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At first, you try to be rational. (There are new gelato places cropping up all over town. I can find gelato a lot closer to home.)
Then, some healthy skepticism kicks in. (What's all the fuss? How can it really be that good?)
Pretty soon, you admit that you're curious. (Man, my friends won't shut up about Arlecchino. I think I need to try it.)
You educate yourself. (Wow. Arlecchino's owner trained with a gelato master in Italy, and he makes every pan of gelato from scratch...) Next, you do some soul-searching. (Chocolate, pistachio, or strawberry?
Finally, you take a leap of faith, and dig in. Within a bite or two, the potent flavors and dense, creamy texture overwhelm your taste buds. You've never tasted gelato this good anywhere, ever. It's so delicious, it's almost hard to explain the sensation. Like fireworks, or ecstasy, or... (Heaven!)
A friend we trust to the ends of the earth (as far as food and fashion are concerned, at least) told us about this place, which serves the closest thing to Pinkberry yogurt this side of Santa Monica. What? You haven't heard of Pinkberry? Where have you been, darling? Apparently, frozen yogurt that sweet, allegedly low/no-fat staple of the '80s is alive and well and thriving in L.A., in the form of a chain that takes a Korean brand of frozen yogurt and tops it with piles of fresh fruit.
When our friend told us Seven Sisters was selling a competing Korean brand (Red Mango), we got in the car and drove for-ever to get us some. And let us tell you, it's worth it, sister. This is not your high school pal's yogurt. It's tangy and sweet, with the flavor of really good plain yogurt. (They were out of the green tea variety the day we visited.) And it's so thick we'd swear it was full-fat, but the lady behind the counter swears: "fat-free."
Seven Sisters also sells a variety of hand-dipped chocolates, including some yummy-looking chocolate-dipped Rice Krispies treats, but we weren't even tempted. Just give us a vat of that yogurt, and we'll die happy.
Thankfully, Sweet Pea recently introduced a lunch menu, including healthy, seasonal salads (no matter what they're fixing, the owners make it fresh and natural) so we won't feel so guilty about that flourless chocolate cake for dessert. One s'mores tart and we promise, we're heading back to the gym.
Ah, but we digress. This is all about the rugelach, the mondel bread, the doughy hamantaschen with thick, sweet poppyseed filling. Karsh's has it all, along with challah and bagels. The place is even kosher blessed-by-a-rabbi-kosher so you can indulge without Jewish guilt. The day we were there, we didn't notice chocolate babka, but oy vey, we're in Phoenix. You can't have everything.
Now, we love the look of fondant, and there are some local cake purveyors who do it so well, they put M.S. to shame. But have you ever tried to bite into a hunk of the stuff? Gross. It tastes like grout. (Well, we imagine it does. We've never actually tasted construction supplies.)
Give us Cathy's cake any time. The frosting is whipped and sweet, and you don't have to get a shot of rum in the cake although we highly recommend it. (The amaretto version's not bad, either, and you teetotalers can get it alcohol-free.) Festooned with shimmery ribbons, we'd put Cathy's cakes up against Martha's any old day. Just let us eat cake!