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Five-twenty-five. That's when I turn up.

"We close at 5:30," says Kara...

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..."But no problem."

This is in this ancient li'l brick cottage that looks like Little Red Riding Hood's grandma's place in da woods.

This is the Brick and Bell (928 Silverado Street, La Jolla, 858-551-0928), little cafe I've never noticed before.

Brick patio outside is emptying. Guy's piling up the chairs.

"You sure?" I say to Kara.

"Oh sure," she says.

I mean all I want is a snack and a cawfee to keep me from falling asleep on the #30 bus and having to walk back miles when I finally wake up, right?

Also, I'm looking at rows and rows of scones. My Achilles heel. Always searching for the perfect scone. Lotta disappointments along the way.

But tonight I read this statement in the menu: "We sold 120,000 scones last year. Maybe you should try one!"

I mean 120,000 per year? That's 10,000 per month, 2,500 per week, 357 per day, according to the quick sums I'm doing in my head. This little place?

Now I've definitely got to try them. Their bakery shelves are mostly empty but they have rows of large scones...

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...and rows of small ones too.

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And here's the other thing: this is La Jolla, but they're not expensive. The large scones are $1.95, the small ones are 95 cents. A decent-sized cup of joe goes for $1.50.

"That's why we get so many customers," says Kara. "Peter the owner has worked really hard over ten years to keep prices down. Now we're starting a second place not far from here."

I decide on a couple of small scones. The mini-multigrain, and the maple and walnut. That's all of $1.90, plus the cawfee's $1.50, total $3.40.

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They really are closed now, so I take it all out to the last table standing in the courtyard. Bite into the multigrain. "Raspberry, coconut, poppy, sunflower seeds, flax, sesame," Kara told me was in here. "All the people from the gyms around us choose that one when they come after their sessions."

But what I like is they're crumbly without being doughy. Sweet without being sickly.

Swear I'm coming back. Partly because of the Red Riding Hood feeling of the place - Kara says the cottage is over 100 years old - and partly because hey, wouldn't this be the ideal li'l courtyard to write the Great American Novel in? "It was a stark and dorky knight..."

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Course I'd probably end up jes' sitting here counting...see if 357 people really do make the pilgrimage in for their daily scone.

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