Friday, February 20, 2009

The Little Flower Candy Co. - Pasadena

Have you ever dreamt of a fantasyland filled with piles of giant, sweet-smelling cookies and buckets of fruity, shiny lollipops in all the colors of a rainbow? A place where big, homemade marshmallows in chocolate and coffee billow out of bags and perfectly wrapped sea-salt caramels fill every shelf? If you have, it probably looked a lot like The Little Flower Candy Co. – a small store/cafĂ© located just south of the 134 on Colorado Blvd, which also happens to be less than five minutes from my house. How lucky am I? This is the kind of place I think of when I hear the phrase, "Visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads."

As most of you know, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, although I have been known to enjoy a good cookie or pastry now and again. Luckily for me, The Little Flower Candy Co. has lots of things that would fill my non-sugar fantasies- several kinds of homemade soups each day, two different quiches, a nice selection of salads and, most importantly, a fantastic sandwich menu.

Now you know I love me a good sandwich. Sandwiches rank near the top of my favorite food list but as common as a sandwich is in this world, a good, well-made sandwich is a rare breed, which is unfortunate. I love the sandwiches at Europane, although it’s a bit of a drive to grab a quick lunch, and although Nicole’s uses amazing baguettes on all of her sandies, I sometimes need a bit more selection. This is where The Little Flower Candy Co has come into my life and filled that emptiness and I seriously couldn’t feel luckier. I could LIVE on their veggie wrap. I know, I know- now before you start accusing me of being a Crunchy Granola Hippie, I gotta tell ya- this wrap is so good it’d satisfy any meat eater, myself included. I don’t order it because its veggie- I order it because I NEED it. Crave it. Require it. It’s no longer a want, it’s a habit. The elements couldn’t be simpler- a nice, large whole wheat tortilla blankets a garlicky green hummus, fresh cherry tomatoes, crisp English cucumber, shredded carrots, lettuce and a mound of warm, tender brown rice. The warmth of the rice is KEY- no one wants to eat a burrito full of cold rice- and it just wakes up the garlic in the hummus which mixes with the cool veggies and combines into one perfect flavor combo. My husband J can’t seem to bring himself to order anything else as he, too, is an addict.

The tempeh sandwich (I know, AGAIN with the vegetarian option!) is also divine- thinly sliced, nicely seared tempeh piled on wheat bread with lots of veggies, perfectly rip avocado and tapenade (which, hello- I don’t even LIKE olives but it works so well here!). Can’t live without meat? The pulled pork sandwich is piled high with wonderfully meaty, tender pig and I love that the flavor of the pork is as prominent as the flavor of the BBQ sauce. On most days they offer a pulled chicken sandwich as well if you’re not into pig (but seriously, why would anyone NOT be into pig?). Although I’ve yet to try it, the egg salad sandwich seems to be one of their most popular items, along with the meatloaf sandwich (thick and tender) and the roast beef (bring an appetite!) made with arugula and house made aioli. Every sandwich comes with 2 pickle sticks- one pickle is “new” and greener, less tart; the other is older and has been pickling longer, so you get to try both. There are daily specials ranging from a Dal bowl to bahn mi, and you can get all of this, in addition to their soups, to go.

……which brings me to what made the Little Flower Candy Co famous in the first place- their sweets. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen their sea salt or vanilla caramels and giant, homemade marshmallows in boutiques and specialty shops for years. Both are delicious and taste nothing like their mainstream counterparts. If you haven’t had a homemade marshmallow, you haven’t had a real marshmallow. I prefer to grab a cookie after finishing a sandwich, my favorite being their cutout butter cookies which are flavored with liberal amounts of lemon or lime zest (or oil?) and the citrus flavor lingers in my mouth long after I’ve eaten it. YUM. It’s pretty hard to choose between those, their enormous chocolate chip cookies, mini red velvet cupcakes topped with a dollop of cream cheese icing, the frangipane tart with fresh raspberries or the chocolate croissants….I mean, what on earth is a girl to do?

The shop is filled out with tables boasting more sweet treats and a small selection of children’s books and cookbooks. I can just imagine how a kid must feel when they walk in (and many do), seeing the bars of chocolate and bags of candy filling the shelves. I feel that way when I look over the sandwich menu!!!

I have to say, it’s always great to see a small, local business thrive, but The Little Candy Co is doing so because they are putting out quality product made with great care, love and attention to detail. It’s evident in the faces of the staff- whether it’s owner/chefs Christine Moore and her husband or one of the nice ladies running the register. They always have a good recommendation if you can’t decide what to order and take the time to greet everyone, give a smile……as jaded as I can be sometimes, I gotta say…’s lovely. And it seems their love is spreading- the place gets pretty packed during lunch hour and you may have to wait for a seat, but it’s totally worth it. Just grab a cookie and cup of coffee- there are worse ways to wait, after all!

Little Flower Candy Company
1424 W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Hours of business
Mon-Sat, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sun, Closed

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