14 Oct The EATORIALIST: THE BASTARDIZATION OF TIRAMISU?
An Italian dessert loved by many: tiramisu. While questions surround where the recipe originated, it has a relatively brief history in the world of the culinary arts: the earliest source of attribution dates back to a not too distant circa 1969.
Whatever and whenever its origins, tiramisu is a staple of Italian restaurants and bakeries. It is a dessert that, while appearing simple, is a nuanced creation made up of a creamy sweet mascarpone cheese and egg yolk mixture that is given body and edge from its espresso and liqueur soaked sponge cake-like cookie layers. Tiramisu’s signature finish: a dusting of powdered cocoa. It’s a fleeting affair, your time with tiramisu – those egg yolks make it an enemy of hotter climes and even in the refrigerator, it’s always a day away from turning into a glob of unidentifiable mush.
For a classic tiramisu we’re a fan of Stella’s in San Francisco. Yes, you’re in the touristy bastion that is Little Italy but this Italian-American family owned bakery-cafe puts out a top-notch tiramisu. Stella’s knows how to honor tradition.
How to define tiramisu beyond slight variations on its classic form? Not easily. Somethings are better left as they were meant to be lest they morph into some unwanted culinary creature. Enter lemon, raspberry and mango along with create-your-own-options and you’re at the “tiramisu bar” of Dolce Vizio.
These tiramisu permutations smack of the local frozen yogurt counter shop. Solely an American fast food franchise creation? Maybe not – on a recent visit the proprietress told us of a similar tiramisu shop that recently opened in Milan. Let’s hope we don’t have a trend in the works – while the classic tiramisu at Dolce Vizio totally hits the spot, the fruity variations don’t even come close. On the create your own tiramisu – sorry but, squirt bottles and all, this is a bit too cupcake-deconstructionist for us.
Head east about a block to Il Cantuccio, the Florence import for exceptional Italian bakes, and if you’re lucky you’ll hit tiramisu jackpot. It’s not always on the menu but, when it is, you’re in for an indulgent homespun treat your Italian mama might have made a la parfait glass style.
DOLCE VIZIO,131 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village New York, 646-669-7432
IL CANTUCCIO, 91 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York, 212-647-8787
STELLA’S, 446 Columbus Avenue, North Beach, San Francisco, 415-