My dad's humble desserts used to be pieces of juicy asian pear or ice cold radish. Pear and radish tasted different, but did the same job; cleansing his teeth. Without chemical toothpaste or toothbrush, his childhood night dessert memory was all about practicality.
Mine was too, practical. To start with, Korean cuisine isn't too focused on dessert culture and my parents were too paranoid about my decaying teeth to give me sweets after meals.
It used to be simply oranges, grapes, or apples. But most of the time, no dessert at all. When my dad felt generous, he gave me a bowl of Kellogg's frosty flakes as dessert. At least calcium was fortified in it.
Then, New York wiped out my practical dessert memories. I can have headache-causing sweet chocolates or stomachache-causing heavy ice cream or waste line-expanding buttery goods. Nothing practical about it.
Spot Dessert Bar, however, has reminded me of old practical dessert memories. Its menu is diverse from seasonal desserts, cup cakes, cookies, ice cream to chef's omakase, but what I love about Spot is fruit-heavy menu items; Not so sweet but sophisticatedly mix matched with ingredients.
When you step down a bit from St.Marks street level, there is it, Spot.
Its rustic woody tables with fresh flowers brings out nice vibe.
It's pretty strange to feel that I actually know chef, Pichet Ong. Of course, we're 'FRIEND' on Facebook meaning I get to know what he ate last night or where he's travelled recently. But it's Facebook-tized friendship, you know.
So when I actually spotted him at Spot one day, I almost went ahead to hug him to say hi as if we were long time friends. What have Facebook done to me! Insanity.
But when my decent mind came back, a question visited me."Wait a minute, this beautiful, artsy dessert wasn't prepared by chef Ong?"
Obviously, he came after I had the first bite of intriguing white miso ice cream with olive cake sandwich. I frowned immediately. I'm not that naive to expect the main chef prepares my dish all the time. But that's how intimate his persona is on Facebook! It's clearly one-way relationship, you can tell. Only Facebook is to be blamed.
I put myself together quickly from the shock with a delicious help of chef Ong's creation. 'White miso semifreddo' ($8.50) challenged my palate to define what dessert is. Salty miso fused into a form of ice cream meets extra virgin olive oil touched cake disoriented me a little. I always thought miso and evoo as hot cooking stuff, not cold dessert. But, alas, dessert is cooking too, isn't it?
Over the ice cream sandwich, evoo was drizzled giving another layer to it. I wish, however, that ice cream was softer than what I had. It was so rock solid that I couldn't appreciate the taste fully. Raspberry sorbet was so truthful. Right here, my old practicality dessert mind set kicks in. Real fruity texture and taste literally shocked me. Almond tuile (light dry cookie) was fun bites.
(By the way, you can read Korean names on the window. Kwon Yun Hee, please go back and erase your name.)
I kind of understood why ice cream sandwich was rocky after seeing this. Big batch, sliced up, then heading to fridge till someone orders.
'Yuzu Eskimo' ($8.50) is a citrus heaven. Yuzu infused white chocolate ice cream bar sits on raspberry foam. This only would make a nice refreshing dessert for me. But if you're worried about acidity, you can scrap chocolate sauce with coco balls and Oreo crumbles. And sweet bites of blackberries are complimentary. This one, again was not made by chef Ong. A woman pulled out recipe or direction, then built this according to it. I mean, taste should be same, but it's just lacking that extra (which makes a huge difference) spontaneous creativity. I was tasting mimicked creativity. Or am I going there at odd times?
Rose hip and mint tea calmed down our hyped up taste buds. (Once I had bubble iced tea, it was too watery filling me up un-satisfyingly) Then, again we were ready to adventure another unusual taste.
'Soft Cheesecake' ($8) is an under-estimated name. Deconstructed cheese cake is displayed in a glass in a rather constructive manner. Blood orange, blueberry compote, walnut soil, smooth cheese, then passion fruit foam were placed with a precise calculation. After waiting for me to admire the beauty, server poured ingredients onto the plate creating another display.
Passion fruit foam was light, fruity, and pleasantly sour making my bite into cheese cream. I'm not a big fan of goat cheese, so I skipped most of the cheese part, but my fork kept poking the foam. When it was getting too sour, I moved to sweet blueberries, then when it was getting too sweet, I moved to blood orange which has both sweet and sour. Before I went back to taste passion fruit, I scrubbed my tongue with walnut soil sort of cleansing my palate.
Well, we deconstructed that thing pretty diligently, didn't we?
When my dad comes and visits me, I will have to bring him to Spot to see his reaction. Will Spot pass his practicality test? Or will he end up buying me a box of Kellogg?
That day, maybe, chef Ong will prepare our dessert? Until that happens, I keep clicking his Facebook page...