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The Simpler Pleasures

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And Finally, for Dessert


Dessert Club, ChikaLicious  

“Daddy, you don’t have to eat every single thing,” whispered one of my horrified daughters as she watched her portly father chomp his way through a mammoth, triple-layer wedge of excellent dulce de leche cake, a slice of gooey, pretzel-topped candy-bar pie, and several plutonium-dense, barely digestible “Compost Cookies” at the Chang empire’s new dessert outlet, the Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar. My daughters didn’t think the Momofuku treats were nearly as remarkable as the chocolate sundae or the marshmallow-topped s’mores cupcakes available at Dessert Club, ChikaLicious, down on 10th Street, but their father would like to state, for the record, that Momofuku’s savory breakfast foods—the two-fisted pork-and-egg sandwich and the bacon-larded neo-knish called “the Volcano”—are both worth a trip, especially when washed down with a flagon or two of the patented Cereal Milk, which pastry chef Christina Tosi flavors with a hint of Corn Flakes and plenty of sugar.

Among the many pleasures of April Bloomfield’s new gastro-seafood restaurant, The John Dory, is the selection of bountiful English desserts, like fresh-baked Eccles cakes and a golden, gently steaming dome of treacle pudding for two, which the chefs cut with lemon zest and pour with a velvety custard sauce. If you wish to enjoy bread pudding in regal, big-city style, join the crowd of merry parishioners and puzzled-looking business folk at the new congregation hall turned haute-barnyard destination Inside Park at St. Bart’s, where pastry chef Miran Shim scatters this stout country dessert with candied pecans and sets it in a pool of opulent, faintly eggy crème anglaise. For a slightly more elevated haute-barnyard dessert experience, however, my discerning pastry-snob wife prefers the caramel brioche at Corton, which the resident pastry genius, Robert Truitt, dresses with an orange, yolklike spoonful of passion-fruit cream, little diaphanous slips of caramelized banana, brioche ice cream, and a tiny cube of Stilton cheese.

For pastry prepared in the classic uptown style, you won’t do better than the honey-crisp apple strudel that is on the new menu at Mrs. Astor’s favorite Upper East Side neighborhood joint, Café Boulud. And if you wish to experience the vanishing pleasures of gilded Manhattan one last time, take a cab to the multi-starred Michelin restaurant Gilt, in the Palace Hotel, order a glass of Champagne, and ask pastry chef David Carmichael to whip up his special creation, toasted-hazelnut-ricotta panna cotta. You will notice that the ricotta gives this naturally light dish some depth, and that the hazelnuts give it a pleasing, smoky crunch. And if you beg politely, the waiter will bury this delicate confection, the way the old hedge-fund high rollers used to do, in drifts of freshly shaved white truffles.


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