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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Fun With Food

Food should be fun. Don't you think? In the Bay Area we take it very seriously. There are food celebrities. Food trends--from nouvelle to regional to raw. Political food causes--slow food, organic, sustainable, etc. How about just having a good time with food? The New York Times did an article on the trend of bakeries that specialize in cupcakes recently and while cupcakes are not really my thing, I like the idea behind it. Let's stop taking food so seriously all the time! Especially dessert. If that can't be fun we're in real trouble.

Here are a few examples of having fun with food, specifically dessert, that I think the Bay Area in particular could learn something from:

In Portland Oregon, Pix Patisserie serves up "Dim Sum Yum Yum" nights, rolling carts are piled with miniature versions of desserts for patrons to pick by the plate, dim sum style. Chopsticks are provided and patrons who show up in Asian garb such as kimonos are rewarded with fortune cookies.

In New York ChikaLicious lays claim to being New York's first "dessert bar". A $12 fixed price menu offers an amuse, dessert main dish, and assorted petit fours. It's "sushi style" with diners watching the action that takes place behind the bar as desserts are created. Much like a dessert sampler plate you get to try many things in bite sizes no matter what you order.

In the hip River North neighborhood of Chicago filled with clubs and galleries comes another dessert bar--Sugar, this one situated in a trendy nightclub that serves drinks and desserts only. With a Willy Wonka meets the swinging 1960's interior and literary inspired names of their desserts like One Souffle Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Banana Karenina, Marquis de Sucre, The Tell-Tale Tart, Jel-Lolita, Yamlet and I Cannolius they clearly understand the concept of having "fun with your food". Sugar is not just a place to indulge in sugar but to see, be seen and just hang for an evening.

Finally if you want to have fun with your food at home, Claire Crespo has written a book called "The Secret Life of Food" which shows how to create amazingly life like reproductions in sweets of things like flowerpots, fish bowls, anatomical hearts and in one case a whole cake that looks like a piece of sushi. You can check out her web site but her book with full color photographs will enchant and amaze you even more.