Why Did I Miss Out on You, Will? (Dessert Studio at Michel Cluizel)
Earlier before I had my actual late lunch with Sam (last Thursday) on the previous post, I did have an eye-opener of a dessert tasting at Dessert Studio at Michel Cluizel inside the luxurious bohemian housewares store, ABC Carpet & Home. This particular dessert bar, if you will, is ran by the well known, avant-garde pastry chef, Will Goldfarb, who used to run Room 4 Dessert about a year ago, which I admit I haven’t been to.
Anyways, back to the story. I went there around 1:30 on the awful Thursday afternoon with the cold wind and rain. I just thought of having something sweet or intriguing for the sake of making me happier. Hey, I love sweets; make it interesting and delicious, you got me.
I grabbed a table in this tiny seating space where lights were dim, not many people were here since it is bad outside and I don’t think anyone would want a full blown dessert at this time of the day…besides me. As I waited for the server to arrive, which is basically the same people who help out on the chocolate counter, I just perused the short dessert menu. Just look below.
Strangely for some reason, after looking through the entire menu, I wanted a drink. And I mean a drink drink, meaning a cocktail. I can’t explain why. Probably I want to have a moment of kicking back before finals and drift into my hour or so of being free without worries of books, papers, and grades? Maybe. But whatever I felt, I ended up ordering their Chocolate Infused Martini since they use their own special cacao pods and infuse it with vodka. What my server told me, it’s not the same as the sweet version of that cocktail that most of us are familiar with the chocolate martini. Along with that drink, I went for the full dessert tasting menu.
The martini’s not sweet at all. Being the novice cocktail (or any booze for that matter) drinker that I am, my tastebuds aren’t exactly honed to break down to you what I tasted. All I tasted throughout the entire drink was basically the raw, earthy, slightly bitter chocolate from the cacao pod infused vodka with that strong zing of alcohol at the end. Since almost every martini usually have olives adorned on the drink, the substitute the olives for chocolate pearls. And yes, it does taste like alcohol with a faint hint of 72% chocolate, when I ate them at the very end.
My first course, white chocolate gelato with Ligurian olive oil. Looks and sound simple but it tastes like a symphony. I would daresay this is very similar to Otto‘s olive oil gelato, if you ever had that. It sounds weird but it’s wonderful. The rich, florally vanilla flavor. Creamy, dense gelato with salty crunches of smoked salt mingling with the florally olive oil.
Then came along the 72% chocolate cake with Piedmont hazelnut topped with preserved apricot and brown sugar ice. Most of it sounds familiar except for the combination of hazelnut and apricot (to me) and I never thought of having brown sugar ice. Anyways, the cake was moist and it’s made with crushed bits of toasted hazelnut. The apricot gave it a subtle amount of acidity and the brown sugar ice adds a temperature difference and a faint touch of sweetness. It’s not my favorite dessert since the apricot’s sharpness dominated the chocolate cake’s flavor more than balancing it and it’s not sweet enough.
The Indonesian vanilla ice cream and American Sturgeon caviar is the most exotic of the entire menu albeit sounds the most luxurious due to the application of caviar. How does it taste like? Well, when I ate the first bite of the ice cream and the caviar, it was quite divine. Dense, rich, vanilla ice cream with floral notes and heady vanilla flavor meets little “pops” of saltiness from the caviar. Interesting indeed. When I actually found the chocolate bits (which are 85%, not the 72% my server told me since I ate them alone), it adds an earthy element contrasting the lightness to the ice cream. This is another favorite.
The milk chocolate “chantilly” was another citrus element that Mr. Goldfarb was playing around with. (Side note: around this time, he actually arrived in person.) The dense yet airy milk chocolate was complemented with the floral acidity of the grapefruit and the deceptive Earl Grey sorbet. I said “deceptive” just because when I ate this before paying attention to the menu, it was creamy like an ice cream. This was nicely balanced and the chocolate remained the background flavor instead of being overpowered by the other elements.
Just to let you know, if you read the menu on the chantilly, it’s in quotes just because it’s just a French word. Nothing weird added (e.g. some edible food chemicals that he uses) or anything like that: it’s just whipped cream and milk chocolate.
Then the final course, warm chocolate bubbles and fresh milk foam. The warm chocolate is basically warm chocolate ganache, possibly around 72% cacao content, from the taste of it. It’s aerated with nitrous oxide when I asked Mr. Goldfarb about it.
When I ate the warm chocolate with the fresh milk foam, it reminds me of a hot chocolate with the cappuccino’s foamy top with a hint of espresso, since the menu did mention there’s espresso jelly in it. When I dug out the jelly from the bottom of the glass, the jelly was explosively flavorful. The espresso flavor’s extremely bold yet it’s not bitter. Whatever coffee beans and roast he used, I would certainly get a bag of them. I guess if you add up these two different tastes together, I would daresay this is a whimsical yet sophisticated version of mocha in dessert form with a light texture due to the aeration of the ganache.
After finishing that dessert, I was a bit tipsy (due to the earlier chocolate infused martini) yet overall quite satisfied with these desserts.
I’m just wondering why did I miss out on Room 4 Dessert a few years ago? I love the innovative ideas and applications to his desserts. Will’s a natural host after I briefly chatted with him and observed him talk to a few customers around the boutique when a lot more people started to come in when I left. It’s sad that he lost that place but I’m happy that he’s still around New York that I can hopefully linger in the tiny space whenever I want some interesting chocolate-based dessert.
Dessert Studio at Michel Cluizel in ABC Carpet Co.
New York, NY 10003