As I surrender my tongue to Canelé’s pillowy French toast, letting it dissolve into my mouth like cotton candy, I know I’m doomed. The sugar rushes to my head, my veins surge with bolts of energy, and my eyes expand to wide circles.
I’ve awakened the beast.
I force myself to put my fork down lest I attempt to eat more of Laurie from G-Ma’s Bakery’s brunch, and knead my napkin to keep my hands occupied. It’s no matter. Even if I don’t take another bite of the epic French toast, I will need to find another form of sugar to consume in the near to immediate future.
“I think I’m going to go to Sweets for the Soul…” I tell my dining companions after we’ve paid our bill and departed the restaurant.
None of them want anything – we’ve all just consumed a sizable brunch (with bacon) – but they still agree to walk one block down Glendale Blvd. to the pea-sized bakery with me.
Even though the independently owned Sweets for the Soul is known for their brownies that Los Angeles Magazine named the best in the city in their “Best of LA” August 2010 issue, I quickly zero in on a different item in the bakery case. My eyes dart over the Obama brownie with dark and white chocolate chips ($4), the caramel brownie bliss with toasted pecans and caramel ($3.50), and hotter shot brownie with cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger ($2.75) without much pause. Everything looks amazing, but my soul (and the beast) wants something else – the billionaire’s bliss cookie bar ($.2.75).
I order the confection – a neat square of shortbread topped with Madagascar chocolate, caramel and fleur de sel – without hesitation, my heart already pulsating with giddy anticipation. For a second I contemplate eating it when I get home with a cup of rooibos tea, but as soon as I step out onto the sidewalk to rejoin my friends, I know I can’t wait that long. While they look on in half-horror and half-amusement, I plop down at one of the two circular patio tables outside the bakery, and begin to inhale the bar.
It’s more delicate than the salted caramel bars I’ve enjoyed at both Huckleberry Cafe and Bite Bar & Bakery. The caramel is less pronounced and less overtly sweet on the palate, but the entire package is charming. It tastes hand-crafted, and the ingredients are undoubtedly of high quality. I almost feel guilty eating it so manically. My teeth are working so quickly that they shatter the thin shell of bittersweet chocolate, crush the tender shortbread into crumbs that spew onto the table, and annihilate the generous salted topping.
When it’s gone, I sheepishly look up at my friends who seem bewildered by what just transpired.
“I had to have it.” I say as way of explanation.
They nod, I collect my things, and then we walk back down the street as though they didn’t just witness the awakening and subsequent quieting of my inner sugar beast. It’s like any other day in the Atwater Village neighborhood. And it’s like any other day in the life of “Diana Takes a Bite.”
Sweets for the Soul
3169 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(In Atwater Village)