Le Petit Pain
Christina Mendenhall
Best Bread: An NPR commentator once asked a French chef if he thought the Atkins Diet would ever catch on in France. "Mais non," the chef replied haughtily. "In France, we must eat one pound of bread every day for good health." No doubt for other reasons of vigor and well-being, that pound of bread must also be slathered with sweet cream butter, n'est-ce pas? And washed down with just a cup or two of hot chocolate to aid the digestion? The baguette ($2.50) at Le Petit Pain is the place to start if you're planning to follow the good chef's advice: the long, thin loaves, crunchy and buttery on the outside, pocked with delicate holes when you break them open, come warm from the oven a couple of times a day. The proprietors, a handsome and charming family hailing from Paris, have evidently picked up a few baking skills in their native country that have translated exquisitely to ours. They serve the finest from the baguettes, which have an unsettling tendency to become as necessary to daily existence as air, to their beautiful cakes, pies, butter cookies, fresh croissants, and filled crepes -- also highly nourishing when eaten in quantity.

Best Bakery: It's clean, it's bright, and it serves confections so sweet that your teeth almost rot just looking at them. Gone are the days of Grandma's neighborhood bakery, where only muffins, brownies, and loaves of bread were available. When this company was founded nearly two decades ago during the "Let's Get Physical" '80s, more than 50 flavors of cheesecake and dozens of pies, tortes, and other cakes were delivered to the hungry masses by Celebrity's chefs. Through the no-fat '90s and the "anti-carb" new millennium, this bakery has continued to thrive with loads of options for anyone from the carb-conscious to the reckless. This is your go-to joint for Hello Dollies and brownies ($2.75 each), custom cakes (slices $3.25 to $3.50), platters, and seasonal selections like egg nog and cranberry pumpkin cheesecake ($3.50 to $26). What else makes this a great spot to visit? Lots of little tables, decent cups o' Joe, evening hours, and a personable staff. Cooking classes are held for kids and adults too so you can learn how to make more than just Betty Crocker.

Josh's Organic Garden

This market guarantees that its fruits and vegetables were picked within 48 hours of the time they were laid before your eyes here. And like the shingle says, it's all 100 percent organic. The market is open all day Sunday, and it pays to be early to beat the crowds and swoop up items that grow more scarce toward the end of their season. There's no guarantee you'll find the same items from week to week, because the market relies much on Florida's growing seasons. During winter, the bounty is spectacular, from the routine to the exotic. For $3.99 a pound, pick up crispy red and yellow peppers, fresh garlic, pungent parsley, or exotic dandelion greens. You'll find Josh's on the Broadwalk behind the old Hollywood Beach Hotel, which is just south of Hollywood Boulevard.

On his first trip to Rorabeck's, my true love brought to me: 12 yellow onions, 11 sweet potatoes, ten heads of lettuce, nine ripe tomatoes, eight colored peppers, seven fat zucchinis, six Chinese eggplants -- fiiiiiiive finger-lings. Four sprawling herbs, three tan yams, two garlic cloves, and the chaaaange from a twe-e-enty. It goes without saying that my beloved made a few more trips to Rorabeck's, still flush with his astonishing success. I sent him out for a nine-foot potted palm tree ($50), a bucket of jalapeño peppers ($1), two bags full of bronze and black muscadine grapes ($5), a flat of Florida strawberries ($4), some flowering impatiens ($1.50 each), an obscenely sized watermelon ($3), half a dozen Georgia peaches ($2), a gigantic bunch of basil ($1), and a couple more of those giant zucchinis, roughly the size of Paul Bunyan's forearm, which I needed to whip up a vat of ratatouille for my true love and his extended family.

Baja Smoothie Café may not have 10 gazillion trademarked flavors like those giant-blender joints, but it's pretty damned close. Besides -- is anyone anal-retentive enough to need ten different strawberry-flavored blends to choose from? Baja has cooler names for its smoothies anyway, like the Twisted Sister or Bananas for Bono (though it might want to rename the Blue Baja Tsunami before some overly sensitive customer raises a stink). The basic nutritional info is listed for all smoothies (which range in price from $3.95 to $5.25), so you know how many calories, vitamins, carbs, and grams of fat you're ingesting -- and that you're getting more than just a cup of sherbet run through a blender. If you have any leftover room for solid food, the café has plenty of fresh salads and wraps, all made with your calorie count in mind. And check this -- the café has subscription-free wireless Internet service, meaning you don't need to sign up with T-Mobile just to browse the Web for ten minutes. All you gotta do is turn on your laptop and you're on the Web. Damn, all that and all you wanted was a Hawaiian Five OH!

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