I've had a few of those meals, and they all stand out very definitively in my mind.
One in particular though, still has me drooling when I think about it.
When my dad and I we're on our road trip back in January, driving from San Diego to Tacoma, we made a few stops along the way.
We knew we'd be having good food in Napa, and in Portland, but in Cambria, CA (AKA super random town in the middle of the California coast), we weren't expecting much.
I Yelped around and saw that Black Cat Bistro had great reviews, so we decided to try it for dinner that night. Oh, my, goodness. The food was absolutely incredible.
I started with a ridiculously creamy and delicious white bean soup with an herb oil drizzle on top, and my dad started with abalone. My dad used to own an abalone farm, so you could say he's had some amazing abalone and one bite in and he was declaring it the best he'd ever eaten. It was pure heaven.
Main course I got braised short ribs, which are one of my favorite foods. Hands down one of the best plates of short ribs I've ever tasted. They were so tender, perfectly flavored with herbs and wine, and just melted in my mouth. Yum! I totally forget what my dad had, so I can't share that with you, sorry.
Obviously, the dessert was amazing as well. My dad got a lemon chevre cheesecake, which was super creamy and perfectly garnished with pomegranate arils. I don't even like goat cheese, but it was darn good.
And my dessert? Well, I still dream about that baby.
Sticky, Toffee, Pudding.
I had never had it before, but I had seen this recipe on Lottie & Doof and it piqued my interest in the dessert. Naturally, I ordered it and let my imagination run wild on what it was going to taste like.
It exceeded every expectation. Sticky, sweet, date-y, moist, warm, and perfectly complemented with ice cream. Baker heaven.
I had been meaning to attempt to replicate it for months but it just never happened. So, when I was home over winter break I finally got around to it. While it's not as good as Chef Scarborough's rendition of the dessert, it certainly is delicious.
Make sure you drench that cake in the toffee sauce and top it with a bit of honey-sweetened whipped cream, it makes all the difference.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe from Lottie & Doof
- 1 cup (8 oz) stout beer, preferably Guinness extra stout
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 large dates, pitted (6 oz)
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 oz) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter, line bottom with parchment.
In a small saucepan, bring the beer to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the baking soda. It will fizz up a lot. Pour the beer mixture over the pitted dates. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, remove the dates to a food processor and add a little of the beer mixture. Process until a paste is formed. Gradually add the rest of the liquid through the feed tube. The mixture will be smooth, dark and glossy. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 300 if you are baking in a pyrex).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. With the mixer on medium, gradually add the eggs in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add one third of the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half the date mixture and mix just until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with another third of the flour, then the remaining date mixture, and finally the remaining flour. Mix just until the batter is uniform in color and no streaks remain. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a silicon spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. The pan will be about one third full.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. You can then either unmold the cake, or just cut (into 12 pieces) and serve from the cake pan. Serve each slice warm, topped with about 3 tablespoons of the toffee sauce. Top with vanilla ice cream or honey sweetened whipped cream.
- 1 cup (8.5 oz) packed dark brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 16 tablespoons (8 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small saucepan, place the brown sugar and butter. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the pan and add the pod. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice, and salt. Let cool for a couple of minutes before removing the vanilla bean and serving.
Serve this warm! If you aren’t eating this all at once, the cake and sauce can be warmed in the microwave pretty easily. Store the sauce in the fridge and the cake tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Yields 12 pieces