In Happy Endings, we travel the part of the globe that says "Dallas" in search of great desserts and great places to eat them.
Friday is my splurge day. At my house, we call it "party night," but contrary to the images of free-flowing booze and throbbing lights and music those words may conjure up, what that really means is eating whatever we want. Being the sugar fiend that I am, dessert is always top priority.
Last week I was beginning to think Friday would never arrive, but like a child's Christmas or an adult's second season of Orange is the New Black, it finally arrived, and I could let the binging begin. All that was left was to narrow down my options. The days of summer have made that process simpler, basically boiling the decision down to two words: ice cream.
I like to hunker down over a bowl of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla as much as the next girl, but there's a reason why "vanilla" is slang for "boring." Eventually I crave something a little less ordinary, which is what led me to Greenville Avenue's Teppo on a recent party night. My mind on black sesame ice cream and black sesame ice cream on my mind.
For those who like a little adventure along with dessert, allow me to be your guide. Just follow these 10 easy steps.
1. Pass Char Bar and cut a left just before the line that will undoubtedly be swelling outside of Steel City Pops. (Snickering/gloating optional.)
2. Don't be baffled by Teppo's door. It's the only automatic sliding door I've seen at a restaurant and it felt a little Star Trek to me, but you'll be prepared for it, so you won't act all weirded out like I did when the hostess greets you.
3. Turn the tables by confusing the hostess. She'll probably ask you if a seat at the sushi bar is okay, and of course, why wouldn't it be? Teppo has earned a reputation for having fresh, creative sushi, so that must be what you're here for, right? Explain that you'd like to see the dessert menu and then we'll see who's confused.
4. Enjoy the ceremony of it all. The chopsticks will be cleared. The dipping bowl will be quietly whisked away. A large spoon will appear in their stead. You will be handed a small, weighty, mustard-yellow booklet that will make you feel like it should only be opened when no one is looking. Upon inspection, it reveals a list of "Sweets." This is a good sign. When the dessert menu stands alone instead of being hastily lumped in with the other dishes, you know these people are taking their sugar seriously.
5. Order the black sesame ice cream. And, because you (I) have no ability to exercise self-restraint, throw in an order of the matcha sticky toffee pudding with green tea ice cream.
6. Fall into Teppo's rhythm. Watch the sushi chefs gently tease crushed ice into mounds upon which they display their artwork. Listen to the almost musical beat of their chopping. Enjoy the zen aspect of the environment without actually having to do any of the work.
7. Prioritize wisely. Start with the sticky toffee pudding -- it's nice and warm, but threatens to melt the delicate quinelle of green tea ice cream sitting on its lap. The black sesame ice cream will wait patiently, averting its gaze.
8. When you do get around to the black sesame ice cream, set the cigar-shaped cookie garnish to the side. It's almost impossible to break it apart with your spoon unless you want to risk shooting it off like a cannon onto someone else's plate -- not very zen. Either pretend it's not there (because it's really there for aesthetic purposes anyway), or pick it up and chomp into it between bites of ice cream.
9. Savor slowly. Teppo's serene environment begs a slow, deliberate pace. This will allow you to fully enjoy their unconventional desserts.
10. Pick a favorite. Will it be the sticky toffee pudding? Its spoon-coating, brandy-spiked syrup contrasted against the grassy quality of the cold green tea ice cream quelled my craving for a dish that is both sweet and inventive. Maybe you prefer the velvety smooth black sesame ice cream. It has an earthy flavor that almost draws a comparison to the flavor of soy sauce, yet is sugary enough to satisfy as a sweet treat. To me, this dish embodies the very definition of the word "umami" -- a delightful surprise to find in a dessert.
My trip to Teppo was exactly what I was hoping for -- the soothing, familiar pleasure of ice cream in the summertime with just a little air of intrigue. If only OITNB was living up to my expectations just as well.
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