From the outside, this looks like a typical mom and pop Mexican market. At least I think it does.
To be honest, I don’t really know what a typical Mexican market looks like. Or if Panaderia La Jerezana, the bright little store and bakery at 2211 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento, actually is Mexican.
But even a Gringo like me can follow the clues. Start with the name. There is a town called Jerez in central Mexico. It is designated a Pueblo Magico, or magic town.
And La Jerezana’s owner Hector Olazaba, who moved to Sacramento from that very same Jerez, is known to have brought some strong baking magic with him.
So in we go.
More clues. Piñatas for sale hanging from the ceiling. Shelves of sodas, tortillas and hot sauces. Pretty common, I’d suppose.
Pleasant, helpful woman behind the counter. I am guessing an Olazaba family member. Certainly seems to qualify as normal for your average Mexican market.
But this is a first-time experience for me. And here’s what I didn’t anticipate. That bakery aroma. Filling the little store. The smell of fresh bread and pastries. Lots of them. Lots of shapes and sizes.
Can you picture it?
Woman at counter to the right. Baker in the back with fresh goods. And along the southern wall, glass doors enclosing tray after tray, row after row of eye-popping, mouth-watering (diet-busting) breads and pan dulce.
OK. Gringo here. Even I know what pan dulce is. Right. Mexican pastry. I even know what a concha is. Looks like a sweet bun with cornrows of frosting. Gets its name because it looks a little like a seashell, which is what concha means in Spanish.
And I don’t really need to know more than that. Just get a tray and a pair of tongs. Take a few of the pastry liners in pop-up boxes along the way and select whatever breads and sweeties call your name (or look like they would if calling names were an option for baked goods.)
Which is exactly what we did. And they taste great. And I would love to tell you which ones we liked best. But then I’d have to know the name of each. Which I don’t. (Did I mention the Gringo part?)
So I will make the best of it, by assuming many readers are equally uninformed about the real names of most of Jerezana’s magical treasurers but are also equally interested in tasting fresh, expertly made products.
So let’s start with the big, flat, circular, crispy tortilla-looking one. Covered with cinnamon and sugar. I think it is a buñuelo. Identified properly or not, I can’t remember ever having anything so good.
Until we get to the taquito con crema. Flaky pastry rolled flute-shaped with a custard center. (We love the strawberry-filled one too).
Now we are three-for-three and looking for more. So we try the brown cookie shaped like a pig. What’s this one called, we asked. Pig, our new friend at the counter says. So pig it is. Or actually, puerquito, a soft molasses cookie with a little ginger, cinnamon and anise.
Can’t turn back now. There’s the red, white and green galleta, tasting like the best sugar cookie imaginable. And a vanilla cookie with an egg wash and sesame seeds on top, plus a flaky, laminated, layered pastry that is a kind of cross between croissants, baklava and filo. Can’t picture it? Then you just have to go try one.
By now, we are feeling like amateur long distance runners realizing they won’t get to the finish line. Way too much in front of us. Not nearly enough stamina.
So, part two will be to go back for the breads. Later.
For now, there is one Gringo wondering what took so long to discover Panaderia La Jerezana.
The original residents of Rancho Del Paso, one of Sacramento’s historic Mexican land grants, surely knew their pan dulce. But I doubt they could get anything like the magical treats born from the experience of the man from Pueblo Magico.
Panaderia La Jerezana is at 2211 Del Paso Blvd, Sacramento CA 95815. 916-925-2622, No website I can find.