Sweet secret . . .
Certified Executive Chef Lauren M. Hartigan follows the simple philosophy that "Life is unsure -- eat dessert first." That's easy enough for her to say, surrounded as she is by colossal chocolate-covered apples, raspberry-caramel-fudge brownies, and chocolate-toffee-drizzled popcorn, goodies that she and her crew create at Culinaire Pavane, a little gourmet treasure trove tucked into an out-of-the-way industrial park in Willoughby. While the business doesn't get much drive-by traffic -- a fact that prompts Johnson & Wales grad Hartigan to call it "Northeast Ohio's best-kept secret" -- Hartigan's creations have popped up in some exclusive circles around town: Culinaire Pavane produces the giant chocolate turtles for the loge dessert carts at Jacobs Field and Gund Arena, and the grand reopening of Severance Hall featured her miniature chocolate French horns, violins, and pianos.
Besides the artful, all-natural chocolates (did we mention the truffles, the twice-dipped strawberries, and the astonishing chocolate Aladdin's lamp, burnished with edible gold?), Hartigan creates customized gift baskets designed around chocolates and caters events both large and small -- including chocolate "tastings," complete with breads, wines, and cheeses. Culinaire Pavane (the name roughly translates as "the art of food design") is at 38342 Western Parkway, Unit 7; call 440-942-1180 for more information.