Little has changed at Compartes since Myrna Comparte first opened half a century ago. The staff still works in a minuscule kitchen at the back of the store, and every item is still made by hand. Cream and fresh butter for the truffles and the bonbon centers are mixed on the same old iron stove, and Comparte's bodacious stuffed fruits, which require meticulous handwork, are prepared the way they always have been. There is one nod to the present, however: The delicacies are now available online.
Compartes sun-drenched flavors and voluptuous creations are revelatory. Though unsweetened, they rival the most outrageous truffles or the gooiest chocolate-pecan turtles. A fleshy Calmyrna fig is split open to envelop a tree-ripened prune that has been topped with a walnut and then closed with a fig wedge. A huge date is stuffed with apricot halves.
Early on, these luxurious treats, packed in redwood boxes, caught the fancy of Frank Sinatra, who sent them to friends around the world year after year. When Comparte's changed ownership last year, long-time devotees held their breath. They need'nt worry...
With the help of longtime Compartes confectioners, Grahm is learning to dip chocolates, assemble fruit, and even master the formulas from his most treasured possession, Mrs. Comparte's battered recipe box, which he inherited with the business.