I have never been a cloyingly sweet or fatty girl when it comes to desserts. My favorite treats tend to be laden with sophisticated bitter chocolates in ganache type applications or very subtle flourless chocolate cakes and simple white cream cakes. Too much sugar, too much candied crystallization or the thick, syrupy, dense butter fluffed or overly fruited world of pies and custards tend to leave me with stomach aches rather than tongue orgasms. To me, butter doesn’t belong lost in a thick shortbread type hard and crunchy dough or a boring base crust but rather sopped and saturated into a stack of phyllo that oozes when bit into like in the case of baklava.
When it comes to cakes, there are certain types that drive me crazy with desire. They are typically made by hand by some old-fashioned grandmother and frosted thick with basic butter cream over a light lemon, Dutch cocoa or authentic vanilla base. Or, they are nouveau versions with a texture perfect for soaking in ice cream or milk with genuine whipped cream frostings that are light as air and milky flavored.
A few months ago at a fancy dinner in a Benedict Canyon home resided over by a famous chef, I was served the most delectable piece of cake for dessert after a fatty foie gras and red meat meal. It was the most pristine and beautiful white cake that crumbled at the touch, curled up into chewy coarse crumbs in the mouth that soaked up the wine beautifully and was covered in the lightest pure whipped cream frosting studded with moist and ripe blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
It was love at first bite and I learned the cake came from the famous Burbank bakery Portos. So this past weekend the Cute Gardener drove us there to experience the heavenly emporium of bread and sweet stuffs in person. The place was so packed to the gills and smelled so good and even though you had to stand in line behind the throngs of people before getting up to the deli counter to pick your passion, it all went relatively fast and the smell was enough to keep you waiting. The deli cases were so packed that it was kind of overwhelming and hard to choose what you wanted.
When it came time for me, I blurted out and pointed to a mini pina colada mousse cake with a beautiful violet flower on top, a guava and cheese strudel Danish and a Florentine cookie. The CG ordered a fluffy roulade of chocolate and vanilla cake with raspberry filling and a starchy and rich Napoleon slab topped with caramel. We also bought a loaf of Cuban bread to go with dinner and a small egg pretzel twist.
Over two nights our lovely loot was enjoyed alongside a tasting of three different kinds of rum.
The weirdest part was the price. All of this bounty for only $12.50?!?! It's as if Portos is still charging the same prices as when they opened in 1960! If there were one of these in my neighborhoods it would be a HUGELY dangerous thing. I am definitely coming back any chance I can with a long list of things in my head still to try. Oh, and I discovered that my all time favorite cake has a name: it’s called the Milk and Berry Cake and it's on Portos’ roster of classics, in case any of my lovely readers would ever wish to order me one and surprise me for any old reason whatsoever. It’s definitely what I will be eating for my birthday, and any other occasion when a cake is needed to come!