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>Happy tart year!

I predict 2007 will be a hot, spicy year. For desserts.

My typical dining scenario has been like this. I would be somewhat dazzled by the appetizers, somewhat pleased by the main courses, but somewhat disappointed by the desserts. Not because they are bad, but because they are predictable. Predictably sweet, too. Sweet is wonderful, but a dessert can be infinitely more complex.

When the skills of the pastry chef don't seem to echo the wizardry of the executive chef, the transition is more than a bit jarring. I experienced it at Scott Howard in San Francisco. First-class food followed by a lemon dessert simply too sweet I had to leave half of it uneaten.

Tart is one important element, but a dessert can be uninteresting if it's too cleanly tart - as in some fruit sorbets.

-Strawberry gratin, cottage cheese gratinated strawberries with sour ice cream and walnut crokant - Maritim, Riga, Latvia
-Brandied pecan tartlet with with pears and creme fraiche ice cream - Jeffrey's, Austin, TX
-Spiced apple cake with creme fraiche ice cream - Channings, Edinburgh, Scotland
-Molten chocolate cake with creme fraiche ice cream & brandy snap basket - Araxi, Whistler, B.C.
-Cocoa cake with sour cream ice cream, with berries and dulce de leche - Nacional 27, Chicago, IL

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