The Sweet Life

These life is tinted with a dream-like quality. It's as if my long-held fantasies have, serendipitously, shifted into reality. Truth be told, it's still bewildering sometimes...and I often feel the need to take a giant stride back...and pinch myself!

This week was a perfect example:

My good friend Crescent Dragonwagon was in town. Before you snicker at her name too long (one she donned during her "hippy-dippy days"), this dynamic woman has published over 40 books, hosted President Bill Clinton's inaugural brunch, ran an award-winning B&B, and was the founder of a well-known writer's colony. All accolades aside, I adore her warm and generous spirit.

Our first day out, Crescent and I tooled around Seattle. We managed to squeeze in a visit to the farmer's market....meandering from stand to stand, nibbling on foraged sea beans and indulging in fat slices of Nubian goat cheese.

Afterwards, we strolled over to Bakery Nouveau and paid my friend William Leaman a visit. In case you don't know William, he was captain of the 2006 World Champion Baking Team. Coming off the heels of his win, in December, he opened Bakery Nouveau. Tucked away in West Seattle, this tiny gem evokes the soul of Paris.

A side note for a swoon: I'm crazy about William's twice-baked almond croissants. Crisp, buttery shards of croissant dough wrap around a heart of almond paste...

No wonder Bakery Nouveau has taken off like a rocket! A feast for the senses...the shelves are brimming with an array of artisan breads, candies, and pastries. Often the line snakes out the door, but this trip, timing was on our side. After quick introductions, Crescent and I sat to enjoy a drink and contemplate our pastry choice.

Before long, William paid us a visit...and eliminated the need for a decision. One dessert after another arrived at our table...tempting us with a parade of treats. Even after he sat down, the desserts continued to arrive! Hot out of the oven, the oozing strawberry-rhubarb tart was divine! (Sorry, no photo. It was devoured before I gave my camera another thought...)

Here's a look at the first round of desserts:

Two of these desserts helped William's team snag the baking championship.

See that pistachio macaroon--the garnish on the left? William makes amazing macaroons. What's his secret? Most chefs use a buttercream filling, William uses delicate candy fillings. Mmmm.....

And then there's this beauty with a cocoa pod candy, festooned over a caramel glazed cake.

Blame it on the sugar-high hangover...if I recall correctly, we had a few of these too!

William sent us off with an assortment of chocolate candies....wrapped in his signature box, secured with a simple snow white ribbon. He called this heavenly parcel..."a little something for your journey." (Okay, that's a 15 minute trip over the West Seattle bridge, but who am I to argue???)

Ah, and just when I think it can't get any better...Saturday night I went to a party at my friend John's. He threw a wonderful fĂȘte...celebrating the 3rd year anniversary of his business, Kwanchai Design. John specializes in interior design and event staging. Have you ever thrown a party and wished your place looked picture perfect like a magazine? It's possible. Those in the know.... call John.

Saturday night, John transformed his industrial space in South Lake Union with oversized paper lanterns and parasols hanging from the lofted ceilings. Thai-inspired dishes were kept warm over heated slabs of granite alongside a profusion of flowers. Drinks flowed well into the wee hours...

Networker that I am, I invited a few friends to come along. Thrown into the mix were the owners of Starry Nights Catering (who helped cook the Tony Bourdain dinner) and cake-baker-extraordinaire, Dan Mikosz.

Years ago, Dan and I met briefly at one of his baking classes. He barely remembered me, but his humble charm and incredibly light cakes stuck in my mind. Recently, a friend asked who had the best cakes in town...I told her, without a shadow of a doubt, if I needed a special occasion cake...Dan's the man.

One thing led to another, and now, Dan's beautiful cakes are going to be featured in Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom--a new magazine set to launch in July!

Get this: As a thank you, Dan whipped up a cake--affectionately called "The Dublin"--and had it delivered to my office! Can you believe it?! Nothing like being the new kid on the block...and dazzling my co-workers with cake!

Saturday night, Dan proved his incredible generosity once again. For John's anniversary party, he arrived with yet ANOTHER cake. This one was stunning chocolate cake soaked with a bit of Grand Marnier, and layerd with a luscious bittersweet chocolate moose.

Um, yeah.

Blissful sighs... followed positively indecent moaning...

All this...and the sweetest surprise was yet to come.

An e-mail landed in my box. I asked innocently, "When are you coming next?"

The Waffle Man replied, "What are you doing on Sunday?"

S-U-N-D-A-Y! Really??

He was on the east coast for business...and detoured to Seattle. That was no easy feat. The plane had trouble and ultimately, what is often a 5 hour trek...turned into a 16 hour ordeal. But finally, he was here.

Sunday, we met.

It was raining.

I leaned in...and under the protective cover of his umbrella, found my space, again.

Yes, my is very sweet!