Egon Schiele and Lemon Bars

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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.


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