The town of Wrightwood is known mainly as the home of Mountain High, the ski resort behind the SoCal adage that you can surf and ski on the same day. Wrightwood is only a little more than an hour's drive from downtown L.A., if the traffic's not bad, and while Mountain High isn't as thrilling a skiing experience as some of the slopes a few hours farther afield, it does make for a do-able day trip.
But there's another reason to visit Wrightwood. Cinnamon's Bakery & Sandwich Shoppe sits just off the town's main drag in an office building/strip mall. It serves coffee and baked goods, makes wedding cakes, and does a brisk business selling breakfast burritos to snowboarders. It also serves the best biscuits and gravy I've had in California.
Biscuits and gravy is a tricky dish, even in the South, where its ubiquity does not guarantee its quality. The biscuits must be fluffy but not too dry, while the gravy can easily get leaden and gray. It's one of those dishes born of poverty: flour and fat baked, with some more flour and fat poured on top. At its best, it can be pure comfort, but there are so many ways for it to go wrong. Bland, salty, too heavy, too tacky.
At Cinnamon's Bakery, the gravy is just the right thickness, and bursting with flavor. A strong prickle of black pepper backs up the fatty sausage flavor, and the sprinkle of bacon and scallions on top adds texture and contrast. The biscuits are buttery and flaky, and are served in correct proportion to the gravy (about a 1:1 ratio is appropriate, perhaps leaning toward the more-gravy side of things).
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It turns out the recipe is one of the very first things owner Kim Vodden learned how to cook. "I watched The Frugal Gourmet and followed his instructions with my dad's help," Vodden tells me, via email. "We've made it the same way ever since. When I bought the shop I knew it had to be on the menu, because it's the recipe that started me cooking."
It may be that there are no biscuits and gravy in the world worthy of an hour-and-a-half drive, but the ones at Cinnamon Bakery make a compelling case. At the very least, if you're ever in Wrightwood for some other reason (ski season is extended this year!), you should stop by and do some carb-loading for your strenuous day of winter sporting.