Homegrown: More artisan fare in and around L.A.

The artisan: Bread baker Mark Stambler

6:37 PM EDT, May 31, 2011

The artisan: Bread baker Mark Stambler

As Mark Stambler struggles to open a flour-dusted folding table in his Los Feliz home kitchen, it's pretty clear those charming but space-hungry mint green country cupboards were not the brainchild of this efficiency-driven bread baker. "My wife did all of this," he says, waving his arms around his head.

Laura Ann's Jams: Preserves with an edge

March 24, 2011

Laura Ann's Jams: Preserves with an edge

Former Chicago indie rock drummer Laura Ann Masura has made — and gotten into — an awful lot of jams since moving to Echo Park nearly seven years ago. But those first watery blueberry-Meyer lemon experiments and fussy crystallized Clementines have been relatively easy fixes compared with complications from a serious motorcycle accident in 2009. .

Brewing premium sake on Sado Island

February 24, 2011

Brewing premium sake on Sado Island

— At the Obata Brewery on Sado Island, the creamy mash in the large vats is in various stages of fermentation. One batch looks like a giant puffy bud that is about to bloom. Others are more fluid, but occasionally a lava-like bubble pops on the surface, giving off fragrant notes of melon, strawberry and even banana. These vats contain moromi, the fermenting mash of rice, water, yeast and koji mold that will eventually turn into sake.

The Artisan: Yvan Valentin is exacting with his chocolate truffles

February 10, 2011

The Artisan: Yvan Valentin is exacting with his chocolate truffles

In years past, Yvan Valentin crafted elaborate mousse-filled meringue cakes for Frank Sinatra, built a towering croquembouche (a cream puff pyramid decorated with pulled sugar) for Jane Fonda and Ted Turner's wedding and constructed a chocolate replica of downtown's Union Station for President Clinton.

Three generations of Turkish delight in Southern California

January 6, 2011

Three generations of Turkish delight in Southern California

Tucked in the back room of a tiny powdered-sugar-dusted San Fernando Valley storefront, Armand Sahakian patiently tends to the sweet syrup bubbling in two giant copper caldrons. Six days a week, the owner of Nory Candy & Pastry delicately flavors each batch with citrusy drops of bergamot oil, rosewater or the essences of various fruits, then pours the candy into wooden trays to cool into gelée-like locum, the confection known as Turkish delight.

Raising <i>limoncello's</i> appeal

November 25, 2010

Raising limoncello's appeal

It's easy enough to freehand your way into a decent bottle of limoncello. All you need is a generous handful of lemon zest, a neutral spirit, some sugar and a couple of days of infusing patience. But to Ventura Limoncello's co-owner James Carling, decent is hardly the same as delizioso, at least in the eyes of his Italian in-laws.

The Artisan: La Zamorana, making candy the old-fashioned way

October 28, 2010

The Artisan: La Zamorana, making candy the old-fashioned way

There's an endearing sweetness in seeing camote and calabaza candies drying on metal racks inside a nondescript warehouse space in East Los Angeles. Maybe it's because with a half-dozen jamoncillo, or milk fudge, perfectionists hard at work for Día de los Muertos, La Zamorana Candy Co. feels more like an oversized family kitchen than a wholesale business.

The Artisan: StoneGround Bakery in Agoura Hills

September 2, 2010

The Artisan: StoneGround Bakery in Agoura Hills

In the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashana, Abby Franke and his team of bakers at StoneGround Bakery are braiding thousands of egg-and-honey-rich challah loaves by hand. The breads are kosher, as are the hundreds of other Jewish-German products in the Agoura Hills bakery's lineup.

Cobbler Lady: Pam Wright finds a recipe for business success

August 17, 2010

Cobbler Lady: Pam Wright finds a recipe for business success

With the chicken-salad sandwich lunch rush looming, Pam Wright wastes no time sprinkling just enough water on the butter and flour mixture on her countertop to bind the pie dough. The owner of the Cobbler Lady in Leimert Park gathers up a butter-speckled ball and rolls it out in quick strokes, then dangles the dough over one corner of a small rectangular aluminum pan, letting it buckle generously into sporadic folds on top of the peach filling.

The Artisan: Jim Brown's Relish

July 1, 2010

The Artisan: Jim Brown's Relish

Jim Brown pauses during his singsong sales pitch at Whole Foods in Venice just long enough to replenish samples of his namesake tomato-based hamburger relish.

Condiments come with a side of Hollywood history

May 13, 2010

Condiments come with a side of Hollywood history

Viola Rowland's jalapeño jelly, mango chutney and corn relish started making the rounds at swanky Hollywood cocktail parties in the early 1930s. Actors Doris Day and Dan Duryea, cosmetics magnate Max Factor and Los Angeles Examiner Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons hired the private cook to dollop her spicy-sweet condiments on cream cheese-topped toasts and seafood canapés.

Beyond coffee shop Danish

4:57 PM EDT, April 14, 2010

Beyond coffee shop Danish

"Coffee and Danish": You can't help but think of a stale pot of truck stop brew sitting next to gunky jelly-laden pastry. But that couldn't be further from the original. Sure Denmark is a country that runs on coffee, but rather than the dense lump of dough that we know, their daily cups are accompanied by delicate, flaky, marzipan-filled morsels that we rarely see in America.

The Artisan: Local noodle maker on the cutting edge of technology

April 15, 2010

The Artisan: Local noodle maker on the cutting edge of technology

As Shoichi Sayano pulls open the metal drying-room door, a breeze sends ripples down the curtain-like wall of 10-foot-long udon noodles neatly folded over metal drying racks. "I still cut the noodles every day," says the 75-year-old former aerothermodynamics engineer who took over his father's noodle-making duties at Nanka Seimen more than 30 years ago.

Paul Gauweiler and his baumkuchen machine

February 18, 2010

The Artisan

Paul Gauweiler and his baumkuchen machine

Paul Gauweiler stands over his baumkuchen oven and ladles scoopfuls of cake batter over a 3-foot-long spindle rotating in front of a wall of flames. He takes a seat on a lidded bucket, scooting across the floor in front of the oven, tweaking a few of its 25 knobs to adjust the flames. As each layer bakes to a perfectly even golden brown, he pours on more batter until he has a long cylinder of a cake that when sliced reveals concentric circles, like the growth rings of a tree.

Sober times for artisan liquor makers

February 11, 2010

The Artisan

Sober times for artisan liquor makers

When Melkon Khosrovian and his culinary-school-trained wife, Litty Mathew, founded Modern Spirits in Monrovia five years ago with the goal of making and selling their own artisan vodkas, they focused on finding just the right balance of Belgian chocolate to orange zest and celery to Malabar peppercorns. They figured well-honed palates and "beautiful, expensive bottles" would be enough to successfully enter the burgeoning artisan distilling market.

A family business built on chili bricks

February 4, 2010

The Artisan

A family business built on chili bricks

After polishing off his French dip sandwich at Philippe the Original in downtown Los Angeles, Bert Muñoz redirects his attention to the meaty chili dripping down the sides of a 1950s-era melamine bowl and onto his cafeteria tray.

Beverly Hills meat shop specializes in worldly tastes

January 7, 2009

The Artisan

Beverly Hills meat shop specializes in worldly tastes

By 10 on a brisk Saturday morning, the retro aluminum-lined glass butcher case at the European Deluxe Sausage Kitchen is already cloudy with fingerprints. Devotees of the 60-year-old Beverly Hills specialty sausage and meat shop are pressed against the glass, trying to choose among the two-dozen German-style brats and bocks, spicy Italian links and smoked Polish sausages.

Kruegermann family's peck of pickled products

June 17, 2009

The Artisan

Kruegermann family's peck of pickled products

Kurt Kruegermann sits in the driver's seat of a weather-beaten forklift as it slowly sputters to life. A few minutes later, the 77-year-old co-owner of Krüegermann Pickles & Sauerkraut flips a switch and a cardboard box filled with 1,500 pounds of cabbage drops with a thunderous clap onto a metal sorting table.

La Mascota Bakery: a Boyle Heights tradition

March 18, 2009

The Artisan

La Mascota Bakery: a Boyle Heights tradition

As the early Wednesday morning rush ends for champurrado, the cinnamon-scented hot Mexican chocolate thickened with masa harina, Rosina Valencia slips behind the semicircular enclave that conceals her desk. She readjusts her fuchsia snap-front work shirt and settles in to confirm wholesale bolillo orders from neighboring restaurants as an employee transfers dozens of the palm-sized loaves, still warm from the oven, to the display case.

West Coast brewers pick up the distilling spirit

July 30, 2008

The Artisan

West Coast brewers pick up the distilling spirit

The half-dozen visitors gathered in Ballast Point Brewing's tasting room bar are sipping Wahoo Wheat and Black Marlin Porter and dunking pretzels into a crock of bubbling house-made beer cheese.

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