Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Marielle Nuval's knife roll must've still been new when, months after graduating CCA, she got a job in the pastry department at Michael Mina. She stayed on in September when the place morphed into Bourbon Steak, plating desserts on the line mostly, and doing a bit of pastry production. Then a few months ago she and a friend checked out a Hapa Ramen pop-up at Bar Tartine, and something clicked with Nuval, who'd worked at a Japanese café in Seattle. She approached Hapa's Kitty Gallisa to see if she and Richie Nakano might want to offer some Japanese-style sweets? They did.
Nuval called her moonlighting venture Pop! Desserts and began making agar-thickened puddings in Hapa's production kitchen. Last Thursday was Pop! Desserts's fifth appearance with Hapa at Ferry Plaza, with four conservatively sweetened puddings, all $2: matcha green tea, black sesame, coffee, and chocolate. Nuval's quick to say she's still playing around with ingredients and flavorings. Last week's matcha skewed too bitter for our taste, and the chocolate was slightly grainy. But the black sesame offered up nicely rendered bass notes and an airy texture, and coffee (made with Blue Bottle's Three Africans blend) was pretty much the perfect thing to follow a bowl of Nakano's deeply satisfying broth.
Seeing where Nuval takes Pop! Desserts should prove almost as satisfying. She says she'll continue tweaking her pudding recipe and hopes to add a completely different kind of dessert in the New Year. "I don't want to be known as the pudding girl," she says.
Pop! Desserts: Appears with Hapa Ramen, Ferry Building Farmers' Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tue. and Thu. Follow @popdesserts on Twitter for updates.