Just Desserts: If you want to begin the year on a sweet note, I recommend a visit to Global Village Pastries and Java.
It's a small sandwich-and-pastry shop that operates out of a nondescript Bell Road strip-mall storefront. (There's also a branch in Carefree.)
Though the setting is low-powered (at the counter you can play with an Etch A Sketch or a hand-held poker machine furnished for your amusement), the pastry-chef proprietor isn't. He spent years working at some of the Valley's toniest kitchens before deciding to strike out on his own.
I'm not sure his heart is in the sandwiches, which don't rise much beyond the competition's. Neither the chicken breast slathered with pesto nor the turkey, bacon and cheese model got me spinning cartwheels.
But the desserts sure did. In fact, they're fabulous. I like everything about them: the prime ingredients; the rich textures; the fresh tastes; the deep flavors; the cheap prices. These sweets are worth a trip. (Many of them, I understand, are wholesaled to other Valley restaurants.)
Look out for something called a chocolate cream tartlet. It's made with luscious, rich cream filling on a chocolate-cake base, surrounded by slabs of intense dark chocolate swirled with white chocolate. If you plan on rewarding yourself with a zillion-calorie treat, this one merits serious consideration.
So does just about everything I sank my teeth into. The cherry chocolate cake is extremely rich, with great mouth feel. The chocolate mint cake comes across marginally lighter, but it's no less hard-hitting. Another chocolate creation, a tiramisu tart, is also right on target, opulent chocolate cream spooned into pastry crust, sprinkled with cocoa and topped with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a coffee bean.
The pastry chef's talents don't end with chocolate. He whips up a terrific Key lime pie--and this baby will make you pucker. It's supported by an exceptional graham-cracker crust and studded with sliced almonds. Lemon bars also are first-rate, perked up by an irresistible sweet/tart zing. Raspberry coffee cake is just as mesmerizing, incredibly moist and not too sweet.
And the biscotti here may be the best in town. I grabbed some chocolate-hazelnut specimens just a few minutes after they'd come out of the oven. These beauties shouldn't be sold without a license.
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The only item that didn't make me pant with delight was the blueberry cheesecake. It's undeniably cheesy, but not as anvil-heavy as I prefer.
Global Village's dessert selections change daily, so you may want to call and find out when your favorites are appearing. And until the proprietor has a change of heart, you'll have to appear before 7 p.m. to have a crack at them.
So come here early and stock up on sweets, then hit the video store for a movie. It makes for a cheap, and tasty, evening.
Global Village is at 5555 East Bell. Call 404-0420.--Howard Seftel
Suggestions? Write me at New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,