Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Dessert - A Holiday Parfait

Parfait sounds kind of lame, I know. But this was a great and easy to assemble dessert that looked really pretty. I will admit, however, that I thought it was out of balance. I was really worried it would be too sweet, and instead it ended up being a bit too tart. I needed one more layer of sweetness somewhere.

Here's what I did. I made a homemade cranberry sauce, but went light on the sugar. Here's the cranberry sauce recipe:

1 bag cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1/4 ruby port
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon

I used three 8 oz containers of mascarpone, and whipped in about 2 oz of grand marnier and 1/3 cup sugar. I also shredded a small block of bittersweet chocolate, but I think semi sweet or milk chocolate would work better. I'd recommend shredding enough to have a half cup. Crush nila wafers (about six per parfait, this amount of mascarpone will easily make six large servings) in a plastic bag. Segment one to two blood oranges per parfait, and then chop them roughly.

Using pretty serving glasses (I used large shrimp cocktail glasses), layer in the following order: thin layer of cranberry sauce, nila wafers, shaved chocolate, mascarpone, oranges, mascarpone, chocolate, nila wafers, thin layer of cranberry to cover the top.

For that classy finishing flair, top with a little shaved white chocolate. Serve chilled.

This is very simple, very elegant, and I think with a few adjustments will be a super hit, rather than just a very good dessert.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Restaurant Review: Chalit

Chalit is one of three places in Harrisburg that does Thai. I was having a serious spicy (as in flavorful, not hothot) craving, because I got really sick on Tuesday, and therefore had spent two days on a stomach imposed oatmeal only diet. My taste buds were pretty sure they were being tortured.

While this is my first experience with Chalit, I doubt it will be my last, so I'm just going to list the items I ordered and review.

Golden Triangle: Appetizer. Deep fried triangles sent from Heaven. They are stuffed with a combination of shrimp, scallops, and some other stuff. I honestly couldn't distinguish what all was in each wonderful crunchy triangle, but they were great. The dipping sauce, some type of aioli, left a bit to be desired though. Still, will do this again. And again. And....

Pad Thai: I was not wowed by this, but it was still a solid effort. I honestly think pad thai is better when its that kind of greasy-oily-totally bad for you pad thai. This was all sorts of wholesome and healthy. I also got veggie pad thai, which had a good selection of veggies but, eh. So wholesome. I asked for just a bit of spice, and I would have said that it was just sigh of medium spicy. But, really, the spicy scale is always hard to guage. My "HOLY CRAP FIRE TONGUE HOT OW!" is Dean's "Meh. This is almost spicy." I probably won't go back for the pad thai again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best. Brunch. Ever.

My mom took me to La Croix at the Rittenhouse in Philadelphia. I was super excited. This place had been named by Philadelphia Magazine as the best brunch in Philly. Man oh man. They weren't lying. SO GOOD!

This... This is the beautiful, delicious, amazing, incredible spread we got to devour. We ate for two hours. TWO HOURS! My mom was so full by the end that she felt sick.

I'm just going to give the "oh wow!" super highlights, because almost everything was fantastic. First prize went to the gnocchi with sunchoke and kale, which was unbelievably good. The dish was creamy and savory, and the gnocchi had the perfect consistency. A surprisingly delish dish was the coddled egg, which was maple glazed and topped with fried onions. The texture looked creepy and squishy, but it actually wasn't weird when you ate it, and was surprisingly sweet with a little salty from the onions. The best of the numerous perfectly sized starters was the foie gras mousse with grapefruit. It was the perfect little bite. Savory and smokey from the foie gras, with a tart finish at the end. And my favorite dessert, by far, was the goat cheese panna cotta with sour cherry compote and mini vanilla wafers. The dessert had just enough sweet, but wasn't overpowering. And paired with the crunchy wafer and the tart cherries, it just really came together perfectly. And it, too, came in the perfect size.

I haven't even done justice to this fabulous brunch. Everything was wonderful. The presentation of the food and the layout were pretty spectacular. They served all the hot dishes in the kitchen, so you got to see the work space and the kitchen staff! The service was excellent, attentive, and kept our coffee cups full and hot! And the ambiance of this restaurant was extremely upscale. They gave us a wonderful table for two, which allowed us to look out on the Rittenhouse Square and people watch.

One little warning. This place may give you major sticker shock. Brunch for two, with cocktails, ran us $150 before tip. But I promise it will be the most mind blowing brunch you've ever had.