The parable of the creme brûlée 

On Tuesday night JB and I were craving a sweet ending to our day. Dinner had been provided by the hotel with a BBQ on the terrace, which gave us a “meal” we could purchase. We attempted to call ahead to order cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory but after ten minutes on hold JB gave up. So I looked at the online menus of a few restaurants around us.

Cafe Trio was just across the street. It seemed like an upscale kind of restaurant. They had a listing of five or six different dessert options and they all sounded wonderful from the descriptions. I thought perhaps we might share something and left it up to JB to decide what exactly we were going to snack on. JB said he had never had creme brûlée. I haven’t had it in a very long time. He said couldn’t decide what to get from the three choices we had discussed, so he got one of each! Inside the sack he brought back to our hotel room was was two takeout boxes and three covered bowls. JB was puzzled. He had ordered three desserts yet there were five containers.

If a restaurant were going to make me a dessert snob, the sack JB brought to the hotel room Tuesday night had the capacity. How I wish I had photographed them! The chef who put these desserts together made a winning attempt to make the most of presentation in to-go boxes. They were beautiful. Two of the choices had accompanying frozen components and these had been boxed separately, which preserved the integrity of the desserts in the trip from the restaurant to our hotel room.

We got:

  • Marscapone cheesecake – a patty pan size disc of creamy cheesecake laid on a generous bed of buttery rich graham crumb and garnished with tablespoon of finely minced tart Granny Smith brown sugar apples. This was so visually appealing, even in a lowly takeout box! There was a scoop of tangy apple cider sorbet, dished separately, to go with it.
  • A perfect slice of moist pumpkin cake, surrounded by crunchy candied walnuts, with a scoop of creamy creme fraich gelato boxed separately. Quite possibly the best gelato I have ever had, with flecks of spice. It was our favorite part of the entire dessert smorgasbord.
  • And finally, the spiced creme brûlée. The takeout bowl had a luscious serving of the rich, pale yellow custard completely covered with a brittle spiced layer of hard caramel. In places the caramel was a darker, lacy crunch, in other places a bit thicker amber. Can I just say, yum?

Glorious, absolutely glorious. We passed the boxes back and forth between ourselves, nibbling and sharing the beautifully boxed desserts and tasting the individual components separately as well as in decadent bites of flavor and texture combined. The serving sizes weren’t excessively large but they were appropriate. Five stars!

Tuesday’s desserts were so lovely that on Thursday night we decided to go for round two.  It was about 7 pm and peak dinner time. JB was gone for more than 30 minutes.  He didn’t tell the staff he was in a hurry and he said the restaurant was busy.  He said he had to wait for quite a while but it was no bother.

Our experience of Tuesday night was in marked contrast to what was presented to us on Thursday. All of the elements that made the desserts so enjoyable the first time were missing in the second. The mascarpone cheesecake had barely any graham crumb and the minced apple? A scant teaspoon dumped in the corner of the box. The smidgen of pumpkin cake was a miniature wedge, perhaps half the size of previous, with half a dozen soggy candied walnuts, all plopped together in a melting puddle of gelato.  No separate boxes this time!   And the creme brûlée was a sorry excuse for dessert, with custard slopped down the sides of the to-go box like a spoonful of leftover mush.  It was actually upside down, or sideways, or both. It seemed most of the custard must have been left on the serving spoon at the restaurant, so little actually even made it into the box, with only fragments of caramel melting underneath.

The entire presentation of each dessert was reminiscent of going down a chow hall line. Slop in a box. I was disappointed.
I don’t know how to make this into a parable about Jesus, but I would like to. One thing I do know, I don’t want my offering to God to look like that second box of creme brûlée.

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