Keeping it simple

In my last post I shared my thoughts on how the bread at the start of a meal can either enhance or threaten the enjoyment of the remainder of the experience. What you serve at the end of the meal can have exactly the same effect.

No matter who you ask, every chef will tell you that the trend today is toward simpler dishes that reflect the true flavor of the ingredients, yet many pastry chefs continue to try to complicate their desserts.

I was recently at a food and wine festival at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island in Hawaii where a small group of celebrity chefs gathered to cook for those fortunate to be staying at the resort. Nancy Silverton, owner of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, was one of them. I first met Nancy when I was GM of Four Seasons Bangkok and she joined an all-female lineup of celebrity chefs (others were Nancy Oakes, Carrie Nahabedian and Claudia Flemming) for our World Gourmet Festival. I will never forget the dish she prepared for the opening reception — large, fluffy white meringues with fresh peaches and creme fraiche! WOW!

Well, I now have a second dish of hers to add to my memory bank. She calls it “Torta della Nonna,” or “Grandmother’s Tart.” It’s basically a cheesecake made with a mild-flavored goat’s cheese, mascarpone and Philadelphia-style cream cheese. It is garnished with honeycomb and topped with a pine nut cookie. 

SO simple. SO delicious.