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Archive for April, 2010

Marea Pistachio dessert

When I recently learned that Marea was starting a Sunday lunch (“not brunch”) service that included their famous fusilli with bone marrow and baby octopus pasta dish, I made sure I was there on opening day. Michael White was there too and visited every table and chatted with us about the food etc.

Despite the heavy pasta lunch, we ended up ordering 2 desserts, a pistachio cake and a carrot cake.

The Pistachio cake was an absolutely beautiful looking and tasting dessert.   One of the nicest looking plated desserts I have seen in a while.   It involved a layer of dark chocolate icing, dark chocolate ganache, pistachio cake,  sugar coated pistachios, pistachio ice cream and some kumquat marmalade.

The ultra-thin layer of dark chocolate on top of the cake was so uniform, and so perfect that you could almost see your reflection on the surface.  It was also dark and flavorful.  The pistachio cake itself was moist and blended nicely into the chocolate ganache layer. The candied pistachios added a nice crunch to go along with the velvety softness of the rest of the dessert.  The mild-tasting pistachio gelato was also very smooth.  I love that Marea includes 2 small triangles of cake with this dessert rather than just one -perfect for splitting.

Like the pistachio cake, the carrot cake was super-moist and very flavorful.  One unique thing about this dish was that it was served with golden beet ice cream.  I found the flavor subtle but nice.  I would never have been able to guess what it was if the waitress hadn’t told  us.

The rocking pastry chef for all of 3 of Michael White’s restaurants is Heather Bertinetti .  Who has quite a pedigree!

Recommended: Marea pistachio cake and carrot cake

Marea is located at 240 Central Park South

This is one good pie

Blondie and Browinie have some great  coverage of First Place Pies and their awesome “s’mores Pie” .   NYC Food Guy has a piece about Ledd Zeppole’s cookies and cream Italian ices.  If those offereings don’t sound enticing enough, Serious Eats New York recommneds Tres Leche Cake from La Lucha.

Enjoy!

What can I say DessertBuzz is a softball site. In 3 years I have never done a takedown-style review. I have never slammed an obnoxious server. Usually, if I really dislike a dessert, I just don’t write the review, which is a disservice to my readers. I really should adopt (read: steal) Zach’s Midtown Lunch system of the “the plus and minus” which, at the end of the review, summarizes what someone who would like the reviewed establishment would say (the +) and what someone who dislikes the establishment would say (the -).

In the case of DB Bistro Moderne I had a great 4-star main course, the wait staff was super pro and friendly but the dessert, while aesthetically pleasing, was just not that good. Dammit! Why didn’t I go with the chocolate moelleux?

First, a few words about the Coq Au Vin with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, bacon and spaetzle. This was about as close the perfect meal I have had in recent memory. Sadly no pictures. I am not going to go into why it was so good since this is DessertBuzz, but lets just say if you like Coq Au vin, get it here. I will say that my plate was so bare that when the waiter came for it that he joked “I will show this to the chef, the customer didn’t really like the dish, ha, ha” I told him that if it weren’t for the other patrons in the room, I would have licked the plate completely clean.

The dessert I stupidly chose over the Moelleux Au Chocolate was the Apple tart tatin with caramel apple mousse and mascarpone ice cream. The mousse and ice cream components were both excellent. The mousse had with a subtle apple flavor and very little sweetness and the mascarpone ice cream was also delicious. Plus, my companion liked the thin apple slices that the ice cream was served on. The main focus of this dessert, the apple tart, was where it fell apart. The apple tart had an uneven firmness. It wasn’t tender and I didn’t know if it was intended to be soft throughout or what. It seemed like it could have been served hot but it wasn’t. It was hard to cut and the cookie underneath shattered when I cut into the apple.

That’s what I get for breaking my own rules about ordering plated desserts. When in doubt, order the most involved chocolate dessert available, it’s usually the best since most people who order dessert gravitate to chocolate.

DB Bistro Moderne’s website is here.

Why do normally intelligent people lose all common sense when the word “Vegan” is uttered?

I have a friend. Ivy Leaguer, concerned about his health and diet, brings that little pocket-size fish chart with him wherever he goes to see which fish he can eat and which are overfished or farmed, all that kind of thing.

He would not eat a Whole Foods Vegan scone. He finally tried it after I insisted for year that he’d like it. After tasting it he said “This is really good, you can’t even tell its vegan!” Um. Yes, exactly!

I’m hoping it won’t take as long to get him to try Blossom’s vegan chocolate avocado terrain.

This ultra-rich, chocolate “terrain” is a much more grand achievement than the Whole Foods scone. In fact, it competes with any full-butter flourless chocolate cake I’ve eaten in New York. This has got to be one of the richest tasting 100% vegan desserts I have ever had. Although “avocado” is in the name, neither you nor any super taster friends of yours will be able to detect its presence. It’s used purely for its fat, which holds the chocolate together like no other butter or egg substitute, like apple sauce, ever has. You could serve this to 100 people and tell them it has 2 sticks of butter and 4 eggs and nobody would question you.

So get your vegan friends, your non-vegan friends and especially your scared of vegan friends and bring them to Blossom. You’ll blow their minds.

Blossom’s website is here. For a Google map of the uptown Blossom go here. For a map of Blossom in Chelsea go here.

This past Saturday afternoon seven bakers threw down at Willie McBrides Bar in Hoboken, NJ to benefit Autism Speaks.  I was very impressed with the overall quality and creativeness of the contestants.  Some of the other judges, who bake for a living even got some new ideas after eating the desserts from these plucky bakers.  Here are the results:

Congratulations are in order:

  • “Green”-est baker- “Color Jam” with their Raw Coconut Dream Drops
  • Best Presentation- The Measuring Cup – Vanilla Cupcake with Port Wine reduction and cinnamon butter cream.
  • Most Unique Ingredient- “Random Random Bake Shop” with their Bacon Chocolate Baklava
  • Sexiest Baker- “Muppet Force” Cassie and Alyssa with their Chocolate and organic coconut mini-cupcakes
    AND..finally
  • Best In Show: Congratulations to Jessica Engle’s and The Measuring Cup – who took top honors with their Vanilla Cupcake with Port Wine reduction and cinnamon butter cream.

The winning cupakes

Last week I had to go to Borders in the Time Warner center which was a perfect excuse to stop by Bouchon to see if they had anything new and interesting.

Honestly, I’m not sure if the chocolate brioche was new or not but the flour-less chocolate cake definitely was for this season at least since the woman behind the counter told me they just started baking these again and she wasn’t even sure of the assortment of fruit on top.

The chocolate brioche is surprisingly un-sweet and it’s not overloaded with chocolate bits either.  In fact, there aren’t many chocolate bits inside it at all which is a good thing.  The bread is chocolate flavored much in the manner of the famous Balthazar chocolate bread- not too chocolaty but enough so you know there’s chocolate in it.  The top is slightly crusty and perfectly baked.    You will enjoy this brioche if you think you would like a freshly baked challah bread with some cocoa thrown in along with some chocolate chips and a nice crusty top.

The Bouchon Bakery flourless chocolate cake was a whole order of magnitude more involved than the brioche.  There were quite a few things thrown on top: a dried and candied apricot, a piece of dried apple, a pruce,  some cranberries, a dollop of raspberry jam and a bit of milk chocolate ganache-like paste.   I liked having the fruit to break up eating all the chocolate cake.  The cake itself was not that dark and bitter like some flourless cakes can be.   This cake was definitely in the “sweet-like-a-brownie” category of flour-less chocolate cake.  In this case a very good, rich, chocolate brownie.  The cake was also very dense  as if the they took a cake twice as tall as this one and compressed it.    I would only tell people who really like their flourless chocolate cake bitter and super-dark to avoid this since it leaned a bit more to the sweet side.  However, I like super dark but all the fruit that you get to eat along with the cake made the dessert for me.

Recommended: Chocolate brioche and flourless chocolate cake with seasonal fruit on top

Bouchon in New York City is located on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.