[Photograph: Jay Friedman]
I happened to be at FT33 in Dallas as the recent Top Chef: Seattle aired. It was the episode in which pastry chef Josh Valentine was eliminated from the competition. I didn’t know the result as I dined, but as I watched Valentine, he showed no signs of sadness while working in the kitchen, and it didn’t show on my plate.
From a list of five desserts—there’s also a cheese board—I chose, per usual preference, the least sweet and the most savory: an Olive Oil Financier ($9). The somewhat spongy, squat rectangle had three layers of juniper milk chocolate filling, giving a ginned up sweetness to complement the slightly nutty and floral flavor of the olive oil in the cake. The gin theme continued as the financier was topped with brilliantly green-colored celery slices which had been macerated in simple syrup and Junipero Gin—adding herbal and citrus notes to the crispy celery.
I especially enjoyed the quenelle of apple-celery sorbet, which was light and refreshing, tart and a bit tangy. Tangier still were the swirls of yogurt on the financier and the plate. The dessert provided a pretty good representation of the restaurant, with interesting ingredient combinations, attention to detail (lots of tweezer use), and somewhat small portions on sweeping canvases of bowls and plates. I appreciated the thoughtful preparation as I tried to pull all of the components together in each bite, fancying the variety of flavors and textures in a not-so-ordinary dessert. Like Josh on Top Chef: Seattle, maybe not the best in the field, but certainly a strong competitor.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him “The Mein Man”), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.