There are many holiday indicators in this town, maybe because we don't have all those falling leaves and snowstorms, but over the years one of the best of them has been the holiday baked goods from Hans Röckenwagner and his team. These are not your average Christmas cookies, so don't expect silly shapes and garish frostings.
Instead, the German-born Röckenwagner has made it something of a personal mission to re-create German holiday recipes with a particular historical significance. Seasonal stollen, for example, laden with fruit and dusted with a heavy sugar snowfall, based on the original Dresdner stollen from the 15th century. Elisen lebkuchen, made with a special spice mixture and formed atop imported wafers called oblaten. Glazed spice bars called Basler leckerli. This year he's debuting spekulatius, crunchy, spiced shortbread cookies that are made by pressing the dough into molds carved with figures, like ornate animal crackers.
This year, and available now, you can get all these lovely things at Röckenwagner's two bakery-cafes and his Venice restaurant 3 Square, at the many farmers markets they attend, at Gelson's and Whole Foods -- and, possibly as soon as mid-December, at the new Café Röckenwagner opening at the corner of Barrington and Wilshire in Santa Monica. As of today, they're hoping to open it on Dec. 16.More »