Along with its diverse selection of food stands, the Farmers Market is filled with sweet shops of every description. As a man with a sweet tooth the size of an eclair, I've eagerly exposed myself to all of their wares as part of my quest to master the Market.
Littlejohn's old-fashioned candy shop should have a warning posted in its window: "Once you eat our toffee, you may never be able to eat any other toffee again." Littlejohn's toffee is so good that it has absolutely ruined me for other toffee, the only exception being See's. LJ's toffee is a sweet, buttery smooth, crunchy concoction that doesn't stick in your teeth. Coated with the traditional chocolate and nuts, it's the butter that comes through the most, and who doesn't love butter? This stuff is one of the most addictive foods I've eaten. No matter how much I buy, I never seem to make it through a sitting with any left.
The peanut brittle, a related species, is also excellent and I love the chocolate and caramel coated homemade marshmallows. Littlejohn's is a true LA treasure that shouldn't be missed.
Owned by Thee's Bakery, the Country Market, located in the middle of the FM, bakes up cookies, cinnamon buns, apple dumplings and other baked treats, but their true calling is funnel cakes. These cakes are to fairground funnel cakes what a high end molten chocolate cake is to a Hostess Cupcake, a creature so vastly superior that it does not appear to be of the same species. The funnels are handmade with great care and topped with a mix of homemade fruit topping (no canned glop here) and fresh whipped cream. The cake is perfectly fried, crunchy on the outside, chewy within. This was a new try for me but it immediately bolted into a regular stop. The best funnel cakes I've ever tasted, bar none. It's like the fair, but so much better.
Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts
In my Doughnut Roundup last Spring, I named Bob's as the best cake doughnut in town...get a caker glazed, with powdered sugar or even plain. They also do the best apple fritter in town and have excellent glazed doughnuts as well.
Thee's Continental Bakery
Thee's offers good croissants, cookies and sweets. I'm a particular fan of their tres leches cup, a parfait spin on the traditional Latin American "three milks" cake (though I wish they'd leave out the cherry pie filling glop). I also like their marzipan logs and little chocolate mousse filled Florentine cookies. I would pass on their cakes though, which tend to be dry and uninteresting.
Bennett's Ice Cream
Competent homemade ice cream. If you have an ice cream hankering, it will suffice, but nothing to write home about here.
Gill’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream
The best thing about Gill's is their old-fashioned soft serve, which you can get dipped in chocolate. If you are ever craving Dairy Queen or the old Fosters' Freeze, this may be your best bet. For hand scooped ice cream, go to Bennett's, Gill's no longer makes their own ice cream, but uses Dreyer's and Thrifty, which are no great shakes (excuse the pun).
Everything looks great, but that's about the only redeeming quality of this little bake shop.
The Bread Bin
Eastern European pastries...too much dough, not enough flavor, and I'm not a fan of their bread either.
Ultimate Nut and Candy
Does the world really need 15 varieties of flavored popcorn? I'm inclined to say no. Even the traditional caramel and butter toffee corn here is overly candy-coated in a way that uncomfortably sticks to your teeth. The other candies are just so-so.
A small selection of unexceptional pastries.
Honorable Mention: Magee’s House Of Nuts
Technically, I suppose, Magee's isn't a sweet shop, it's a...nut house, but I have to mention this house of nuts and homemade nut butters. The main attraction for me is the peanut butter machine, displayed for all to see as it churns fresh peanut butter. There is something hypnotic about the way it slowly and monotonously swirls; round and round it rotates with such smooth, fluid motion making me fall into a peanut butter induced hypnosis. I could stare at this thing for hours...it's like peanut perfection.
The PB itself is good with a strong peanut flavor, bordering on sweet...but, as advertised, it's just peanuts, and it needs salt...after all, who wants to eat unsalted peanuts?
Next week: We begin the Third Tier of Farmers Market eateries