When I lived in North Hollywood in the mid-1970s, I chanced upon a bakery named Skandia's in a mall at Lankershim Boulevard and Camarillo Avenue. (It's now a golf equipment store.) There, I took a flier on an expensive (a dollar then!) wedge of yellow cake with a custard filling and green frosting. They called it princess cake.
Mama mia (I don't speak Swedish), it was tasty! I decided that this little bakery was a treasure. Every so often when I had a dollar to spare--and that wasn't often--I'd go to Skandia's and splurge.
Then, in the late '70s, it vanished, and there went my thrill, my shrine, my outpost of excellence. For 15 years I accepted the disappointment. Then in 1992 I sighted a place with a similar name, Skandia Bakery, in a shopping mall on Pass Avenue in Burbank. I slammed on the brakes and ran in expectantly, eyes scouring the shelves till they fell on--yes, princess cake slices.
I ordered one and sat down dizzily. The waitress couldn't imagine my excitement, but I was all atwitter when the plate arrived. Yes, the same thing--green marzipan coating over yellow cake with a yellow custard filling lined with raspberries.
It was nirvana.
So, confident that my shining star was back, I lazily began patronizing it again (from afar--I live in the 213--whoops, 323--area). I took people there and stopped by solo whenever chance took me past, even if I'd just eaten. (My waist size has followed my age. Do you wonder why?) Every birthday my wife knows where to go for my cake. There's no need to guess what's my favorite.
Now, catastrophe. Monday my friend Todd calls and asks, "Why did you buy your daughter's birthday cake from Mayfair this year?" I said, "Because I was too lazy to drive to Burbank."
"Oh," he said, "then it's not because you knew that Skandia's was closed."
I could barely stand it. All around me my favorite places close--C.C. Brown's, that gelato place on Melrose, Siam restaurant (Twice! First I lost it from east Hollywood Boulevard; now it's gone from Studio City). And a few years back, there was that big scare when my favorite doughnut shop on Franklin near the freeway closed. (It reopened, to my trembling gratitude. They made our wedding cake--a stack, like a tire pile in Akron, of chocolate glazed doughnuts.)
Now this. I have since learned that other places make princess cakes, but I was always loyal to my first love. And the others weren't as good.
But at least I have hope. If history repeats itself as it's supposed to, in 15 years I'll find Skandia again.