From the menu description, the dessert at Victor Tangos sounded like it went against everything I stood for. It also sounded like a little bit of a train wreck. Apple bacon upside-down cake with caramel popcorn and bourbon ice cream had nearly 20 syllables and three components.
But then my apple bacon upside down cake with caramel popcorn and bourbon ice cream arrived and it was somehow delicious. The cake was very moist and the bacon was added with restraint, the caramel popcorn added salt and crunch and the bourbon ice cream could have stood as a dessert on its own. Despite my working my way through multiple appetizers and entrees this dessert was enthusiastically devoured at my table.
The coupling of sweet flavors and popcorn is nothing new, of course. Recipes for kettle corn wade into the pool cautiously, while caramel corn, Cracker Jack and other derivatives dive into the sugary deep end. Seeing popcorn on dessert menus at formal restaurants, however, still seemed a relative rarity, at least until lately.
Last year, FT33 briefly had a popcorn panna cotta on the menu that I was lucky enough to order. The popcorn commingling with creamy and sweet flavors took some getting used too, a bit like that first time you bite into a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly, but that desert vanished rather quickly too.
Blind Butcher has been throwing popcorn into the dessert fray, too, with bacon caramel popcorn as a topping for Carnival Barker's vanilla ice cream. This one didn't strike me with the same force. The bacon was too smoky when what I wanted was more salt and savory, but the dish still illustrates that more chefs are rethinking our favorite movie snack.
Watch out, there's no telling where this savory-turned-sweet will pop up (sorry) next.
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