After seeing the kitchen send out foiellipops (yes, foie gras lollipops), terrariums of food, Cohiba cigar-smoked scallops (served in cigar boxes), and pointing sticks that turned into squeezable mustard tubes, the kaleidoscopic dessert at Root didn't surprise me. Dinner at this spot in New Orleans is like a date with Willy Wonka—full of purposeful whimsy.
After a meal that included a major amount of charcuterie, pickled shrimp with deviled eggs, and duck heart salad, I was stuffed but still intrigued to see what a dessert course would bring. My choice: Blueberry Orange Blossom Clafoutis ($10). Anywhere else, I'd expect the classic French preparation, basically a custardy, baked pancake concoction with floating black cherries and a dusting of powdered sugar. But remember: I'm at Root.
Breaking down the colorful chaos, the major components included an Earl Grey tea sable, blueberry vacherin, purple croquant, and violet blueberry foam. All of the rough-cut chunks and shards of the aforementioned ingredients were layered like random puzzle pieces above a base of what I believe was meringue. Slowly melting through the composed mess was sour cream cardamom ice cream, with lemongrass curd also contributing tanginess to the otherwise fruity dish.
One might wonder whether there were too many elements, but that was part of the whimsy of the experience. From the sponginess of the vacherin to the crispness of the croquant, the dessert offered a wide range of textures. (Surprisingly, and refreshingly, it wasn't too sweet, and was actually on the light side.) I had fun playing with the various components and trying them in combination with each other. After all, as Root shows, at the root of it all, we're all children at play and looking for a little fun.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.