Mr. Holmes: get baked, get messy, get it

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A new Mr. Holmes just opened in Larchmont. Really. This is real life. Two Holmes’ in LA! Considered yourself #blessed. You now live in a reality where you can eat your weight in sprouted probiotic brown rice topped with adzuki beans and sea vegetables, and a mere 5 min walk later find yourself covered in pastry cream and laminated flakes. #whatatimetobealive

Whether you’re in Larchmont, Highland Park, San Fran, the OC, or Seoul, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse should definitely be a stopping point to pick up a box of all things pastry. The hype is to be believed. Croissants, donuts, danishes, cookies, and the all-famous cruffin.

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Some flavors are always (like the Churro Croissant filled with dulce de leche and dusted with cinn sug, or the California Croissant filled with smoked salmon, wasabi, ginger, sesame and served with a packet of soy sauce – decidedly not desserty but GET IT). Some flavors change daily (upcoming June standouts include: root beer float cruffins, horchata cruffins, grilled nectarine and rosemary jam donuts, caraway/coffee/fig donuts). On the day I visited, Arnold Palmer cruffins and strawberry rose donuts were obv menu choices.

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There is no denying that Mr. Holmes is IG heaven. Beautiful pastries, neon signs, lettered tiling, rows upon rows of freshly baked goods…..

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…..but let’s be real. As in: real life is more than a highlight reel of perfect snaps. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that this is what Mr. Holmes actually looks like once the feasting has begun:

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And this is the work of a well-seasoned professional! So let me throw a few crumbs of Holmesy wisdom your way to help get you up to speed: 1) let the staff cut your treats in half for you – they know what’s up. 2) gather lots of napkins. 3) go in with clean hands – you don’t want to be licking who knows what along with cascading cream. 4) own it – channel your inner Mrs. Teevee palming that whipped creamy mushroom in Wonka’s candy room.

 

 

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travel around the world for $30 a day!*

*price excludes airfare to Los Angeles

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If you live in LA, you know it’s only an hour to the beach/an hour to the mountains/an hour to the desert….. Get ready, because now, in much less than an hour, you can travel to destination: ANYWHERE (time reference: you can now travel the globe more quickly than it takes to cross under the 405 at 5pm). All you need to do is get yourself to Wanderlust Creamery.

Once there, if you know where you’re going, coolcool, pick a cone and a scoop and get on with it. But if instead you’re feeling a little lost or undecided, a little adventurous, a little filled with…. shall we say….WANDERLUST, that cashier’s counter turns into a travel agent’s desk and for a mere $30 you can book a Flight Around The World!

Some decisions will still need to be made. Wanderlust offers around 20 different flavors inspired by places the owners have been/want to go. Since the flight is made up of ONLY fourteen gold ball-sized scoops, you’ll have to say bon voyage to a few. On this latest tour I skipped Earl Grey (bc I can make that myself), Pineapple Li Hing Sorbet (bc I’m allergic to pineapple and not looking to die before the world tour even begins), Wanderlust Vanilla (bc you all know how I feel about vanilla – I don’t. I don’t feel about vanilla.), and Kinder Bueno (bc it of course is bueno, but I can also just go buy a Kinder Bueno).

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So where did I go on my flight?

I started in Thailand with a Thai Iced Tea
then I headed over to Italy for Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Sorbet
to the Philipines for Ube Malted Crunch
next to Spain for a quick Catalonian afterschool snack of Pa Amb Xocolata (baguette spread with dark chocolate and drizzled with olive oil and sea salt)
Mexico for Cuatro Leches (why stop at tres??)
South America for a Tonka Bean Latte
Provence for some Honey Lavender (and a quick roll in the lavender fields)
met Björk at her house in Iceland for Pretzel & Rugbraud (rye bread)
then back to Thailand for Sticky Rice Mango
back to the Mediterranean for Fig Leaf & Pistachio (didn’t need to stop in 1000 churches or visit any headless sculptures!)
back to Mexico for Abuelita Malted Crunch
over to Japan for a Sakura Latte (since I missed cherry blossom season while I was hanging out in Iceland and Mexico and Italy), as well as Japanese Neapolitan (made with matcha, hojicha, and black sesame layers)
reentering the USA via the Pacific Northwest‘s Smoky Road – home sweet smoky marshmallow home…..

Luckily, my tour group was filled with enthusiastic explorers each preferring different cultural flavors, so the threat of an ice cream war was thwarted. #icecreamforworldpeace #icecreamforpresident

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Escape to Bia: part 1*

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Ever wonder what a fairy queen eats and drinks (aside from berries and fiddlehead ferns and dewdrops, of course)? Well wonder no more, because I’m about to reveal the secrets of the fairy kingdom…..and who would’ve guessed they’d have an outpost in LA’s Koreatown? Welcome to Bia.

(Side note: ever wonder what fairy monsters drink? THIS. #nothankyouverymuch)

Bia’s menu centers around two main ingredients: rose and lavender. Makes sense considering the cafe’s founder used to be a florist. Wanting to avoid synthetically sweet syrups, she makes her floral syrups in-house letting each jar infuse for two to three days. The limited quantities of syrup are then used in a limited number of creations; most triumphantly, lattes and cakes. (she also makes a vanilla syrup, and also makes italian sodas, muffins, meringues, croissants and scones, but we’re not here for that)

Easily blending in at the fairy cafe, due to my extremely large fairy tramp stamp, I was able to see magic in action. And by that I mean the jars of flower syrup are on display at the front counter:

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Listen, this is not like wandering into a Bath and Body Works and posting up for a soapy snack at the display table. This is more like roaming through a magical blooming forest only to be invited into a hollowed tree stump for a whimsical afternoon feast.

The carefully sought out coffee perfectly balances with the floral scents. The shop’s founder is the only one currently concocting the drinks, and you can tell she takes pride in the exacting details. The rose latte is topped with a fresh rose petal and ground rose powder. (the lavender latte is topped with a fresh lavender sprig and açaí powder) Like, this mug smells so good I want to just hang it from my rearview mirror.

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And now the cake. It is truly a special experience for all the senses. It’s beautiful, it’s delicious, and it smells SO GOOD that it’s basically singing to you. The double layered infused chiffon cake is doused with thick cream and again dusted with dried and fresh petals. (it can be ordered for dine-in only, though they will give you a box to go if you don’t finish. #qualitycontrol)

At first glance, you might think you’ve accidentally signed up for a Strawberry Shortcake pinky sweet extravaganza, but one bite and you’ll remember that no, no, you’re still dining on fairy food. How can something be sweet and floral without being too sweet and too floral? Tis the magic of the fairy kitchen.

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*part 2 re: everything lavender, will publish at some indeterminate future date

Goodbye Gill’s

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Awhile back, I scoured LA to find the best soft serve ice cream. And where was the best found? At Gill’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream. They were one of the few spots to offer soft serve in a flavor other than vanilla, and they had my all-time-go-to: butterscotch dip top. “They’ve been around for 78 years, so they know what they’re doing!”

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With all the openings of artisanal ice cream shops – some even offering soft serve – I still stand by those words. They KNOW what they’re doing, though now they’ve been around for 80 years. 80 YEARS. Fact:  you could get a cone from Gill’s after seeing the premiere of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”

So what ding dong thinks remodeling is a good idea? The handmade signs are part of the charm and character. How could you say no to this?:

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You couldn’t. You could, however, (at least I could), say a big nope to a poser flair à la Friday’s “vintage themed” ice cream parlor. Why the F fake it when you have the real thing right there??!! And if some infrastructure upgrades are needed, sure sure, how bout finding a way to make it easier and more affordable since Gill’s is one of the main places keeping the Farmer’s Market distinctly different from a Sbarro’s food court? Is there not some kind of actual grandfather clause we could enforce here??  What’s next? Throw the weird green wood shopping carts into a bonfire??? Is nothing sacred anymore??!?!? I hope whoever’s forcing this closure attends the grand opening of the phony old timey shop taking over and his scoop promptly falls over and plops on the ground. In a puddle.

And that’s all I have to say about that. And also get there by Feb 2 for your last butterscotch dip top. *insert Claire Danes cry face*

rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, get that ice cream rollin’!

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Ice cream rolls: the latest in ice cream fashion. Like Coldstone, but more aesthetically interesting. You know when your drink freezes to the sides of a frosty mug and sometimes that’s the best part? Well this is like a whole bowl of that best part.

Rolled ice cream originated in Thailand and has finally made its way stateside. Why is it so great? It’s fresh with no preservatives, it’s customizable, and, well, it’s pretty. What’s going on? Basically, liquid custard or cream is poured onto a frozen metal plate and then various mix-ins (cookies, fruit, Nutella, CHEESECAKE!) are chopped up/mixed in. The whole concoction slowly freezes during the mixing process and then is spread so so thin across the plate. Then a wide (let’s call it an) ice cream chisel is used to scrape up the ice cream into rolls. Top with more fruit/candy/whipped cream. Done.

The above pic is Thai iced tea ice cream mixed up with fresh lychee and graham crackers and then topped with raspberries and mochi. And it was made in Champaign, IL – CANYOUBELIEVEIT??!

If you’re not roaming about in Thailand or Champaign, here is where to get your roll on:

Los Angeles:
Chelo Creamery

New York:
I-CE NY
10Belowicecream

Chicago:
Aha Crepe

saving wrappers to wallpaper my house

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I’m a sucker for pretty packaging. Colors, fonts, hidden pictures, oooohhhhyesssssiwant!!!! But you know what sucks? When the packaging is better than the actual product. But you know what I don’t write about here? Products that suck.

And so: Compartes. Their chocolate bar packaging is AMAZING. Like I really do actually want to wallpaper my house with it, or at least get some prints made into upholstery fabric (or dress fabric, or both).

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Then they print on their truffles, and you think, “um, is something that looks like a Crayola mosaic safe to eat?” Answer: yes. Plus they look so pretty when you arrange them in a gift (to yourself) box! Each truffle is a bright bite packed with flavor. Blueberry rhubarb, peach rosemary, date walnut, peanut honey salt, cucumber honeydew, etc etc etc forever and ever (changing seasonally).

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But don’t think all this hooha is there to mask a subpar foundation. Compartes chocolate is amazing on its own, sans stuff. Milk, white or darkest of dark, covering dipped fruit (oranges! apricots!) or in a bar – it is always smooth, perfectly tempered, subtly complex. Then combined with interesting flavors for any/all preferences?  Boom. (even usually blah/baby palate white gets some fancy treatment à la strawberry pepper or apple pie!)

You know how you’ve/I’ve thought/said out loud, “no one understands me like chocolate…chocolate is the friend that never lets me down…” right? right??? Well, this time I really mean it, because:

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Come on. It’s like Compartes is living in my head. Gems, whisky, gold. And chocolate. This handful basically sums up my life. Oh, and ps: did you think the pretty stopped at the label? Nope. This. Is. The. Chocolate. This. Is. The. Part. You. Eat.:

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And then this is the part you gift at a bachelorette party:

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FYI:

  • if you can’t get yourself to LA, you can spring for some $$ shipping and order online
  • the Donuts & Coffee bar is made using Primo’s Donuts!
  • the Tortilla Chips & Cayenne bar is MUY picante – not for the faint of mouth

 

Compartes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

pretty doughnut lineup

*excuse me, but did you know that a police lineup is called an identity parade in British English??!?!!? can you believe it??! so good….ok, back to the desserts:

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You know when something’s so cute you just want to pinch it? And you know when something’s so pretty you just want to eat it? Yeah, well, if this is you, then this is your donut shop.

Be advised: Sidecar Doughnuts is NOT a 24/7-keep-’em-coming donut place. When the sign says they close at 4pm (on weekdays, 9pm on Fri/Sat), they mean it. Not 4:01, not 4:02….4. And not like anything in LA is close, but unless you live in Santa Monica or Costa Mesa, you are making a deliberate trip for these donuts.

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And so, at 4:02, with customers inside and fresh, warm donuts ready to be mine, my face was dumbfoundedly pressed up against a locked glass door. The Sidecar staff are experts at avoiding eye contact. I am an expert at putting on a pathetically pleading face in times of dire need. The Sidecar staff then shows their hand and become experts at sneakily sneaking me in and relocking the door behind me. (!!!!!!!!!praise be to the donut guardian angels!!!!!!!!)

Luckily, I already had my order planned, so I ordered, tipped, thankthankthanked, and was out by 4:04. Like a pro. Here’s what I had:

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maple bacon – made with Vermont maple and smoky, perfectly crispy and salty Niman Ranch bacon

violet – vanilla cake infused with violet oil and topped with a violet (edible) and candied violets – different and delicious and a bit like Chowards!

butter & salt – restaurant bread baskets as we know them should just call it quits and use these at every meal instead. warm, buttery, salty, sweet, dense but not heavy….

huckleberry – huckleberry glaze on a huckleberry cake packed with tangy sweet Oregon huckleberries….huckleberryhuckleberryhuckleberrrrrrryyyyyy. get it.

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They have everyday flavors as well as monthly special flavors, so they keep you wanting/coming back for more. And I will be coming back for more… What’s happening in March? Cara Cara orange? Chocolate & rye? Coconut cream pie? Oh, ok. Yes. Yes. And yes. And, lesson learned, I’ll be sure to get there at noon.

Oh, and were you wondering what they do with all the leftover fresh-from-the-oven-post 4 o’clock donuts? I sure was. Answer: they donate them. (or should I say, they doughnate them….that’s right) Good thing they let me in when they did, and good thing that was their answer bc I was mere seconds away from beginning my dumpster diving career….

 

Sidecar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato