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[Best of OC 2008 Post Cards] Foodstuffs: Greetings From Rachel Klemek

This University High and UC Irvine grad got into artisanal baking thanks to her “semi-hippie lifestyle” in Los Osos. After getting a certificate from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Napa Valley, she returned to OC with a vengeance and now runs Blackmarket Bakery in Irvine (where Jeniffer Matich, also pictured, apparently works as a getaway driver).

 

I moved back to OC in 2002 to be near family and good schools. After commuting to Melisse in Santa Monica and a year as Zov’s morning baker in Tustin, I opened Blackmarket Bakery on a shoestring-fry-sized budget. Originally, we sold wholesale to caterers, but it’s grown to include farmers’ markets, classes—even Whole Foods buys Blackmarket now.

Photo by John Gilhooley

The focus is still quality and real ingredients, no mixes. My CIA instructors hammered that ethos into us. I get to hammer it into others now, too: At Cypress College, I’m the Advanced Baking and Pastry instructor. Since I moved back to OC, the food scene has gotten more sophisticated. Even star out-of-town chefs bless us with their presence. Still, OC doesn’t have to curtsy to anyone. This is the land of the In-N-Out burger and the Wahoo’s fish taco. Tell me those aren’t works of art!

I love the variety in both the grocery store and the “food court” at Mitsuwa market. Try Santouka Shio Ramen: salty, satisfying and life-affirming.

For dessert, Hans’ Ice Cream—killer peppermint! This reminds me of my own business, except I don’t make ice cream. Later, you can park free at Crystal Cove State Beach, an almost private, beautiful beach. It’s a short trip from my bakery, but it’s another world.

Recycled Rags has a great end-of-the-month sale. It has long been a bonding ritual between my mother and me. It’s like a treasure hunt/feeding frenzy for bargain fashionistas.

I love the Irvine Farmers Market. It’s amazing that the almighty Irvine Co. allows such diversity to assemble on its property. Fishmongers, mushroom people, crafters, organic farmers and, of course, the Blackmarket Bakery!

 

• Blackmarket Bakery, 17941 Sky Park Circle, Ste. E, Irvine, (949) 852-4609; www.blackmarketbakery.com.

• Mitsuwa Marketplace, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6699; www.mitsuwa.com.

Hans’ Ice Cream, 3640 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 979-8815.

Recycled Rags, 2731 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, (949) 675-5553; www.recyledrags.com.

Irvine Farmers Market, Historic Park at the Irvine Ranch, 13042 Old Myford Rd., Irvine, (714) 573-0374; www.orange.cfbf.com.

 
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