Ikram Bakery, Orange County's only Turkish bakery, opened in September in Fountain Valley. Armenian bakeries and restaurants are easy to find in the greater LA area, but Turkish? Not so many. In Orange County, we can only think of Anaheim's Doner G.
Why Fountain Valley? Is there a Turkish community we didn't know about along Brookhurst Street between the Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants? Apparently, yes. Bakery owner Asiye Aliyazicioglu opened between the Turkish-owned Hamle Market and the Armenian-owned Moonlight Pizza, which bakes lahmajun and makes a mean version of the white garlic sauce toum to go with its rotisserie chicken. Customers can pick up their weekly groceries and a taste of home, all conveniently in the same strip mall.
What are those tasties? Simit is a ring-shaped bread sold by street vendors throughout Turkey, as common as pretzel carts on the streets of New York or Philadelphia. Braided or formed into large rings, the bread is covered in sesame seeds and baked to a dark, golden brown. Its crust is crisp, but the interior is soft, and like most breads, simit is best eaten the moment it comes out of the oven.
There's also pide, a bubbly, chewy-textured flat bread that has a glutinous pull when you tear off a piece. Aliyazicioglu explains, "Back in Turkey, this is one of the specialty breads baked during Ramadan. Sometimes they put egg on top to give it that color, so a lot of people call it ramazan pidesi."
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Other bakeries in LA offer simit and sweet pastries from Turkey and Armenia, but Ikram specializes in breads and savory pastries. Poğaca are soft, buttery rolls filled with olives, feta cheese, spinach and feta, or kasseri cheese. Other rolls are filled with potato. Customers often ask for a traditional butter cookie that's not sweetened with sugar, but flavored lightly with salt. It has the delicate, crumbly texture of French sables, flavored with butter and a hint of salt, and is quite delicious with a cup of strong tea. Ikram produces savory as well as sweet cookies, collectively called kurabiye çeşitleri, alongside a tight selection of other sweets such as baklava.
What's on the horizon for this 2-month-old bakery? Aliyazicioglu plans to start selling wholesale to supermarkets so that customers across Southern California can buy their favorite Turkish breads. But why not get them from source, hot out of the oven?
Ikram Bakery, 9895 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 964-5726; ikrambakery.com. Open daily, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.