3 Dessert Trends That Will Take Over L.A. in 2018

January 17, 2018 by Nastassia Johnson

Predictions and New Years go together like cupcakes and sprinkles, especially when it comes to the topic of desserts.

2017 was a year of colorful decadence and over-the-top sweets like cake-topped milkshakes and funfetti cream-filled croissants. But in 2018 we’ll say goodbye to cereal atop everything, with a shift towards wellness, plant-based goodies, and whole grains (yes, even in our desserts!).

Below are the biggest trends I think you’ll want to watch out for in the year ahead.

1. Desserts for Every Diet

If 2017 was a year of excess, 2018 will be equally focused on mindful eating and wellness. We’ll see this in the confections we consume as well. As demand for plant-based food options has reached record highs, 2018 will bring a bigger emphasis on plant-based, dairy-free, and vegan sweets. You can already see this with the popularity of the vegan/dairy-free selections at LA’s beloved soft-serve institution Magpies Softserve, but you’ll soon start to see such options on menus citywide. We’re even predicting more stand-alone spots devoted to alternative-diet sweets. One place to look out for is the upcoming bakery from whole-foods baking company Sweet Laurel, focusing on paleo, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free baked goods.

Salted caramel sticky buns. Spelt, hard white. #wholegrain #flourambassador

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2. Heirloom Grains

Even with the gluten-free craze in full effect, it’s clear people are still enjoying bread and baked goods, and heirloom grains are making a big comeback this year. In 2017 we embraced heritage grains in the form of artisan breads from local millers like Grist & Toll and farmers like Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, but in 2018 we’ll see these grains go beyond bread to make their presence felt in pastry cases across L.A. Roxana Jullapat at Friends & Family offers great examples of this, with heirloom grain in housemade viennoiseries and baked goods like sonora wheat croissants, einkorn shortbreads, and spelt blueberry muffins.

honey mousse-ing into the weekend w phyllo and figs

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3. Middle Eastern Desserts

2017 was a big year for Filipino food and for ube in particular — just take a look at the trending treats from Silver Lake bakery FrankieLucy Bakeshop for reference. While we think Filipino food will continue to make a splash in 2018, we’re predicting that Middle Eastern flavors and spices will be a dominant force in desserts. Middle Eastern cuisine had a strong presence in Los Angeles in mid-to-late 2017 with Kismet and Mh Zh hitting the scene. We expect continued growth and excitement about Middle Eastern food to make a big impact on desserts — think flavors like cardamom, pomegranate and pistachio. One great place you can expect to see this is Bavel, the new restaurant from chef Ori Menashe and pastry chef Genevieve Gergis (of Bestia fame) opening in early 2018.


9 Spots to Get the Best Pies in Los Angeles (Right Now!)

November 17, 2017 by Nastassia Johnson

Pie is a central focus of holiday dinners, but the cravings are different for everyone. There are the pumpkin lovers, the pecan purists, and those that want only apple. But just like the Los Angeles food scene, L.A.’s pie scene (yes, it’s definitely a scene!) is anything but traditional.

For every classic option, there are a myriad of unique and fun alternatives. So if you’re looking to be a little adventurous with this mainstay dessert during the holiday, these LA restaurants and bakeries have you covered. From softserve fillings to heirloom grain crusts, our tip picks for pies are going to be anything but boring.

Keep in mind Thanksgiving is just around the corner and so are most pre-order deadlines so be sure to get your orders in asap. Many places will also have pies available in-store daily.

(Note the list below is in no particular order, numbered only for reference!)

1. Magpies (Silver Lake)

The chef-driven, scratch recipe soft serve shop helmed by husband and wife team Warren and Rose Schwartz create inventive pies year round. A fan of Chocolate? Order the Chocolate Overload Pie a malted milk chocolate soft serve pie layered with fudge and chocolate wafers covered with three different chocolate toppings. Vegans also have options at Magpies, try the Fried Pie made with corn almond soft serve and a graham crust, layered with vegan fudge, honeycomb and topped with rich dairy free whipped cream and fried candied corn flakes.

For Thanksgiving they’ll be offering two holiday specials: Pumpkin Pecan Softserve Pie ($24.95) with pumpkin pie softserve layered with salted caramel sauce and candied pecans, topped with brown butter pecan crumble and whipped cream in a graham cracker crust. Vegan Dutch Apple Softserve Pie ($24.95) with vegan apple pie softserve layered with homemade apple butter and toasted almonds, topped with a marzipan brown sugar streusel in a vegan graham cracker crust. Pies are currently available for pre-order until Tuesday November 21. –> More information

2. Proof (Atwater Village)

Proof Bakery not only offers incredible pastries daily but each holiday season they also have a menu of amazing pies, biscuits, rolls and more. Why have pumpkin pie when you can have Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Cocoa Almond Crust? Why have pecan pie when it can be Bourbon Maple Pecan Pie? Or you can shake things up with a Darby’s Banana Cream Pie. Pre order a pie for Thanksgiving by November 18. –> More information

3. Cake Monkey Bakery (Fairfax)

If you’re hankering for apple, pumpkin or pecan pie, Cake Monkey Bakery makes some of the best variations in town. Their Cider Roasted Apple Pie is unlike the standard apple pie with a cheddar crust, rich cider roasted apple filling, and a sugar crusted top. They also offer a Honey Braised Pumpkin Tart in a Graham Cracker Crust with Toasted Marshmallow Topping (also available gluten free) as well as a Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Toasted Cocoa Nibs.

For Thanksgiving Cake Monkey will offer a Creamy Butterscotch Pudding Pie ($38) in a housemade graham cracker crust, topped with fresh whipped cream and pumpkin seed brittle. It can also be made with a housemade, gluten free graham cracker crust ($42). Pies are currently available for pre-order with 48 hours advance notice, deadline to order is Tuesday November 21 by noon. –> More information

The flakiest crust + the freshest whole berries = our perfect pie.

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4. Winston’s Pies (Brentwood)

The newly opened Winston Pies in Brentwood serves up a wide variety of pies from fruity to decadent. What sets Winston Pies apart from a typical is the wide variety in pie sizes. Customers can purchase pies by the slice, full-sized, 11-inch round pie ($42), or choose between 5-inch mini pies (from $9), and Winston Pies’ original offering: PieBites ($20 for 20). From classic Pumpkin to their original Cowgirl Pie: a handmade salted caramel chocolate pie with oat crust, you can find a perfect pie for just about everyone. –> More information

5. McConnell’s (Los Feliz, Grand Central Market, Studio City)

Special for Thanksgiving, McConnell’s ice cream shop is making a 9” Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie ($44) at their Los Feliz, Grand Central Market, and Studio City scoop shops. Along with making their ice cream from scratch with grass-grazed milk and cream pasteurized from raw at their very own creamery, McConnell’s bakes their pies in-house and makes everything from toppings and sauces from scratch. –> More information

6. True Food Kitchen (Santa Monica, Pasadena)

True Food Kitchen’s popular seasonal squash pie ($22) is back for a limited time and available for pre-order at their Santa Monica location now through November 19. This plant-based, healthy holiday favorite features a creamy filling of ripe butternut squash and wintery spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon with a hint of brandy, maple and coconut, all surrounded by a vegan graham cracker crust and topped with vegan coconut-milk whipped cream. Oh and it’s gluten-free too. –> More information

7. FrankieLucy Bakeshop (Sherman Oaks, )

FrankieLucy is a collaborative café/bakeshop owned by Kristine de la Cruz and Annie Choi that blends their respective specialties: custard and coffee. They’ll be offering delectable holiday pie alternatives with their Upside Down Pies ($30 for 9″; $5.75 for 6oz minis) topped with a brûléed graham cracker crumble crust. Flavors inside the pies include Ube (Purple Yam), Buko (Young Coconut) Pandan, Pumpkin, Chocolate, and Vanilla are a sweet twist to a traditional Thanksgiving treat. Some flavor options are also vegan and gluten free. Pies will be available for pre-order until November 19 and daily in store. –> More information

8. Friends & Family (East Hollywood)

Chef and Baker Roxana Jullapat and her team will be whipping up five housemade pies made with market-driven ingredients and heirloom grains, including “Old School” Pumpkin Pies ($40); Classic Apple Pies made with delicately spiced apples ($42); Pecan Pies ($40); Chocolate Chess Pies ($40); and Wheat-free Apple Cranberry Crumbles made with oats and oat flour ($40). You can even add on a pint of fresh whipped cream for $10. Pies are currently available for pre-order along with other Thanksgiving dishes and sides until November 19. –> More information

9. Mr.Holmes Bakehouse (Highland Park)

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, best know for their Cruffins, has added two seasonal pies to their pastry menu this holiday. A Pecan Treacle and a Caramel Apple Tart both for $35.  –> More information –> More information


15 Spots for the Best Ice Cream in Los Angeles on a Sunny SoCal Day

July 14, 2017 by Nastassia Johnson

In sunny Southern California it’s always ice cream weather, but summer in particular is definitely ice cream season. As temperatures start to rise, nothing helps beat the heat quite like a frozen treat. If you’re going to treat yourself to ice cream, you might as well do it right.

With that in mind, here are the hands-down best spots to enjoy the finest ice cream in Los Angeles. Hopefully it leads you to a cool new adventure!

NOTE: Ice creameries listed below in no particular order, numbered only for reference.

1. Salt & Straw (Multiple Locations)

This Portland transplant has quickly become an L.A. favorite. Tyler Malek’s “farm-to-cone” menu is replete with unique flavors, along with a monthly rotating lineup of seasonally inspired options. –> More information

2. Fosselman’s (Alhambra)

This family-owned ice cream parlor is an L.A. institution. Churning ice cream from scratch since 1919, Fosselman’s can also be enjoyed at numerous restaurants and cafes across the city. This ice cream is the closest to Thrifty’s (native Angelenos know what we’re talking about) as you can get. Its homemade taste and decadent flavors like Mocha Almond Fudge will compel you to grab a half-gallon for home. –> More information

3. Scoops (Multiple Locations)

Most great food finds in L.A. are found in a strip mall, and this ice cream shop is no exception. Like the original East Hollywood location that pioneered the artisanal ice cream movement in L.A., the Westside, Chinatown and Eagle Rock outposts all offer fun and experimental ice cream flavors, many of which originate from customer suggestions. They also have tried-and-true favorites like their signature Brown Bread. –> More information

4. Magpies Softserve (Tarzana, Silverlake)

L.A. has an abundance of artisan ice cream and gelato, but Magpies is the first chef-driven soft serve to hit the scene. Husband and wife chef duo Warren and Rose Schwartz have perfected their handmade, nostalgic-yet-modern flavors and developed a cult following. Fan favorites include Toasted Marshmallow, Corn Almond, and Black Sesame. They also make all their toppings in-house — right down to the Chocolate Covered Honeycomb — and also offer soft serve bars and pies.  –> More information

5. Long Beach Creamery (Long Beach)

This super cute and quirky scoop shop in Long Beach offers some of the tastiest, small-batch organic ice creams. They use produce from local Long Beach farmers, ingredients from local artisans like Romeo Chocolates, and organic dairy from Strauss. Their flavors, like Whiskey Vanilla and Midnight Oolong, have garnered a loyal neighborhood following. It’s hard to choose just one flavor to enjoy, so opt for a trio of mini scoops in a homemade waffle cone bowl. –> More information

6. McConnell’s (Multiple Locations)

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, which started in Santa Barbara, churns small-batch ice cream in their own dairy, using milk from grass-grazed cows on local farms. The resulting ice cream is rich, creamy, and will leave you wanting a second scoop. –> More information

7. Wanderlust Creamery (Encino, Atwater Village)

This scoop shop takes ice cream beyond classic flavors to a trip around the world. The flavors, inspired by travel, invite you to enjoy global ingredients, like Ube and Japanese Neopolitan, in ice cream form. –> More information

8. Sweet Rose Creamery (Multiple Locations)

Chef and co-owner Shiho Yoshikawa creates farmers market-inspired ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery locations across the city. You can expect to find everything from Summer Corn to Apricot sorbet using only the finest seasonal produce. In additional to the farmers market-inspired options, they always have classics like Mint Chocolate Chip and Coffee on the menu. –> More information

9. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (Los Feliz, Larchmont)

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a Midwest sweetheart, has expanded in Los Angeles in the Los Feliz and Larchmont neighborhoods. Families and foodies alike flock to their shops to enjoy flavors like Watermelon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt and Brambleberry Crisp, but the sundaes are the thing to get, with their homemade butterscotch being a go-to topping. Don’t forget that Amarena cherry on top. –> More information

10. Bennett’s (Original Farmer’s Market)

The Original Farmer’s Market’s family-owned old-fashioned ice cream stand, Bennett’s Ice Cream has been serving customers since 1946. Its nostalgic look and taste, with thick and almost chewy ice cream is what keeps customers coming back year after year. While they have some inventive ice cream flavors like Cabernet Sauvignon, they also carry an array of classics like Butter Pecan, Rocky Road, and Rainbow Sherbet. –> More information

11. Mother Moo (Sierra Madre, South Pasadena)

Karen Klemens has been hand-crafting ice cream since 2011. Her Sierra Madre scoop shop is a beloved neighborhood gem, and last year she expanded to a second shop in South Pasadena. She churns ice cream daily using local ingredients and Straus milk and cream into flavors like Salty Chocolate, Organic Vanilla, and Cornflakes. You can also enjoy her ice cream in the form of a root beer float or milkshake. –> More information

Going Beyond the Scoop Shop

12. Angelini Alimentari (Mid-City)

Angelini Alimentari offers some of the best gelato in the city made on site in their state-of-the-art gelato machine imported from Italy. The best way to enjoy it is nestled inside a warm homemade brioche bun as a gelato sandwich. Trust us, you definitely won’t regret it. –> More information

13. Helado’s Pops (San Fernando)

Owner Martin Ken’s grandfather and great-grandfather were ice cream makers in Belize, so its no surprise that he’s carried on the tradition while paying homage to his roots. This ice cream and sorbet shop specializes in “exotic” and “traditional” flavors with a serious focus on tropical and fresh fruits, like lucuma, mamey, and pomegranate. Customers can order scoops in homemade waffle cones, but the real showstoppers are his sundaes, which come decked out within the shells of coconuts or pineapples. –> More information

14. Afters Ice Cream (Pasadena, Orange County)

We can all agree that ice cream sandwiches are awesome, but a warm donut ice cream sandwich is next level. Afters Ice Cream popularized the milky bun (donut ice cream sandwich), which has been drawing lines ever since. The most popular is their aptly named Cookie Monster: bright-blue ice cream sandwiched inside a warm, milky bun donut and topped with mini chocolate-chip cookies. –> More information

15. Quenelle (Burbank)

Owner John Park has a serious reputation in desserts: he honed his skills as a pastry chef at places like Providence and Lukshon before opening his own shops in Burbank and San Marino. While he offers a rotating selection of innovative, small-batch scoops (Raspberry Merlot ice cream, anyone?), he also has an incredible selection of whimsical bars, popsicles and push-pops that are constantly changing. Some perennial favorites include Red Bull Tang Popsicles, Fruity Pebble Ice Cream Bars, and Mocha Almond Fudge Funnel Cake Sandwiches. –> More information