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In the Mood / Summer Fruit

June 12, 1997

Throughout the Southland, our most imaginative pastry chefs are pitting cherries, peeling peaches and firing up their sorbet makers. Summer fruits take many fanciful and delicious guises.

* Restaurant Devon: Jeffrey Johnson's astonishing rotating dessert menu may include a strawberry pizza (fresh organic Seascape strawberries heaped on a sweet crust with Cognac vanilla pastry cream and a Beaujolais wine sauce); a chocolate black-berry "duchy" with ladyfingers and a ruby Port reduction; and a red currant and apricot charlotte (apricot mousse layered with a red currant compote). (Desserts, $6.) 109 E. Lemon Ave., Monrovia, (818) 305-0013.

* Boxer: Dessert alchemist Angela Hunter is dishing up a peach crisp with blueberry syrup and lavender ice cream and a plum soup with freshly made blackberry sorbet. (Desserts, $6.) 7615 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 932-6178.

* Campanile: 'Tis the season to eat Kim Sklar's and Nancy Silverton's warm brioche with sauteed nectarines, apricots, plums and peaches. The daily changing dessert menu may also offer a sundae with sauteed strawberries and strawberry vanilla ice cream, the new "broken" napoleon with fresh apricot and boysenberry purees and a dreamy rustic cherry galette. (Desserts, $7 to $7.50.) 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 938-1447.

* Dickenson West: Dessert chef Alexandra Poer serves a fresh bing cherry compote with her dark chocolate torte and also a brown butter bing cherry tart. Figs are caramelized and served with crushed blackberries. Don't miss her individual nectarine dumplings in their ginger caramel sauce or her strawberries in a balsamic reduction with a gratin of vanilla custard. If you're really, really lucky, however, she might grill you some grapes. (Desserts, $8.) 181 E. Glenarm St., Pasadena, (818) 799-5252.

* JiRaffe: Here, the chefs improvise with ingredients found at the open-air farmers market. Look for their apricot tarte tartin with apricot coulis and chamomile sorbet or their cherry soup spiked with port, cinnamon and mint and served with lemon verbena ice cream. There's also peach soup and/or a roasted peach with red currant sorbet. (Desserts, $6.) 502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 917-6671.

* Europane: Sumi Chang's inspired pastries include individual rustic cherry pies; an excellent peach crisp; a breakfast pastry made with almond paste, peaches and apricots; strawberry-orange muffins; and peach- or strawberry-ginger upside- down cake. Any day now the pear spice cake will give way to peach spice cake. (Pastries, $1.35 to $4.) 950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (818) 577-1828.

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