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Sumi Chang's bakery may be the center of civilized life in Pasadena: a place to buy excellent-to-superb scones and baguettes and pains au chocolat, of course, but also the heart of a certain sort of society, the Caltech professors, theology students and writers who worship at the twin altars of caffeine and conversation, a place where you are likely to bump into a zillion-dollar chef, a man who helped design the Mars rover, or the star of the play you saw last night at the Ahmanson. On a good day, Euro Pane's magnificent croissants could be mistaken for France's best in a police lineup, and, the natural-starter sourdough is superb. Toss in the homemade granola, the epochal bread pudding, the rustic fruit tarts and the gooiest egg-salad sandwich in town, and it's no wonder that Europane's regulars treat the bakery more as a permanent residence than as a café.
Macarons, those glorious little cookies that look like an OCD pastry chef's re-envisioning of the hamburger as tiny French patisserie experiment, have become trendy. And unlike the rise of the cupcake, the macaron is something we greeted with great happiness and a kind of relief. Macarons are one of those pastries that, even if you're the kind of person who wakes before dawn to laminate dough, you'd really rather buy than make. And who has the cash these days to jet to Pierre Hermé's... More »
With all due respect to Bottega Louie's bright little gems and Lette's fancy Beverly Hills creations, the best macarons for your money (and these are some pricey French cookies) come from Euro Pane Bakery, located across the street from Paseo Colorado. They're about twice the size of a regular macaron, so you could in theory purchase fewer, were they not so delicious. There are seven flavors, including blackberry, pistachio and mocha, but I recommend taking home a few of the standout sea... More »
Imagine if your favorite bakery -- blissful croissants, perfectly made canelés, crusty boules, an egg-salad sandwich so exactly rendered that it would cause an Old Town riot if it were ever removed from the menu -- reappeared, a few blocks down the street, with most of the menu reworked in whole-wheat flours instead of the more traditional white. An alternate-universe bakery, written in and kneaded with whole grains. Which is exactly what happened this spring in Pasadena,... More »
Cannelés, not unlike many French pastries, are the sorts of things that can be done passably well by many but masterfully by few. In Los Angeles, you can now find the pretty fluted Bordelaise cakes fairly frequently, but only one bakery makes them the way they are traditionally made in Brittany: with beeswax. Properly baked cannelés are so deeply caramelized on the outside that they appear burnt yet have a dense, custardy interior that seems improbably undercooked. It's not, if... More »
There are so many good things about this bakery besides their fabulous pastries and beautifully crusty breads - their fresh made-to-order sandwiches and a steaming bowl of the soup of the day. I'd have to say their signature sandwich has to be the open-faced creamy egg salad done with soft boiled eggs, sun dried tomato pesto, fresh spring mix salad drizzled with dressing. I go out of my way when I'm in Pasadena for this sandwich. A nice surprise that comes with it is the fresh-baked crispy oatmeal raisin cookie for dessert! Of course, in spite of the cookie, I can't leave without drooling over the pastry counter. Fruit filled pastries, tarts, brioche, house made granola and crusty loaves of bread...every time I find myself in a dilemma trying to decide what to take home. One of my favorites is the Pear Spice Cake - rich, moist and fruity with that nice fresh-out-of-the-oven crunch around the edges. Their tarts have a beautiful buttery shortbread like crust supporting a cast of fruity and creamy stars - all delicious, but one stand-out is the macadamia tart. Loaded solid with nuts atop a perfect custard on a shortbread crust - so rich you might rather share this one! The pastries are divine, with one noteworthy standout I had recently - pear nestled atop custard surrounded by a voluminous square of puff pastry - ahhh, had I the foresight to buy two instead of only one so I wouldn't have to share when I got home. Last time I was in, I was disappointed not to fine it, so I dream about it... One last thing, you must take home a loaf of their crusty bread! My favorite is their sourdough and rosemary current. Oh how I look for excuses to trek to Pasadena just so I can stop for lunch...and a few things for later!
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