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As readers of this blog already know, I have a weakness for great bread. Unfortunately I’ve found very few bakeries worthy of my addiction in the U.S. and maybe it’s actually a good thing I can’t indulge in my vice. I’ve been known to eat two entire baguettes by myself in France (one on the way home from the bakery in the morning, the other with lunch and dinner). My favorite locally baked breads are Bouchon, Pain Quotidien, and Huckleberry, but I’m always on the look out for another source to feed my craving.

Farmshop in Brentwood looked very promising, with the chef owner coming from Bouchon. The under baked baguette did not look appetizing so I went with the croissant and a smaller loaf. The croissant was superb, nearly identical to Bouchon’s superb version. The bread was good, but fell short of the “Ahhhh” because of its density without depth of flavor. Yes, I would rather eat this than any supermarket bread anytime, but I would not go out of my way to buy it.

I had high hopes for the almond croissant since the plain one was so good. The texture was flaky and the presentation was very nice.

The proper ratio of butter baked into pastries makes them luscious; too much makes them greasy, and too little makes them dry. Finding that fine line is like balancing on a tightrope and few bakers find the right balance. Adding almond paste to be baked in a pastry is like trying to ride a unicycle on a tightrope, so it is better not to attempt without a safety net. Sadly in this case the safety net of slicing the croissant in half and spreading the almond paste in the middle, then baking it again resulted in a dry pastry.

On a much better note, the tuna salad sandwich was wonderful. Made with line caught albacore tuna, aioli, black olive tapenade, and served with a carrot, cabbage and golden raisin slaw for $14.50, this open faced sandwich served on an olive bread was a perfect lunch.

Go for the plain croissants, the sandwiches, and peruse the market for cheeses, meats, and incredible multicolored farm fresh eggs. Farmshop is part market, part bakery, and part café, so I’m sure there’s some part you will enjoy.

Farmshop Los Angeles on Urbanspoon

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To many people, Sunday is the night to eat dinner with their family. If your idea of a family meal involves champagne or lobster, then today’s post is for you (and your family)!

This Sunday is your last chance to get half priced lobster at Chaya Venice, so celebrate the end of Summer and the holiday week-end with a meal at one of my favorite restaurants (as evidenced by all my posts on it).

Chaya Venice on Urbanspoon

Another option (which is available every Sunday) is “burgers & bubbles” at the bar at Tavern (another one of my favorites) for only $30 you get three sliders and a paired glass of bubbles! The sliders include an organic turkey with tomato confit & arugula, triple pork slider with manchego & romesco, and a Niman Ranch beef slider with fontina, lettuce & tomato. The bubbles include J. Lassalle brut chigny-les-roses, 1er cru, a prosecco de Valdobbiadene, extra dry, and a Veuve Fourny, brut rose, 1er cru.

Tavern on Urbanspoon

So while you are making your plans now for the week-end, make a reservation for Sunday night!

Since President Obama went to Tavern recently for one of his fund raising meals, I decided it was time to brave Brentwood traffic and literally eat as well as the President.

The skylights in the dining room give it a greenhouse effect during the day and it was the next best thing to eating outdoors. I was happy to see the place filled with diners of both sexes and varied ages, showing it was a draw for anyone with a taste for fresh ingredients.

The lunch special was Artic Char with saffron cous cous, cumin carrots and green harissa over arugula for $24. I paired it with a glass of Pinot Grigio ($14) and enjoyed one of the best lunches I’ve eaten in many months.

This was one of the best pieces of fish I have eaten in years; the skin was crispy and crunchy while the flesh melted in my mouth with a tender explosion of freshness. The green harissa added a light taste of parsley to the fish. The saffron couscous was a brilliant marriage of two delicate ingredients which complimented the fish perfectly. the cumin carrots were not completely cooked so they retained a crisp counterpoint to the tender textures of everything else on the plate.

The attached bar has a happy hour and the adjoining market has salads and sandwiches to go if you prefer to eat elsewhere or just need a meal on the go, say to the Hollywood Bowl. It is a bit pricey at $14 for a sandwich, but for the quality of ingredients and masterful combination of tastes, you will not be disappointed with the value.

I love enjoying the meal of a President without having to pay with politics.

Tavern on Urbanspoon

>I miss France and whenever I am not there I look for places that remind me of France, especially the food. Since I brought back some macarons from Paul (a French Bakery) for a friend here in Los Angeles, he suggested I try the macarons at La Provence in Brentwood to contrast and compare the authentic ones from the Brentwood version. The motto of the cafe is “local, fresh, and organic” so if you care about where your food is sourced, this place will put you at ease.

This cute bakery/cafe has a beautiful display showcasing their macarons and pastries as you enter, and it is a very casual place where you order at the counter and they deliver the food to you, so it’s perfect for a quick lunch (they also serve dinner).

We decided to make a lunch of it with two other friends on a warm day when sitting out on the patio in March was not only pleasant, but preferable to sitting indoors. Shelly chose the Turkey Club Sandwich, served with a side of fries or salad for $10.95, and she enjoyed the oven roasted turkey, baked bacon, avocado, tomato, muenster cheese and mayo on fresh french bread.

Both Wendy & Jessie ordered panninis, made with avocado, mozzarella, tomato, arugula, and aioli pesto for $10.50; they both were cafe habitués and this was one of their favorites.

I chose the Nicoise Salad with Ahi, made with green beans, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, and kalamata olives served on a bed of greens in a mustard vinaigrette for $14.95; it was a decent version, with medium rare ahi and a nice balance of classic ingredients. I would probably order one of the sandwiches or specials next time, but I wanted to try my standard for lunch and see how they fared (passing).

We came for dessert, and particularly the macarons, so I got their chocolate ganache cupcake and a chocolate macaron to go. The macaron was a good version of the classic French ones, but I found them a bit too big and sweet for my taste, however most Americans would probably love them. I also found the flavors a bit artificial and the coloring a bit bright, so although they are fresh and delicate, they fell short of my requirements for excellent macarons. My friends all loved them, so I must note that I am simply pickier than most when it comes to a product I know from its place of origin.

On the other hand, the chocolate cupcake was THE BEST I have EVER had! I would come back to eat the cupcake alone! It had the perfect balance of frosting to cake, a wonderful texture with just enough moisture and crumb, and just enough sweetness to make you want to eat the entire thing (and not get a toothache). I can not rave about this cupcake enough, so you will just have to go and taste one for yourself. If you don’t like deep chocolate nirvana, there are other choices, like a red velvet and a salted caramel.

La Provence is a full fledged bakery, making full sized cakes (think a party version of the chocolate ganache cupcake), so if you fancy a white chocolate strawberry shortcake, or a hazelnut mousse cake, or a lemon caramel meringue brulee cake for a party (or dinner), order one and delight your senses.

With decent food, a varied menu, reasonable prices, and a nice atmosphere, La Provence may not be the South of France, but it is a nice place to stop by for lunch or dessert in Brentwood (or Beverly Hills) until you can get to Provence, France.

La Provence Cafe on Urbanspoon

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