Dessert Fun at Frasca

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Last night we went to Frasca. The guest chef was Johnny Iuzzini, one of the top pastry chefs in the country. His work is innovative. We were able to sit at the salumi table which has 4 seats facing the plating area. Generally, they have savory items on display at that table. Yesterday a portion of the counter was empty for future plates (up to 8 at once) and on his left were small containers with various garnishes. We were able to ask him questions and chat about the different items.

He was assisted by Christine Lucas. Initially, Christine was helping him get set up. She would help him plate throughout the evening. (Christine graduated from the Culinary School of the Rockies, pastry, 2005.) She was very nice and did a great job. She said that she had been able to help him all day Sunday and Monday up to the event.

We were there very early and generally he was just around to start. He volunteered that the chocolate curls had come on the plane with him. I asked him if he had trouble getting everything through security, but he said that he did not. However, he said that sometimes when he travels, he has many boxes on his lap and it’s tricky to get his seat belt on.

Frasca June 2009

Frasca June 2009

I enjoyed watching the plating. Each item was carefully placed and had its own decoration. The plated desserts he served, as well as those in his book, are carefully thought out compositions. I have made many of the items from his book and so it was particularly interesting for me to see him plate live. He asked me whether I had to make a high altitude adjustment for the beet cake and I told him that I had. Then we chatted about what I did. He commented that it took several iterations with the publishers to get the book to a level for the home cook. I pointed out to the woman sitting next to me that there are boxes where he makes suggestions for how to simplify the desserts.

Johnny Iuzzini chatted with us about the different desserts, throughout. For his first dish, he served a rhubarb tart with a side of rhubarb puree and crème fraiche. On the same plate, he served a shooter that was a strawberry/rhubarb soda with birch beer ice cream. It looked like a little red rootbeer float. The tarts were warmed in the back and brought out as needed to the front for plating. They were given a light dusting of powdered sugar. He told us that he does all his own carbonation and his birch ice cream is organic.

For his second dessert, he was trying to present different versions of chocolate and salt. This worked particularly well. A chocolate sauce was decorated onto the bottom of the plate with a wedge of chocolate cake served on top. This was decorated with a gold leaf and “salty hazelnut caramel, crispy praline” . Next to the cake was placed a quenelle of chocolate sorbet. Then a chocolate curl was put some what between and a big dollop of peanut butter powder was placed between as well. The woman sitting next to me, who kept telling me how much she didn’t like sweets, enjoyed the chocolate sorbet quite a bit. (On the other hand, she took just a little bite of the chocolate wedge and gave the rest for us to take back to Miranda.) His powdered peanut butter is made by mixing peanut butter with a starch. When it hits your mouth, it turns back into its original form (due to the liquid of the saliva). This was amazing. I might have to try to make this peanut butter concoction.

The next course was essentially a drink. He said that the Dr. Sterling’s Rx drink was named in honor of his girlfriend, who was seated at a large table behind us. (She is just really beautiful and wore an amazing red dress.) He would create drinks in the evenings and when she returned from classes, he would offer her his creations. She called them her Rx, hence the name.

I’m a pastry person and so the above was focused on the pastry. However, the rest of the meal was completely at the usual high level of Frasca. Because this was a special meal, they paired all of the dishes with a wine and those pairings were good. We had an incredible time.

–June 1, 2009

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