The Flavor Purple

New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street, has a regular feature with great appeal for food bloggers who like to autopsy their restaurant dishes. In each outing, The Annotated Dish focuses on an exceptional dish prepared by an au courant toque-jockey. This week in the hot seat: a dessert from Jordan Kahn, the pastry chef at tony NYC restaurant Varietal. Claiming that inspiration for his “Meditation in Purple” (you know a dish is high-concept when it has a title, in quotes even) springs from the writing of Brillat-Savarin, Kahn says, “Purple is the color of inspiration. I wanted to make a dessert that would inspire. And one that, if you tasted it, you could tell was purple.”

When I think of the taste of purple, I can’t help remembering the fetid-grape flavor of Welch’s grape juice, but Kahn has other ideas. As the reader mouses over a photograph of “Meditation in Purple,” she learns that what looks like a thin slice of fruit leather is in reality gelled hibiscus tea, which, according to Kahn, is “like a Listerine breath strip in the way that it melts in your mouth, but it tastes like hibiscus.” And that the cake underlying Kahn’s creation is a beet genoise that reportedly tastes like beet (this is a selling point, for some reason). And that a smooth purple lump atop the dish is a rooibos tea–infused ice cream, which Kahn claims tastes “like the milk left over from when you eat Fruity Pebbles.”

Speaking as a lifelong cereal-milk slurper, that is a culinary advance I can stand behind.

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