by Steven Doyle
No one enjoys table-side service as much as yours truly. In a discussion about this subject last evening it made me think of not just service, but table-side desserts in the Dallas area. We know where to find saganaki and a big wheel of cheese set on fire much to out amazement, but where are the sweets?
Henri Charpentier was the new of the very famous Escoffier and worked at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris where he was asked to create crepes for the prince of Wales. Young Henri was lauded when he spilled brandy into his concoction when it spun into flames much to the prince’s amusement. Crepes Suzette were born. Find this very famous dessert at Old Warsaw along with Cherries Jubilee and Bananas Foster.
Charles Ranhofer, a French Chef who was working in New York City holds claim to the original Baked Alaska creation in 1867. The dessert was originally served to celebrate the United States’ purchase of Alaska. Ranhofer’s version of the dessert included slices of sponge cake or pound cake topped with a ball-shaped build of ice cream or sherbet enclosed in meringue then flambéed or baked until browned.
Find a fresh version as Chef Rick Moonen, Perry’s Master Development Chef, has introduced a citrus shortbread. The ice cream also has been replaced with a frozen lemon custard and covered with a vanilla bean cloud of meringue. Baked and then flamed tableside with Grand Marnier.
Everyone is competing with the amount of leches one might introduce into a cake, but we are definitely fond of the “Cuatro Leches a la Baked Alaska” at La Duni. Take a slice of Cuatro Leches Cake (condensed, evaporated, heavy cream, dulce de leche) , then light some liqueur on fire and pour it on top. Very good dish. Moist cake with all the leches, with a nice liqueur flavor added on top. Add the fact the pastry chef and owner Dunia Borga is a treat unto herself.
Celebrating six years as this is written, The Common Table puts on a fire for its venerable campfire treat, S’mores. Enjoy all the trappings of the marshmallowed dessert as it goes up in flames at your table. Earliest notions of S’mores came from a 1927 Girl Scouts guidebook. Kudos to our great grandmothers who hiked.
In 1887, to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 50th year as monarch, Escoffier created Cherries Jubilee. The Queen’s love of cherries was well known, and Escoffier adapted the old French method of preserving fruit in sugar and brandy to make a truly celebratory dish.
Cherries Jubilee became wildly popular in fancy restaurants and hit its peak in the 1950s and ‘60s, and adventurous home cooks wowed their friends by making it the spectacular finish for dinner parties. Find this dish at Addison’s Table 13.