With happy accidents or moments of serendipity—that’s how I would like my days to unfold. A Saturday afternoon brought me such a day, nice shady skies and virtually no traffic, the weekend crowd surprisingly docile.
I stumbled into this new café at a downtown mall. The sign said Café de France, a very pretentious name—I expected twirly-backed wrought iron chairs, watered down coffee, and bad service. But I was pleasantly impressed. The place wasn’t a tiny hole in the wall joint; it was a coffee shop in earnest, and a restaurant on the side.
In neat rows on the pastry counter was an assortment of sweet temptations—shiny tarts, pretty little cakes, puff pastry, cheesecakes, chocolate confections, and a long-lost favorite of mine—lemon bars.
Best of all, it wasn’t self-service. You place your order at the counter and take a seat, and presently, your delectables will be brought to you. No more baristas yelling my name in public just so I can fetch my coffee like a dutiful customer. There were plump leather seats in booth tables to sink into, and the dark brown interiors were reminiscent of a book-lined study.
It was only after I took my first bite of lemon bar (heaven) that I noticed the Egon Schiele print poster on the wall. It was similar to those huge theatre posters; only this was framed in glass. Egon Schiele happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine. No, I don’t own any of his work, but hey, that doesn’t mean I can’t lust after them. Other art posters were also there, but I can’t say I remember much about them.
The one strange thing: the waiter gave me a steak knife and a fork with which to consume my lemon bar. Quite dangerous.
Ah, but everything else was sheer perfection. Some aromatic coffee, tangy lemon bars, and Egon Schiele on a quiet, lovely afternoon. These are times when I can really say I loooove my life.