La Brea Bakery is an L.A. institution. Back in 1988, founder Nancy Silverton developed her very own starter from scratch using flour, water, and wild yeasts from the skin of organic grapes. Twenty years later, the original starter remains the signature ingredient in every single loaf of La Brea Bakery bread, even the ones sold at Costco. Talk about a legacy!
My mom, The Astronomer and I made a quick stop at La Brea Bakery because we were in the neighborhood visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, another classic L.A. destination. Because the holidays are upon us, there was a kind woman out front offering samples of La Brea’s holiday pies, including a spiced yam and pumpkin puree, an apple crumble, a sour cherry crumble and a toasted pecan and molasses tart. We all agreed that the sour cherry crumble was the best.
La Brea Bakery’s flagship store is tiny and quaint. In addition to breads and pastries, there are also a selection of gourmet jams, granola and honey. The Astronomer wanted to treat me to a jar of honey or jam, but thirty bucks was too much for a graduate school stipend to handle.
My mom bought me a whole grain loaf, which was wrapped up to-go. I happily consumed the hearty loaf the following week for breakfast and as a midday snack. Even though Ms. Silverton devotes the bulk of her culinary attention these days to Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza (her dining ventures with Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich), the quality at La Brea Bakery has definitely not slipped.
By the way, La Brea’s whole grain loaf is available for sale at your neighborhood Costco. I’ve tasted the Costco variety and can vouch for its comparable deliciousness.
My mom picked up a few treats for herself as well, including a long and skinny baguette and two coconut macaroons.
Prior to visiting La Brea Bakery, we explored the famous La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum.
The La Brea Tar Pits are a cluster of tar pits located in Hancock Park in the urban heart of Los Angeles. Tar has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years, forming hundreds of sticky pools that trapped animals who unknowingly entered. Over time, the asphalt fossilized the remains. The result is an incredibly rich collection of fossils dating from the last Ice Age.
The collection of skeletons, which includes saber tooth tigers, mastodons, dire wolves and wool mammoths, are located inside the Page Museum.
The pools of black tar surrounding the museum are glossy and smell like fresh pavement. A few of the pits are active excavation sites, including one that is open to the public. Unfortunately, we visited on a weekend so no one was hard at work in the dark matter. Here’s a picture of my mom and I in front of the main tar pit, and a photo of The Astronomer hugging a life-size model of an Ice Age sloth. It was his favorite.
This twenty second clip entitled “La Brea Tar Pits: It’s Alive” captures the awesomeness of tar bubbles and features narration from my mother. What a treat!
La Brea Bakery
624 S. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036