Tuesday, November 1, 2011

If You Don’t Believe Me,

just ask Chuck.

I really don’t spend the day watching food programs on TV. And, in particular, I don’t watch programs about cakes. I don’t watch Cake Boss. I don’t watch Ace of Cakes. Nor do I watch Cupcake Wars, Challenge (always building a giant cake), and I will never—I repeat never—watch Sweet Genius. Have you seen the host of this program? Is he creepy or what?

So it was serendipity that I was watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate the other evening. That and the fact that I had already done a run through the dial (or to be more precise, the remote) and this was the best of the bunch. And, yes, it was about cakes. And there was Marcela Valladolid (host of Mexican Made Easy) raving about the Dulce de Leche cake (not shown here). In this cake, a crunchy milk chocolate confection is hidden between layers of chocolate cake and creamy chocolate mousse finished with homemade dulce de leche (“…a thick, caramel-like milk-based sauce or spread. Literally translated, dulce de leche means 'sweet from milk'. It is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelized sugar. It is a popular sweet in Latin America…” [wipikedia. com]). At Extra-ordinary Desserts in San Diego.

So what better way to end our meal of heart healthy fish at Blue Water Seafood with Dick and Karen Allsing than with decadent desserts? Julieanna Aliwarga at suite101.com provides this description: “For those who treat desserts as an all-time addiction and a personal brand of luxury, Extra-ordinary Desserts fully delivers. Founded by chef extra-ordinaire Karen Krasne, it has established itself as one of the best-loved cafes in the heart of San Diego, California. The place lives up to its name and mission to provide you with countless tasty indulgences.

“As you make your entrance, you are greeted by a vast array of brownies, cakes and other delectable treats on display. The ultra-modern interiors and decorations add to the cafe’s already vibrant yet relaxing mood. There are plenty of decadent dishes on the menu to choose from, so take as much time as you want to decide.”

food.the plainjane. com further elaborates: “Extra-ordinary Desserts is one of those indulgent kind of places. You ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over their selection of beautiful looking desserts and pastries, have a bit of tea, and relax for a bit. It’s one place near the city that’s also actually open late (unlike many other places around town) and serves well as a good late night spot. The original location still has a really long line at night that snakes around outside while the Little Italy location is in a huge warehouse looking area with almost guaranteed seating.”

And who is the Sweet Genius behind this café? “Owner and head pastry chef Karen Krasne draws on her years of experience training in the best kitchens of Paris to create one-of-a-kind desserts that are as visually stunning as they are delectable. Utilizing only the freshest ingredients, the chefs at Extraordinary Desserts consistently produce some of the most exciting and innovative dessert options in Southern California” (dguides.com).

The original location is near Balboa Park and its atmosphere has been described as cottage-like. Not so the Little Italy venue. You enter through a massive swinging door--large enough for us to drive The Big White Truck through. Just inside you see the display of that day’s desserts. After long and detailed deliberations and our choice made, we were ushered to a table.

All I can say about the ambiance is to quote Guy Fieri--“Off the hook!” What a space! The ceilings are high, the tables and chairs ultra-modern,

and the walls decorated with collections of bowls.

Dick and Karen shared a slice of the Gianduia which is described on the café’s web-site as: “A best seller since we opened our doors! Myer's Rum-laced chocolate cake layers are married with hazelnut buttercream, chocolate mousse, and boysenberry preserves. Crushed pralines cover this most popular dessert.”

Since the Dulce de Leche wasn’t among the day’s offerings, Chuck and I chose a slice of the Caribe—“A sensuous combination of chocolate mousse infused with mangos, bananas, and passion fruit. Layered between dark chocolate and lilikoi- (Ed Note: passion fruit) soaked chocolate cakes, this refreshing torte is finished with dark chocolate and topped with a rainbow of fresh tropical fruit.” Absolutely amazing. I can’t begin the describe the interplay of flavors and textures. You’ll have to come to San Diego and taste for yourself.

To accompany the cake, I ordered a glass of blackberry lemonade which combined both sweet and tart flavors and contained numerous pieces of blackberry which tended to clog the straw.

I couldn’t resist taking a pastry home for later--much later-- consumption and selected the Crostada Apple tart. Built on a puff pastry base, this was a combination of soft apples and caramel and came with a small cup of vanilla cream sauce.

The Little Italy location also serves paninis, salads, and artisan cheeses and has an extensive tea menu. This is definitely on our “must return” list for a future trip to San Diego and gets a 5.0 Addie rating.

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