One of the most valuable things I’ve learned interning at Chez Panisse is the value of cooking with the best seasonal produce. Alice Waters’ favorite thing on the Chez Panisse dessert menu is a bowl of fruit. That’s it, just a bowl of the best, most beautiful organic fruit. Right now we’re serving tiny orange kishu mandarins that peel like a dream and sweet barhi dates that simply melt in the mouth. Another one of Alice’s favorites is the galette. There is always a galette on the cafe menu and right now, the feature galette is adorned with a fan of pink lady apples. It’s finished with a glaze made from apple cider and all the left over cores and peels. The crust is coated in a sprinkling of sugar and torched, creating a beautiful golden caramelization. It’s served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, of course!
There is also always one chocolate option on the menu because EVERYONE loves chocolate. Seriously, chocolate items are almost always the last listed on the menu at any restaurant you go to because otherwise people would just stopping reading as soon as they saw the chocolate option. Sometimes at Chez P, we serve chocolate custard or chocolate cake and often times there is a bowl of two scoops of ice cream with chocolate sauce and a chocolate wafer cookie. It’s pretty irresistible and I will admit that I used to be one of those people that always went for the chocolate item, but now that I know “zuppa di frutta” is a fancy name for a bowl of mimosa topped with sorbet, I am much more likely to think outside the chocolate.
The rest of the winter menu is focused on citrus. Huckleberries are one of the only berries that are in season this time of year, so citrus becomes the star! I’ve supremed more blood oranges in the past few weeks than I can count. There’s also candied peel, slices of lemon confit, candied kumquat, tangerine sherbet, and many more vibrant, tangy pieces of fruit to choose from. The Chez Panisse way is simple and elegant. The focus is solely on using the best ingredients and making them the star, not too much tampering, just nature’s gift in all it’s beautiful glory.
-dollop of plain greek yogurt
-drizzle of honey
-sprinkle of chia seeds
-segments of 1 blood orange
Combine and enjoy!