Santa Barbara is getting a little less sweet now that pastry chef Rosie Moot is moving on from the Wine Cask and Intermezzo, eventually heading back east where she's originally from. This was her last weekend. She had been at Wine Cask long enough to make me crave desserts when I usually don't, as I don't have a sweet tooth that needs a 12-step program. Then again, as sweet as she is as a person, she knows enough to make her desserts hew to the savory line as much as possible. The classic example of that might be her butterscotch pudding so snowed with fleur de sel it could almost seem a pretzel, the sweet and salty edging each others' pleasures further and further up. It was seemingly simple and complexly delicious.
And then there was the miracle of what she could do frying things, which generally sounds like a dessert disaster--that risk of dropping a little cannonball of dough into your gullet atop a fine meal. Rosie never did that, somehow frying to perfect crispiness and not beyond, her dough ever feathery, yet substantial enough to please. There where those pumpkin beignets that were a dream place where New Orleans and Dia de los Muertos met in a culinary tango on your tongue. On the menu now there are lemon-lavender beignets, crisp pocket pillows full of zippy citrus cream with just a hint of lavender lift--they're not perfumy in the least--sitting atop a bit more of the lemon cream, some miracle of the market halved blackberries, and aside a black currant sorbet that adds yet a whole nother palette to your palate. Never fussy in the least, it's something you feel you should be able to do at home, but you know you never could.
Like, say, a market crisp, currently with the first of the season nectarines (which perhaps bake even better as they're a bit firmer than those who get more heat on the tree). Something this simple shouldn't be this good, but it is, both crunchy from the dough and ripe from the stone fruit, and then topped with a honey gelato that sounds much more sweet than it is.
Rosie Moot, you will be missed. My one consolation is I will have to run a bit less without your end of the meal temptations beckoning.