebrated its grand opening Saturday by rolling out the red carpet at its new retail shop in Hollywood, connected to its truffle-fudge-making factory. The store has been open for several weeks in the just-off-Sunset-Boulevard spot where owners John Kelson and Kelly Green are selling the truffle fudge bars that are practically an L.A. icon. "We always wanted something that was good-quality and knock-your-socks-off," says Kelson. Their fudge is the old-fashioned-but-updated, can't-stop-eating-it kind. The glass case at the new store is filled with 1- and 2-ounce pieces of the chocolate-covered, creamy-smooth fudge, some combined with walnuts or peanut butter or sprinkled with sea salt. The shelves are stocked with gift packages and half-pound bars -- the ones that prompt you to tell yourself to slice off just a little bit at a time ... riiiight

John Kelly Chocolates, 1508 N. Sierra Bonita Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 851-3269, www.johnkellychocolates.com.

Another grand opening over the weekend: the flashy Plaisir Bakery in West Hollywood. The Santa Monica Boulevard newcomer bills itself as "not your grandmother's bakery." The bakery features a mural of a pair of gold-glossy lips, iPod stations and flat-screen TV monitors and serves crepes, Belgian waffles, and cream puffs filled with mousse that comes in "light" or "guilty." So WeHo. 

Plaisir Bakery, 8613 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 855-7177, www.plaisir-la.com.

Online bake shop Cookie Casa will pop up at Polkadots & Moonbeams on 3rd Street on Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cookie Casa “Sweet Spots” pop-up at Polkadots & Moonbeams, 8381 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 655 3880, www.cookiecasa.com

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: John Kelly Chocolates

Cake Monkey pop-up opens in Silver Lake

Monkey2Cake Monkey, the online bakery whose snack treats you might also luck upon at retailers such as Silverlake Wine, is having a weekend bake sale -- indefinitely.

This means that Friday to Sunday, you can get your fill of cakewiches (cake sandwiches filled with buttercream and covered in chocolate), inside-out s'mores (housemade graham crackers smeared with ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow) and yo-ho's (Yodel meets Ho-Ho).

Not hungry for cake and chocolate and frosting yet? There are also: mini layer cakes; Cake Monkey Moguls (think Sno Balls); 'Nuff Said's (chocolate crumble cookie with housemade marshmallow, dark chocolate, pecans, caramel and fleur de sel); Li'l Merri's (oatmeal cookie sandwiches filled with maple-vanilla buttercream); and a special pop-up only treat, ice cream sandwiches. Prices are $3 to $7.50.

The former Zanzabelle space on Rowena Avenue playing host to the pop-up bakery also features works from local artists.

This weekend is opening weekend. The bake sale starts Friday at noon. Hours: Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

2912 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Cake Monkey yo-hos. Credit: Cake Monkey

Euro Pane 2.0, beery Spring St., Wolfgang Puck's 'dan dan' dumplings at the Ritz


The new Euro Pane: It's been 16 years since Sumi Chang opened her bakery, Euro Pane, on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, where a devout clientele file in for croissants, almond toast, danishes, cinnamon rolls and cult favorites such as her egg salad sandwich. Now Chang (a Campanile/La Brea Bakery alum) is opening her second location, also in Pasadena -- and also on Colorado (just farther west). The airy space with sleek glass bakery cases and inviting communal table officially is scheduled to open at the end of the month, but, according to Squid Ink, doors are open while Chang takes her new menu for a test spin. 300 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 844-8804.

Springing up on Spring: Spring St. beer and wine bar, from the owners of downtown's Library Bar, has opened in the former 626 Reserve space -- on Spring Street. From its 26 taps (pictured above) flow beers such as Arrogant Bastard, Racer 5 IPA, 1903 Lager, Poppy Fields Pale Ale and Fat Tire. Sandwiches (roast beef, smoked salmon, turkey, etc.), cheeses and charcuterie are available starting next week. It was good to see a local propped at the bar with a beer and a book, but was that Limp Bizkit playing over the satellite radio station? 626 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213) 555-1212.

Dining downtown, 24 floors up: Wolfgang Puck's WP24 on the 24th floor of the 54-story Ritz-Carlton downtown is now open. The menus for the lounge and main dining room, described as "modern Asian," were developed by Puck and Lee Hefter, executive corporate chef of Puck's restaurant group. Think Chinois on Main goes downtown. The lounge menu includes dishes such as prawn toast with sweet and spicy garlic chile sauce; chicken “dan dan” dumplings; and sushi. In the main dining room there's crispy suckling pig with black plum puree and wild flower-licorice honey; hot pot with Kobe beef cheek and veal tongue; and whole loup de mer served tableside. Spago veteran David McIntyre is chef de cuisine. 900 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 743-8824.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Spring St.'s beer taps; Credit: Betty Hallock

Another season, another reason for Baking Whoopie

It was late. Probably 2:30 or 3 a.m. I had just arrived home after a long night of … work. I was hungry. I opened my refrigerator and there it was: A square box tied with a green-polka-dot ribbon and decorated with a circular sticker that read “Baking Whoopie."

I knew what was in it: whoopie pies made by a local company of the same name. I knew because I had already eaten four earlier that day. It was a bad idea to eat more, I thought, as I watched my hand, seemingly disconnected from my body, reach out, open the box and grab a vanilla pie stuffed with mocha crème.

In a feverish, sugar-driven trance I put the pie in my mouth and began to chew. A rush of flavors circled my tongue — salty, sweet and creamy. The next day I woke up and ate a red velvet pie filled with vanilla crème. As I took a sip of coffee and wiped bits of pastry from my mouth it became painfully clear. I was addicted to Baking Whoopie.

It turns out I’m not the only one. The fledgling company — launched a little under six months ago — is already cranking out several hundred pies per week to a loyal constituency of sweet tooths at Owens Market, the Cabbage Patch and Fandango as well as a slew of mail-order customers around the country.

Continue reading »

Happy anniversary to the Varnish


The Varnish bar celebrates its one-year anniversary tonight, starting at 7 p.m. with complimentary gin punch (one teacup per guest) served from a punch cart manned by co-owner Eric Alperin. "I built a punch cart. Kind of like a go cart," he says. "I'll be rolling it around and doling out punch to our guests." Snacks provided by BabyCakes, the vegan bakery next door. "Swing by for a glass of punch," Alperin says.

118 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 622-9999, www.thevarnishbar.com.

-- Betty Hallock


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.