Friday, March 6, 2009

I promised myself I wouldn't ...

But I lied. Somewhere in the midst of all of my cooking and food curiosities, I was laid off about two months ago. The lie comes in because I told myself that I wouldn't tell you.

Being vulnerable isn't one of my strong points, especially not to the void that is cyberspace. Dear friends can attest to many nights of pleading with me to go ahead and let myself cry, to not feel like I need to be the strong one ... blah, blah and more blah. And while I agree with all of them and let a lone tear (or two) trickle through my mascara, the official breakdown hasn't happened yet. I've buried myself in mountains of cookbooks and food magazines, lusting after what I want to cook next, always on the prowl for something tasty. And not too sad to say, Miss Giada --with her 100-watt smile, a figure that makes me jealous and delicious recipes -- has become a part of my daily dish.

All of this extra time has left me with an insatiable desire to explore local cuisine like never before -- and a chocolate jones like you wouldn't believe.

In an effort to quell my sugar craving for the day, I decided to stop by Jin Patisserie -- a little sweet shop in Venice Beach whose techno music gives you a club-like feel and feng shui design makes you want to say "namaste" before you indulge in cake. Promptly sitting down at a corner bench underneath a heat lamp (yes, I was wearing a wool peacoat and sitting under a heat lamp in 60 degree weather), I surveyed my surroundings with pleasure and pulled out Michael Ruhlman's "The Making of a Chef" -- a book where making stock is a fine art and dough is actually sexy.

After peeking at the menu and the displays inside, I decided on a little chocolate confection called "Desire" and a matching tea, appropriately termed "Carpe Diem." Ironic titles that I didn't really think about until later, as one person recently told me that now is an excellent time to reinvent myself. But back to the dessert.

Owner and creator Kristy Choo prides herself on combining taste with art, having trained at San Francisco's Culinary Academy. "Desire," made with French groittine cherries baked into a chocolate sponge, Majari chocolate mousse, and vanilla creme brulee was unassuming at first bite, with the chocolate mousse smooth and yielding. The top and bottom of the dessert, however, was a gentle and pleasant assault to my mouth as the dark chocolate had a slightly bitter flavor and the crunch of the sponge was an interesting contrast to the smoothness of the mousse. The tea was fruity and delicate -- and had no need for the brown sugar cubes that the server brought out to me.

It took every ounce of Audrey Hepburn in me not to lick my plate or my fingers -- not to mention that the woman next to me was giving me the evil eye. I reluctantly asked for the check, due to a beach-inspired wind that was mussing any hope of a normal hairdo.

But that didn't stop me from taking a "Desire" for the road.

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