A Conch Crawl with Leslie Mialma of WinsomeAugust 30, 2018
This article was first featured in Life & Thyme.
Tasting Pan Dulce in East Los Angeles
The thought of spending a morning tasting conchas, the ubiquitous shell-shaped Mexican pastry, is pretty much what my dreams are made of. The only thing that could possibly make such an adventure more appealing is sharing that experience with pastry chef Leslie Mialma of Winsome in Los Angeles’ Echo Park. Mialma, who grew up just south in Orange County, makes inventive treats representative of the LA’s dynamic, multicultural influences, and is a studied hand in both pastry arts and food history.
Growing up on the border of Texas and Mexico, my family and I would go to grocery stores on both sides of the border. For the basics, we stuck to the H.E.B. in Laredo on the Texas side. But in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, we went to Soriana for the good stuff: string cheese, real Coca-Cola, mangos I can still smell, and best of all, pan dulce—Mexican sweet bread. Nothing was better than grabbing a beat-up metal tray and loading it with campechanas, cemitas, orejas, and the family favorite, conchas (“concha” is Spanish for seashell, to which the pastries’ vanilla or chocolate cookie crust topping bears a resemblance).