I remember it like it was yesterday — the first time I saw salt curiously sprinkled atop a potentially perfect dark chocolate torte. I admittedly rolled my eyes and dismissed it as another celebrity chef’s whimsical attempt to drum up attention. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to be wrong.
Suddenly, it all made sense. Salt was the perfect complement to chocolate, evoking the rich complexity of the cocoa bean in all its well-deserved glory. But pastry chefs didn’t stop there: wasabi, pepper, chile, even cilantro. The unlikely marriages that have taken place in the past year in the dessert world have rocked the very foundation on which my favorite course has so firmly stood.
But bacon? I cringed at the mere sight of syrup carelessly poured on perfectly good breakfast bacon.
That is until one fateful fall night when I’d had one too many glasses of Riesling and dared to bite into a brilliant apple spice cake with cheddar bacon crumble. Her name was Nicole Kaplan, a genius of Eleven Madison Park’s pastry chef (www.elevenmadisonpark.com/ushg_partners.php). I was confused and yet exhilirated. I had to find more like her. That’s when I found Carina Ahlin of Acquavit who dared to pair Pierre Robert cheese with roasted pear and bacon caramel for a cheese plate I’ll never forget (www.aquavit.org). How could I not have seen it? Salty, smoky and strangely sweet, never mind the crunch factor — it was a match made in heaven.
It’s only a matter of time before words gets out and this union spreads to restaurants across the country. At least, that’s what I tell myself to get through the day…
Until next thyme,