I silently cursed myself as I eased out of my parking spot on Barrington Avenue in Brentwood. "Stupid, Diana, stupid!"
I hadn't meant for it to happen. I was supposed to be saving money, and had even turned down an invitation to join some friends at Barbrix for dinner the night before. A dinner that they all claimed was one of the best they'd had in recent memory.
But I was being responsible! A spendthrift! An upstanding citizen! A friend to my wallet and diminishing checking account!
Or something like that.
Yet, here I was, a day later, high-tailing it back to my office with $14 worth of chocolate from the uber-posh Compartes Chocolatier in Brentwood. If Jay Leno had been there to witness my reckless behavior, he would surely have asked me, "What were you thinking?"
The whole thing started out innocently enough. I needed a new dessert item to write about for SugarBomber, Citysearch's supremely awesome site for sweet finds across the country, and I'd been curious to try Compartes after reading their tweets about strawberry basil truffles and such on Twitter. Since the primo chocolatier was within striking distance of the place that pays my rent and some of my food bills, it seemed only logical that I make a quick jaunt out there over my lunch break two Thursdays ago. It was clearly a fated excursion.
At the time, I only planned to get a couple pieces. But as soon as I walked through the glass door of the minimalist shop, all my previous inclinations toward fiscal responsibility were compromised.
The rows of perfectly coiffed artisanal truffles, the chocolate dipped oreos, the pecan turtles --it was too much for a chocosessed girl with a spending problem to handle! I was defenseless before the counter's bounty, and even more perplexed when I began reviewing all my chocolate options.
The shop's pleasant chocolatier leapt to my rescue, and after informing me that the minimum truffle order is five pieces (the number that fits into their smallest box), she began walking me through their flavors.
"The honey peanut butter sea salt chocolate truffle and Mexican hot chocolate are very popular."
I nodded, my eyes glazing over at the mention of peanut butter. She tucked one of each into a narrow brown compartmentalized box.
I spotted a fleur de sel caramel in the middle of the second row.
"Can I have one of those too?" I asked, my voice trimmed with childlike excitement.
She smiled and nestled it into the box besides the Mexican hot chocolate.
With only two spaces left to fill, things started to get tricky. My head began spinning, my front teeth fixated themselves on my lower lip, and I started to feel the neurotic apprehension that attacks my nervous system whenever forced to make a difficult food-related decision.
Sensing my struggle, the kind chocolatier intervened with a life preserver.
"Do you like marzipan?"
I thought back to the glorious marzipan gelato I'd had at Pazzo Gelato a couple months ago and nodded. "Yes! Yes, I think I do like marzipan!"
She smiled and added a European Marzipan.
We discussed a few more flavors, including the Hazelnut Gianduja, Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Rosemary, and with each truffle that she presented to me, the creases in my forehead grew deeper. I didn't know what I wanted!
"Smoked salt?" She asked in a voice that sounded a lot like an angel's.
My lips turned north, the creases on my forehead left in a hurry and the light in the room suddenly seemed impossibly bright.
"Yes!" I exclaimed! "I love smoked salt!"
"I just made some smoked salt truffles." She responded, scurrying to the back to fetch one for me.
While she wrapped up my collection of five truffles, the evil chocolate fairy in my head reminded me that there were also pecan turtles on the premises. Before I knew what my mouth was doing, I requested one to go. Finally satisfied, I moved toward the register to pay for my hard-earned selections.
"That'll be $14."
One swipe of my credit card later, the angel's voice no longer seemed angelic. Despite the panic attack going on inside my head, I smiled gratefully at her, said my "thank you's" and made for the door before I could make any further financial indiscretions.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" I muttered the entire 3.3 miles back to my office. (With a brief interlude to call a driver who caught me off a choice four-letter word.)
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" I muttered, as I walked across the parking lot to my building.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" I muttered, during the entire length of my photo session with the pricey chocolates (approximately 30 seconds due to extreme chocolate hunger).
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" I muttered, when I extracted the honey sea salt peanut butter from the box.
And then all went black as my mouth was engulfed by the intense flavors of the chocolate. It wasn't stupid at all. It was glorious! It was the best truffle I'd ever eaten! A declaration that I made two days later when I sampled the smoked salt truffle, as well. While the marzipan and Mexican hot chocolate were not quite as sensational on my palate, each truffle I sampled was a clear and distinct representation of its flavor. I wasn't just satisfying my sweet tooth with these works of chocolate art -- I was having an experience. One that I would be happy to have again (once my bank account forgives me).
Pricey, yes. Indulgent, yes. But, stupid? Not in the least.
912 S Barrington Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90049