And the March award for imagination in dessert plating goes to…

Mendo Bistro!

I really need to stop eating my food before I can sneak a picture in, because this dessert was a spectacular number from several points of view. Called “Coffee and Cigarettes,” it was amazing. Tastewise, it was scrumptious. The aesthetic was splendid, and it certainly got a giggle out of me.

The Bistro, you see, understands that, much like sex, good food can also be very funny at the same time. Indeed, as I said to my waiter when he brought it out:

“Ew, how gross! This dessert is ridiculous!*”

So imagine this: a rich, creamy mocha creme brulee, with a delicate sugary crust, perilously rich. “Stubbed out” as it were, in the creme brulee, was a single meringue “cigarette”. Complete with little meringue ash crumbs around the impact site. Off to the side sat another two meringues, all ready for deployment.

But, as the staff point out, “what’s coffee and cigarettes without a doughnut!” And, indeed, there was a single beignet, rolled in crisp sugar, with a gooey chocolate filling. Now I must tell you that I adore anything marrying chocolate, sugar, fat, and deep fried, so of course I loved the beignet. But this was about more than this ideal pastry union. It was about the crisp outer shell juxtaposed with the gooey chocolate within. It was about the crunch of sugar on my teeth and the burst of heat from the core. It reminded me of when I was living in France and I would get chocolate filled croissants for breakfast in the morning. That adrenalin rush of sweet pastry and creamy chocolate had never been repeated until this dessert experience. Honestly, if an entire plate of beignets was an option on the dessert menu, I would order it. Ahem.

Now, I have a confession to make. I loathe meringues. I think they are one of the more peculiar dessert inventions, and, much like Hitler, something the world would be better off without**. There are few foods I won’t eat***: meringues are one of them. However, I was surprised by how excellently the meringue interplayed with the creme brulee. The faintly gooey crunch of the meringue melted into the creme brulee, reminding me of feuilletine, that elusive delicate crunchyness which sometimes makes it way into fine candies. I still won’t touch a meringue straight, but I can see that meringues, unlike Hitler, do have their merits. (My god, have you seen his art? He was a strange man.)

The pairing of elements in this dessert worked very well, both as a presentation piece, and as a flavour experience. It’s hard to beat a dessert that makes you laugh while being incredibly tasty, and including a beignet, I tell you what.

*All of these in a good way, you understand, a testimony to the realism, humour, and excellence of this dessert.

**I understand that at this point in history, meringues have killed far fewer people. However, there was a point in Hitler’s life when he hadn’t killed anyone either, and look where he ended up.

***This is a short list–it includes things like artificial mint flavouring (because it makes me vomit), badly cooked okra, salami, and squid in a non-kalimari form. (Honestly, why squid exists in a non-kalimari form is beyond me–deep fried tentacles drizzled with lemon juice is one of the best things ever. Even the name says it all–kalimari means “beautiful sea.” And, indeed, to see a plate of kalimari is to see a beautiful sea of deliciousness, tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside, awaiting your eager mouth.) Hell, I even eat durian, and it takes a stud to eat durian.