As much as we love marshmallow Peeps (they are awfully cute), we’ve often wondered when we’ll finally find the handmade chocolates, spring recipes and multi-colored farm-fresh eggs that the Easter bunny has picked out just for us. Right. Good thing it’s easy to gather goodies and make our own baskets.
Kulich from Stolichnaya Bakery
This year, the Easter holiday coincides on Eastern Orthodox and Western calendars, so the timing is right all around to stop by one of the many West Hollywood Russian bakeries for a loaf of freshly baked Easter Kulich. The butter-rich dried fruit and nut cake is traditionally baked only the week prior to EasterÂ (our phone calls for a taste earlier this month were greeted with a matter-of-fact: “You realize Easter isn’t until April?”). They’re baked in coffee tins, so you’ll recognize the cakes by their, and soon to be ours, ribbed waistlines.
7875 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.656.7136
Chocolates from Valerie Confections
Now that one of our favorite local chocolate makers has its own digs, we can get all the fleur de sel toffee and gianduja chocolates we can stuff into our basket. And forget about Cadbury â€”Â this year we’re going for Valerie’s liquid caramel filled bittersweet golden eggs.
3360 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, 888.706.1408, www.valerieconfections.com
Eat: LA’s farmers’ market guru Amelia Saltsman knows a good egg when she sees one and she’s got recommendations for some beauties. Pick up a dozen from Lily’s Eggs in Santa Monica or Healthy Family Farms in South Pasadena, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Rocky Canyon Produce and Shaner Family Farms also sell eggs straight from the farm to you (get a more complete farmers’ market listing here). Your eggs Benedict will thank you on Easter morning.
Z Blanc and Z Three Wines, Santa Ynez Valley
Those hollow chocolate bunnies taste great (OK, only slightly better) when you dig up a wine from our neighbors in Santa Barbara County to go with them. Pair a bottle of Zaca Mesa’s latest Rhone-inspired wine, the 2007 Z Blanc (a blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier grapes) with the Egg Hunt Hour. The 2006 Z Three (Syrah, MourvÃ¨dre and Grenache) would be great for the ham unveiling.
Z Wine, $32 for the Z Blanc, $42 for the Z Three. Currently available at Total Wine, 8201 Day Creek Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, 909.463.5670, www.totalwine.com and by special order from K&L Wine Merchants and LA Wine Company.
While there are plenty of restaurants that will be touting their buffets, it’s hard to beat a homemade-from-scratch Easter brunch. Former Spago pastry chef Kim Boyce’s fantastic new baking book Good to the Grain is beautifully photographed (perfect for peeking out of a basket) and packed with whole-grain baking ideas: apple coffee cake made with graham and whole wheat flours, pear and buckwheat pancakes, a banana-walnut cake with quinoa flour, and hands-down, the best granola bars we’ve ever made (the secret is the nutty ground flax seed and touch of molasses).
For a sit-down Easter meal, we keep flipping back to the Celebrating With Julienne cookbookÂ (full disclosure: EAT: LA publisher Prospect Park Books distributes this title). The late restaurateur-author Sue Campoy used to dress up in a bunny costume every year to welcome customers, but the “Campoy Easter,” a true feast, is still a family tradition and available in take-out form (you’ll need to order your bunny costume elsewhere). Or make your own roast lamb from the book’s terrific Easter menu, which includes leek and asparagus strudel, leg of lamb with gremolata crust and mint-caper sauce and Grandma Jolly’s rhubarb meringue tarts.