Monday, July 17, 2006
la maison du pain
i don't eat a lot of bread, so really, i'm not the one to review a bakery best known for their breads. or, more accurately, a bakery with a dedicated following that probably needs to be better known. i actually came to la maison du pain because i read this la times article about them (you can also read it here without registration), and i loved the story about these two sisters from the philippines with a dream to open a french bakery, and what it took to realize that dream. i found it especially appealing because the bakery is in my neighbourhood, and one of the sisters is also a 'santos'--hey, we might be related.
the bakery is on pico boulevard just east of fairfax, on an unassuming stretch near hauser that has a lot of autobody shops; in fact it is next door to and across from two of them. the shop itself is really quite lovely, with beautiful contemporary wrought iron in front of a large plate glass window, and a lovely light-filled interior that invokes calm over chaos. there are café tables both inside and out, a couple of display cases, and of course, racks of bread. besides several types of baguettes, there are various loaves and rolls, croissants, tarts, and other pastries. when i arrived, they had just put out some freshly baked cinnamon rolls, and i noticed there were some very filipino-looking ensaymada in one of the cases as well.
everything looked quite enticing, and i found the prices to be quite reasonable--downright cheap for some items, i thought. i talked to one of the owners, carmen, who was working behind the counter that morning, despite also seemingly working in the kitchen in back; although completely harried, she was gracious enough to answer my questions about both the product and the shop. carmen said she kept the prices low because she wanted the prices to reflect what the neighbourhood could afford. the la times' article implied they wanted success on a large scale, but i was impressed that they really wanted to establish themselves as a staple of the neighbourhood. in fact, although all the baked goods were lovely, i was most impressed by the clientele in the shop at that moment: a filipino man having a meeting with a latina woman, an older white woman picking up something after her yoga class, a younger african-american man in an impeccably cut suit, slipping a baguette under his arm on his walk home around the corner. this was truly one of the most diverse group of customers i have seen in this city, and i was charmed that it was just down my street.
so what did i think of the product? like i said, i'm not qualified to say, but i enjoyed the almond croissant and bread roll i picked up; whether or not it was 'authentic', i've no idea--yoony, rachael, and hungrysheep all seemed to have sampled more items, and have a better idea of how good such carbo-loaded treats can be. check their entries, and the bakery out.
i will return to the sisters' bakery, whether i'm related to them or not :)
la maison du pain
5373 w pico (x-street s. ridgeley)
los angeles 90019.