It sure doesn't look like much from the street, but some of the great desserts in St. Louis are produced behind covered plate-glass windows about a half-block north of Delmar Boulevard on Skinker.
The location -- 622 N. Skinker Blvd., to be exact, extending to two adjoining spaces -- houses Truffes, the primarily wholesale bakery and confectionery run by cookbook (The New Pastry Cook, William Morrow & Co., 1986) author Helen Fletcher. The sweet secret is that Truffes does sell retail to the general public, as long as you order in advance.
That knowledge resulted in a box of freshly handmade chocolate truffles -- hard dark out, soft dark in -- for my wife on Valentine's Day. When last seen, she was curled up in a corner, smiling like a Cheshire cat and even purring gently. But my trip to Truffes also netted the knowledge that Fletcher is about to open a true retail outlet at 407 S. Jackson Ave. in U. City, where she will peddle both her sweets (which also include cakes, tarts, pies, tortes, petits fours and more) and a selection of takeout meals.
The new location -- a couple of doors down from La Piazza, the newly opened restaurant that took over the old Off the Eaten Path/Black Tie Gourmet space on the corner -- is expected to open in June. "I've always said that I'd have to do something like this before I can die happy," says the ever-animated Fletcher. In the meantime, Truffes' specialties are available for browsing at www.truffesfinefoods.com or the clever alias www.gooeychocolate.com.