Saturday, March 8, 2014

Great Expectations - Dashed!

We got haircuts at Dale's Tonsorial Parlor which is directly across the street from a closed pastry shop.  It was such a tease to sit there, look at it and visualize delicate petit-fours.. little lemon tartlets....that I asked Dale if there was any other bakery in El Segundo?  Sadly not ...

"But," he said to another stylist, "What's the name of that great bakery over by you?"  She'd been on her way out of the door, but she slammed on her brakes, spun on a dime and enthusiastically half-shouted, "Pain du Jour!"  She said that basically it's a commercial bakery supplying various breads and desserts to local restaurants, but they sell to individuals, too. 

Say what you will about the French (and they've probably heard it) they can crank out superb baguettes with seemingly no thought at all. 

Yesterday we had business near that part of town so we went to it.  That section of Inglewood in Hawthorne is one small strip mall after another, but Le Pain Du Jour is a stand-alone building with its own parking lot.  At one time, it had a field of wheat painted on one side, but now it's just gray all over. 

We bought an apricot bar, an almond-flaked pain au chocolat and a baguette.  $7.50 for the lot.  The apricot bar had to be 4 in. by 4 in. of thick shortbread crust, generously lavished with apricot jam and topped by crumbles which seemed to be equal parts flour, butter and brown sugar.  I've got the other half for today.

But the real test - the baguette - had to wait until we got home.  The minute I sliced off a heel I began to be disappointed.  Where was the texture?  This was dried all the way through despite a sign above the display case "Baked this morning."  It was the Wonder Bread equivalent of a baguette.  You've eaten it a thousand times in pseudo French, Italian or Continental restaurants. 

But:  the place is genuinely a find for pastries and custom cakes.  Visit their Website and take a look.  A cake shaped like a very large rose?  Check.  Bread that looks like an alligator?  Check.  Me, I'm going to go finish my apricot bar.  And I'm not sharing either.

Le Pain Du Jour, 13528 Inglewood Avenue (corner 135th and Inglewood) Hawthorne, CA 90250  Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Closed Sunday

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