It happens every month. When I see that red and white envelope in my mailbox, my heart begins to race, my blood pressure rises and my face turns red. Before even opening the envelope, I key in the customer service number — 888.294.6804 — one I have perforce committed to memory. After tearing into the envelope, I zero in on the total, then hit send.

And that’s how it goes. For about 30 minutes a month, I turn into a monster, screaming at the poor soul at the other end of the line, demanding “to speak with a manager!” It’s really sort of embarrassing, but I can’t help it — something is always wrong. And I don’t just dispute overage minutes either. I challenge when they inexplicably change my monthly text-message allowance; when they charge me doubly for in-calling; and when they lose checks — two now — and then ask me — twice now — to fax my bank statement proving the check’s clearance. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Every month I swear upon switching services the next available chance. Unfailingly, however, I get convinced to sign on for another year or two. I have now been an unhappy Verizon Wireless customer since 2002, and the end is nowhere in sight.

Anyway, lunch at Café Mimosa proved the perfect antidote to my near heart attack on Avenida Del Mar outside the library. I could barely see straight, let alone read, so I ordered the first sandwich I saw, a vegetarian panini. One bite into this pressed sandwich, spread with artichoke tapenade, filled with perfectly roasted — al dente — vegetables and melted with Asiago cheese, and I felt my nerves calm, the customer service man who suggested I switch to on-line bill pay, a distant memory.

I have now had several enjoyable experiences at Café Mimosa. Last Friday, I walked over and ordered a delectable bowl of lentil soup and a pot of Chamomile tea. As I made my way out the door, I eyed the baked goods in the glass case, spotting some particularly handsome croissants. When I asked if the pastries were made in-house, the bleach-blonde Brazilian waitress nodded. “Every morning,” she said, advising I “come at 8:00,” when, “they’re still warm.”

And that’s just what we did. On Saturday morning, in the freezing cold*, Ben and I walked over to Café Mimosa for croissants, coffee and two scrambled eggs. While the croissants were not warm, they tasted fresh, and made a wonderful treat on this frigid morning. I sense the birth of a Saturday breakfast tradition.

*The temperature had dropped to the low 60s, a nearly unbearable range for this newly adapted California couple.