One of my favorite reasons for having a birthday every year is a good excuse (not that I need one) to try new restaurants and bakeries for celebrating with friends. My two dear friends and dessert buddies, Rebecca and Mary-Elizabeth, helped me welcome in another year at Valen Dolce, a lovely new patisserie on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. We had seen this place transforming from a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to a beautifully decorated bakery for some months, so we were very excited that it was open by the first week of January.
We tried three different desserts, and they were each delicious in their own special way. Howard the owner, explained to us that valen dolce actually means healthy sweets. Hmmm, could this be true? We had two decadent chocolate masterpieces and another with passion fruit, which totally stood up to the others in terms of deliciousness. The exact ingredients escape my memory now, but Howard did give us a rundown of some things the cakes were made with that place them in the “healthy” category. Ok, if you say so.
The whole experience was lovely from start to finish. Candie, behind the counter, had all kinds of suggestions for us and patiently answered our questions while offering us samples at the same time. The beautifully decorated patisserie is sort of like a French bakery with Asian influences. The desserts are lovely little pieces of art, and the prices are actually reasonable for how much labor goes into these sweets. This isn’t your average cake and cookie bakery, though I did notice little pre-wrapped packages of breads and cookies which deserve a good look next time.
I’ll also be trying the Mystery Dessert, which didn’t make the cut on our first visit. There were so many pretty pieces to choose from. But with mascarpone, chocolate and creme brulee…it’s been calling my name since I walked out the door.