It happened again just yesterday. I succumbed to a sweet temptation. Was it because I'm on holiday and felt a little carefree? Or was it a sugar addiction that still lurks deep inside and rears up it's ugly head on occasion? Perhaps it was simply the memory of a dessert that overpowered me?
I looked at Mr Fritz after we finished our meals and a lovely glass of Tassie Pinot and said, "How about we share a chocolate panna cotta? It's milk and dark chocolate! Sounds amazing, doesn't it?"
"Okay, lets share one," he said. It was picture perfect. That classic little wobbly upturned dariole mould shape, perfectly centered on the plate with a quenelle of cream and a single raspberry. It was almost breathtakingly beautiful. The pool of rhubarb syrup almost a fluorescent pink.
I could hardly contain the saliva build-up in my mouth! And I couldn't wait to have a taste. "How is it?" asks Mr Fritz. "It's okay," I said, trying not to sound too disappointed. This pretty dessert didn't deliver. I could barely taste the chocolate! It was basically cream and sugar with a hint of milk chocolate. The syrup was so sickly sweet I only managed one teaspoon full. "What happened to the bitterness of the dark chocolate, I wondered? Did the chef forget to add it?" And where was the balancing acidity in the sauce?
Thank goodness we only ordered one. By the time we got back to the car I had regretted assaulting my palette with this sugary 'treat.' Mr Fritz was unimpressed too. The insides of our mouths were coated with a thick buttery sweet layer and the refined flavour of our luscious pinot's was long gone.
This wasn't the first time. On another occasion we got sucked into ordering a blood orange sorbet. This, in my mind was to be the perfect palate cleanser; cool, refreshing and zingy. Well, it was basically an icy sugar-bomb. The chef must have left the damn blood orange juice out! Then there was the Hellyers Road ice-cream, churned with one of Tasmania's finest single malt whiskeys - doesn't get much better than this I thought. Well well well - it was cold but far too sweet and grainy, with just the faintest hint of whiskey, I really had to strain all of my senses and engage my wildest imagination to detect it.
So what's going on? I think it's a combination of things. Some chefs just haven't worked out how to balance flavours, sweetness and textures. Chocolate should taste like chocolate and blood orange should taste like blood orange. And where is the acidity? Something needs to counter all that sweetness. Also, my taste for sweet things is diminishing. I've been weening myself off sugar for several years now and often a piece of dark chocolate or a nice ripe plum is all I need.
Sugar in my tea or coffee is unimaginable now and I won't even consider a recipe that requires more than a quarter cup of sugar. I stopped buying commercially made baked goods and confectionary a long time ago. And I use my small sugar bowl so infrequently, that when the occasional guest asks for sugar, I quickly have to break up the sugar grains with a fork.
So clearly the next step for me is to listen to Mr Fritz and simply ignore dessert menus! This will save future disappointment. Instead, I’ll savour the lingering effects of a well-balanced wine.