This past Friday during my visit to Print I got schooled in the “locavore” movement and farm-to-table restaurants. The first thing I learned was that when restaurants say they use “locally sourced ingredients” or claim they serve true “farm-to-table” food, talk is cheap–there’s actually a wide variation in how much food is sourced locally.Some restaurants only use local sources for a modest percentage of their menu. Print puts their money where their mouth is and employes a full-time Forager–that’s right, someone whose sole 9-5 is sourcing the best local foods in a given season in as nearby radius as possible. Print’s Forager is Johanna Kolodny and I was able to ask her a million questions about rhubarb season in the East (the breadth of her answers was impressive).
The second (and for this blog, the more important) thing I learned was that farm-to-table isn’t just for savory foods! A skilled pastry chef can really do some amazing things with fresh fruits, herbs and dairy products.
That brings me to the desserts of Geoff Koo, Print’s new executive Pastry Chef. His desserts are what I call part fine dining, part comfort. Take the example of the Tri-star strawberries, creme fraiche chantilly on shortcake served with tarragon granite. The moist shortcake and utterly perfect berries reminded me of a 4-star New England B & B I once stayed in. But the bright green tarragon granite and a creme fraiche chantilly with specks of real vanilla beans, shouted fine dining!
The granite, in addition to looking very cool on the plate, was one of the best components I’ve tried in any dessert this summer. It was super-refreshing–almost like peppermint on the tongue.
One of things I loved about Geoff’s desserts is his use of tart unadulterated components mixed with sweet components of a different texture–especially the desserts with fresh berries. The mixed berry crisp featured blackberries, red currants and blueberries and they were left in their natural and very tart state. This went perfectly with the “crisp” sugar top and citrus lemon verbena ice cream. The lemon verbena ice cream had a really nice flavor and would make for a nice dessert on its own.
Probably the most decadent (and fun) dessert was the Chocolate-coffee brownie, corn ice cream, black raspberry sorbet over popcorn with caramel–two additional unlisted ingredients–micro basil and fleur de sel, that brought the whole dish together and also showed off Mr. Koo’s three-Michelin-star fine dining background.
The first thing that will strike you about this dessert is how strong the coffee flavor of the brownie is. I don’t drink coffee but I loved this flavor. The second thing is the mixed-to-order black raspberry sorbet and corn ice cream. This reminded me a bit of a creamsicle. The corn ice cream and sorbet mix coupled with the caramel and fleur de sel was a perfect combination–but to make the flavor a little even a bit more complex, Koo adds some micro basil.
All four of the desserts I tried were excellent. The combination of relatively simple components with nuances of refinement here and there, really worked for me. The desserts weren’t explicitly sold as “healthy” but I left feeling immensely satisfied rather than heavy or full. They reminded me a bit of Rouge Tomate in that regard.
If you wait until fall to visit Print–there will be all new desserts–so if any of these look good to you I suggest you head over as asap.
I recommend taking a minute to view their dessert menu online because it has hyperlinks to every locally sourced ingredient they use (there are a lot of links!) The tarragon for example is sourced from Stokes Farm in NJ–although it might be coming from the roof of the restaurant very shortly–now that’s local.