Archive for August, 2011

28
Aug
11

Ms. Pie gets married, sans pie

We had an amazing meal at 701 following Ms. Pie & Faux Grant’s wedding (huzzah!). It  was just one of many meals in a weekend orgy of food—as all weddings should be. The night before, we’d had Baked & Wired cupcakes at the hen/rooster party. A dozen leftovers went home with me, which means there isn’t much room for a lot of real food in the freezer right now. A good problem to have!

While there were no pie options on the 701 dessert menu, it wasn’t missed thanks to selections like the the “Piña Colada,” an upside-down pineapple cake swimming in coconut cream sauce (below), and the “Chocolate Dome,” a rich mousse accompanied by beet ice cream (above).

Beet ice cream, you say? How can that be good? Well, Ms. Pie’s sister is a die-hard beet hater, but even she declared, “I could eat beets if they were always served like this!”

On a previous visit I’d noticed that the 701 pastry chef sometimes puts an Asian twist on the desserts. The pineapple cake was no exception. I couldn’t put my finger on what that spice was. Cardamom? Anise? All I know is that it made this no ordinary pineapple upside-down cake.

 

15
Aug
11

Proof that Tout de Sweet’s almond croissant is the best thing ever

Photo by JDang

JDang bites into the much-hyped-by-me almond croissant from Tout de Sweet (a bakery in the older section of downtown Bethesda, near Tastee Diner). She chews. Her chewing gradually slows as her dopamine levels surge.

“This might be the best thing ever,” she declares reverently.

Me: “It IS the best thing ever. See why I feel like I should kowtow whenever I see that pastry chef? Those hands are magic.”

JDang: “I love Bethesda!”

Me: “What? That’s like saying, ‘I love Northern Virginia.’”

As JDang left DC, I snuck another one into her lunch for the bus ride.

On the phone, a week later:

Me: “So how was that day-old almond croissant?”

JDang: “Sooo good.”

Me: “Even soggy?”

JDang: “Yeah, even soggy.”

Ms. Cake: “Aren’t you glad I forced it on you?”

JDang: “Yeah, I THOUGHT I didn’t want it, because we’d binged on sugar all weekend. But I got on the bus and realized I was wrong.”

There you have it. Quod erat demonstrandum. Tout de Sweet makes the best almond croissant ever. Try it and beg to differ.

08
Aug
11

A waste of sugar?

To state the obvious, I have a sweet tooth whose daily demands must be met. Yet there are plenty of sweets that I can walk away from without a tinge of remorse. Here’s a rundown.

Fudge is the bastard child of chocolate
Ever made fudge? You add sugar, butter, and cream or milk to chocolate. Only in America would we find a way to make chocolate sweeter, fattier, and richer.
Another reason I’m not a fan: fudge with nuts. You know what that looks like. (Sorry, but at least I spared you the photo.)

Photo from musingfoodie.blogspot.com

Entenmann’s is delicious only if you’re 10
Actually, I’ve got a soft spot for their danishes, since as a kid, they were an exotic treat in a house dominated by Chinese food. But for nostalgia’s sake I tried a box of their “chocolate”-covered donuts a while back, which was like biting into cakey matter coated with candle wax. They’re so bad, I’d feel guilty about leaving them in the company kitchen.
Candy corn should have existential questions about why it was put on Earth
Pass out packets of these at Halloween if you want to see what dejection looks like. As a kid, when splitting your Halloween spoils into the “keeper” and “trade” piles, bet this was usually in the latter.
Hershey’s Chocolate Bar gives “American chocolate” a bad name
If you want quality chocolate, don’t eat this. Chocolate is #2 on the list of ingredients, after sugar. Hershey’s makes plenty of good stuff (Reese’s, Take 5, Peppermint Patties), but the classic chocolate bar isn’t one of them.
Black licorice, the Marmite of the candy world
A Danish friend who came to visit traveled with bags of black licorice, as if it was life-sustaining insulin that she couldn’t leave home without. Maybe, like Marmite, you develop a liking for it only if you were raised on it.

Photo from mochachocolatarita.blogspot.com

Obscure ethnic wildcard: mooncakes are proof that my people shouldn’t make desserts
Mooncakes are a seasonal tradition during the Mid-Autumn Festival, in a bunch of Asian countries. They’re basically a pastry shell wrapped around dense, sweet paste. Usually that paste is made of mung beans, but variations include fruit, sesame seeds, etc.
The thing that gets me is that to represent the full moon, there’s sometimes a salted egg yolk in the middle. Biting into one unexpectedly is slightly traumatic. This is why most Chinese people eat fruit after a meal, and why there’s a limited selection of desserts on a Chinese menu. Sweets aren’t our culinary strong suit.
02
Aug
11

Tout de Sweet and Sweet Lobby’s macarons go mano a mano

The basil-lemon from Tout de Sweet. Photographer & hand model extraordinaire: JDang

JDang bites into the Tout de Sweet basil-lemon macaron after our Sweet Lobby macaron bender. “OMG, Sweet Lobby doesn’t even compare.”

Ms. Cake: “Well, I wouldn’t kick Sweet Lobby’s macarons out of bed.”

JDang: “I would! I’d kick them out!”

Sweet Lobby's macarons. The passionfruit-chocolate flavor you need to try is the yellow one.

By way of explanation, JDang had arrived in DC on the HOTTEST G’DAMN DAY OF THE YEAR, yet that didn’t prevent her from schlepping down to Eastern Market to pick up some Sweet Lobby macarons (tagline: “The ultimate advocate for your sweet tooth”) for us to try. The best part is that she didn’t want them to melt, so she went straight back to the house to get them into the fridge ASAP. Now that kind of dedication, I admire.

While Sweet Lobby had some interesting flavors (Earl Grey, orange ginger, lavender), the quality was all over the map. Some were underbaked, resulting in a cookie-dough consistency; others were overbaked and crispy all the way through.* The exception being the passionfruit chocolate, which was awesomely delicious.

*Ideally the cookie part of a macaron should be crispy on the outside, chewy inside.

Tout de Sweet's macarons > Sweet Lobby's