August 30, 2008
What is the difference between ordering a cafe au lait and ordering a coffee and adding your own half and half? I realize what the definitions are -- the former has steamed milk and, sometimes, a splash of foam -- but when the two drinks sat upon my table, they were the same color, had an identical texture and smelled the same. I decided to do a blind taste test, closing my eyes and sampling a teaspoon of each. Results: Same taste. Exquisite.
This evening, you see, I entered a sugary, caffeinated wonderland called Heaven Sent Desserts. Waiters carrying trays of chocolatey goodness past my table walked briskly enough to be efficient, but just slow enough so I could a good close-up of the other options.
I had been torn between a raspberry chocolate souffle and a gigantic malted chocolate trifle with caramelized bananas, and went for the banana option only because I wanted to save the raspberry one for a special occasion. Today, I needed me some comfort food.
When it arrived from the refrigerated viewing case, I took a few chilled spoonfuls, cutting vertically through whipped cream, malted chocolate mousse, marinated sponge cake and caramelized bananas. Once it warmed up, everything got gooeyer, softer, fluffier. And I knew. I could never leave this place, ever. I would just sleep in a booth, plug in my laptop and write my entire dissertation, here. Friends who came to visit and eat cake could bring me clothes, and I'd chomp my way through their entire menu until next spring. Breakfast: a cappuccino and croissant or madeleine. Bread pudding for lunch and a cookie for dessert. Dinner: anything from the main case, with a side of brownie.
Hey, I've been househunting, but maybe I need to think outside the box.
As the waiters rushed in and out of the kitchen, I became aware that this thing on my table, this object, this bliss delivery mechanism, came from somewhere. It was assembled on a counter by human hands. I could see some action behind a swinging door, and suddenly I wanted to know.
My waiter happened to be walking by just then.
"Hi again. Would it be possible to see your kitchen? I'm not a baker or anything. I'm just curious."
"Oh, I can't let you tonight, 'cause the owner isn't here. Sorry!"
Damn. Something makes me think they won't let me sleep here, either.