I happened to be at FT33 in Dallas as the recent Top Chef: Seattle aired. It was the episode in which pastry chef Josh Valentine was eliminated from the competition. I didn't know the result as I dined, but as I watched Valentine, he showed no signs of sadness while working in the kitchen, and it didn't show on my plate.
From a list of five desserts—there's also a cheese board—I chose, per usual preference, the least sweet and the most savory: an Olive Oil Financier ($9). The somewhat spongy, squat rectangle had three layers of juniper milk chocolate filling, giving a ginned up sweetness to complement the slightly nutty and floral flavor of the olive oil in the cake. The gin theme continued as the financier was topped with brilliantly green-colored celery slices which had been macerated in simple syrup and Junipero Gin—adding herbal and citrus notes to the crispy celery.
I especially enjoyed the quenelle of apple-celery sorbet, which was light and refreshing, tart and a bit tangy. Tangier still were the swirls of yogurt on the financier and the plate. The dessert provided a pretty good representation of the restaurant, with interesting ingredient combinations, attention to detail (lots of tweezer use), and somewhat small portions on sweeping canvases of bowls and plates. I appreciated the thoughtful preparation as I tried to pull all of the components together in each bite, fancying the variety of flavors and textures in a not-so-ordinary dessert. Like Josh on Top Chef: Seattle, maybe not the best in the field, but certainly a strong competitor.
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