Trend: Savory Sweets

October 9 2008, 1:12 PM

Rarely will you find me passing up dessert, and so I recently read Gourmet.com's "Vegetables for Dessert" article with interest. Michael Laiskonis, executive pastry chef of New York City's legendary Le Bernardin, writes about using savory ingredients--from squash and celery to eggplant and fennel--in his sweets. In February, I had the great fortune of dining at Le Bernardin, and my meal ended with one of the items Laiskonis references: the soft chocolate ganache and sweet corn in three textures: crunchy corn and hazelnut base, corn sorbet, and corn tuile. The pairing was astounding--decadent and light, sweet and earthy all at once. Back in Denver, I wanted to see if the trend had trickled down, and indeed it has--sort of. While Vesta Dipping Grill chef Matt Selby says he's had a hard time selling vegetable-focused desserts ("You either have to give it away, or not tell the guest the full description...at which point, what is the point?"), other restaurants have seen some success. At Parallel 17, chef-owner Mary Nguyen, says her sweet potato beignets are one of the restaurant's more popular desserts; and down the street at Il Posto, chef-owner Andrea Frizzi rattles off several sweet-savory combinations--carrot panna cotta, Prosecco strawberries with celery leaves, eggplant biscotti with cucumber zabaglione, and Colorado heirloom tomato panna cotta with candied basil--that have worked at the eatery. Lastly, Troy Guard, whose restaurant, TAG, will open in early 2009, says he's successfully sold his kabocha squash pound cake here--and in New York.

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