While the long, dark shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted opportunities not only to travel but also to dine inside restaurants, especially in the US and Europe, meals taken-out or delivered can provide a welcome respite from the day-in-day-out routine of cooking in. While take-out is wonderful in the abstract, the reality is that anything that’s spent even 15 minutes getting from the restaurant or bakery to the home table (and 30-45 minutes is more likely) is bound to disappoint. And for desserts, even more so, and a pastry chef I am not. Opportunities for crème brûlèes have been few and far between this past year, but as winter set in, a few presented themselves.
November 14, 2020
The week after the US election, we walked into Caramel Patisserie in Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts. This outstanding bakery is a must-stop for croissants, cakes, macarons, tarts, and pastries of all kinds. Imagine the anticipation of pleasure when seeing a small tray of half a dozen pastries labeled “Orange”, and promising Orange, Crème brûlèe, Chocolate Mousse, and Orange daguoise.
The pastry was exquisite (even after the drive home), but alas, there was no crème brûlèe to be found within its chocolate shell. Ten out of ten for imagination, though.
January 25, 2021
The ultimate take-away experience—and not necessarily a good one—has to be airplane food. On the first leg of our 2-leg, 22-hour flight from Boston to Singapore on Qatar Airways, one of the dessert options on the first leg was a passion fruit crème brûlèe.
The pudding was delicious, and the cinnamon stick a nice touch, but alas, all crème, no brûlèe.
February 19, 2021
It is certainly possible to dine out in Singapore, where demographics, detection, excellent health care, control measures, and mandatory contact tracing have given Singapore the distinction of having the lowest death rate from COVID-19 (0.05%) anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, take-out has taken off, and last night, Flossie brought me a crème brûlèe from awfully chocolate.
The pudding was a a bit thick and heavy on the vanilla, but the brûlèe was done to perfection. And the porcelain serving dish will make a nice keepsake.
As I’m not likely to get a COVID vaccine for many months yet, perhaps I should invest in a brûlèe torch. It will give me something to experiment with when we’re quarantined again after we return to the US in late March…