December 2, 2005
the parfait of ghastly horrors
DISAPPOINTMENT. MONSTROSITY. SAD. MAKES BABIES CRY.
There descriptions and more are what I wanted to scrawl onto the Whole Foods Turtle Parfait cup in permanent black marker, after which I would stab the cup in rage--with the copious number of free Whole Foods plastic cutlery--brought upon by the ingestion of pointless calories and continue putting the brutalized cup in its rightful place by stomping on it. A few times. With cleats.
Yesterday was officially the most disappointing food (mis)adventure I've ever had. Starting from the end (...erm, yes, that's allowed), I present you with an act of desser-hungry-adled-brain desparation. Kathryn and I wandered through Gramercy/Flatiron (sorry, don't know my neighborhoods) area like lost puppies/children, wide-eyed, staring into dimly lit restaurants packed wall-to-wall with old people (and by "old people" I merely mean older than we are) until we decided that Whole Foods was the most reasonable choice for a place to get good grub where we would be semi-comfortable, be able to recognize each others facial features due to sufficient light, and have the ability to carry a conversation at a normal voice level without being drowned out by loud music/chattering humans.
And so we did. Kathryn got agreeable Indian grub from the hot bar and an assortment of small pastries from the dessert counter while I stared at the refrigerated dessert section, akin to how Homer would stare at basically anything at Apu's mart. So much cake; how do I choose? HOW? Do I want yellow cake? Chocolate cake? Brownie? Cupcake? Pie? Shall I just close my eyes and grab something random? What? WHAT WHAT WHAT ROBYN MAKE UP YOUR MIND!
So I did. While it's a common type of dessert, I've never had parfait before, or at least not one in this particular combination resembling a chocolate turtle: layers of random chunks of chocolate cake, whipped cream, whole pecans, and caramel sauce. There's no reason that such a combination should fail. No. Reason.
Naturally, it failed. Upon my first bite, I was overwhelmed by how underwhelmed I was. Sure, it didn't taste like gasoline or any type of bodily excrement, but it was just so...nothing. Of course it had a taste, which I'd describe as "not good enough". Not enough sugar (although ironically, the first ingredient is cane sugar), not enough chocolate, not enough caramel. It makes you wonder how they could fill such a large cup with a combination of lacking flavors, as it almost seems mathematically impossible.
I think the pecans, of which there seemed to be a never ending supply of, embedded in globs of cake and lurking in creamy enclaves, were undesirably raw. While I usually like raw pecans, the taste just didn't work in this dessert. It's not that they didn't taste like pecans, but they just didn't taste like pecans in a dessert (for instance, pecans in pecan pie tend to be heavenly bits of sugar and fat) and managed to bring down the taste of the cake and cream, which were already suffering in the "number of good things I can say about them" department. I've had one previous encounter with a pecan laden blah-tasting dessert from Whole Foods (some kind of caramel pecan cheesecake) where after eating a few of the pecans, I couldn't take any more. Remember who's speaking here: someone who can usually eat 4+ ounces of nuts in one sitting, no problem.
Despite my obvious distate for this parfait, I still ate most of it. Something's definitely wrong with that. Even though I don't really fulfill the title of "the girl who ate everything", I do sometimes eat everything, usually at times when I shouldn't, such as last night. While eating it sans pecans, I thought that perhaps, by the work of a miracle (and if I had been intoxicated), I'd come across a magical, delicious spoonful of cake, caramel, and whipped cream that would allow the dessert to redeem itself. I do recall one pleasing spoonful where a bit of cake had a large blob of caramel in it, but that was all. Kathryn disposed of the offensive cup before I could stare at it any longer, allowing the image to burn into my brain's memory center and give me nightmares.
I think I've said enough about this sad dessert. Basically, it didn't taste like crap, but it tasted so not-good that I wonder if anyone (Chef? Recipe writer? Random kid off the street?) actually taste tested this before sending it out onto shelves and unleashing doom in a cup on unsuspecting victims for $2.99. Hell, maybe it tastes good and I just couldn't tell. (shrugs)
Now, I'll start from the beginning of last night to the doomy parfait. If you saw my last entry, there was supposedly a chocolate tasting last night. I invited Patricia to come with me and intended to meet Kathryn there because as fun as it is to eat chocolate by yourself (while staring at the cold, screen of my laptop), it's even more fun if there are other people taking part in the joy of eating pulverized cacao bean products. Before heading to the chocolate tasting that was not meant to be, Patricia and I roamed around for food. I suggested the Shake Shack, where I still have yet to try a hamburger, but as we got closer to the sleek, radiating hut of burgers and shakes, a wave of horrification set in as no one was there. Checking the place out was a last minute decision so I didn't look up the times beforehand, and while it does make sense for them to close early during the winter (under the assumption that people won't want to eat outside if it's cold), it still sucks.
Where to now? I looked east and west on 23rd Street, partially screaming "NOOOOOOO!" inside my head before remembering that I hadn't tried Rickshaw Dumpling Bar yet. Little dumps! Yes! They're here to save the day!
RDB's long interior is smooth and clean, with an somewhat industrial but comfortable feel, and probably doesn't resemble any other kind of dumpling house you've ever been to. There's a good amount of seating in the back that I would've never noticed just looking in from outside. At 7 PM on a Thursday night, it wasn't at all crowded but customers kept coming in. Their menu is very basic: 6 kinds of dumplings, with optional salad or noodle soup, plus some drinks, sides, and one type of dessert dumpling. Getting six dumplings and noodle soup seems like the best deal, as the bowls looked huge, but since I wasn't very hungry I stuck with just six chicken and Thai basil dumplings.
They tasted like Thai-ified dumplings. Tasty! They went very well with the spicy (curry, methinks) peanut dipping sauce. While I wouldn't go out of my way to eat them, they were worth trying once, and if I find myself roaming around that area again in the future, late at night with no Shake Shack to seek ground meat delight in, I'd go back. I tried one of Patricia's pork and chives dumplings, and while it may be good on its own the flavor was much less intense than in my dumplings and thus tasted kind of bland. I guess it's not a good idea to mix dumplings if the flavors differ that much.
We headed to the chocolate tasting, to find out there wasn't one because of a death in the family. I felt awful standing in front of the apartment door while calling the woman in charge of the tasting as she said that she hoped the cancellation didn't cause much inconvenience for me. Well, it surely wasn't as "inconvenient" as having an family emergency, but I felt like something inside me dropped. Like my organs. That's uncomfortable.
Roaming around, we found out that just about anything that would appeal to me was closed, hence how I ended up eating a strange parfait at Whole Foods. If you're roaming around late at night in search for desserts, it's best to stay in the West Village.
[I wrote this entry very disjointedly over two days, so if it poops out at the end, that's why. Hopefully I'll write something more interesting next time.]
Posted by roboppy at 10:21 AM
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