Sandwich of the Week: Marinated Artichoke and Ricotta
Granted, Los Angeles' La Brea Bakery really isn't Nancy Silverton's anymore and hasn't been for about 10 years, but she definitely left her mark on the little café on La Brea Avenue, the place that started it all. The early '90s were all about artisan bread. By '95 artisan bakeries that baked rustic, hearty loaves daily had sprouted up in every city, and most attribute the trend to Silverton. This was definitely the pre-Atkins era.
Coming from Wolfgang Puck's Spago, she and husband Mark Peel were part of the New California Cuisine movement that crested in the '80s, and Silverton brought that emphasis on freshness and artisanal products to La Brea Bakery. Even though the brand has gone mainstream, the bakery on La Brea retains its charm, offering Cowgirl Creamery cheese, preserves, and olive oil in addition to bread, salads, and sandwiches.
The menu of "Classic Sandwiches," as the wall-mounted board reads, is a time capsule back to the '90s when Silverton was in charge, and the marinated artichoke stands up as the Kate Moss amongst them. Totally viable in the present day but also nostalgically of a time past, it's the perfect blue sky, warm weather sandwich — the fluffy ricotta is cool and creamy while the pesto spread provides a nod to summer. The peppery arugula keeps the combination from being too one-note, and then there's the bread...
Flecks of black olive that aren't too big and leathery; a rustic crust; spongey and moist inside but not heavy. Sturdy despite the holes that the ricotta pokes through, nothing too-too. My only complaint? The sandwiches are made fresh but not to order. Had Nancy Silverton still been there, they probably would have been.
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