Armenian Bakery and Breakfast-for-Dinner

// Visited: 2.25.12 //

“Let’s do breakfast for dinner,”  my good friend A. suggested the other day.  “I’ll host.”

A. is the type of person who juggles multiple activities at once and wears many hats.  She is a busy professional and loving mother and friend who adores cooking for her two daughters.  What I admire most about A. is her playful view on life, so whenever she suggests a fun project, I always jump at the opportunity to participate.  Breakfast for dinner it would be.

A couple days before the big event, A. sent me her Pinterest board with some recipe ideas.  I expected to see some standard recipes for pancakes, bacon, and eggs, but I should really know by now that A. never does anything halfway.  It was a fantastical inspiration board, the indulgent breakfast-for-dinner of a starving gourmand’s dreams, filled with recipes for things like eggs baked in tiny custard cups, creme brulee made with yogurt and sandwiched between strawberry jam and a caramelized brown sugar topping, and buttery baked french toast.

I knew I had to step up my game, and fast.  I turned to Saveur and its website, saveur.com, which is my food porn provider of choice.  After browsing through some recipes, I settled on an easy Israeli-inspired dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, shakshuka.

That was simple enough, but I also wanted to bring something sweet.  My poor neglected Meyer lemon tree needed some serious pruning, so I decided I would make my standby, tart Meyer lemon bars.

Lemons from my Meyer lemon tree

 

Don't forget to prick the crust with a fork so the crust doesn't puff up when baking...

 

Meyer Lemon Bars

 

Saveur suggested serving the shakshuka with warm pita, but I didn’t just want to use standard mass-produced pita.  I closed my eyes and fantasized about sopping up the runny egg yolks and tomato sauce with crusty, fresh-baked bread.  After calling around to a few local bakeries, I tracked down a tiny Armenian bakery in the Little Armenia section of Hollywood called Father & Son Bakery & Grocery.

I called them, not even really sure what I was looking for.  “Do you carry any freshly-baked flatbreads?”, I asked hesitantly.  “Something like pita, or lavash?”  I became excited at the possibility that this place might have what I was looking for when the girl on the other end confidently answered, “We just took some fresh loaves out of the oven.”

Like so many great L.A. restaurants and food shops, Father & Son is located in a strip mall in a slightly-questionable neighborhood.  Inside, a young girl named Mariam steered me towards the freshly-baked Persian flatbread called Barbari bread or Tabrizi bread.  The sesame-studded flat loaves were easily two feet long each, with plenty of crust and a crumb that appeared to be perfect for sopping up tomato sauce and runny egg yolk.  Mariam explained that while the flatbread was Persian, the bakery was an Armenian bakery.  She pointed out some sugar-flecked buns in another case.  “These are ponchik,” she explained.   “They’re fried and filled with custard.  So good,” she emphasized.  An older man waiting patiently in line behind me smiled generously at my cluelessness.  He was clearly a regular.

The strip mall housing Father & Son Bakery & Grocery

 

Mariam, holding a loaf of Persian bread

 

Father & Son's other offerings: Ponchik, Piroshki, and Khachapuri

 

Among Father & Son's small selection of grocery offerings are Pringles and Nutella

 

I left giddy about my discoveries, clutching my haul of Persian flatbread and ponchik, wallet barely lighter.  The bakery was already starting to fill up by the time I had left.  Two well-dressed women in a Mercedes pulled up next to my car.  I was pleased at the thought of this tiny bakery in a no-name strip mall having such a devoted following.

When I arrived at A.’s place, she was calmly preparing something like six recipes at once.  I found some space on the stove for the eggs.  I felt a bit nervous about them, especially since I was focused on not burning everything else in the kitchen, but thankfully it was a forgiving recipe.  The eggs finished cooking on the table, covered, in the residual heat of the sauce.  The Meyer lemon bars were a little too intense — next time I would just follow the recipe more closely by keeping the lemon zest to 2 tablespoons and adding a little more sugar.  The shortbread crust was a little too bready for my liking, so next time I think I might reduce the amount of flour, supplement some of the flour with rice flour (for a flakier / more tender crust), and employ a longer baking time.

Vegan chocolate-banana scones, French toast, fancy bacon, blueberry-oatmeal scones, shakshuka, lemon bars, and Persian Barbari bread

 

Healthy and tasty blueberry-oatmeal scones

 

I sank into my chair and picked up my fork, exhausted from the food-sourcing and cooking tasks of the day, and wondered how A. was able to do this day in and day out while also changing diapers and practicing yoga. I suspected she may have secret clones of herself working on her behalf.

We toasted with our mimosas and dug in.  The homemade sausages were juicy and perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs.  The french toast was crispy, sugary, and tender.  The tortilla espanola was better than any rendition I’d had in Spain.  And, yes, the Persian flatbread turned out to be an ideal vehicle for eggs and tomato sauce.

A veritable feast. I was still full the next day.

The only thing that might have made this experience more complete is if we had all come wearing adult footie pajamas.  But there’s always our next installation of Breakfast-for-Dinner, which I’ve promised to host.  Cheers.

Father & Son Bakery & Grocery
5209 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Neighborhood: Hollywood
(323) 665-0303

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