Investigating Sonoma County's Panaderias
I gave La Mixteca (Rte. 12, just outside of Sonoma) another try last night and I am glad I did. As EN has said in the past you kind of have to time it right for when the bread is at its peak of freshness and glory.
I found out that the owners are DF Oaxacans and that they do a brisk tamal business as well - but only with hoja de maiz.
I left with a 'Cachuate,' the peanut shaped sweet-bread with a layer of rasberry jam in the center, empanada de calabaza (personal favorite), and a Mexican wedding cookie.
Everything was wonderful -although I have yet to come across a crisp empanada dough for the pumpkin filled pastries. This one was a whole wheat softer bread with minimal sweetness- which I like.
I stopped up in WIndsor today for La Reyna bakery, tortilleria and restaurant. This one has impressed me the most, outside of the Petaluma Hill Lolas. I picked up an Empanada de Camote and a Capritoda (another rarely seen favorite!). They both smell heavenly....will report taste soon.
A new bakery to tack to the list:
Super Latino Mercado y Panaderia, neighbor to La Texanita on Sebastopol.
My review my be skewed as it was late, I was hungry and still slightly under the influence.
This scent of freshly baked pan dulce emanating from the place smells fantastic every morning and evening I pass by and I finally gave it a chance.
I had asked the older propeitress from La Texanita a couple of months back which her favorite panaderia was - she emphatically reccomended this one.
I got a churro (I later discovered to be custard filled), a puerquito (molasses piggy) and a Pina empanda. Loved it all.
I imagine that these were also very fresh as I took them off the rolling sheet oven things before they could put them in the case.
Cant tell you how much I liked this or the last time I had one. Crisp, cinnamony and delightlfully filled with a slight amount of custard. Think of a good churro -- this was it.
Usually these are overtly molassesy - but this one was much lighter and quite capable of being consumed sans leche (which typically is a must for these guys). In this respect it was unique.
>> Pina empanada
Greatest crisp, lardy crust thus far
Update on La Mixteca:
The Pumpkin empanadas just dont have any soul to them - I like the little bit of filling but I cant get over the dry soft crust - where is my crisp crust!
My favorite thing here are the mexican wedding cookies which are 3 for a dollar and are wonderful.
My friend really enjoyed his Pineapple empanada.
Though this is not Sonoma county - I have to report on the excellent crust of the pineapple empanada at Casa Latina across the st. from the Spanish Table on San Pablo in Berkeley.
A friend I gave it to - did not try personally- likened its crust to fortune-cookie-esque. Hurray! Finally the crisp empanada!
They also have guayberas which I am told are the specialty of one of the Panaderos from DF.
I stopped by La Reyna maybe about a week ago and ordered a variety of pastries with the help of the young girl working there. She and an older woman who I believe was the owner and her mother were so sweet and so helpful, I really wanted to love it. In fact, La Reyna is incredibly close to my house and to have a bakery I enjoy so close to my house would be a great boon.
My family and I had mixed feelings about what we ate. I found the empanada with custard and the buttery, layered heart shaped pastry tasty. The turtle bread or turtle cake I tried wasn't my cup of tea, but I was told that it was their most popular item, so it looks like it's just a difference in taste. The pound cake was okay, if a bit dry. My favorite of what I bought was a churro with a caramel center; they have two types of churros, both with fillings. Funnily enough, what I appreciated most about La Reyna was that it managed not to be too sweet, but the churro was the only pastry that was a bit too sweet for me.
My experience with Mexican bakeries is extremely limited, and I have yet to find one I truly love. Again, it is very close to my house and those who worked there were so friendly, so I'll be back soon.
For many years I was puzzled why Americans didn't seem to take to pan dulce... I had various theories... and then one day out of the blue it hit me!
Many pieces of Pan Dulce (the faintly sweet bun like stuff) is meant to be served with Mexican Hot Chocolate... or dipped into some Cafe con Leche (not the most elegant procedure but certainly tastey).... and it never occurred to me that Americans weren't doing the same.... d'oh. Of course things like Empanadas, Churros & Orejas (Palmiers) are exempt from this.... but the Conchas (sea shell shaped buns), Puercitos (pig shaped graham cookies) need to be paired.
It sounds like one of our Chowhound events should be a Chocolate & Pan Dulce party. (Back in West L.A. the wife and I would commonly pick stuff up at the Panaderia and take it the beach for weekend breakfasts.)
That sounds absolutely delicious. Elegant or no, I think I might have to try to grab some more tomorrow morning with both Mexican Hot Chocolate and Cafe con Leche. And thank you for providing some explanation with each name. It's getting more and more clear as I go to these Mexican restaurants that picking up Spanish would be extremely valuable.
I think EN's observation can be affirmed also by the fact that there are generally two main times each day at a panaderia for pan calientes y frescas since their shelf life is so short.
I also think mexican pan dulce is perfect for people whom sweets are not their 'thing.' Which I my self can attest to as well as many of my family members who immediately became hooked after introduction with it.
As EN relates, we too hardly eat pan dulce outside breakfast hours without coffee.
Likefrog- was the turtle cake the bread pudding?
I tried La Reyna on Saturday. I had a little trouble finding it. It's in the same shopping center as Round Table Pizza, tucked into the far back corner. The tortillas were packed in dozens, wrapped in foil and sold hot. They are very good with subtle flavor and very tender.
They're taking orders for pan de muerto. Samples are on display but none for sale on the spot.
Good to have Castaneda's right there to pick up other items. Very convenient and a lovely store with a big selection of veggies.
La Reyna Bakery
8465 Old Redwood Hwy # 720, Windsor, CA
8465 Old Redwood Hwy, Windsor, CA
Update on La Reyna:
SR and Sonoma Hounds - this place stocks the best corn tortillas I have come across so far. Softer than pillows - quite literally! Fresh everyday at 11am and you dont have to buy them packaged in egregious amounts. They are really awesome.
This sunday is their 10th anniversary party with mariachi music, ballet folkolorico etc.
Their camote (sw. potato) empanada is great- the filling is not all smooth- everyonce iin a while you bite into a nice toothsome piece of the potato. Wonderful pilloncillo and spice taste.
Castenadas mercado next door is really nice too - the gorditas from their little kitchenette were stellar looking.
When I picked up the pan de muerto from La Reyna, I popped into Castañeda's to pick up a quick bite. Guess I'm too accustomed to eating from trucks, as this wasn't quick. I got the roast pork torta special, described as 300 gms of pierna adobada with pickled red onions on a toasted bolillo for $3. It was a lot of food for the money, but not that good. The roll was barely toasted and had rubbery crust. The roast pork was tender and pretty tasty, but soon became monotonous. No pickled onions, rather red onions tossed on the grill to order that took a long time to cook down and carmelize. Then I found out that the cash register at the food counter doesn't work and I have to go through the regular check-out line. Hardly a quick bite.
Here's the sandwich,
Well, La Reyna takes the cake as best Panaderia I have came across so far. I had both the Sweet Potato Empanada and Capriotada (Mex Bread pudding) slice for breakfast this morning with coffee.
- tad sweeter filling then the pumpkin of La Mixteca: liked it overall
- much nicer dough- not 'crisp" but somewhere in between, definitly better than the dry one at Mixteca.
-Better than the version from an excellent bakery down in San Diego
-Greaseless, and perfect balance of sweetness.
-Delicious and a pleasure to eat
Owners are Michoachanos - Posole on Tuesdays, Menudo(con grano o sin), Birria de Res on the weekends.
I am interested to try out there tortillas and food.
Nice. I was going to ask what Capritoda was. Now I have a name to associate with this. They are the rather solid squares, right?
I love camote and custard empanadas. They are usually the realiable choice no matter how dreadful the panaderia. Pineapple ... not so much ... often gluey. Never had a crispy empanada though.
Thanks for the report. I'm so glad I signed back onto Chowhound for a while to check out the results of the Salinas Taco Truck issue (they won) otherwise I would have missed this great info. Keep up the great reports. As you know, if it wasn't for your Escondido Flea Market posts on the California board, I never would have looked into the Richomd Flea Market.
Salinas Mobile Vendors declare victory.
So happy you did rworange...its not ch without you.
Yes, capritoda are those solid squares - somtimes with walnuts and always with raisins. I actually have not yet had a custard or pina empanada yet I should expand my horizons.
I really miss the Escondido flea market and the Oaxacan food there and I have been really jonesing for a corn ice cream from your favorite ice cream shop next to el tigre.
I have only had the crisp - pie crust like empanada from a small bakery in Fallbrook just N. of Escondido.
I don't really consider those bread pudding squares as capirotada. Is that what the bakeries call them? Capirotada is eaten throughout Lent in Mexico and there are probably many variations. My mom typically toasts french bread and makes a syrup with piloncillo to drench the bread. She adds raisins and almonds too. Many people layer a pan with tortillas before layering the bread and syrup. I have only had the traditional capirotada once at Guaymas in Tiburon, but I haven't seen it anywhere else.
My mother omits the tortilla, lard, and cheese. I really don't like the flavor that the tortillas give the capirotada and find the cheese sprinkles odd.
I think I had the capirotada at Guaymas during Lent because I recall it must have been March since I had just received an acceptance letter for school. It was a long time ago though, maybe 6 or 7 years, and I haven't gone back to Guaymas in years. My mom typically makes it during Lent, although I suppose you can make it whenever. It seems like it's a pretty easy thing to make in case you're interested in trying it. Her bread of choice is sourdough.
My only semi-favorite local bakery is La Reyna on 24th Street in the Mission. Everything else is hit or miss and I'd rather waste some calories on rich non-Mexican sweets than on mediocre pan dulce.
Second on that... in the Highlands of Jalisco.. .Capirotada refers to:
Stale bollilo slices, nuts & dried fruit that are sauteed in Lard, then they are cooked in a spiced Piloncillo syrup (a bit thinner than maple syrup)... finally it is studded with dry cheese & colorful sprinkles to be served either hot, room temperature or cold.
Its like bread pudding but without the custard base and can be a bit of an acquired taste (with the sweet, smokey, caramely, porky & dried cheese).
I usually skip the sprinkles... and use fresh "exotic" fruits like prickly pear, guava or zapotes... and sometimes serve it with an additional sauce of condensed milk, crema & rompope.
Great work as always! I can't wait to give La Reyna a try.
BTW... the other night I was driving back from Walnut Creek and went through Sonoma... got to Boyles' Hot Springs / Agua Caliente area... it was about 9 PM, dark... the night lit up by the flouresent lights from the Taqueros & Bakers doing a brisk evening busineess with families of blue collar workers.
I rolled down the windows caught a whiff of mesquite smoke, al pastor seasoning & pine trees.... looked around at the pine studded rolling hills of Sonoma and for a second there it was just like being in Central Mexico.