From 1979 through the early 1980s, when my family lived in Los Angeles and when I was between the ages of ten and fourteen, one of my favorite treats was to go to the Brentwood Country Mart, which had a quaint, carefully arranged rustic charm, a rather folksy feel to it at the time. We would often go for lunch, which we ordered at the Reddi Chick counter, a fabulous rotisserie and barbecue chicken place that would prepare a basket for you with a side of fries piled high in a red and white patterned paper food tray. (Side note: Reddi Chick opened in 1979, the year we arrived in L.A., and it is apparently still operated by the original owners, Steve and Carol Salita.) We would take our food and find a table at the Mart's open-air patio—preferably a seat near the central fire pit, which was enclosed with a black (or smoke-blackened) mesh. The chicken was fabulous, but the best part about a trip to the Country Mart was the promise of what might come after lunch: a visit to the tiny, mom-and-pop chocolate shop, Compartes. Walking into the shop from the patio, you'd see an older woman—I think she may have been the shop's originator, Myrna Comparte—busy behind an L-shaped configuration of display cases. I remember her as often wearing a pink smock of sorts, though perhaps this is my own bit of confection. She reminded me a little, for reasons having more to do with a general "European grandmother" aura than with any physical feature, of my own yiayia. Or maybe it was just that she was a source of sweets; that alone seems to merit a grandmotherly association. In the stainless steel and glass display cases, meticulous pyramids and rows of hand-dipped chocolates beckoned. There were many chocolate-robed fruits (whole dried fruits, glacé slices, orange peel), plenty of dense caramels and nut clusters, but I always only wanted one thing: a log of English toffee. Compartes' English toffee was the freshest and best I have ever tasted. The coarsely ground nuts gave a toasted crunchy coating to the generous layer of rich, soft chocolate that in its turn surrounded the hard (yet somehow melt-in-your-mouth) buttery core of the candy. I would order a single piece, and it would be handed to me in a thin sheet of waxy paper. Something about that fact made it even more special; it was perhaps my first taste of candy that did not come pre-packaged, but that someone pulled lovingly from a case just for me. I would give anything to have a piece now. Of course, I had to do a quick Internet search to see if Compartes still exists. It does, but I don't recognize anything that conforms to the shop I knew when I was young. Like me, the shop is all grown up. It has moved from its old home in the Country Mart, and, looking at the shop's website, it's clear that it's become a very upscale boutique where the chocolate is displayed like fine artwork—and probably costs as much. Supposedly the new shop (with its new owner) has kept the old recipes, the famous fruits, the careful techniques of Myrna Comparte; but it must be said that the homey, comfortable feeling seems gone, and the product itself (though earning plenty of accolades), looks more to me like eye candy.