Entering Best Donuts Deli in Clairemont this past Sunday, January 6, I was greeted by a display case full of Mexican pastries unlike the ones I’m more familiar with — their empanadas, muffins, cakes, and cookies.
I’m a regular at the bakery. The cravings for their selection of carbs are hard to resist. My wife is a big fan of their bolillo rolls, which are soft and fresh each day. Other customers swear by their coffee and deli items.
I was told by the cashier that the decorated round and flat cakes I didn’t recognize were Three Kings cakes and "rellena, filled with baby kisses.” The traditional baked good is made for the celebration of Día de Reyes — the Epiphany, as still observed by some Christian groups. The holiday, which commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men, falls on January 6 of each year.
The shop was full of buyers wanting to take home their own rellena de queso crema y nuez, or rosca de panque, or la tradicional, in four different sizes, the extra large in special boxes.
Sliced samples were set out on the counter and I told an American woman who tried one what I had just heard: “They’re filled with baby kisses.” She looked at me strangely.
José, a customer waiting for his lunch order, said his wife already had their rellena at home.
When I met shop owner and baker Luis García, he told me he’s owned the business for about six years and has been steadily making improvements. He is a native of Mexico City, where he says he “grew up on a bakery table. My grandfather was a baker, my mother was a baker, and I’m a baker.” He said everything in the store is made in traditional fashion from scratch each day.
“Our biggest problem is competition from supermarkets,” he said, adding, “but where they can reduce their prices, the quality is not as good.”