Friday, February 24, 2012

Decadent Dinner Hunting in Beverly Hills

What better place to shop for an impromptu romantic and decadent, no cooking required meal than the center of high-end luxury and world class shopping that is Beverly Hills, California? Recently, the Cute Gardener and I were looking to amass a vibrant feast of cheese, sweets, wine and meat for an in home dinner on a Saturday night where we could pretend we were living the high life while catching up on three week’s worth of recorded episodes of 30 Rock.

Our first stop was the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills; a small country store-reminiscent boutique overflowing with varieties of cheese and wooden shelves bursting with condiments, olives, charcuterie, wines and all the accoutrements for an orgasmic feast of fromage. The friendly staff was ever-willing to hand over generous samples, peeled, sliced or scooped from whatever cheeses we were looking to purchase, which in this case included a stinky, ashen blue, a triple cream and a hard goat’s milk that would crumble well. We were given a spot on tasting of the three varieties desired and ended up buying a portion each of a rich, a buttery and a sweet.

Sated from this tasting that delivered perfect results on the first try per our desires, we were confident enough to ask the gentleman helping us to throw together a nice mix of olives from the brine scented barrels that lined the back wall.  We also bought a safe Beaujolais Nouveau that was on the counter and eight divine paper – thin slices of Jamon Iberico: the most expensive damn ham on the planet from free range pigs that roam the oak forests between Spain and Portugal eating only acorns which has a significant effect on the flavor. 

On our way out, a homeless guy on the side of the building was snapping at us in a half tourettes and half concierge of Beverly Hills routine, checking out our shopping bags and giving us the green light that we had shopped in the correct place.

Next stop was Whole Foods for some grapes and pears and then a walk to MadameChocolat, the Cute Gardener’s preferred candy shop. He snapped up a few liquor filled bon bons and some extra dark chocolates while I perused the shelves of perfectly painted candies for a dark and bitter ganache. A Madame Chocolat female employee commandeered the counter with a stiff black river of hair and a dash of Max Factor worthy cinematic red/orange lipstick and a smirk that made me think she had a whip concealed behind her back. Her employees behind her were silent and robotic, as they made chocolate in an assembly line fashion. And the chocolates were all perfect little squares with decorations stamped on top in pretty colors reminiscent of rich-people patterns and lace stencil designs. The whole thing reminded me of Catholic School.

I much preferred the next place we stopped, semi-across the street, called “LetteMacaroons. A tiny store with nothing but a long counter full of perfect little macaroons in every variety you can possibly imagine. There were the trendy flavors like salted caramel, which were all but gone, and then the more normal varieties such as vanilla and lemon. I chose a rose flavored one because I love the taste of the smell of rose and a pistachio one as it is a favorite and then went out of the box for an Earl Grey tea one. The Earl Grey Tea one knocked my socks off and is now on my lips perpetually craved. The Cute Gardener doesn’t understand macaroons, he thinks they are for girls and don’t make any sense as cookies.

Our last stop was at Teuscher’s Chocolates & CafĂ© where they serve hot cocoa made on the spot tinged with a hint of cinammon. Shared between us while I picked out a last morsel of truffle chocolate and a hunk of dark chocolate covered marzipan, it warmed the belly for the walk back to the car under the waning sun. The tourettes homeless guy snapped at us again to give his approval of our bags from Teuscher’s.

The feast to come was just as much fun as the hunt had been. An entire presentation on the living room table kicked off the mixing and matching of foods, until an hour later with the bottle depleted, the two eaters (meaning us) became strangely more horizontal on the couch, groans of being full escaping the lips between the commercial breaks.   

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