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Entries in Upper West Side (3)

Wednesday
Oct262011

A Trio of Desserts at Dovetail

You know the saying, "Eat dessert first." The word "first" implies that you might need something (for example regular dinner) after because your dessert entree was not sufficient. Or not satisfying.

If this is the case, you have obviously been eating dessert first at the wrong establishments. Allow me to help you out with that.

I'm the type of eater that goes to a restaurant and immediately flips to the dessert menu. I want to see if I should plan my main meal around dessert.

Factors to consider include:

1. How hungry am I – if dessert looks really good, should I get an appetizer as well?

2. Who am I eating with? Are my co-diners likely to order dessert? Will I be able to steal some of theirs? Will they want to steal some of mine? (Back off, moochers!)

3. How much of the menu do I want to try — is it a new place, or somewhere I have been before?

4. How many of the desserts do I want to sample? Often more than one look appealing and if I can't count on anyone else to help me out with them, I must adjust my "real" dinner accordingly.

As you can see, there are many factors in play. Sometimes the desserts look so good you must give up on real dinner altogether and just go all in. For dessert.

Dovetail is just the restaurant for this kind of thing.

The above dessert is the Cinnamon Toast Panna Cotta. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert translated as "cooked cream". It usually has a jello/pudding-like consistency with a creaminess that can't be beat.

In this case, the cream was accented by concord grapes, the teeniest cinnamon toast triangles, a smear of rich berry preserves and some fun foam. I really liked the foam. I'm not sure it tasted like anything, but it was cool. The rest of the dessert was fantastic - the cream was perfectly balanced by the intense flavor from the grapes, while the tiny toasts added a bit of crunch and spice.

Next up was the Frozen Pumpkin Pie. This was a deconstructed pie, as the various components of the "pie" were arranged linearly along a swash of cranberry reduction. It was a sight to behold, but not for long once my fork got a grip on its chocolatey accents (both from cracker pieces and moist, dark chunks of cake). The pumpkin scoop seemed like a combination of pie filling and ice cream as it had a heartier consistency than regular ice cream. Solid, pumpkiny and perfectly spiced. Cranberries and little marshmallow puffs accented the dish to give a blast of tang and sweetness.

The above was actually a little dessert "appetizer". I love it when I get dessert appetizers. Unexpected, pretty little treats. They make me feel special. Every girl wants to feel special, you know?

This little guy accomplished that with a dollop of celery sorbet atop cute cubes of yellow vanilla cake. I was a little obsessed with the celery sorbet. The celery flavor was so refreshing. Savory, but sweet at the same time, perhaps helped in that regard by the cake. Tiny, perfect, special.

There was also a Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflé that I could not photograph, as it left the table by way of fork-to-mouth so rapidly, a camera snap couldn't keep up.

A personal-sized ramekin of bittersweet chocolate was pierced gently with a knife by our server. Into this crevice was poured a fine caramel sauce of perfectly balanced sweetness. One small globe of chai ice cream was positioned on the perimeter, ripe for the dipping.

As you can see, there was no need for real dinner. This dessert dinner was more than enough. We left satisfied, happy, and very, very full. Of dessert.

Overall Dessert Eating Experience: The Dark Knight

Tuesday
Oct182011

Pumpkin Scones from Alice's Tea Cup

I've been trying to explore the Upper West Side as I've just moved in and I need to find things. Mostly things to eat. Luckily, my new neighborhood is very helpful in this regard, and it seems that I can just roll out the door and stumble onto something delicious. For this I am very grateful.

As we're talking pumpkin this week, I thought I would mention the Pumpkin Scones at Alice's Tea Cup. Alice's Tea Cup is a teeny tiny bakery with a counter in the front and a seating area in the back. I've never actually sat down to eat there, I could never get past the counter with the GIANT SCONES in the glass case.

Scones as big as my head! Or as big as Alice after she magically enlarges and causes serious damage to that cute little cottage, bringing property values down everywhere in Wonderland.

As large as these scones are, they are also huge in flavor. Particularly the pumpkin variety. The rich pumpkin flavor, gives the scones both a beautiful amber hue and a moist texture. No dry scones here!

They are topped with a caramel drizzle that is both sweet and slightly salted – a wonderful (pun intended) pair for its bready base.

As an added bonus, you have the option of taking your scone to go with a little vial of cream and jam. REAL cream, not just butter. Please accept this option, if only for the cream, as it has a bland richness that completes a trio of fantastic flavor combinations.

This is the kind of scone you can share (mostly because of its size), although you may not want to. In fact, I would recommend you didn't. It might get rowdy. And no one wants to lose a head. Or a scone.

Alice's Tea Cup
102 W 73rd St
(between Amsterdam Ave & Columbus Ave) 
New YorkNY 10023
Neighborhood: Upper West Side 

Thursday
Jun162011

Spanning the City for Frozen Desserts – Semifreddo from Salumeria Rosi

All this week, we've been talking about cream. Frozen cream, that is, in various forms. Gelato, ice cream and now semifreddo.

"Semifreddo" literally means "half cold" in Italian. It has a much softer texture than ice cream or gelato, perhaps because it is mixed with equal parts whipped cream. So it's lighter and fluffier. Like an ice cream mousse (sans antlers).

The above pictured semifreddo is of particular note. All you downtowners now have a reason to go to the Upper West Side: Salumeria Rosi. Go for brunch, stay for the semifreddo, and don't forget to buy some lardo before departing.

This semifreddo was a Parmigiano Reggiano Parfait, garnished with prosciutto brittle (yeah, you heard me right: prosciutto. brittle.) and tiny chunks of melon. The tangy frozen cream was offset by crispy, salty chunks of cured meat and an ever-so-slight-sweetness from the melon. Truly different. And categorically and undeniably outstanding.

If the above isn't convincing enough to have you cruising around the UWS looking for half cold desserts, consider the following:

Equal halves sunny and shady outdoor seating!

The Porchetta Calabrese sandwich! With provolone piccante, pickles and and Calabrese pepper sauce, I really shouldn't need to beg you to order this "sangwich" but I'm going to. PLEASE DO IT....

And finally, what other chef/owner has this certification? Posted in the bathroom, no less:

I was convinced. By the semifreddo, by the porchetta, a few "Tuscan Marys," and this official restroom certification. You will be too.

Overall Dining Experience: The Shawshank Redemption (The Happy Ending)

Salumeria Rosi
283 Amsterdam Ave
NY, NY
(212) 877-4800