Ivan Marquez’s Ever Evolving Pastries at Short Cake

Pastry Spread

If you haven’t been to Short Cake at The Original Farmer’s Market for some breakfast pastries and Verve coffee, you’re definitely missing out. I recently visited head baker Ivan Marquez, who has been there for a year now, for a run-down on what’s been going on.

The pastries are almost like a weather vane, revealing what’s seasonal, and what’s available from our local farms – but the most important thing is they’re all always delicious. The bear claw, the danish, the tart, Pan Suisse, crostata, and almost everything else change every single day. Of course, he uses only the best quality ingredients with organic dairy and farmers market produce in all his baking.

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First Taste: Superba Food + Bread in Venice Opens Tomorrow

Seared Arctic Char, Snap Peas, Rhubarb, Mint

Tomorrow, Superba Food + Bread opens along Lincoln Boulevard, a little further inland than its counterpart, Superba Snack Bar.

It’s a beautiful space with an open feel and just enough green, canary yellow and white throughout to accentuate its abundance of natural daylight and high ceilings. Whereas the Snack Bar employed delicious pastas, Paul Hibler’s Food + Bread will showcase a vast repertoire of…well, bread. Delicious, gluten-full bread.

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Palm Springs, CA: Cheeky’s Brunch Starts Your Desert Morning Right

Berkshire Pork Stew

Upon stepping into Cheeky’s on a Friday morning, I knew it was a place I’d enjoy eating at. Filled with natural light, it’s open Thursdays through Mondays during the breakfast-to-brunch time block. It makes sense, since the menu changes weekly – and it’s a delicious one dedicated to seasonal, local ingredients, at that.

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The Best Pastries in West Hollywood: Luca on Sunset

Selection of Pastries

If you are ever reminiscent of France and in the mood for a beautifully buttery croissant, you need not travel any further than West Hollywood.

But not just anywhere in WeHo. Forget the scene and oversized, mediocre plates at The Griddle and walk two blocks toward Luca. At the cross-streets of Laurel and Sunset Boulevard lies the eatery that prepares some of the best pastries in the LA area. Only organic ingredients are used in all of their recipes, including organic flour in the construction of these beautifully baked goods – so you know that you’re only getting wholesome goodness.

The croissant is probably the best I’ve ever had. It comes out warm and embodies the perfect balance of flakiness, butteryness and finally, that pull-apart lusciousness in the center. The apple tart? To die for. The currant scone? A beautifully moist texture (despite the scone not having butter in its recipe). The blueberry muffin was super fresh. Clearly, no corners are cut at Luca – and this, I can tell from just the pastries.

And all this, without even having had a meal there, yet. I wonder what else is in store… (And I’ll have plenty of time to figure that out, since there’s free in-house WiFi.)

All pastries were hosted.

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Open daily

7 AM – 12 AM

Validated parking, Free WiFi

Luca on Sunset
7950 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
323.822.2900

Venga! Debuts Lunch & Sweets on Canon

Quiche

Correction (10/10/11): Venga! is now closed and will re-open at a future date as a Mediterranean Restaurant with an Israeli focus.

There is a new cafe, patisserie and gelateria all rolled up into one on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. No, it’s not Bouchon, but from one lunch experience, I ended up very surprisingly pleased with the results.

Canelé

You will appreciate the small, concentrated menu once you step inside the nondescript shop. Although it’s hard to tell exactly what they do since the dessert cases face sideways, it seemed like the neighborhood had at least mildly become acquainted with Venga! just two weeks into their opening on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Owner Shahriar Besharat and Pastry Chef Kriss Harvey (who has studied under the tutelage of Pastry Chefs all over the world as well as with Master in Gelato Giuseppe Scaringnella and in the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna; Joel Robuchon Las Vegas is on his resume) have cultivated a brightly-lit cafe with a minimalist look and menu – but the strength rests in these few items.

Macarons

For instance, the slow cooked chicken sandwich is prepared in a vacuum and packs punch with slices of jalapeno and carrot. It’s tender thanks to its preparation, but it’s also got great flavor. The Croque Monsieur (or Madame, should you choose to add a sunny-side up egg for $1, as we did) is delicious. Too often have I had a Madame with bread that was too thick and overwhelming. At Venga! the layers were harmonious in thickness as well as taste – not too rich, and just enough. The quiche with spinach, shiitake mushrooms was also tasty. The crust was golden and delicious. I almost wanted another slice. The tomato salad with whipped cheese and basil is also a beautiful rendition (perfect for before the end of summer) – especially with the heirloom varieties that are used.

Pastries at Venga!

But you mustn’t leave before you have dessert. This would be a grave omission. There are plenty of gelato varieties to choose from, but my favorite was the Almond with Caramelized Almond flavor. The Passion Fruit Sorbet was also super potent and a perfect flavor for a hot day.

The macarons are also delicious, and a tad denser than others that I’ve had. I can’t argue with more flavor in my macarons, however, and there are plenty of flavors to go around. I love the dustings on the outside of some of them, which add quite delicious details. Salted Caramel and Coconut are now my go-to.

A must-try is the Canelé, which is done quite expertly with the outside coated with a crispy beeswax. The inside was a soft, tender, almost-custard texture – just how a perfect Canelé should be. As you peruse the brightly-lit pastry cases, you’ll definitely have a hard time resisting all of the beautifully presented pastries in all their colorful glory. I’m due for a return visit to try some more.

Alas, I’ve learned that they have free wifi! This could be a dangerously indulgent destination (yet productive?) for me in the near future. Blog or eat? Lunch, dinner or dessert? Now, I won’t have to choose.

All food and drink were hosted.

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Sun – Mon

10 AM – 6 PM

Tue – Sat

10 AM – 10 PM

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Beverages & Desserts Menu

Free wifi

Venga!
452 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.205.9400

@vengabh

Newly Re-Opened Mäni’s on Maple Launches $6 Happy Hour

Fresh Lime Daquiri

There’s a new cocktail bar and eatery on Maple Drive in Beverly Hills, and the employees of MySpace and surrounding internet biz office buildings are rejoicing. Valerie of Red Vines for Breakfast, Daniel of Thirsty in LA and I had the opportunity to take a sneak peak at what exactly the new cocktail program and newly-relocated kitchen at Mäni’s on Maple were up to – and I have to admit, I was completely surprised. Though I never became familiar with Mäni’s on Fairfax – except for perhaps a late-night cappuccino with a friend – it seems, save for the healthful cuisine angle, there is something completely different going on at their location in Beverly Hills.

Now at the site of Patina’s failed sushi experiment, Paperfish (even with its interior intact), Mäni’s is huge. And now they serve cocktails. From 3-7 and 9-11, a selection from the cocktail and appetizers menu will run only $6 each. Organic and house-made ingredients are touted, and rightfully so as whatever is sweet about the drinks is subtle and natural. Of the happy hour options, my favorites were the Daquiri and Ward 8. The bites are also solid, and of all the available bites in front of me I found myself coming back to the vibrant Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta again and again.

    Padre's Margarita
  • Bees Knees – Fresh lemon & honey with gin. A prohibition era cocktail named after a popular saying, meaning “The Height of Excellence.”
  • Fresh Lime Daiquiri – Not the blended version so often found, this is a classic, straight-up cocktail invented outside the United States.
  • Ward Eight – Classic cocktail out of Boston, named after a famed election district. House made organic grenadine, lemon & a touch of orange with bourbon.
  • Moscow Mule – A mixture of ginger, Smirnoff and lime created in 1941 at the Cock’n Bull Bar on the Sunset Strip. A classic.
  • Padre’s Margarita – A classic, on-the-rocks margarita with a cinnamon stick, no salt.
  • Classic Pimm’s Cup – Wimbledon classic with Pimm’s No. 1 – a gin flavored with fruits & herbs – ginger ale or lemon-lime soda and cucumber.
  • Gin Rickey or Original Gin Rickey – Named after famed lobbyist Joe Rickey in 1893, the Rickey’s defining characteristic is the refreshingly tart omission of sugar. The original, and the more modern with a touch of sweetness, both come up with a splash of soda.
  • Splash & Dash – Pick a spirit & a mixer: Vodka Soda, Rum & Cola, Gin & Tonic…

Six Dollar Small Plate Specials:

    Slow Roasted Salmon Salad
  • Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta – Red Onion, Basil, Garlic, White Balsamic, Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad – Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Slow Roasted Salmon Salad – Farmers’ Market Peaches, Bleu Cheese, Greens, Seasonal Vinaigrette
  • Ceviche – Market Fish, Mango, Cucumber, Red Onion, Jalapeno, Mint, Cilantro, Chips
  • Arugula Salad With Beef Tenderloin – Warm Feta, Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Charmoula Marinated Skewers with Whole Wheat Pita – Tofu with Butternut Squash OR Beef with Yoghurt Mint Sauce
  • Sliders – Grain/Nut, Moroccan Lamb, BBQ Short Rib, Turkey, or Beef

The new Mäni’s is worth checking out – especially if you’re local during rush hour or late night and can take advantage of the $6 happy hour. It’s a good chance to give their cocktail program a shot. The drinks would surprise you and won’t leave you with that sugar crash when it’s time to go home. The produce in the bites are fresh and it’s a great way to catch that light bite.

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$6 Happy Hour:

Monday – Friday

3 -7 PM & 9 – 11 PM

Mäni’s on Maple
345 N. Maple Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210