Monday, March 26, 2007

C&C: Euro Caffe

[i must disclaim, not only is there no picture for this one, but also i'm writing it from memory, from a day over 6 months ago. but still, it really was the quintessential cappuccino and croissant experience, and must be documented.]

I've passed by Euro Caffe a million times, but never gave it much thought. I don't spend too much time in Beverly Hills, and besides, the name sounded kind of uninspired to me. Then came my niece's birthday party. Driving down Little Santa Monica on a Sunday morning last July, I saw a crowd of guys in Italian soccer jerseys congregated outside one of the shops. I'd been following the World Cup, not because I'm a huge sports fan, but for reasons best demonstrated by this adorable Adidas commercial. Charmed by the internationalness of it all, and taken by all things Italian, as I am, it was a very exciting sight indeed. I made a point to go back to this place soon.

I made it over there on a weekend morning a while later, and I was not disappointed. The moment I walked into the nook of a cafe, the magic began. Sitting on the ledge of the bar, in the shadow of a giant copper espresso machine, a tray of croissants was cooling. They were perfectly browned and not too big. No crescent curve in these, but each had a sprinkle of coarse sugar baked into its crust. I breathed in the warm buttery scent, and stepped inside.

The tiny place was furnished in sharp Italian stylings, with the walls plastered with soccer paraphernalia. A flat-screen television buzzed some soccer game in the background. Behind the counter, someone was throwing oranges into a juicer. And one of the few small tables inside, a couple regulars were chatting with each other and the proprietor. They were older men -- one wore a hat -- and while not all of them were Italian, all had ties to the country, as their conversation revealed.

As I sat down and tasted my croissant, swooning over that taste, that caramelly taste of burnt butter, a couple walked in. It was actually someone I knew -- a distant relative, Iranian, but grew up in Italy -- and his fiancee. Both of them dashing and perfectly appointed (popped collar, designer shades, the whole nine), they greeted the crew warmly and sat down to what was clearly their regular Sunday breakfast.

I quietly eavesdropped on the little gathering (not that it was difficult -- they pretty much took over the place) and savored a perfect cappuccino. Served in a warmed cup, the coffee was rich and almost chocolaty, without being too bitter. I scooped up a bit of dense foam with the crust from my croissant, and watched the convivial scene unfold in front of me. For an Italophile wannabe like myself, Euro Caffe, unassuming in the middle of Beverly Hills, was perfetto.

Euro Caffe is at 9533 Santa Monica Blvd. That's Little Santa Monica, between Camden and Rodeo in Beverly Hills (and yes, as its location implies, it's a bit spendy. But so, so lovely).

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