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A particularly Bay Area/N. Californian dessert

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The theme for my ladies' supper club this coming month is Northern California. I'm in charge of dessert. Any ideas out there? Something iconic of this area or an ingredient which screams Bay Area? TIA!

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  1. Something wine based, wine-poached pears, maybe?

    Or what about a dessert cheese course, with something fabulous + honey?

    1. Something with Meyer lemons, which are abundant locally and in season, would be appropriate. There are a number of threads on this board with specific ideas for Meyer lemons.

      1. love all the ideas suggested thus far! you could always do something with grapes instead of wine...and don't forget that dairy in general is a major industry up there (so don't discount yogurt & ice cream), and that walnuts and almonds are also local crops.

        1. I think dessert cheese course nails it on the head. Some Humboldt Fog, other fabulous local cheeses, honey, fig preserves, good crusty bread or crackers...

          4 Replies
          1. re: operagirl

            And/or a humboldt fog cheesecake.

            1. re: chowser

              Do you have a specific recipe in mind? The very thought is causing my stomach to rumble.

              1. re: tcamp

                I've had my eye on this recipe for close to a year but haven't made it yet. If you do, let me know how it is.


            2. re: operagirl

              Good call--my favorite cheese ever. Maybe even humbodt fog w/ a red wine poached pear on the side, if you're really ambitious.

            3. Meyer lemons are a fantastic idea. Dried fig crostada would be lovely. Another very bay area thing to do would be to mix herbs with the produce. So a lovely meyer lemon mousse with thyme shortbread - hey put some goat cheese in the mousse and that would be mighty tasty and very northern californian. Rosemary and figs are great.

              6 Replies
              1. re: jsaimd

                I second (er, third) the Meyer lemon idea. The best thing about them is that while lots of folks have them in their yards, they rarely use them so they fall to the ground and rot. We help these folks out by taking the ripe lemons.

                A couple of weeks ago I made a lemon tart recipe from Medrich's Pur Dessert book. It's a rich crust with a lemon curd spread on top. Wonderful and not difficult. Great with Meyer lemons.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  It's funny, because I don't live in the region and don't live w/in 180 miles of a Whole Foods or equivalent, I had absolutely no idea Meyer lemons were a Northern California "thing" - and I've never seen or tasted one either.

                  1. re: shanagain

                    shanagain, if you ever do encounter Meyer lemons grab as man as you can. they're wonderfully floral and sweet - totally different than conventional lemons.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I definitely will - I'm the woman at the grocery store who always manages to find something the cashiers have never had to ring up before!

                      1. re: shanagain

                        the first time i bought sunchokes, i ended up at the register with two cashiers scratching their heads trying to figure out the code. i finally took the list from one of them and looked it up myself. after it happened a second time, i memorized the number to avoid any future mysteries!

                        and for the OP or anyone else who needs information or inspiration for Meyer lemons:

                  2. re: oakjoan

                    Do take a look at Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert - it has fabulous recipes and is very northern Californian. There are some recipes floating around on the web from this too and it was a Dessert Cookbook of the Month. Love it! Note that the lemon tart recipe has a misprint in early versions of the book where the filling needs to be tripled.

                  1. You could also do artichokes. Castroville calls itself the "Artichoke Center of the World" and driving around there, all you see are rows and rows of artichokes.
                    Meyer lemons are great too. In fact, you could do a Meyer lemon artichoke dish!
                    Here is one that could work, especially because Nor Cal also produces olive oil.
                    Baby Artichokes with Parmesan, Meyer Lemon, and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: toveggiegirl

                      OP specified that she's responsible for dessert.

                      artichoke ice cream, anyone? ;)

                      1. You could copy The Stinking Rose in SFO and do garlic ice cream ! Gilroy, which is not too far, bills itself as the Garlic Capital of the World.

                        On second thoughts, you may well gross out your supper club :)

                        1. Can't say I've ever seen garlic in a Bay Area dessert -- thank goodness.
                          Here are three from a Berkeley restaurant. They seem to "scream" Bay Area pretty loudly:

                          bacon apple tarte with cinnamon ice cream
                          goat cheese panna cotta with warm satsumas and pistachio chocolate wafer
                          dark chocolate crema with olive oil, salt and pepper crisp

                          We didn't try any of these -- got the rice pudding, instead -- but they may inspire you.

                          I also think Meyer lemon is a good idea.

                          1. I got these off the Chez Panisse (Berkeley) web site

                            Personally, I would say anything using Ghirardelli or Scharffenberger Chocolate

                            A bowl of Churchill-Brenneis Orchard Kishu tangerines and Flying Disc Ranch Barhi dates

                            A plate for two of pistachio-almond chocolates, candied Meyer lemon peel, and Barhi dates,

                            Cara Cara orange and grapefruit sherbets with Champagne gelée

                            Coconut ice cream and passion fruit-tangerine sherbet vacherin

                            Citrus tartlet

                            Hazelnut praline ice cream profiteroles

                            Baked Alaska with Meyer lemon ice cream

                            Bittersweet chocolate fondant with bourbon ice cream and candied pecans

                            1. How about chevre cheesecake with a Meyer Lemon sauce or curd?

                              1. ....and if you wanted something off beat, in honor of Gilroy, Garlic Ice Cream :)

                                1. Now that I know you want dessert (thanks GHG!) I must recommend Emily Luchetti's amazing Lemon Squares. She is the pastry chef for Waterbar and Farallon in San Francisco. This recipe works very well with Meyer Lemons. It is not a very sweet recipe so I don't cut down the sugar when using Meyer Lemons. The recipe calls for more than a cup of fresh lemon juice which gives these squares a strong lemon flavour. And the curd is so smooth and yummy!

                                  You could also make a Zuni Cafe dessert like Dried Figs in Red Wine or Oranges in a Honey Syrup with Rosemary. You could use a California red. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/355993

                                  Or a Ghirardelli or SCHARFFEN BERGER chocolate dessert. Both companies have cookbooks and recipe websites (http://www.ghirardelli.com/bake/recip... and http://www.scharffenberger.com/recipe...) or you could just use the chocolate in a recipe you like. This Ghirardelli Tiramisu was recently recommended on the boards by another CHer.

                                  1. There's a now-departed SF resto called Blum's that did a Koffee Krunch cake. It's a chifffon cake covered in whipped cream, with big chunks of coffee-flavored seafoam all over. This cake was a must at ladies' lunches in the 50's and 60's. I've seen recipes online--you can make all the components ahead of time and assemble at the last minute, so the krunch doesn't get soggy or melt.