The moment the martini glass bottom discretely tapped the fridge, he knew he was nervous. “Of no particular reason, really” he thought to himself. Into the empty kitchen he lamented, “I mean, we have known each other quite a while.” The silence responded in agreement, as if the outside world has stopped. Even the revelry of spring has quieted, as most have left the city for a weekend at the beach. Through the open window of the third level kitchen, he sat at the sill and gazed on the street below. Cobble stones barely damp from the early evening spring showers, now casting a bluish glow. It is late. But her train does not come in till 23:45h. She said over the phone that she had something for him, and that she would be coming over and spend the weekend.
“Do you have a place to stay?” He held his breath for a moment, expecting an answer that would justify his skipping heartbeat right now.
“I do. I will see you in six hours, d’accord?” Alexandra was coming in from Luxembourg, and the train trip is the most scenic that John can remember, after having spent the holidays there with friends.
That phone call was hours ago. It now read 23:04h on the luminous red clock. Service ended an hour ago, and the porters are just doing the final tasks of cleaning up. John’s chef de partie, Madchan, a likeable fellow from Sri Lanka, left ten minutes ago in the arms of his wife, looking forward to a party his fellow countrymen were having at the local dive. That left the kitchen floor all to himself. And that reminded him of his present situation.
Should he, or shouldn’t he? John has been thinking about Alexandra a lot, especially lately. Something just seemed right the first time they were on the slopes together. Though she was with someone at the time, it felt different whenever she was with John. As far as he could tell, she was relaxed, a little more laid back. And he was falling for her. Maybe because she was always there. Maybe it was the sultry sound of her voice, the pitch between wakefulness and boredom. Probably because John can finish her sentences, despite struggling with the French language. That she could finish his.
But it was significantly more because of that one night. Not long ago. It was after dinner, and Alexandra took John’s hand and decided to go for a walk around Zurich. They took a right from the Mexican restaurant into Niederdorfstrasse, the night was cold. She wrapped her arm around his. He chuckled. Can this be real? This woman I am crazy about, is cuddling up to me right here. But this could be anything. John instinctively tightened his arm, and tried to keep her warm. She looked up at him and just smiled. Alexandra wanted him close, feel him close, just being there. They walked around the Old District, perusing quaint shops, talking about anything. A small marionette posed at a window corner, staring forlornly at the street and passersby. A couple having a tipple on the sidewalk, the beaujolais nouveau bottle just opened and being offered. John Alexandra took tow plastic cups of the young wine, then moved on. After two hours, Alexandra turned her head and looked at John. She felt she knew what she was thinking. So then, she led him to a small cafe. “Tired?”, asked John. “No,” she replied dreamily, “I heard that they make their Chocolate Mousse the classic way here. Heard it was good.”
As they sat down, their orders already taken, Alexandra took John’s hand and said “I like it here.” John looked around slowly, “I like it, too.”
“I mean,” she continued '”here, with you.” John looked back wondered what he can make of this. He knew she was still with somebody else, yet he could barely control his desired for this woman. He smiled back in agreement,though he felt it was not enough. He should tell this woman. Now. But the moment passed. And just enjoyed each others’ company. They sat there saying everything, and saying nothing, and it did not matter. Because it was enough that they were sharing one night, over a couple of the finest chocolate mousse this side of the French Alps.
Walking back to her apartment, they moved through the night in silence. It was not uncomfortable, but something was hanging over their heads, like something needs to be said between them. She stood there, two steps above him. John held her hands, and looked into those beautiful blue eyes. “I want you to be mine.” he whispered. The look Alexandra must have exhibited may have been of acknowledgement, as if she knew he was going to say that, for John was caught off guard despite the forwardness of his request, but more that she did not seem offended, or at least, surprised.
“I don’t want to hurt you” she said, but still held his hands purposely.
23:30h. Better make it to the banhof, he thought. After the locker room he went out in a light coat as it was still chilly spring evening. At the train station he saw her alight from the train. God, it was good to see her. They hugged just a moment longer, then slowly made their way back to the restaurant, now dark because everybody have left. She sat at the table by the window, the dim lights from the street illuminating chocolate mousse he prepared for her.
“You remember what Opportunity Cost meant during Economics class?” she said. How can he not. It was part of the finals exam. It meant the expense that would be realized in the pursuit of something beneficial. The cost of passing up the next best choice when making a decision. “Yes,” he replied apprehensively “I do. What about it?”
“Well,” she continued. “I want to be with you.” She looked into his eyes, with an earnest sincerity that he has not seen before. “I want you to be mine.”
He paused, not sure of where to go from here. But he knew the nervousness he experienced earlier, and let instinct take over. He reached over, and kissed her.
4 egg yolks
1/4C confectioners sugar
6oz semi sweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
3tbsp espresso coffee
8tbsp softened unsalted butter
4 egg whites
1/2C whipped heavy cream
- In a bowl beat egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. It should be thick enough to form a ribbon when whisk is lifted from bowl
- Beat in the cognac
- Set bowl over double boiler and continue beating until foamy and hot
- Then transfer bowl to ice bath and beat until cooled, attaining the thickness and consistency of mayonnaise
- In another bowl over double boiler, melt chocolate into coffee, stirring constantly
- Beat in butter when all chocolate has melted, until it makes a smooth cream
- Fold the chocolate into the sugar and egg yolk mixture
- In another bowl, beat egg whites to a point forming soft peaks
- Stir in half the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in gently the other half
- Spoon the mousse into martini glasses, and refrigerate for 4 hours, until firm
- Garnish with whipped cream with a star tipped pastry bag
- Grate some chocolate over
... and so the story continues...