Per Se's Five-Course Dessert Tasting, One of Our 100 Favorite Dishes
Dish no. 49: The five-course dessert tasting at Per Se (10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9335)
Earlier this year, Loyola Press published Mercy in the City, America magazine editor Kerry Weber's chronicle of her commitment to the seven corporal works of mercy during Lent; roughly 100 pages in, she questions whether it was appropriate that we broke fast for lunch at Per Se one holy season Sunday afternoon. This is the kind of small talk food-obsessed contemporary Catholics make on first dates. Giving up all good things six days a week -- red meat, coffee, booze, sweets -- meant that our appetite was voracious by the time we loosened our ties before a rack of salmon coronets, extracted pearls from oysters, and smeared foie gras on an endless parade of brioche. Soon, our courses gave way to dessert. After doughnuts and coffee in the form of hot black and milky semifreddo came and went, we eyed a broad chest full of more chocolates than we could stomach, and the untouched truffles got boxed and bagged alongside a purse of penny candies and caramels. Not willing to extend our sinful actions another day, we returned home with precious minutes to make communion with every remaining truffle until the clock struck midnight. Soon after, Per Se introduced its five-course dessert tasting in the restaurant's salon, and now, you can get course after course of Elwyn Boyles' creations, like this Victoria sponge cake Gooseberry Fool reminiscent of the pastry chef's childhood garden in Wales, without the $300 price tag of a full meal. Our eyes are still too big for our appetite, and a rattling box of cassis, and olive oil, and peanut butter and jelly truffles, still accompany us home. But the chocolates still don't last past midnight, because that would be a sin.
In advance of our 2014 Best of NYC issue, we're traipsing through the boroughs and divulging our favorite dishes of the year. They're presented here as a countdown, but we're listing them in no particular order. Consider this a guide to what's good to eat in this town right this very second.