Monday, July 17, 2006

la maison du pain

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.

la maison du pain display

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.

la maison du pain cinnamon rolls

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 baguettes

la maison du pain
5373 w pico (x-street s. ridgeley)
los angeles 90019.


Jen said...

This bakery looks and sounds amazing. Every neighbourhood needs a bakery like this.

santos. said...

i really respect them for pursuing that dream and really working hard to make it work. it has been open for 2 years now, and they may not be as big or as successful as some of the other new bakeries that open up with great fanfare and a lot more publicity, but i hope that is only a sign of longevity to come. i also love that when i was there, a niece and both the owners were working the front of house. it truly is a family business.

Cathy said...

what a great story... I just can't even imagine putting your entire life's savings at risk like that. Really and truly amazing. Is the french guy back yet?

santos. said...

hey cathy, yeah, i think both of them are there. there's a youngish one who i see smoking in the back everytime i drive by, i assume that's him :) and i've seen him wearing two different pairs of trousers, so i guess he's planning on staying!

Acornbud said...

Pretty breads. There are a lot of great bread places in Seattle, but not too many here in Hawaii. We can use a few more. Perhaps if the French had re-discovered Hawaii after the Polynesians...oh wait we do have poi mochi and rolls.

santos. said...

the portuguese have some great breads, i think there needs to be a portuguese-spanish artisanal bakery there.

or two really motivated filipino sisters :)

Watergirl said...

Lovely story, thanks for the link Santos!

Rachael Narins said...

Thank you for the beautiful pictures, I was WAY too shy to do that. And your descriptions are perfect.

Is it really just down your street? Because its just down MY street too! Maybe we live on the same street! Crazy!

Thanks for the post and the link...


santos. said...

mila, it's a great story, isn't it? i do know there are hundreds of stories like it across the country, but it's nice that they are showcased every once in awhile.

hi rachael, i'm just a couple miles west of the bakery--maybe we are neighbours! i asked permission to take photos from the owner. at first she was reluctant because someone came in once and took some photos without her permission; when she asked the photographer what she planned on doing with the photos, the photographer said she sold the photos! i told her i wouldn't do that without her permission, and i just wanted to use the photos to put on my blog and basically generate some free publicity for her. i think she was okay with that. she didn't say no :)

Rachael Narins said...

See, I couldnt even be that brave (and I wrote nice things!)but I am sure glad you did!

Anyway, I actually do live on that street, so I walk there every day. Its awesome.

JMom said...

cool! haven't been in that neighborhood in ages. My mom used to live in the apartment on hauser behind the auto repair place. I just love neighborhood bakeries. I wish we have one near us now.

I'll have to check them out next time I'm in LA.

I love how you just find the most unusual places! :D

santos. said...

rachael, lucky you!

jmom, that's so cool. there's some great apartment buildings in that area. i wish my 'hood was as "neighourhoodie" as this area is. i do have a couple of good bakeries i can walk to, though, although i never think of it :P

Anonymous said...

I just love this new bakery in my "hood". Not only for their products, but for the warm, gracious hospitality from the owners and their family members! It is like being in Hawaii and the Philippines, to be welcomed with open arms,genuinely and with warmth and sincerity by Carmen, Josephine, Robin and Carly!

My personal favorites and my family's: mini croissants, almond croissant, cheese brioche, chocolate chip cookie, pistachio bar, chocolate gold bar, lemon tart, cheese bread, olive bread, walnut bread, pear tartin, blueberry tart, strawberry shortcake, red velvet cake, and their to die for chocolate cake with icing that travels well. It is just divine! And unfortunately for me, there is not a single pastry or bread that I dislike in this bakery - they are all outstanding, made by superior palates of culinary artists!