Blondie's Popover Bread Pudding, $6
Some countries and cuisines take certain signature items extremely seriously. Sure, there are always a number of interpretations, secret recipes and tricks of the trade, but in the end, a native will most definitely be able to - and most likely will happily - tell you if you have done it "right." In my experience of regional pastries and desserts, two such examples are English popovers and bread pudding. In both cases, savory and sweet preparations are common, and the texture and density are essential, defining components.
Blondie's takes on the challenge in not only making both, but combining them into one dangerously divine dessert. Covered in their housemade caramel sauce and candied pecans, the generous slice of bread pudding, sitting no less that 4 inches tall, is finished with freshly whipped cream. Venturing into a beverage list while satisfying your sweet tooth can be a tricky task, as finding the balance of sweetness and flavor can be a matter of personal preference or even mood.
THE DRINK PAIRINGS
d'Arenberg Stump Jump "Sticky Chardonnay," Australia, $8 by the glass
Diving head first into the world of dessert, I started with this luscious, syrup-like Chardonnay that rivals, if not outdoes, the sweetness of the bread pudding. The combination of baked apple and ripe peach complete the round mouthfeel of the wine while bright citrus notes of kumquat and orange marmalade provide a zinging acidity to balance - a fruity complement to the heavy nut- and- caramel-based dish. One should be warned to sip slowly and pause between each bite as to not get a guaranteed, albeit completely worthy, sugar rush.
Marco Negri Moscato d'Asti, Italy, $8 by the glass
In an effort to revitalize my palate and find a new textural play for the popover dessert, I drifted over to the sparkling wine selections. The beloved Moscato is always a versatile post-dinner pairing for an array of sweets, and this was no exception. Sweet with exotic fruits, this frothy fizzer adds a new dimension to the dessert with subtle tropical notes. Giving a level of brightness and light sensation is a welcome contrast to the already substantial bread pudding.
Left Hand Milk Stout, Colorado, $5 by the pint
Why end your meal with simple coffee with cream and sugar when you can take it to the next level with a pint of this dark and creamy milk stout. The silky body of the brew is slightly smoky with a warm roasted notes. This beer undeniably lends itself to a dessert drink with its offerings of rich coffee and chocolate flavors. The added benefit of carbonation keeps the pairing from getting overly weighted.
Blondie's Coffee & Wine Bar, 1301 Washington Ave., Downtown, 314.241.6100, blondiesstl.com
Every Wednesday, STLwinegirl Angela Ortmann helps you navigate wine and beer lists at restaurants around town and suggests the best by-the-glass pairings with certain dishes. Through her event and consultation business, she is dedicated to enhancing your food and wine experience. Missed one of her columns? Check them out here.