Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Tenderloin

The window is full of boxes.
Made for Instagram
It's not every day that you find out about a restaurant because it was a victim of a crime, but that was the case with Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.  I read an article about the Cruffin Caper (there was also this article in the New York Times) and I thought, "If someone is stealing the recipes, these cruffin things must be pretty good!"

Luckily, my parents are retired and they were able to go wait in line for the cruffin.  The bakery opens at 7:30 am and you can purchase any of their baked goods EXCEPT the cruffins: donuts, croissants, scones, and Danishes.  They also have Sightglass Coffee and sparkling water.  The cruffins come out at 9 am and they sell them until they're gone.  Each person is allowed to buy two cruffins and the flavor changes every day.  There is no limit on the other pastries.

The first time, my mom and dad got us Sightglass Coffee cruffins and passionfruit donuts.  They delivered them to me at school.  I thought they were just going to leave them on my desk in the library, but they came in while I was teaching and caused a riot in the science class I was teaching.  The students were chanting, "DONUTS! DONUTS! DONUTS!" for a few minutes.

I waited until Marc got home from work to try everything (so much restraint!) and it was amazingly delicious.  The cruffin is croissant dough baked in the shape of a tall muffin and filled with cream.  The dough was SO flaky and buttery.  The shape really maximizes the surface area so that all the layers get a crispy edge.  They're dipped into sugar after they're baked, so that adds another layer of texture.

I'm not a huge fan of coffee flavored things, but I appreciated the smooth texture of the pastry cream. It was creamy, but not heavy.

The donuts were also fabulous -- imagine a gourmet Leonard's malasada.  The passionfruit cream was so fragrant and tangy.  It was very well balanced.  Even if you don't get a cruffin, the donuts are worth the trip.

Ferrero Rocher Choux Bombs and Uh-Huh-Honey cruffins

Luckily (part 2), I have Wednesdays off so I was able to go wait in line myself to get cruffins.  I arrived at the bakery at around 8:45 am and there were maybe 20 people ahead of me.  By the time the cruffins came out a little after 9, there must have been 50 people in line.  In the Tenderloin!

If you purchase at least 6 items, you are given a box.  Otherwise, you can get items in paper bags (that gets messy if you have things with fillings), or you can buy a box for $1.50.

Today's cruffin (Seriously Blogger, get your act together.  Cruffin autocorrects EVERY time to something else.  Curtain and curfew have been the most popular.) was the Uh-Huh-Honey cruffin: honey crème, honeycomb candy, and honey drizzle.  You can see in the photo that the honeycomb candy did not stay on top of the cruffin.  That was because I had to brake suddenly on the way back to the Bay Bridge.  You know how your mom used to stick her arm out to clothesline you if she had to slam on her brakes?  Well, I did the same thing to my Mr. Holmes box.  Precious cargo!

I also purchased another one of their famous creations, the Ferrero Rocher Choux Bomb, the Amélie Amman, a lemon donut and a cherry donut.

I'm not a fan of the chocolate hazelnut Ferrero Rocher candies, so I don't know why I thought I'd like this Choux Bomb.  It was OK.  Also, the cherry donut was OK, but the pastry cream in both was so smooth and technically correct, it made them fun to eat.

The laminating on the cruffin blew me away again.  There were so many layers!  And the honey flavor was so light and lovely.  My favorite part was the crunchy honeycomb candy.  It's that little garnish, that attention to detail, that makes it all so great.

The one I liked best, however, was the Amélie Amman, their take on the Koguin Amman pastry.  The regular version generally has layers of croissant dough baked with sugar that melts and caramelizes.  Some have fillings.  This one does.  It is flavored with rosewater and pistachio.  Hello, luxe baklava!  Oh, it was so buttery and caramelly, but the rosewater was not too heavy.  It made me wish for my favorite Persian ice cream in Westwood.

I've been back twice since and had the salted caramel cruffin (delicious) and the coffee cream blueberry jam cruffin (again, coffee isn't my thing).  I had to stop going because I was spending too much money on pastries.  My #1 goal is to go on a day when they have the Super Matcha Cruffin, which has green tea crème and a cute little marshmallow on top.  The closest I got was the day they had matcha donuts (teasingly delicious).  They post photos of cruffins on their Instagram AFTER they've sold out.  Cruel and unusual.

You have to go here.  Just don't take the last cruffin!

[Edit: OH NO BAD NEWS!!!  Eater SF says the baker is leaving!!!  ]

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Churro Borough LA

One of the most difficult things about being away from LA has been all the new restaurants that are opening.  I could take the "Ignorance is bliss" approach and stop following LA-based sites on social media, but 75% of my news feed would be gone.

Churro Borough was a pop-up that we were planning to visit on my last night in LA, but they had to cancel it.  It was too popular.  They have created something magic: churro ice cream sandwiches!

They finally opened a brick and mortar shop in Los Feliz and we were down for the weekend, so I made this one of my must dos for our trip.  The thing is, their grand opening was yesterday and they only make 500 sandwiches per day, so we had to line up.

On the way in, we walked by two bros who were eating the churro sandwiches.  I asked them how long they waited.  The bro said, "Oh man, the line was SO LONG.  It must be like 20 minutes now!"  Considering that I waited in line for 2.5 hours at the Hello Kitty Café truck last week, 20 minutes was NOTHING.  [I'm not writing a post on it, but the Hello Kitty Café truck was NOT worth it.  It was too expensive and the food was awful.  Just take a photo with the truck and go on your way.]

There were 20-30 people in line ahead of us and we ended up waiting for an hour, but at least we got sandwiches.  They sent out a tweet (or maybe it was on Facebook?) around 4 pm saying they only had churro fries left.

The classic ice cream flavors were vanilla custard, spicy hot chocolate, Spanish latte, matcha green tea, horchata sherbet, and orange dreamsicle sherbet.  The seasonal flavors were strawberry buttermilk, chocolate cookie malt, blackberry cheesecake sherbet, brown butter cookie sorbet, coconut kaffir lime sorbet, grapefruit pineapple sorbet, lemon pomegranate sorbet, and tangelo kumquat sorbet.  

I had made up my mind months ago that the only way to go was a churro sandwich with horchata sherbet.  I wavered when I tried the brown butter cookie sorbet (yum!), but I stuck with my horchata.  Susie ordered the brown butter cookie and Marc had the Spanish latte.  

I wish I still lived in LA.  This was as delicious as I expected it to be.  The churro was delicate and not greasy.  The warm, crispy churro had a nice contrast with the cool, creamy ice cream.  Everyone enjoyed their sandwiches.  I immediately began thinking in my head how I could make this on my own using Humphry Slocombe Taqueria Horchata ice cream, but those plans came to a screeching halt at the thought of heating the oil for frying.  It's so messy.

I would imagine that the line has died down a bit, so you should go try Churro Borough!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Road to Hana

Today's lemonade: Strawberry Papaya
After making our stop at Wow Wow Lemonade, we headed out for our day trip to Hana.  When people found out that we were going to Maui, they all said we had to do the Road to Hana.

We left at around 10:30 am, which was later than we intended, but the road wasn't too crowded.  It was a two-lane (and sometimes a one-lane) paved road that curved along the coast line and had beautiful views along the way.

When you enter the path from the road, stay to the left.  You have to go down a steep, muddy hill.

Nice and cool in the shade!
So much bamboo!

I was trying to wait for these people to move out of my photo, but they didn't care.

Another waterfall

Steep Hill!
Our first stop was the bamboo trail at mile marker 6.5.  Our Lonely Planet guide said that the trail was not crowded, but apparently everyone has the same Lonely Planet so it was crowded.  It would have been a relaxing hike if there weren't so many people yelling through the bamboo.

Pretty good for someone who is afraid of heights.
This is what I looked like from across this lagoon.  I'm the pink dot.

Oh no!  My favorite Reef sandals died today.  I've had them for ten years.  What will I do without them?!
Haipua'ena Falls (I think) was our next stop.  "Few people know it's there," says the guide book.  There were tons of people there.  They bypassed the little lagoon closest to the road and hiked up to the waterfall at the top where there was a little pool and a tall waterfall.  Forget trying to get a photo of the waterfall with no people in it.

I decided that I wanted a photo of myself standing at the top of the first waterfall.  I'm afraid of heights, but for some reason this wasn't so bad.  I think it was because I could see that even if the rocks broke, or if I fell, I would just fall in to the water.  (Although, the water itself is another phobia of mine.)

Honomanu Bay
Black sand beach!
Our next spot was Honomanu Bay, and stopping there involved turning down a tiny little road (you can see the stop sign at the top) on the opposite side of the road on a tight curve.  You go down the dirt road and there is a small parking lot, and this gorgeous bay with a black sand beach.  I've never been on a black sand beach!

 A quick stop on the side of the road.
Really cool orb weaver spider!

Cute sign (Marc had the kalua pork tacos)

Garlic shrimp and veggies

Kalua pork tacos
We were getting hungry so we stopped in Nahiku, which is by the 29 mile marker.  There were a few choices including, ice cream, barbecue, Thai, and a shrimp truck.  There was also an outhouse.  Did I mention that there are this many gas stations on the Road to Hana: ZERO.

I ordered food from the shrimp truck.  This wasn't like the garlicky buttery craziness of Giovanni's on Oahu.  This shrimp plate was like...healthy.  Look at all those veggies!  I negated the vegetables by soaking the rice in the butter sauce and eating it all.  Hahaha.

After a while, we finally arrived in Hana to find some quiet little houses and the Hasegawa General Store, but there wasn't much else to see.

Even though I had basically just eaten, my stomach would not let me drive by these huli huli chicken signs without following them.  It was like a little scavenger hunt: where will we end up if we follow the signs?

When you get to Hana, you start seeing these signs...

Follow the signs!
And you reach this shack by a beautiful beach

Cash Only!

Palm frond bowls

So many condiments!
We turned left off the Hana Highway and ended up in Kōkĩ Beach where there was a little open air hut, a bunch of drunk locals, and a woman selling huli huli chicken.  Huli huli chicken is kind of like chicken teriyaki.  It's a sweet, soy based sauce.  I don't really know what's in it because Grandma always bought her sauce in a bottle from Marukai.  It's tasty, though, especially when it was grilled perfectly like this one was.  They gave this HUGE piece with the breast and wing.  Second lunch!

Giant piece of huli huli chicken

Red sand beach!

Gorgeous view complete with brooding local brah.  I was very surprised that the waves came out in the panorama relatively unmutated.
After stuffing myself with the chicken, we took a walk along the nearby beach.  It turned out to be a red sand beach!  I knew there were black sand beaches, but I didn't know about red sand beaches!  And I got to walk on both kinds in one day!

Someone drew a surf board on this sign
Um, are there people running across a border here?  This is the same sign on I-5 near the US-Mexican border in San Diego.

Chickens/roosters were everywhere!
View from the Pools at Ohe'o
Pools at Ohe'o, Kipahulu Visitors Center, Haleakalā National Park
I saw this spider (not my photo)(sorry, I don't remember where I downloaded it from) ,  a spiny orb weaver, on the trail from the Kipahulu Visitors Center.  It was so cool, but it was too windy so I couldn't get a photo of it.
It's a dirt road!
The back side of Haleakalā
St. Joseph's Church

Near the Pokowai Sea Arch (it's in front of us.  The sun was on the wrong side for the photo.)
We were planning on returning on the Hana Highway, back the way we came.  But since we were already going in that direction, we kept driving and ended up going all around the Northeast side of Maui.  Guess what?  A lot of it was a skinny dirt road that our rental car company probably didn't want us to drive on.  There were some hair raising parts, like where it was one lane, around a blind curve, and the guard rail had completely rusted away and was hanging over the ocean below.  Of course I was driving at this time.  I guess I did a lot of fear of heights exposure therapy today.

There was one really cool photo that I was too scared to stop and take: the point where the Hana Highway turned into the Piilani Highway and all the mile markers started over again.  I regretted not taking the photo since a lot of people probably don't get to see that sign because they don't go that way, but it was right at a curve at a narrow bridge so I didn't take it.

This looked like a few mini calderas
Another gorgeous sunset

No kidding...

There were a lot of cattle on the road.

At a certain point the dirt road turned into a newly paved road and the sense of adventure was over.  Still, there were so many beautiful sights to see as we drove towards the setting sun, and I'm glad we took the longer way home.

I forgot to take a photo of the exterior, so I'm borrowing this from the hotel website.
After we got back to the hotel, we were very tired and wanted to stay close.  I wanted to eat the Kinaole Grill Food Truck again, but Marc was all plate-lunched out.  There was a restaurant called Cafe O'Lei in Kihei that was recommended to us, but it turned out that the restaurant at our hotel, 'ami 'ami, was owned by the same people, so we thought we'd try it.  Note: the menu was not the same as the one on their website.  

Aloha Aina Organic Greens: macadamia nuts, papaya, and lilikoi vinaigrette 

'ami 'ami Caesar Salad

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi: yuzu butter sauce, pineapple relish, and steamed rice

Hawai'i Ranchers New York Steak: crispy onions and mashed russets

All the food was very fresh and the portions were large.  I don't know, there was something missing.  I am beginning to think that mahi mahi isn't the fish for me.  I prefer mackerel and salmon, nice fatty, oily fish.  Mahi mahi seems to be a little bland.  Marc's mashed potatoes were nice and garlicky.