Pairing flavors is all the rage these days. Since no one wants to ruin dessert, we asked Executive Chef Jorge Oliveira at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida, to give us a quick course in choosing a dessert to complete a meal without ruining the main course experience. Here’s what he had to say:
WhereverFamily.com: So, what’s the secret? If your main course is creamy or features lots of cheese, does that mean you should avoid a dairy-based dessert?
Chef Oliveira: There is an art to pairing flavors in culinary and pastry. I oftentimes recommend pairings that are a bit unexpected. For instance, I don’t disqualify a creamy or dairy-based dessert because it would be paired with a cheese entrée. An example might be a dessert of grilled poundcake panini sandwich with mascarpone and fig to go with an entree of fresh fruit salad sprinkled with goat cheese.
If a heavy cheese-based dish is the main course, I would consider a light wine-poached fruit dessert. Or, if it’s summertime, maybe a semifreddo or granita. I also like to pair the dessert to the protein being served, and create desserts to complement the menu. For example, for a steak with reduced wine demi glaze, I might create a dish that has chocolate or coffee flavors (a tiramisu with a twist) or acidic fruits like raspberry and blackberry.
For fish, I typically go with a lighter citrus flavor. Chicken works with more of a mousse-based dessert, or a grilled poundcake or angel food cake served with fresh fruits with herbs or compressed fruits.
WF: Do you have any thoughts on the topic of dessert wines? I’ve had a few chefs tell me they think it should be one or the other: a sweet, finishing wine or a dessert, but not both.
CO: Typically, a glass of wine is between 100 to 300 calories, while a mini dessert is about 90 to 150 calories. I say have a smaller portion of both! I’ve been involved with many wine dinners in the past where we’ve paired the wine with the dessert, maybe in a smaller portion or even with a twist — for instance, wine spritzers with a dessert that also included some house-made, chocolate-infused truffles, all on the same plate.
It’s been my experience in recent years that most people enjoy sweets in smaller portions, but with more powerful flavors. Here at Rosen Shingle Creek, we have started using chocolates infused with unique flavors like the Japanese Yuzu fruit, passionfruit, and smooth, buttery Dulcey Caramel chocolate to create memorable desserts and treats. Of course, time-honored flavors like strawberry are still popular, too. We have 15 dining and lounging options at Rosen Shingle Creek, including two AAA Four Diamond restaurants, so we have fun changing up the menus and offering seasonal desserts that pair nicely with our extensive wine and spirits lists.
WF: What are you own favorite desserts or pastries?
CO: For breakfast pastries, nothing compares to a warm cinnamon bun, cool “Sticky Bun” or really any puff pastry breakfast item. With the trend of gluten-free baking, it’s becoming a lost art.
We are just as honored when a family gets excited about one of our desserts as when a group of thousands do. At a hotel with 1,501 guestrooms and more than a half million square feet of meeting and event space where we host many of Orlando’s largest galas as well as national conventions, you can imagine that this happens quite a bit — and we love it!
Recently, for the Premiere Orlando beauty show, a national hair coloring company challenged us to create 6,000 desserts that matched the dozen new shades of hair coloring they were introducing to their line. With color swatches in hand, we created a dozen different desserts to showcase each color, and lined them up and down a 24-foot length of table — and then reversed the colors of each dessert on the opposite end of the table. Our client and the guests loved seeing the shades in sweet formation and being able to experience the line in such a unique way.
We also create custom-order desserts, sugar creations and even mini or large chocolate sculptures. These can be presented as a special in-room amenity or at a party or gathering at the hotel. We love sweetening up a guest’s stay in unique ways.
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