And more desserts.
Eventually we started talking Latin American desserts.
A few weeks later, Bill had the brilliant idea of going on a dessert crawl. I messaged a few fellow food enthusiasts, settled on a date and time and we were ready for sweets.
We began our crawl in Huntington Park at El Carriel, a Colombian bakery. El Carriel is an unassuming small panaderia tucked away in a strip mall. The space is snug and clustered with the focal point, a glass case enclosing an array of Colombian confections, in the middle. El Carriel offers a full breakfast menu as well as pastries. The owner Myriam told us that her recipes are what she learned to make while living in Cali, a city west of Bogota. To accompany our hot fresh coffees, Myriam prepared for us Pandebonos and an Arepa de Choclo.
Pandebono is Colombian cheese bread made from cornmeal or masarepa (precooked corn flour). Shaped like a small donut, the exterior is crusty while the innards are warm and toothsome. The cheese baked within the dough imparts an irresistible nutty flavor.
Arepa de Choclo is a delicate griddled corn cake that is found throughout Colombia. The corn was sweet and buttery. The Arepa was topped with queso fresco that added a nice salty contrast.
For added indulgence we each enjoyed a Colombian version of Bunuelos.
Bunuelos are simply fried doughy balls. When cut open they are fragrant and soft. They are more like a beignet than a doughnut, very cakey and eggy. They were simply divine.
We caravanned to the next stop on our crawl, Amalia’s Guatemalan restaurant. Amalia’s is a converted house turned restaurant located on Virgil in East Hollywood. Here we enjoyed plantains served two ways, representative of Guatemalan cuisine.
Rellenitos de Platano is a mashed plantain filled with black beans and served with a side of crema. The rellenitos were tender perfection. Delicately sweet with a distinct cinnamon flavor, the black bean filling melded with the plantains and was almost indiscernible.
Next up was Platano de Mole. The mole is a chipotle and chocolate sauce bursting with sweet and savory spice. The platanos were swimming in mole and after a few bites my taste buds were burnt out. Throughout all three platano versions cinnamon seemed to be the dominant flavor.
From Amalia’s we ventured a few blocks west to Rincon El Chileno. With minimal décor and minimal crowd I was not sure what to expect, but I bite of the Panqueques Celestino and I was in heaven.
Panqueques Celestino is a Chilean version of pancakes. They are somewhere between a pancake and a crêpe and are filled with manjar, also known as dulce de leche. The dough is sweet with crisp edges. It is slathered with manjar and rolled. Dusted with powdered sugar, each bite of panqueques celestino is irresistible. This is a sexy dessert.
We were able to squeeze in one more stop on our crawl. The last stop was El Colmao Cuban restaurant. Here were sampled Flan de Guayaba and Coco Rayado Con Queso Crema.
Guayaba seems to be a favorite ingredient of Cuban desserts. Guayaba is guava shell that has been boiled with sugar. It is super sweet and grainy. The flan was smooth and pliant but to my dismay was swimming in sweetness from the guayaba. A few bites and I was well on my way to a sugar coma.
Coco Rayado con Queso Cream is grated and sweetened coconut with cream cheese. While many around me loved it, I have yet to understand or appreciate the marriage of super sweet fruit in syrup with cream cheese. Not for me.
Stop after stop, this dessert crawl was the perfect day of indulgence. I only wish we had more time or more room in our stomachs to try more desserts.
El Carriel Panderia
2405 Randolph Street
Huntington Park, CA 90255
751 North Virgil
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Rincon El Chileno
4354 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
2328 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
M-F 10am-8:30pm Sat/Sun 12pm-8:30pm