I do a lot of lusting.
No, not that kind of lust. Remember my deadly sin? My kind of lust…has more to do with gluttony than any kinky desires…and if you get your head out of the gutter for a minute, I can explain it to you:
A while ago, a food blogger I really admire did a dutch oven giveaway. Now, the only reason I’ll ever need a dutch oven is to make Julia Child’s beef bourguignon.
But this dutch oven. The color. It wasn’t just blue. It was Caribbean blue. Pale blue as a Robin’s egg. It was gorgeous.
I caught my breath. I had to have it. I had a glint in my eye as eager and leery as Gollum’s when he looked at Frodo. I’m pretty sure I even purred, “My…prrrrecioussssss…”
I entered the giveaway, suddenly charged with an overwhelming confidence that goddamnit, I was gonna win this thing. I might even have offered up a sweet prayer to God: “Dear heavenly Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done that I shall receive this beautiful Caribbean dutch oven…”
I didn’t win.
I was crushed. Guess it wasn’t God’s will after all.
“Now don’t you sulk at me,” I could practically imagine God wagging His holy finger at me. “It was never my will to give you everything you lust after.”
Funny thing, isn’t it? Lust. It comes within a swoop second. That’s the thing about lust. It doesn’t come preconceived. You don’t sit idly about and solemnly tell yourself, “Now, I think it’s time to start lusting…”
No. That desire darts into your heart before you know it. And instantaneously, you suddenly have that uncontrollable urge to want. And most of the time, it’s just something that isn’t appropriate for you to have.
Now, some people think that the Christian God is austere and stingy. They may think that He wants His people to live plainly—no frills, no luxury, no indulgence.
I disagree. I think our God is the richest, most abundant, and most generous being. I mean, He created this whole world with such richness and magnificence. Why else would He create the world so beautifully if not for us humans to enjoy?
Likewise, I know God wants us to live richly. To never feel poor or deprived, but to enjoy freely. The problem is…most of us aren’t poor nor deprived. We just feel that way. Or even when we genuinely need something, we don’t trust that God will provide.
I remember this summer before I came back to college for a new semester, I was worrying a lot about what the heck I’m gonna do about groceries. I don’t have a car, and I live considerably farther from the supermarkets than I did the previous year.
“This is why I need a car!!” I exclaimed to my parents.
“Stop worrying,” my parents cooed back, exasperatingly calm. “God will provide.”
“GARRRGH!” I screamed in frustration. “God can’t provide if you won’t do what He asks and give me a freaking car!”
My pleas fell on deaf ears, and I flew to California, carless. And whadda-hey? God did provide. Somehow, He arranged wonderful people to give me the rides that I need. I got to go to Costco. I got to go to Trader Joes. And look what I got!
A granny cart! To lug back 10-lb sacks of potatoes, 3-lb cream cheese buckets, 5-lb watermelons, and 12-pack sodas on discount! And I even found the last good one with the wheels that swivel:
All the others were stiff as a…well, a granny with arthritis.
God is wonderful, ain’t He? He always provides…and He even gave me a bonus gift!
See, God knows how much I crave good bread, especially since I don’t live next door to Great Harvest anymore. Well, He led me to not just one, but two awesome bakeries, right within the vicinity of USC.
The first one is actually just a 15 minute walk away from my home. It’s not exactly a bakery…which is what makes it so freaking cool.
It’s called the Bicycle Bread Company, and it’s run by two USC alumni brothers, who bakes bread every Thursday with whole grains that they grind themselves. Hello? Doesn’t that sound exactly like Great Harvest?
The difference, however, is that the Bicycle Bread Company don’t really have a store. It’s like set up like a lemonade stand.
The Bicycle Bread team comes every Thursday, lays their bread loaves out on a table, passes out thick slices of samples, and takes cash only. They usually just sell four kinds of bread: Cinnamon Raisin, Oregano-Basil, Rosemary, and Honey Wheat. Sometimes they have seasonal breads, like Chocolate Pumpkin. Here’s the jar of whole wheat berries they use for their bread:
Unfortunately, I lost my way on the way there, and by the time I arrived, they had already sold out on all their 125 loaves of bread except for one single Cinnamon Raisin loaf…and they sold them all within 2 hours! Whoa! Thankfully, the Cinnamon Raisin loaf was what I wanted anyway, so it was perfect.
For just $4, I got a big fat loaf of chewy, yet delightfully soft fragrant bread.
The taste? It was awesome. So good, I could eat it plain. I ate half of it by itself, and then ate the rest spread with cream cheese and marmalade.
You would think that after this discovery, my search for good bread is over. Wrong. I did find good bread, but God led me to another great discovery:
Hygge Bakery, the first fully authentic Danish bakery in America. Located in downtown, just a 10 minute metro bus ride away from my campus. Awesomeness.
As soon as I found out about this place, I dragged Mimi together with me to sample some fresh Danish pastries.
Now, confession time: I HATE pastries. Or at least, I thought I did. Now I realize that I’ve never even had real pastries before. The “pastries” I had were heavy and fluffy, cloyingly rich, and sickeningly sweet.
You know those cream cheese Danish your local coffee store sells? Yeah. As Danish as Taco Bell is Mexican. Apparently, true Danish pastries never put cream cheese onto their baked goods. Just like true Japanese would recoil in horror at Philadelphia rolls.
I’ll just let the visuals speak out to you, and shut up now for a moment…
Needless to say, Mimi and I were stuck. We already had lunch, so we couldn’t exactly stuff ourselves with all the selections offered. Also, we’re poor college students, and the prices are quite steep because Danish pastries are laborious to make.
We asked the girl at the counter for recommendations, and she very kindly described every pastry in detail for us:
Love the girl. She said that the Slice, Kringle bar, and the Spandeur were the most popular. Then she added that she could give us a sample of anything we liked, so we pounced and asked for the Slice:
The Slice is a hunk of puff pastry dough filled with rich custard and topped with thin silver icing and chocolate.
It sounds rich, but is surprisingly light on the palate and stomach. It doesn’t choke down your throat, but basically unravels in your mouth into layers and layers of buttery silk.
Since we’ve already tried the puff pastry (free!) and the Spandeur is basically about the same except in a round shape, we asked for the Kringle, which is a knot of a rich dough that is denser than the one used in the Slice, like brioche.
Except the Kringle we ordered was the Water Kringle, which, in the words of our helpful counter girl, was “almost like a Cinnamon Bun except mostly gooey center than dough.”
Um, holy eff. What’s not to like about this bar? It’s all my favorite components of a cinnamon bun twisted into a heavenly, oogly goobly knot.
Again, ethereally light. It almost kind of dissolves in your tongue, releasing a burst of cinnamony sweetness that is well-balanced by the spice. I also loved that they went light on the icing. I always thought the icing they slathered on Cinnabons was disgusting.
We also got a Sarah Bernhardt:
This exquisite dome was chosen by Mimi. I would never have chosen this myself, but girl loves her chocolate, and I’m actually glad she chose this, because it is the chocolatey bomb:
A bombshell of rich dark ganache, encasing a dynamite of smooth, velvety chocolate mousse, barely planted on top of a dangerously fragile buttery shortbread crust that shatters in your mouth. Fan-tastic.
You didn’t think I came here just for the sweets, did you? I’ve got to have my savory bite, too. I picked up a loaf of black olive ciabatta:
Loved the chewy, spongy consistency, and the saltiness from the flecks of black olives in there. I also got a long stick of French baguette:
I’m only showing the top because my camera lens would not let me shoot the whole length of it. I took one bite…
And I could hear the Hallelujah chorus in the background. The search is over. I found it. I found my freaking good artisan baguette.
That grainy smile does not convey the extent of my joy. Do you know how long I’ve been searching for a good baguette in my area? Not the fluffy wimpy kind sold in my local grocery stores. But a satisfyingly decent one—one with a nice crispy crust, and firm chewy insides.
Oh wait. I do need one more thing. My coffeemaker broke down. It now happily chows down my precious 2 years past expiry Starbucks brand coffee and spits out grayish ditch water. As a girl who needs her daily cup of coffee to keep her from turning into a complete troll, a coffeemaker is critical for the peace of humankind.
And see, once again, God is gracious to my poor neighbors who will have to bear my bitchiness. CSN Stores just happen to offer me a promotion code to order from one of their 200+ stores, so I’ll be doing a review on one of their coffeemakers soon.
The timing couldn’t be better.
Question of the Day: What are you lusting over lately? And what is your favorite bakery?