Welcome to Sugar High, a series devoted solely to spotlighting the best ways to sate a sweet tooth in St. Louis. We'll sample the best the city has to offer at restaurants, bakeries and holes-in-the-wall, and provide some insight on how these confections are made along the way.
Here's how we know the panna cotta dessert at Giovanni's Kitchen (8831 Ladue Road; 314-721-4100) is authentic: Chef Alessando Bozzato got the recipe from a pastry shop in Gorizia, a small town in Northeast Italy, when he was only fifteen.
"I wrote down copies of the recipes, and the owner still doesn't know," he says with a laugh. "And I've been making it for the past thirty years."
See also: First Look: Giovanni's Kitchen
Appropriated or not, this creamy dessert served at the traditional Italian bistro proves a simple yet indulgent end to a meal. Panna cotta, Italian for "cooked cream," begins with a base of Madagascar vanilla beans cooked with cream and butter and set up with a small amount of gelatin. The mixture gets poured into two-ounce molds with three separate accompaniments: Belgian chocolate, a reduction of mixed berries and Grand Marnier with orange zest.
Chilled until set, the milky domes get plated with some cooked berries and fresh mint. A scoop of the spoon into the smooth dessert reveals small specks of vanilla bean throughout, and the thick milk pudding practically melts in the mouth. Grazie, pastry shop in Gorizia.
Previously on Sugar High: - Crepes Etc.'s Crepe Cake - Cafe Ventana's Beignets - Frida's Raspberry-Chocolate Avocado Mousse - India Palace's Gulab Jamun - Melt's "Violet Beauregarde" Waffle - Brevan's Patisserie's "Brendan" - Winslow's Home's Chocolate Cake with Espresso Meringue - La Patisserie Chouquette's Eclair - Black Bear Bakery's Raspberry Oat Bar - Gelateria's London Fog Gelato - 4 Seasons Bakery's German Cheesecake - Libertine's "Candy Bar" - Cleveland-Heath's Old Fashioned Cherry Pie - Schlafly Tap Room and Bottleworks' Sticky Toffee Pudding
We're always looking for some sweet ideas. E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.