Thursday, March 17, 2005

Justa Bite, but such a tasty bite

There is something about desserts lately that seem to capture my imagination. I have stock photos for two savory posts, but I have no motivation to fix up the pictures for presentation. I just want to stare at yummy sweet treats... At the risk of boring those who only appreciate savory debauchery, here is yet ANOTHER dessert post...

I love serendipity and finding treasures when you are least looking for them. My discovery of the eclair treats at Justa Bite was exactly one of those moments when luck meets chance for a wonderful end result. My 'spider senses' for good food was tickled immensely when we drove past Justa Bite on our way to get XOX truffles. After we came out over-powered by the hot chocolate at XOX, I still insisted that we check out Justa Bite - just to look - because my spider senses told me not to walk past this one. And sure enough, when we got close enough for me to read the chalkboard sign infront of the store, I knew we were in for a treat and that this visit wasn't going to be a 'just to look' visit... The sign proudly read "Bite-size eclairs"...

I love cream puffs and eclairs, but I can't eat those over-sized eclairs with enough filling to leave me that custard taste in my mouth for the next month. Yes, yes, for a proponent of epicurean debauchery, I'm often a big wuss - but it's not a bad thing to want to enjoy indulgences in small quantities!! Treats in small quantities can be the ultimate test of The Chef's inspiration, ambition, gusto, and creativity. The Chef has to pack a lot into a small space to satisfy the guests. One who tackles bite-size eclairs is a brave soul. If an eclair has to satisfy with one bite, it has to pack the perfect balance of buttery skin to creamy innards, gentle firmness to silky smoothness. I smiled with glee like the little girl I am at heart when I saw the showcase full of bite-size eclairs and other luscious treats all lined up, looking their best in their petite frames.

I regretted how I had consumed so much sugar already, because even when faced with this gorgeous array of petite choices, I only had enough desire left for three eclairs. I really, really, really wanted to try the Japanese cheesecake, which was distinctly labeled as being Japanese. But to try it then would have been a disservice to The Chef - I would not have been able to properly enjoy her efforts. Instead, I pondered over the intriguing selection of eclairs. There were whipped cream, custard, green tea, mango, and another flavor I can't quite recall that was unique. I would have tried them all if I could. I really would have - they sounded that interesting. But since I was limited by my own capacity, I chose three - green tea, custard, and whipped cream.

I bit into the first eclair - it was filled with just the right amount of whipped cream to fill my mouth with gentle sweetness. It was airy and light, pure and tender. The sweetness would have perfectly matched a glass of milk. The chocolate on top added a faint smell of cocoa that made me gitty inside. The eclair was a two bite treat, just enough to leave an impression on my mind before I devoured it. The second eclair - which, incidentally, was the same as the third eclair, but was so yummy, I didn't bother to raise the issue that I didn't get my green tea eclair - was custard-filled and a little more grown-up. Maybe it's because I learned to enjoy custard later in life, but this one tasted a little more sassy. The custard was smooth, silky, and creamy with the right balance of sweetness to match a well-brewed cup of coffee. Again, I devoured each of these in two bites. And I was satisfied. The three bite-size eclairs satisfied me despite their small stature. They were exactly my kind of treat - delicate, compact, with well-balanced sweetness and buttery skin.

In my first round of encounter with these eclairs, I was so mesmerized by them as a package to properly taste the outer layer. But I know that the skin carried the cream well, or else I would have noticed friction. Each component gave its best to support the whole, therefore resulting in the petite treat that packed a punch.

Yes, I should have tried the more adventurous flavors. And, in retrospect, I would have. But my mind was clogged by chocolate already, and I couldn't quite get myself to consume something that might be potently sweet. Now, knowing the delicacy of the custard and whipped cream eclairs, I'm not afraid to try the other flavors. I'd even consider making the drive to Justa Bite as the destination next time...

Sorry, I'm terrible about including addresses!

Justa Bite
725 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA


Anonymous said...

what's the address please?

Anonymous said...

That looks like a fantastic bakery! Anything matcha flavored is okay with me. Thanks for discovering it!

cedichou said...

yeah, I went there too last week-end. I replied to your chowhound post. Maybe I subconciously remembered your mention of it, or maybe it is just part of the foodie tour of north beach. But when I left XOX, I had to cross the street and get some eclairs.