Since this is the summer of fruit soups in San Francisco, it follows a certain logic that it would also be the summer of vegetable desserts. Local chefs right now are sneaking veggies into the last course, and it just might get you to re-examine your relationship with them. Hate beets, for example? You won't anymore after trying them candied in the sunflower tart at Bar Tartine.
New to the dessert menu this week at Zaré at Fly Trap is the Zaré artichoke heart, a collaboration between chef/owner Hoss Zaré and pastry chef Mina Kacos. Their idea started out as a cake, morphed into a tart, and has since evolved into a more creative presentation: The whole artichoke heart, poached in simple syrup and spices such as black cardamom and clove, is served with trimmed leaves still attached. Instead of butter and mayonnaise, the leaves may be dipped in lemon gelato and almond pastry cream. A streak of hard caramel made from the poaching liquid offers a faint but beautiful earthiness. Candied sage leaves and candied fennel seeds offer a reminder of the vegetal nature of the dish.
Chef Mark Richardson is currently offering a whimsical vegetable dessert at Seasons Restaurant and Seasons Bar and Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel. Ice Cream Meets the Garden is a trio of flavors meant to mimic a tomato-basil salad with scoops of heirloom tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar ice cream. Each is garnished appropriately, including two tiny cherry tomatoes on top of the heirloom tomato scoop, which is the most subtle flavor of the three. A spoonful that contains a taste of each reveals a perfect salad balance. Richardson says he's played with vegetables in ice cream before, but it's often in a main course presentation, like a sweet pea ice cream he's served as an accompaniment to crab.
It's not as hard to get those five-a-day in as it used to be, that's for sure.