The Quintessential Hostess Gift

While in Sacramento, we were introduced to Nothing Bundt Cake and we have to say it was love at first bite. The great news is that they are a nationwide franchise. That means you are most likely situated near a local shop.  But if not, you can always go online and have one dropped off right at your doorstep.  Or make life easy and have the distinctively shaped cake delivered to a very deserving friend as a house warming gift, Christmas present, birthday surprise, hostess thank you or any other event worth celebrating.  Wednesday sounds like a great reason for bundt cake to us.

The locations are charming and filled will all manner of inspiration. We sincerely hope you visit a bakery near you. Not only to sample the latest flavors (we love free samples), but also to get a gander at the exquisitely gorgeous cakes in a variety of sizes from bite-sized buntinis to personal sized bundtlets to 10″ full bundts serving up to 20 people.

We visited at Halloween when the Sacramento store was decked out with fun bundtinis all costumed and ready for little monsters to devour.

The shop addresses the confusing questions of how to honor someone at a major milestone. The answer is presented within a number of sumptuously designed displays that color coordinate their cakes with accessory options, making the gift even more special.

Of course the main reason to visit is to taste their supremely moist and flavorful bundt.  On our first introduction we were immediately taken with the birthday cake version, which is packed with a spray of multi-colored sprinkles nestled in classic vanilla cake. Another visit had us swooning for the Pumpkin spice with cream cheese frosting. But if those don’t float your boat not to worry, they have red velvet, chocolate chip, lemon, pecan praline, cinnamon swirl and a long list of other delectable flavors to choose from.

We are tickled pink by Nothing Bundt Cake’s aesthetic, simple yet powerful design elements and cake shape which make for an impressive hostess gift sure to wow not only on presentation but throughout the savoring sure to follow. #IFBC17

Abundant Flavors Of Portugal In Little India

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We were beyond surprised to find Portugal Imports, a Portuguese bakery, in Artesia. But we opened our minds and entered the pristine shop to find a cornucopia of freshly baked and imported goods.

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Cans of tuna, virgin olive oil, beans and dried fruit from sunny Portugal were just the start of the immersion.

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They also carry the famous piri-piri sauce, a spicy mix of African peppers, spices, onion, garlic and lemon, that can now be found all over Portugal. Used as a condiment and marinade for chicken, meat and seafood, it is recommended only to those looking for an incendiary experience.

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Portuguese allspice is a compelling blend of herbs and spices that take sweet and savory dishes to new levels of excitement.

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After a brief tour of the shop we turned our attention to their seductive baked goods.

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A few tables and chairs make grabbing a cup of coffee and some pastries the logical afternoon pick-me-up.

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Queijiada de nata is their signature pastry. Bakers fill a puff pastry shell with creme brûlée-like custard. The pride and joy of Portugal, these creamy, sweet, bites melt away in a smooth rush of pleasure.

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Pastries at Portugal Imports sell for $1.45 each or $15.00 a dozen and there is an explanation for each written on the wall.

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A similarly baked pastry cup called nata de belem, originated in the 1800’s by nuns trying to raise money for their church. These silky creations are spiked with cinnamon and lemon, heavenly indeed.

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The amendoa, stuffs pastry shells with chopped almonds in a sugar glaze for one crunchy, almond extravaganza that permeates the entire sweet.

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Caramelo are toasted toffee tarts that explode with burnt sugar and a chewy consistency.

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Then there are the breads. We highly recommend the corn bread (not sweet like American corn bread) and the sweet bread which is sweet, similar to Kings Hawaiian bread. Don’t miss the crunchy cookie twists which go exceptionally well with a cup of tea.

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And finally for more Portuguese traditions, take a gander in the refrigerated case where bacalhau (salted cod), sausage and cheese celebrate the most well known and loved flavors of Portugal.

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For hidden Portuguese treats, ingredients and staples, a visit to Portugal Imports provides a journey to the edible heart of the country.

Portugal Imports, 11655 Artesia Boulevard, Artesia, CA 90701
Phone – 562-809-7021         web site – portugalimports.net

Koreatown French Bakery

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Deep in the heart of Koreatown is the seductive Paris Baguette, an elegant bakery displaying luscious traditional French pastries, as well as Asian fusion surprises. Originating in Korea, the franchise came to Los Angeles in 2005 and has been expanding ever since.

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The attractive space is well organized with crisp, clean, exceptionally packaging, making the goodies even more enticing.

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Creme filled buns and chocolate covered doughnuts glisten in glass cases.

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A wide selection of French macarons pack some serious punch. We fell hard for the passionfruit version which is a spot on, sweet and tart reflection of the tropical fruit.

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Attention to detail, design and decoration is the focus here, with sweets that are as visually ravishing as they are orally pleasurable.

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An assortment of ready to heat and eat appetizers can also be found on the shelves.

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Adorable mini croissants temp with flakey, puffed, buttery layers.

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Charming packaging makes every corner a joy to explore.

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Sandwiches, unique sausage stuffed pies and cheese tarts are savory options. Individual pastries start at under a dollar and rise to just a few greenbacks which makes us feel a whole lot better about giving in to such attractive and indulgent baked goods.

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For divine splurges that will impress at any party, Paris Baguette is one of our favorite spots to shop.

Paris Baguette, 3470 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone – 213-384-0404          web site – parisbaguetteusa.com

or

Paris Baguette, 125 North Western Avenue, Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone – 323-467-0404

or

Paris Baguette, 621 South Western Avenue, Suite 105, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone – 213-368-0404

Overflowing Italian Market

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Claro’s Italian Market has been serving Southern California for almost 68 years. Joe Claro, started the business with his wife Mary. He soon became partners with his son Frank and wife Geraldine. In 1958 Joe retired and his son took over the business. Today, the tradition continues with their two daughters, Rosemarie and Mary Linda, along with their husbands, Bob and George running the stores.

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They have grown to six retail outlets and import many items from Italy. The vast array of products provide everything needed to prepare Italian meals, with a little Greek, French and Argentine thrown in for good measure.

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Be sure to allow ample time to wander and peruse the shelves piled high with delicious ingredients.

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The deli case is a wonder to behold and the place to order slices of cured meats, cheese and their famous sandwiches.

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A long list suggests some of their best meat and cheese combinations or guests can custom order sandwiches that bring them the greatest joy.

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We went with the two most popular sandwiches. We had to try their beloved  Grandpa Joe, which unifies lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncini, mortadella, capacollo, dry salami and provolone. We were also attracted to the Spicy Mike, a soft roll topped with capocollo, casalingo salame, hot calabrese salame, hot pepper cheese, sliced pepperoncini & oil dressing. Both subs are very meaty and satisfying with a small being more than sufficient at $5.99, or for big eaters they have a large for $6.99, which looks to be almost twice the size.

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In house whipped up deli salads, marinated vegetables and olives take up a portion of the deli case.

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While the far end houses a hot food bar, all well within reach price-wise.

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Strategically placed counters on the way out, house pastries and desserts cases.

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We couldn’t resist the dense, almond rich wedding cookies.

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We asked about cannoli and they were happy to fill a shell for us with the freshest ricotta, studded with chocolate chips and candied fruit. The cannoli are creamy, thick, dense, mildly sweet, cheese filled crisp shells that should not be missed.

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For old school, ready made Italian delicacies along with an impressive selection of imported and locally sourced Italian goods, Claro’s is an amazing go to and to go resource.

Claro’s Italian Market, 1003 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776     Phone – 626-288-2026 web site – claros.com

The Oldest Bakery In Los Angeles

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The famous Beverlywood Bakery, established in 1946, claims to be the oldest bakery in Los Angeles. They have been servicing the Los Angeles community and surrounding areas for 68 years.

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Beverlywood offers a variety of fresh baked gourmet breads, pastries and desserts, as well as a wide selection of Jewish bakery items (Challah, Rugelah, Hamentashen), specialty Jewish Holiday items, custom Birthday/celebration cakes and catering style platters for parties and events.

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They are a non-kosher Jewish bakery offering a variety of traditional Jewish baked goods as well as bakery items from a variety of cultures, while also catering to a range of diets, including gluten free and sugar free. The bakeries longevity can be attributed to decades of steadfast commitment to their patrons.

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The scope of Beverlywood’s offerings span from elaborate custom party cakes, to giant challah breads for Bar/Bat mitzvah, to party platters and catering services.

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Some famous favorites include twice baked rye bread, bread pudding and florentine chocolate dipped cookies.

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A selection of Beverlywood Bakery breads and sweets can also be found in the gourmet bread sections in many Pavillions and Vons supermarkets around Los Angeles.

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Original recipes and unwavering commitment to quality make them a favorite with generations of patrons.

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Beverlywood’s recipes are as hallowed as they are secret, and they are proud to have served customers the same scrumptious cakes, breads, cookies etc. as the founders of the shop did 68 years ago.

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The buttery, flakey, sweet and savory rugelah should not be missed.  Our favorite is the cinnamon nut.

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For a welcoming and inspired old-fashioned bakery experience embracing decades of commitment and high quality ingredients, Beverlywood Bakery is a Los Angeles institution that should be high on everyone’s party list.

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Beverlywood Bakery, 9128 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 310-278-0122           web site – beverlywoodbakery.net

Ethiopian Perfection

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Little Ethiopia inhabits the block of Fairfax just south of Olympic Blvd. We have explored all the restaurants and tiny markets, enjoying many tasty meals, but our hearts and tastebuds keep calling us back to Awash just a short drive west on Pico Blvd.

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The location and atmosphere are convenient and basic with consistent high quality, exotically spiced and exceptionally well prepared food that leaves us saying, “This is great food,” every time we dine here.

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We always begin with the Ethiopian tea and its secret brew of spices served alongside a bag of Lipton tea. You can choose to add the tea bag or drink the spiced tea straight, either way you get a solid, warm taste of this African nations bounty.

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For those not familiar with Ethiopian food, it is eaten with the hands or rather with the bread, which looked to us like a giant handy wipe the first time we saw it.  But the large, round pancake-shaped injera is actually the eating tool and the edible plate. Its spongy texture and mild sourdough essesence play well against the flavorful dishes. We became addicted on our third visit and now crave this teff based staple of Ethiopian cuisine. The injera served here is a mix of teff and flour but the full gluten free teff version is now provided in many Ethiopian restaurants for an additional fee.

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The meal is served communal style on a large round of injera. The vegetarian plate includes a tangy green salad spiked with jalapeño slices, garlic kissed spinach, potato and carrot melange, yellow and red lentil stews as well as a red pepper based puree and a cool mint green horseradish dish that always takes our breath away it’s so unique and satisfying.

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The stews, meats, vegetables and salad are all scooped up with small pieces ripped from the fermented injera and the entire package is popped into the mouth, a delicious and ingenious system that keeps the fingers clean and the palate stimulated.

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We are bowled over by everything on the menu and last time fell in love with the grilled chicken served with rice and salad which captures the smoky flavors of the grill along with exotic Ethiopian spices pulling everything together in four juicy, plump butterflied chicken legs.

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For those who love Ethiopian food or anyone up for a heathy and mouth watering cuisine, Awash is just the ticket.

Awash Restaurant, 5990 1/2 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035                       Phone number – 323-939-3233