“You have arrived at your destination.”
At least that’s what the voice coming from my mom’s smartphone had said.
We looked around. There was a squat building to our right with a kosher deli and a vacant space next to it, its windows covered in brown paper. But no bakery.
“Where is it?” I asked my mom — or maybe her smartphone. “It has to be around here somewhere.”
I parked the rental car, got out and looked around. On the very corner of this stretch of shops was a glass door with what appeared to be a cupcake with legs, holding up a spoon. The dessert declared, “I’m not a cupcake!”
“I think this is it.”
Crème Caramel LA in Van Nuys hadn’t been open a month when we arrived on Sunday morning, eager to try the custards and bread puddings it had already become known for.
Owner and baker Kristine de la Cruz had spent the last two and a half years schlepping her desserts around farmers’ markets all over Los Angeles, sometimes going to three in a single day. She had built up a loyal following of fans craving her vanilla custard, bread puddings and mini pies with flavors like coconut pandan, ube and Thai tea. The next step? Open a dessert boutique, of course.
So she did.
She found this 646-square-foot space in Van Nuys on Burbank Boulevard where she makes and sells her desserts alongside other goods — gourmet popcorn, gluten-free cookies, chocolate hazelnut spread, freshly baked baguettes — by local artisanal foodcrafters. (She hasn’t given up farmers’ markets, though. Here’s the list of places she’ll be at.) She evens has a small breakfast menu with items like Spanish tortilla and strata with kale, apples and cheddar cheese.
Though she has expanded her menu a bit, de la Cruz knows what has — and will continue — to draw customers to her shop.
“We’re not trying to be an expert in everything,” de la Cruz says. “We know that custard is our wheelhouse.”
Here are more photos from the shop:
Crème Caramel LA
Crème Caramel LA 14849 Burbank Blvd. in Van Nuys. Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Phone: (818) 949-8352. Follow on Twitter and Instagram @cremecaramalela