Wednesday, May 24, 2006


MADE IN L.A. - La Maison du Pain

Me and's a perpetual love affair...

Welcome to the second installment of my series MADE IN L.A., finding foods made right here in the City of Angels. (More formally known as "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Poriuncula")

How it is that I am sitting inside writing to you all instead of basking in the glory of the day, I cannot fathom…well, ok, I can…it’s simply because I am overwhelmed with delirious happiness for my latest MADE IN L.A. find. Not only have their ethereal products changed my daily life (for the better) but they are within walking distance! I mean it! I can actually get there faster on foot than in the car, and frankly this has made me into a new woman.

So the they in question is/are La Maison du Pain – House of Bread and Pastries (which, I guess should really be La Maison du Pain et de la Pâtisserie but who am I to quibble.) which is a super chic little spot on a seemingly innocuous stretch of Pico Blvd in the Wilshire Vista area. (For those of you who have never heard of Wilshire Vista, it’s Pico Blvd. just West of La Brea. Right off the 10. It’s a gem of a neighborhood.)

Prior to my first visit, I checked up on the company online and was given very sparse information. Two sisters and a bread bakery. That was about it. So I sauntered my sassy self on down there to check things out.

Coming down the hill from behind, I first spotted two men on the back stairs chattering away in French. A good sign indeed. Well, that and the stairs faced a parking lot with room for 5-6 cars, which is always a bonus indeed.

Inside the cheery little spot, with three or four tables inside and out for those of us who can’t quite resist immediate tasting, there is a rack of freshly made breads and on top of a glass case of pastries a little basket of samples (oh be still my heart!) On my first visit there was a sinfully buttery apple brioche, dark, moist chocolate brownies and a bread pudding that brought tears of joy to my eyes. I am no glutton (ok, that’s a total lie) so I resisted taking thirds, but they didn’t seem to mind when I went back for a second taste. Hee.

Not wanting to just take samples and flee, I started to chat with the absolutely lovely woman behind the counter, who, turns out, is one of the sisters who has blessed us all with her epicurean entrepreneurship. Checking if she was the baker, she smiled shyly and said she wasn’t, she had actually “imported a Frenchman.” Now THAT is my kind of lady! I wonder if I can do that too…sorry, I digress…

With a $10 minimum for credit card purchases, I was forced (forced I say!) to get a wide sampling of their delights. And with prices so fantastically reasonable, my total booty included a baguette of their house bread ($1.95), an olive studded round loaf, a fruit tart (which didn’t quite make it home to be photographed. What can I say, it was ripe and juicy fruit on top of a buttery pastry shell! Deeeelicious.), an orange crème financier, a chocolate tartlet and a butter cream frosted cupcake. It was red. The butter cream was white. I was gleeful.

Of the four pastries, I really couldn’t pick a favorite. The cupcake was just a bit on the dry side, but the butter cream (oh heavenly butter cream) was the perfect foil. Just enough mouthwatering enchantment on there to balance things out, without getting cloying. The tiny chocolate tartlet had a slightly hardened layer of dark chocolate over a devilishly creamy ganache and a perfectly baked shell. I wish I had been able to make it last more than three bites, but as decadent as it was, I couldn’t possibly have shown that sort of restraint. The orange crème cookie was almost the sweet death of me. I’m not accustomed to eating that sort of over the top empyreal foodstuffs. I mean, it was sweet, and chewy and rapturously tasty. Childlike in it’s coloring (bright would be a good word) and strong orange flavor, but adult in its sheer artistry.

And that brings me to the bread. When is the last time you ate a real French bread? Well kiddies, this is it. While the seeming gold-standard of Los Angeles area breads is (nearby) La Brea Bakery, they have, without a doubt, created a decidedly non-French bread in a way that Maison du Pain has joyfully corrected. All three of the breads I have tried meet the true standard of classical French crusts. Light and almost shattering, with a light and chewy interior tasting of pure wheat and in the case of the sour-dough, with a biting tang that makes the mouth smile. Overall, they have worked to create something that is perfect, and I for one am over the moon with happiness.

To think, I have a neighborhood bakery! Swoon. So if you are in the hood, I suggest you stop by soon, and taste what you have been missing.

La Maison Du Pain
5373 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA


Legend has it that whoever eats the last piece of bread has to kiss the cook

Napoleon gave a common bread its name when he demanded a loaf of dark rye bread for his horse during the Prussian campaign. "Pain pour Nicole," he ordered, which meant "Bread for Nicole," his horse. To Germanic ears, the request sounded like "pumpernickel," which is the term we use today for this traditional loaf.

Brioche is a light but rich French bread made with a yeast dough and eggs, milk, butter and sugar

Joan Cusack will portray cooking legend Julia Child in a new film. The American gourmet was famous for introducing French cuisine and cooking techniques to mainstream America through her many cookbooks and TV shows. She died in August 2004, just two days short of her 92nd birthday. Cusack says, "Many people don't know all about the real Julia Child. She had this great marriage." The star admits her own cooking skills are less than impressive, adding, "Actually, Julia didn't start cooking until she was 37. I love that about her! It's never too late. Even for me!" –


maybe I should move to LA?
oh! cute and pretty little things!
Sam -- did you import your Frenchman? I knew you were a clever girl!

Yes, and a short car ride away during non-peak driving hours! Come on by! :-)
Yummmm. That looks so good if I ever make it down to LA I will drive through 4 hours of traffic to get there. Oh wait I'd be doing that any way. Hehe. Seriously though, my mouth is watering over here.
Oh, sounds wonderful! A new bakery is about to open near my house and I have high hopes that they'll be something resembling yours! I like this new little installment of yours...
I am salivating just reading this. You really know how to lure me back to LA, LOL.
Miss Leiha, if thats all it takes to lure you home, I'm going to start a new campaign. xoxox
P.S. LEIHA! What in the HECK is that picture! I LOVE it!

Wild child!
Girl, did you not know how much I love bakerys, LOL. I was just chatting with my friend and told her how much I loved your parties because of the awesome food.

As for the pic, it was a joke for a friend but I loved it so much decided it needed to go on my blog, LOL.

You know how much I love you chick! I miss you tremendously too!
Unfortunately I am NOT that smart.
And I have to find a new job.
AAAAArgh. dont make me leave the country, please.
Wow, that is quite a haul for the $10 minimum! The pictures look delicious, and the cupcake sounds amazing. I will be passing this tip along to all of my Los Angeles-based friends.
Napolean didn't own (or ride) a horse named Nicole...
My son is going to pick something up from there today.

I'm impatiently waiting for him to come back
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