Most of us go out to dinner with our friends and family. But how many of us go out for just dessert? I don't mean grabbing a ice cream cone together, but actually going to a desserterie and having a sit-down dessert, some delicious and sweet concoction. Skip dinner and go straight for the good stuff.
Last May, during the WGBH auction, I won a $500 gift certificate for a dessert party for ten people at Finale. Finale is a Desserterie and they have four locations in the local area, including Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Natick. I have been to Finale several times before, and generally have enjoyed my experiences.
Last weekend, I finally made reservations for my dessert party, inviting family and friends to join me, to share in the decadent sweets and chilled dessert wines. We went to their Harvard Square location and we were placed in a small side room, with only a few other tables, so we were largely private. What the gift certificate got us was basically two desserts for everyone with dessert wine pairings, plus some extra drinks. On average, it cost $10 for each dessert and $10 for each glass of wine. I consider these reasonable prices, especially considering the size of the desserts.
I started with the Manjari Mousse ($11.95), a bittersweet chocolate mousse layered with chocolate buttermilk cake and French apricot puree, served with a napolean of blackberry-cabernet sorbet and strudel discs. This was quite a large dessert, presented in a very fancy way. All of the desserts were presented quite well. And the mousse was excellent, with a diverse melange of delicious flavors and lots of chocolate. I especially enjoyed the sorbet and could have eaten a large dish of just that.
The mousse was paired with the 2006 Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui ($9.95) from Piedmont, Italy. This was a sparkling wine with nice fruit flavors, especially strawberry. I have had this before and enjoyed it, as did most everyone else. It was probably the favorite dessert wine of the evening.
I then moved on to the Creme Brulee ($9.95), vanilla cream caramelized a la minute and garnished with half moons of orange-butter cookies and a medley of fresh fruit. A large bowl of creamy brulee with a lightly crunchy crust and plenty of fresh berries and fruit slices. One of the better brulees I have had in a while. This was paired with a Madeira, a smooth wine with nice caramel and nut notes.
Others tried the Molten Chocolate, Finale Cheesecake and Passion Fruit Meringue. No one had anything negative to say about the desserts and everyone was fairly full by the time it was over. Not all of the dessert wines were as popular, some not so keen on the ports. A few of us have some extra dessert wines flight at the end of the evening, samples of three related wines.
Though the desserts were delicious, what made it a better experience were the people I was with. We talked and laughed, compared and shared. Some of the people did not know each other but that was not an obstacle. Everything went very well, and I felt like this was the start of the holiday season, the time of that special warmth of family and friends. I look forward to more such times this season and hope that all my readers have similar experiences during the holidays.