By nature and nurture, I’m not a very excessive person. My television is cable-less, I drive a Camry, and my idea of a good time involves dinner and conversation, rather than booze and booty. Okay, maybe a little booty. [Wink, wink.] However, I have my weaknesses. When it comes to sweets, I throw restraint out the window and go buck wild. I’m not just talking about an extra slice of pie or an additional scoop of gelato; when I need a serious sugar fix, the town gets painted red. Thus, it’s no surprise that I’ve long had my eye on the dessert tasting menu at Providence.
Orchestrated by Chef Adrian Vasquez, the eight-course dessert extravaganza ($50) is a feast for the senses. The two-hour symphony of delights features daring flavors, gorgeous plating, and unparalleled creativity. While an octet of sweets might seem like too much of a good thing, diners leave perfectly satisfied under the pastry chef’s brilliant care.
Thanks to the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 program, I was able to treat The Astronomer, my mama, and my lovely friend Esme to Providence’s dessert tasting this past Saturday evening. While everyone around us was digging into salt-roasted prawns and sea urchin in fresh eggs, we took a stroll through the entire dessert menu. From beginning to end, we were oohing and ahhing with contentment.
Course I: “Cocktails”
The parade of desserts began with a trio of “cocktails”—mojito, gin and tonic, and greyhound. The mojito and greyhound were held together by the thinnest of membranes. One slip of the tongue and the orbs burst in our mouths. The gin and tonic was taken with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. It was cold, jellied, and potent.
Course II: Kalamansi Gelee
Next, Chef Vasquez sent out a kalamansi gelee floating in a soup of white chocolate and coconut milk with tiny tapioca balls. The fruity gelee was topped with a quenelle of litchi-shiso sorbet and coconut crumbles. Every refreshing spoonful captured the tropical flavors of Southeast Asia.
Course III: Mandarin-Rose Sorbet
The mandarin-rose sorbet was accented with a miniature pistachio macaron, airy fluffs of yogurt cake, cardamom, and a disc of orange gelee. The yogurt cake’s sour notes were so pronounced that I swore I was eating a carton of plain yogurt.
Course IV: Apples in Butterscotch
After three courses featuring citrus fruits, a plate of apples in butterscotch arrived next. The tender slices of fruit were beautifully caramelized and rested atop a cashew cake along with poached north star cherries. A quenelle of miso ice cream provided a delicious contrast to the sweet and warm fruits. This course highlighted the chef’s ability to juxtapose unlikely ingredients deftly.
Course V: Caramel Pudding
The sticky sweet layer of caramel married luxuriously with the smooth pudding. I loved how the flavors teetered between sweet and slightly burnt. The caramel popcorn provided a crunchy contrast, while the dried apricots cut some of the pudding’s richness. Both accouterments were well chosen, but a part of me yearned for a sprinkling of sea salt, just like Pizzeria Mozza’s butterscotch budino.
Course VI: Milk Chocolate Ganache
While the centerpiece of this creation was meant to be the chocolate ganache, it was the banana-passion fruit ice cream, cayenne marshmallow, and peanut butter that captured my attention. It seemed to me that this dessert was inspired by classic childhood sandwiches—peanut butter and banana, as well as the Fluffernutter. A little whimsy always makes for a fun sweet.
Course VII: Dark Chocolate Mousse
Candied kumquats and ginger, along with a scoop of goma (sesame seed) ice cream were just the thing to brighten up this traditional chocolate mousse.
Course VIII: Affogato
The final course was an affogato. A shot of hot espresso was poured over the canelé-flavored ice cream tableside.
The espresso’s bitterness was tempered by the ice cream’s double punch of richness and sweetness. The layer of hazelnut streusel beneath the ice cream was an awesome surprise.
Finally, we were treated to a plate of mignardises—banana caramels, white chocolate snowballs with coconut flakes, and barley gelees.
Thank you to Foodbuzz for making this avalanche of desserts possible!
5955 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038