Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dessert madness in Berkeley

Chocolate rum banana crunch creme fraiche cake...

We made a quick trip to Berkeley for my sister's birthday, but managed to squeeze in plenty of good food. My sister's next-door neighbor for some 30 years is Alice Medrich, author of many great dessert cookbooks, and she graciously hosted the party and made the desserts and fabulous cake. Alice samples the lime sorbet

There were buttery little peanut crunch cookies, delicate coconut straws and flaky currant rugalach. Then there was homemade lime sorbet, with lots of zest, and just enough sourness to cut the other rich desserts. Then there was the cake: on a layer of chocolate crunch rested layers of chocolate banana cream, chocolate rum cake and creme fraiche, topped by a sheaf of chocolate leaves. Pretty amazing. An assortment of ladylike cookies

We also stopped by Naia, one of Berkeley's many gelato shops, for chocolate orange and Thai young coconut gelato. We tried to go to Ici, the even-trendier ice cream shop (Earl Grey ice cream!) but the line was way out the door and I was afraid we'd miss our plane.
We squeezed in a tour of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory, where Sophie and her cousin found out they don't like plain chocolate nibs, but I do. Other facts about Scharffen Berger: the Dr. Bob's chocolate port sorbet is to my disappointment, only available at the factory, as well as the milk chocolate with sea salt and almonds. Also, you can put nibs in with your coffee grounds for a subtle chocolate flavor without all the yuckiness of commercial mochas. It wouldn't be trip to Berkeley without bread, so we hit Acme Bakery for an incredible cheese roll, a baguette and a pain au levain, which travelled well back home. Sorbettos at Naia

The Cheese Board was closed, so we dropped by Andronico's market, where I ended up getting into a conversation about Wisconsin cheddar with the head cheese buyer, who dispensed samples liberally to the girls. I wish that happened at Ralph's!


Anonymous said...

wow! To have Alice Medrich for a neighbor if you are a foodie would be amazing. I have a signed copy of "Pure Dessert" -- she is a maven! I know you enjoyed all the treats.

Alexander Santillanes said...

Is there an Early Grey fad in the states, too? A few months ago, it seemed like everything in Southeast Asia was Earl Grey flavored- muffins, ice cream, cookies -- even some savory dishes. -X