High 5: Puddings
1. Britain – Cambridge Burnt Cream
A combination of double cream, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla seeds and caramelised sugar, it’s basically crème brûlée, but there’s a debate as to where the recipe originated – in the UK or in France. Let’s assume it’s British since the people of Cambridge claim it was invented within the walls of Trinity College in the mid-1600s. It’s an extraordinary taste, anyway. Hoi Polloi, London’s new and very cool ‘modernist brasserie’ in Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel, calls their offering ‘Chocolate Cambridgeshire Cream’, and it’s eye-narrowingly good. Before I went, I read reviews telling me I wouldn’t finish it, such is its richness. Wrong.
2. France – Chou Chantilly
Big balls of puff pastry sliced horizontally, squirted full of Chantilly and sprinkled with icing sugar. What’s not to love? In the UK, we’d probably call these ‘cream puffs’, but Chou Chantilly sounds more delicate and delicious. Chartier, a Paris institution in the heart of the theatre district, is a bustling, belle époque dining room that presents this pudding in unembellished form, and inexpensively (3.10 Euros). It’s likely you’ll have to queue, to experience this and other traditional fare (including Escargots and Confit de Canard), but it’s well worth it.
3. Morocco – Poppadom-style pudding
I’ve never known the proper name for it, but if there’s one post-dinner treat I’d travel for, this is it. It’s a cake which looks like lots of poppadoms piled on top of each other, except they taste sweet and each layer is drenched in icing, and the top is sprinkled with icing sugar. Try it in Fes – Morocco’s culinary capital – at one of the two boutique Maison Bleue hotels. Dinner here is accompanied by a small group of Gnaoua musicians, whose sound is almost hypnotic.
4. Greece – Loukoumades
In ancient Greece, these deep-fried dough balls were served to winners of the Olympics. Now a popular Greek sweet, it gives bougatsa (filo pastry and custard) a run for its money. Krinos on Aiolou Street in Athens has been making legendary loukoumades since 1923 and has a celebrity following. Prepared on site and served fresh on authentic metal plates – having been honey-doused with a big wooden wand and dusted with cinnamon – these are some of the best you’ll ever taste.
5. USA – Malt Shake
Granted, it’s a drink and not a dessert – but it holds its weight in wonderfulness as well as calories, so it’s in. Malt shakes are more satisfying than milk shakes: they’re much thicker and taste like liquefied Maltesers. At EJ’s Luncheonette on New York’s East Side, they come in all sorts of flavours including Peanut Butter Banana and Fluffer Nutter (marshmallow cream and peanut butter). Even Chocolate Covered Bacon, but I’d give that a miss. Enjoy a shake alongside some buttermilk waffles for brunch and it’ll be a long time before you’re hungry again.
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