Pozzetto: Italian Gelato in the Heart of Paris

The last stop of our honeymoon brought us to the City of Lights. K and I had been to Paris before, but not with each other. When I visited during my semester abroad (which I spent in Madrid), I was struck by the old-world beauty and charm of Paris.  Of course, my girlfriends and I were staying in a cheap hostel room of questionable cleanliness and eating cheap meals at McDonalds (I still shudder to think of that). So it was such a treat to return to Paris with a bit more money in my pocket and my new husband at my side.

We had a lovely couple days in Paris. We took a great boat tour down the Seine River, relaxed by the Eiffel Towel, strolled along the Champs Élysées, and explored just a corner of the Louvre (I forgot how massive that museum is!). And we spent a LOT of time eating and drinking. Macaroons, foie gras, and fries, oh my!

In the spirit of exploring the tastes of Paris, I went in search of some local ice cream. Like in many European cities, ice cream in Paris is actually Italian-style gelato. And while an internet search will yield a dozen different gelaterías, it was a slightly lesser-known shop that caught my attention: Pozzetto. Why? For the simple fact that one of my favorite food bloggers of all time, David Lebovitz called it “the best gelato in Paris.”

Located on an idyllic street in the Marais historic district, Pozzetto is an adorable shop with a service window where pedestrians can grab an ice cream or cappuccino to go. I read that you can expect a long line during the summer, but it was pretty quiet on this weekday afternoon.

IMG_6332 IMG_6335 IMG_6331After walking around the Eiffel Tower and the Marais neighborhood, K and I were more than ready to rest our feet at one of the tables inside. Pozzetta has very limited seating indoors, but the vibe is so romantic and Parisian that it would be worth a wait on a busier day. (And for you coffee-lovers out there, Pozzetto is well-known for their espressos. Several Parisians were lingering over cups when K and I were there.)

Pozzetta offers about a dozen flavors of gelato and sorbetto. The inside menu features a couple sundae (“coppa”) options. Everything is made in small batches daily, so there’s no need to worry about freezer burns here.

IMG_6336My French abilities are laughable, so I couldn’t understand half of the flavor names. I saw several chocolate options, including Gianduia di Pottezzo (hazelnut-chocolate) and Stracciatella. But Cioccolato Fondente (dark chocolate) sounded too good to pass up.

I wanted to try a second flavor; Pistacchio del re di Sicilia is what Pozzetto is known for, but I was drawn towards a more refreshing sorbetto (which is made with real fruit). Of the three options, Fragola (strawberry) seemed like it would go best with dark chocolate.

We paid about 7 euros for a double scoop with table service. A bit pricey, since the same serving size cost about 5 euros at the take-out window. But I was in need of a respite from the hot afternoon sun, and the table was definitely worth a 2 euro premium.

IMG_6334

How cute is this bowl?

The verdict? Wow. Pozzetto is the real deal. Their gelato was thick, sticky and very flavorful. The Cioccolato Fondente was the real star of the show; rich but not too filling or sweet. It was almost like frozen dark-chocolate mousse.  I could eat this every day. The Fragola was also delicious. Strawberry ice cream or sorbet can often be artificial-tasting and icey, but Pozzetto’s creamy version is made with fresh ingredients and it shows. These two flavors complemented each other beautifully — it was even better than a dark-chocolate covered strawberry. If you’re in Paris, I’d highly recommend swinging by Pozzetto for an afternoon pick-me-up. Their gelato is as good as any of the famous gelatarías in Italy, but the experience is uniquely Parisian.

The Stats:
Pozzetto
39 rue du roi de Sicile
Paris, France 75004
(2nd location: 16 Rue Vieille du Temple)
www.pozzetto.biz/

Pitango Gelato… Best Gelato in DC?

Last Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather. Kevan already had a nasty cold, and I was afraid I’d catch it if I didn’t nip it in the bud with plenty of rest and fluids. So I decided it was a work-from-bed day.

When lunchtime rolled around, nothing much in my fridge looked appealing. But I know that food is the best medicine. Growing up, the pinnacle of any good sick day was when my Dad would bring me a de-carbonized ginger ale and the blandest crackers he could find for my lunch. Since he worked from home, our Dad would play the “Doctor Dad” role, catering to us while we’d read on the couch (If we actually had a fever, he’d let us watch TV!). But, alas, Dad isn’t in DC, so I was forced to fend for myself. And rather than venturing to the grocery store to find some gluten-free crackers, I opted for a quicker fix: gelato.

There is healthy competition in the Washington, DC gelato market, and one of the crowd favorites – Pitango Gelato – has a storefront just 100 yards from my apartment. And in full disclosure, I’d already been a couple times before I stumbled over there last week. But my first visit occurred long before I started this blog, and the steep prices (over $5 for a small cup) have largely kept me away. But on this particular winter sick-day, I was more than willing to fork over big bucks for some homemade gelato.

Pitango Gelato was actually started in Baltimore back in 2007, but the small chain has really blossomed in DC. And while the original Fells Point storefront remains open in Baltimore, there is a lot of buzz about the four DC locations. The one in my neighborhood of Logan Circle is nearly always open and busy. In the morning, most patrons leave the store not with gelato but with cups of Italian-style espressos and lattes. Pitango is known to make a mean espresso. But, of course, the real focus here is on the gelato (and sorbet).
Pitango Gelato focuses on local, high-quality and often organic ingredients for their gelatos and sorbets. They get all the organic milk and eggs from a family farm in Pennsylvania. Using these fresh ingredients, Pitango makes their homemade gelatos and sorbets in small batches.

On any given day, Pitango offers around 20 flavors in each shop. While some traditional Italian flavors are constant fixtures on the menu (like Stracciatella and Chocolate-Hazelnut gelato or Strawberry and Lemon sorbet), the more-interesting ones rotate on and off. But you won’t find anything reminiscent of cotton candy or cake batter here 🙂 The flavors are all refined; the ones that caught my eye today included Walnut and Cinnamon gelato and Quince and Bosch Pear sorbet.

In the end, I decided to go with a “regular” (Pitango’s smallest) size cup of Cinnamon gelato and Bosch Pear sorbet. But I was particularly excited by my choices when the lady behind the counter commented “That sounds like a great combo!” while she scooped out my serving. These are the best type of compliments an ouce-cream lover can receive!

Now remember, the prices are STEEP at Pitango; this little cup cost me over $5. But of course, higher-quality and local ingredients do come with higher price tags. And I’m always happy to support a local gelato-maker and family-run dairy farms.

Top half of cup: Bosch Pear sorbet
Bottom half: Cinnamon gelato 

The verdict? The gelato looked so enticingly cool and creamy that I couldn’t help but start licking the top of my cup while crossing the street to my apartment building. Even in the freezing temperatures, the gelato was refreshing and soothing on my sore throat. I tried the Cinnamon gelato first; the spice wasn’t overwhelming but simply softly accented the sweet cream. And it was a perfect complement to the sweet and sophisticated Bosh Pear sorbet. Pitango’s version of this fruit sorbet was just as good as the versions I had in Italy a couple years ago. Both flavors were authentic and true-to-form, and neither was overly sweet. By the time I finished my last bite, I wanted more! And, sure, naysayers may say it was all in my head, but this cup of gelato DID make me feel better.

Now the question remains… Is Pitango Gelato the best gelato in DC? I plan to find out in 2014!

The Stats:
Pitango Gelato
Multiple locations in DC, Reston and Baltimore
(My spot is at 1451 P Street NW in DC)
www.pitangogelato.com

A Taste of Italy in WA’s Bavarian Village

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the town of Leavenworth, in Washington State.

K’s parents, who live in a small condo in downtown Seattle, treat this town as their “mountain oasis.” Nestled among the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth is a prime location for many outdoor activities. In the winter, you’ll find K’s parents skiing or snowshoeing. In the summer, they’ll be hiking, mountain biking, or tubing down the Wenatchee River. Because they love it so much, K and I decided to spend his birthday weekend with his parents in Leavenworth. And I, too, fell head-over-heels for this mountain town.

But because I’m not the outdoor-sporty-type, I fell in love with Leavenworth for different reasons. First and foremost, this mountain town is modeled after a Bavarian village. Imagine Disney World-caliber without all the cheesiness. Leavenworth’s local businesses take the Bavarian theme very seriously. Even the Starbucks and Safeway stores were designed in the quintessentially-Bavarian style. The downtown area is small, but it boasts multiple beer gardens and knick-knack shops. Plus, majestic snow-capped mountains are visible from every angle. Every time I walk down the main street, I’m overcome with an urge to belt out songs from “The Sound of Music.”

As you’d expect in any good tourist town, Leavenworth boasts a high ice-cream shops-per-capita ratio. Most ice-cream spots are housed within larger candy or gift stores, but I walked by a gelateria the day we arrived in Leavenworth. The Viadolce Gelateria sits in the heart of downtown, its large windows and open door inviting folks inside. Through the windows, I spotted a large case containing more than a dozen colorful gelato bins. Just then, a customer exited the shop, “mmm”ing while he licked a giant delicious-looking cone. I had to practice some serious self-control to walk past the store. But K’s mom loves ice cream almost as much as I do, so I wanted to wait until I could return with her.

The next night, we all enjoyed a nice bratwurst dinner together in the München Haus beer garden. The restaurant is just a block away from Viadolce, so I offered to treat K’s parents to gelato on our walk back to their place. It was a sweltering-hot night (over 100 degrees), and ice cream sounded really good. We ducked into Viadolce Gelateria and surveyed the options.
They carried about 18 different flavors, many of which were fruity “sorbettos”. The Pear looked delicious, but I’ve been disappointed by all pear-flavored gelatos outside of Italy itself. Plus, I had already spotted a bin of Cherry gelato.  Everyone who’s spent time in the Pacific Northwest during the summer knows what a BIG deal cherries are here. K’s and my favorite variety is the Rainier, which is only in-season during the early months of summer. Our local Whole Foods store in Washington, DC does carry Rainier cherries for a couple months, but they cost us ~$15 per pound. At Viadolce, I could get my fix of fresh Washington cherries for a fraction of the cost. I ordered a small size, and the nice man behind the counter asked if I wanted one or two flavors. You know what my answer was. I asked him what flavor would pair well with cherry, and he suggested Panna (Italian cream).

Cherry and Panna

The verdict? There is nothing as refreshing as ice cream on a hot and humid evening. Viadolce’s gelato felt cool and soft on my tongue, and I savored the flavors melting over my taste buds. Unlike most ice cream I find in touristy towns, the gelato at Viadolce wasn’t sugary-sweet. Both the Cherry and the Panna had a subtle sweetness, allowing the flavors of cherries and cream to stand out. A little sign in the Cherry gelato bin had warned that “gelato may contain pieces of cherry pits”, and they weren’t exaggerating! I literally found a couple small pit pieces in my cup. But it was a small price to pay for the authentic flavor of real cherries. While the creamy and mild Panna wasn’t exactly memorable, I would imagine it would pair well with any fruity flavor.

The others enjoyed their gelato, too – especially K’s dad, who proclaimed that the Toasted Almond was one of the best ice creams he’d ever tasted! I’ll have to give that flavor a try next time… when I return to Leavenworth for its annual Oktoberfest Festival! Stay tuned…

The Stats:
Viadolce Gelato
636 Front Street
Leavenworth, WA 98826
(509) 548-6712
http://www.viadolcegelato.com

A Sweet Excursion to the Yarra Valley

Last week was like a dream. I took the week off from work to travel to Australia, got engaged on the way, saw dozens of family members, partied in Melbourne with my little sister on her 20th birthday, and ate plenty of ice cream.

One of my favorite days was spent exploring the Yarra Valley, a famous wine growing region located about an hour outside of Melbourne. My sister, fiance (SO weird to say that!), and I took the train out to the Yarra Valley early on Tuesday morning. One of my aunts lives in the Valley with her family, and she took the day off to play tour guide. The Yarra Valley is a beautiful place, with rolling hills and dozens of small family-owned vineyards dotting the landscape – similar to what I imagine Napa Valley was like back in the day. We tried dozens of wines at Yering Station, sampled cheeses at the Yarra Valley Dairy, and enjoyed beer and cider at Coldstream Brewery.

But the best stop of the day was the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery! The business just opened in December, but my aunt knew it was the perfect place to take us for lunch and dessert. You can imagine my excitement as we drove up the immaculately-manicured driveway and walked towards the architect-designed warehouse.

Walking through the doors at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is like stepping into a sophisticated version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The smell of chocolate permeates the colorful open store. We were immediately invited to samples of milk, dark and white chocolate, which I enjoyed while taking everything in.

The store is mostly dedicated to chocolate, with ice cream taking up just a small section towards the back. Most of the walls and counters are stocked with homemade truffles and beautifully-packaged chocolates. The left-hand wall is actually a glass window that looks into the chocolate-making kitchen, where three chocolateries were hard at work on this Tuesday morning.

My cousin was waiting for us in the store’s little cafe, which has a patio with stunning views of the Yarra Valley. The plan was to have lunch here; the cafe serves light but gourmet fare – including pizza, paninis and salads. I appreciated that the menu called out all vegan and gluten-free options. We all ordered something different, and I went with the Vegetable Fritatta with a garden salad. It was a bit more expensive than your average lunch ($18), but it was a lovely and memorable meal. Moreover, restaurant meals in Australia are generally more pricey than in the US – partially because tip/service fee is built into the food and drink prices.

Despite our satisfying lunch, we all ordered dessert. It’s simply unacceptable to visit Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery without having something sweet. Besides the chocolates and truffles in the store, the cafe also serves fancy dessert waffles, sundaes, tarts, and gorgeous hot chocolates. While I was tempted by the gluten-free brownie sundae, I couldn’t not try the homemade ice cream.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery’s ice cream is made fresh on-site every day, and they prides themselves on using only high-quality ingredients. This Tuesday, there were 12 different flavor options – which is actually fewer than I’m used to! Luckily, everything sounded good. Most flavors were traditional, such as Cookies & Cream and Mint Chocolate Chip. But there were a couple more interesting ones, like Peach Mango and Honeycomb. Also, the two sorbets looked great in the display case. The Dark Chocolate looked rich and, well, dark! And the Wild Berry was a beautiful purple color and was studded with berry seeds (always a good sign!).

After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided on a two-scoop cup with both Honeycomb and the Dark Chocolate sorbet. The flavor combination was an ode to my all-time favorite Australian candy, Violet Crumble. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of eating one, it’s a candy bar with a crunchy, honeycomb toffee center covered in a thin layer of chocolate. My sisters and I would eagerly look for Violet Crumble bars in any package coming from an Australian relative. While I’ve encountered Violet Crumbles in a few specialty stores in the US over the years, they still retain a big novelty factor for me. Since honeycomb isn’t a common ice cream flavor in the States, I had to pounce on this opportunity. Luckily, Ava thought the combo was a great idea – and she agreed to split the massive portion and hefty price (almost $6) with me.

The verdict? As you can see, the folks at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery certainly don’t skimp on portions. And given that the ice cream and sorbet had an almost gelato-like consistency, it was served at the perfect temperature and didn’t melt before we could finish it. True to their promise, both flavors were rich and flavorful – proof of the high-quality ingredients used. While I expected Honeycomb to be my favorite, the Dark Chocolate sorbet was the star of this combo. It was one of the best chocolate sorbets I’ve had; incredibly rich (but not too sweet) chocolate flavor and a velvety-smooth texture unlike many other ice-y sorbets. The Honeycomb ice cream had that caramel-honey flavor I love. However, there were just two big chunks of honeycomb candy in the scoop, whereas I’d hoped for many small bites throughout. Still, the ice cream was a winner – especially when paired with the Dark Chocolate sorbet. These flavors complemented each other well; the sorbet was so rich that a milder flavor was needed to balance it out. Even still, my sister and I barely finished this cup. Overall, however, Yarra Valley’s ice cream flavors are not nearly as exotic as their chocolate candy and truffle flavors. I’d love to challenge Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery to focus a little more attention on their ice cream business. If they start to put as much TLC into their frozen concoctions as their chocolate candy, this stuff would be hard to beat.

All in the family.

The Stats:
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
35 Old Healesville Road
Yarra Glenn, Victoria 3775
Australia
http://www.yvci.com.au

Free-for-all at the 2012 DC Scoop Competition

Who says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”?  

Not me.

This Sunday afternoon, I feasted on some of the best ice cream in the greater Washington, DC area at the Second Annual “DC Scoop” Competition. And everything was free. The DC Scoop is an outdoor ice cream sampling event and competition where the area’s artisan ice cream vendors serve their prized ice cream, frozen yogurt, and other frozen treats in hopes of being crowned that year’s “DC Scoop Winner.”

This year’s competition was held at Union Market – a highly-anticipated food market that opened this week in Northeast DC. I constantly find myself missing and fantasizing about Pike Place Market in Seattle – so I was excited to hear that an artisanal, curated, year-round food market was coming to the District. But I broke into the “Hallelujah” chorus (literally) when I read online that that Union Market would host the DC Scoop event during its opening weekend.

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I woke up early on Sunday eager to get the party started. While the boyfriend had to work, my B.F.F. (best foodie friend) Andrew agreed to accompany me to Northeast DC. After a 10-minute cab ride, we found ourselves surrounded by old warehouses and rundown wholesale markets. But straight ahead – the bright “UNION MARKET” sign stood out like friendly beacon.


The DC Scoop event was held in a fenced-in space next to the market, but Andrew and I purposely arrived early to explore the indoor market. We were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of food vendors we found inside Union Market. Fresh cheeses, organic meats, local produce, artisan chocolates, homemade pasta, spices – Union Market has it all.

After perusing the aisles of Union Market, it was finally time to head over to DC Scoop! Entry was free to the public, and each attendee received three pink ‘sample’ tickets for tasting and one golden ‘judging’ ticket to vote for their favorite vendor. While a panel of judges (defined as “stirrers and shakers of the DC food scene”) determines the DC Scoop Winner, the crowd’s votes do carry some weight with the judges. Andrew and I were among the first twenty or so people in line when the doors opened. After receiving our tickets, Andrew suggested we take a “survey” lap around the grounds before deciding how to allocate our sample tickets. Brilliant guy, I tell you.


Andrew and I took our time surveying the types of ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, and sorbet offered by the 13 different vendors at DC Scoop: Boss Ice Cream, Captain Cookie & the Milk Man, Carmen’s Italian Ice, Dolcezza Gelato, Gifford’s, Goodies Frozen Custard, Savvy Pops, Sinplicity, Sweet Cream, Sugar Magnolia, Sweet Freeze, Taharka Brothers, and Trickling Springs Creamery. I’d say more than half of the vendors were serving samples from food trucks. Some vendors were sampling all of their flavors, while others had limited menus. Andrew and I both gravitated towards the more unique-sounding offerings. After all, we didn’t make the trek to Northeast DC just to try chocolate chip or cookie dough!

You only get three ‘sample’ tickets at the DC Scoops Competition – so it’s important to choose wisely. The first concoction I deemed worthy of a ticket was found at Carmen’s Italian Ice. This Rockville, MD institution is famous for its 70+ flavors of homemade Italian ice. As a general rule, I’d choose ice cream over Italian ice. I prefer smooth and creamy frozen treats and find Italian ice too… well… icey! But the concept of “gelati” has long intrigued me. Frozen custard layered with Italian ice? Maybe I could choke that down. While I didn’t take a formal tally, it seemed that Carmen’s Italian Ice had one of the longer menus at DC Scoop. For a gelati sample, you get to choose two flavors – one for the Italian ice and one for the frozen custard. For my Italian ice, I already had my eye on the Chocolate Everything – chocolate ice with marshmallows, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and Reese’s Cups. The staff at Carmen’s insisted that the best complement to my Italian ice would be the Mokaccino (chocolate & coffee) frozen custard. I’m not one to turn down unsolicited ice cream advice.
Don’t let the size of this cup fool you. This small “gelati” was packed with flavors and textures. The Chocolate Everything Italian ice lived up to its name – and the creamy (yes, creamy!) chocolate ice was jam-packed with chocolate chips and bits of Reese’s Cups. Sadly, the marshmallows escaped my sample cup. The Mokaccino frozen custard flavor was so strong, I thought I felt a caffeine buzz. Ten years ago, I’d have hated it. But my adult coffee addict-self rejoiced.     


With just two tickets to go, the pressure was mounting. Spying a line forming at Sinplicity‘s truck, Andrew and I made a beeline towards last year’s DC Scoop Winner. I’m glad we jumped in line when we did – because it only grew. The Falls Church, VA-based ice cream truck (officially named the “Sinmobile”) certainly has a strong fan base in DC…

Just when Andrew and I were wondering whether any ice cream sample was worth this wait, I spotted a man walking along the line and passing out spoonfuls of ice cream from a pint he was carrying. Extra samples? I’d wait. And check out the shirt he was wearing – “Skinny people can’t be trusted.” That got a giggle from me when the Sinplicity man handed us each spoonfuls of Cappuccino Crunch, cappuccino ice cream with chocolate-covered almonds and amaretto. Delicious. The coffee flavor was weaker than in Carmen’s frozen custard, but this was much more family-friendly. The amaretto swirl provided richness, and chocolate-covered almonds gave a sweet crunch. If you can believe it, Sinplicity didn’t stop there! The next preview sample to make the rounds was the Lemon-Ginger sorbet with spiced Jamaican rum. This sorbet was made for my mother, who adores anything ginger-flavored. The sorbet was perfectly refreshing and sweet, with just enough ginger to compete with the lemon without overpowering it. As Andrew and I finally neared the Sinplicity truck, we met a celebrity!

The famous Emily!

Turns out, the owner’s daughter Emily is the creator of one of Sinplicity’s best-sellers, which bears her name. Emily’s Peanut Butter Truffle is peanut butter ice cream mixed with chocolate truffles and swirled with dark chocolate. Emily was kind enough to let me try her concoction – and, boy, was it yummy. The peanut butter ice cream was one of the better versions I’ve tried – and her idea to use dark chocolate swirls – instead of the standard milk chocolate – was pure genius. Thanks, Emily!

For our full Sinplicity sample, Andrew and I just had to try the Blackberry & Cabernet sorbet with a “hint of lime.” I forked over a sample tickets and was rewarded with one heck of a sample. The presentation alone scored points with me. The rich, deep purple sorbet. The generous serving size. The crisp biscotti garnish. And Oh. My. Goodness… this sorbet made me swoon. While many sorbets can be icy and overly-sweet, Sinplicity’s sorbet was velvety in texture and complex in flavor. The deep blackberry and Cabernet flavors melded perfectly, and the lime gave the sorbet a refreshing aftertaste. This was so delicious that Andrew and I had to “take a moment” to enjoy our samples under the shade of the judging tent.

One ticket left…

I parted with my last ticket at Sugar Magnolia – a new ice cream shoppe in Cleveland Park. Sugar Magnolia was offering just two unique flavors at DC Scoop – and both Andrew and I had eyed their Peach Marscarpone earlier in the day. I wanted to pay tribute to the abundance of fresh peaches in DC this time of year, and I felt adventurous enough to try a cheese-flavored dessert. But I was sorely disappointed with the teeny-sized sample that was handed over. Not only was the cup about a third of the size of Sinplicity’s – it wasn’t close to being filled! In fact, the ice cream amounted to less than a spoonful – making it was difficult to really assess the flavor. Based on the bit of ice cream on my tongue, the marscarpone ice cream was full of flavor without being too rich or heavy. There was a hint of peach flavor, but it was pretty weak and overpowered by the cheese. All in all, an underwhelming finale to an otherwise fabulous tasting experience.
The verdict? I knew exactly who deserved my golden voting ticket: Sinplicity. Did I simply fall for their clever marketing schemes? Nah. The Blackberry & Cabernet sorbet was worthy of a King, and. If there had been silver tickets, I would’ve awarded mine to Carmen’s Italian Ice for proving once-and-for-all that Italian ice can be just as decadent as ice cream. I was a bit sad about the missing marshmallows in my Chocolate Everything gelati, but I’m sure it was just a fluke. Sugar Magnolia’s Peach Mascarpone ice cream was tasty, but their skimpy samples made it hard to really assess the flavor. I learned that at the DC Scoop, the best things don’t come in small packages. They come in big cups topped with biscotti 😉

The Stats:

Union Market
1309 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002

Sweet finale at Adour

On Saturday night, I was treated to a special dinner at Adour in The St. Regis in Washington, DC. My boyfriend and I have been once before, and we were looking for an excuse to return. Realizing that we hadn’t been on a proper “date” in over a month seemed like a good enough excuse. Adour was ranked #5 best restaurant in the Washington, DC metro area by The Washingtonian Magazine last year, and I can see why. I’ve been dreaming about that first meal for months… And Saturday’s experience solidified Adour’s place in my heart.

Now this is an ice cream blog and, thus, my reviews focus on desserts. In this special case, however, I think it’s worth at least mentioning the prior courses. My boyfriend (i.e. funder of this extravagance) suggested that we go with the 4-course Tasting Menu. I agreed whole-heartedly after our waiter confirmed that the chef could accommodate my gluten intolerance (Please note: I do not have Celiac Disease). For our first course, the chef prepared Marinated Japanese Hamachi – a delicate, mild fish served raw on a fresh niçoise salad. The second course was my second-favorite (after the dessert, of course!)… Roasted Maine Lobster served on caponata (a traditional Italian dish of diced eggplant cooked with onions, garlic, tomato, capers and parsley). I appreciated that the chef did de-shelled the meat for us. Now I love using a lobster cracker, but not when I’m wearing a fancy dress and eating on a white carpet. After “oohing” and “aahing” over the lobster, I was surprised to enjoy the third course as much as I did – Roasted Rack of Colorado Lamb served in natural jus and with a side of sauteed spinach. I don’t particularly like lamb, but this meat was tender and flavorful.

Now comes the best course of all – the grand finale. Having remembered how amazing dessert was at Adour, we inquired about the fourth course before deciding on the tasting menu. Now, the scheduled dessert was their version of baba – a cake traditionally made with rum (Adour uses brandy). My boyfriend’s face fell when he heard this, as he was hoping for the Hazelnut Soufflé we had last time. When he expressed this disappointment, the waiter kindly offered to substitute the baba for the signature soufflé. For my gluten-free option, I asked for anything with ice cream 😉

Ask and you shall receive.

The chef chose the Exotic Vacherin for my final course. The beauty to your right is a dainty tower of creamy, frozen, fruity heaven! The center was filled with homemade coconut and banana ice cream, topped with passion fruit sorbet. Delicate coconut meringue cookies surrounded the ice cream, and real whipped cream provided a cushion for slivers of fresh mango (lightly dusted with mint). Swirls of passion fruit purée spruced up the plate. The variety of textures won me over. The crunchy, airy meringues contrasted the cool, creamy ice cream/sorbet and the soft, pulpy mango. This dessert proves that, sometimes, “the sum is greater than its parts.”


The boyfriend was happy to report that his Hazelnut Soufflé was as amazing as he remembered. Made with hazelnut flour, this soufflé was naturally gluten-free. After sneaking a bite, I remembered why this dessert is worth coming back for. Adour has mastered the fine art of soufflé-making, which was cooked evenly throughout and melted on the tongue. The flavors of hazelnuts and brown sugar gave me that “cozy” feeling – the perfect comfort on a rainy DC night.

I was already on Cloud Nine with these fabulous desserts, but Adour had more up their sleeve. Turns out that after every meal, Adour serves a complimentary selection of homemade sweets. This sweet surprise included (from left to right) homemade Almond Madelines (gluten-free with almond flour), heavenly Almond Macaroons, and an assortment of Dark Chocolate Truffles. The truffles filled with dark chocolate ganache and cherry were excellent, but it was the last truffle that had my attention. A peanut butter and jelly truffle? After taking a nibble, I could barely believe it when I saw the distinct layer of peanut butter topped with strawberry gel. This peanut butter-loving gal was officially beyond Cloud Nine.

The Stats:
Adour
The St. Regis Washington, DC
923 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005