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A Guide to the Best of Southern California : FOOD : 49 Ways to Say Cheesecake

To Harriet Murphy-Parks, there’s really no secret to making great cheesecake. “Use the best ingredients,” she says simply. “That’s it.” Now, just apply that advice 49 deliciously different ways and you get Harriet’s Cheesecakes Unlimited, an emporium with more home-made varieties of cheesecake than those other guys have ice cream.

Walk in and choose from either the daily specials or the perennials, such as strawberry, praline, kahlua chocolate, French vanilla, apple ‘n’ spice, lemon and German chocolate. And, of course, there’s Harriet’s bestseller: a creamy mixture of sweet potatoes and spices in a graham cracker crust, garnished with sugared pecans.

The flavors, you’ll find, are baked into the cakes, not simply ladled on top. And, with 24 hours notice, Harriet will whip up not only whatever’s on the menu--say, mandarin orange, white chocolate raspberry, cranberry or pumpkin praline--but also any flavor you’d care to think up.

Harriet’s Cheesecakes Unlimited, 1515 Centinela, Inglewood; (213) 419-2259.

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