No surprise when I say
That my favoritest day
Is when Hedy says “Hey,
We have new sweets today!”
Now folks… the Coconut dish takes the Cake.
But the Blood Orange Tart is so smart and delicious
And tangy and zippy and almost nutritious
(With thanks to the citrus) that all of my wishes
Are not for a steak, but for Hedy to bake
Up a car-full of treats – all to-go, I would take!
Manager Marty McCartt is moved to verse often at The Cypress Room. And it’s no surprise why, especially where dessert is concerned.
In our small piece of the tropics, a backyard harvest can define a Miamian. At my childhood home, it’s the ginger flowers and Haden mangos that paint memories in shades of fuschia and canary yellow. For Michael, Carrie mangos in the summer and Hua Moa plantains in the winter have cropped up, the sweetest currency among friends and family. Last week Hedy Goldsmith gathered the eight large, ripe coconuts fallen from trees outside the Coral Gables home she has shared with wife Heidi Ladell for 14 years.
“I love coconut anything. As a kid every year for my birthday, I had a coconut cake,” she explains. ”It has a profound effect on me. In Baking Out Loud I mention that coconut cream pie should be the new birthday cake.”
The Cypress Room’s dessert menu changed yesterday, speaking of Hedy’s deeply rooted love of coconut and to our unique and nuanced seasonal rhythms here in Miami, sometimes only detectable by its native sons and daughters.
COCONUT CAKE combines white chocolate crémeaux, pineapple, liquorice and lime ice. This cake is beyond moist, with big, buttery flavors. Coconut oil is used to add flavor and reinforce the tropical note, adding a luxurious je ne c’est qua. The crémeaux isn’t your typical egg | cream | sugar pastry crème. Instead, it’s a rich whip of fresh white chocolate, crème fraiche, coconut milk and Greek yogurt. Perhaps my favorite part of the plate is the shaved pineapple that has been macerated in vanilla lemongrass syrup and black pepper, topped with delicate shards of homemade black liquorice that play as a counterpoint to the richness of the dessert. Not an anise bomb, just bringing all the flavors on the plate together. Lime ice brightens from sultry to sunny.
It’s no secret Hedy’s heart beats for citrus, and March in Miami is all about Indian River’s finest. For BLOOD ORANGE TART, she builds a salad of Florida citrus segments including minneola, grapefruit and blood orange and topped with shimmering basil gelee and micro herbs. Set to the side, a champagne vinegar meringue to offer dimension, cutting the sweetness but giving a creamy toasty note to complete the dessert. You may recall Hedy’s buttery tart dough, with a bit of vinegar for flakiness appearing in the Chess Pie on the restaurant’s opening dessert menu of March 2013. Its filling is now made with lots of sweet-tart blood orange juice, eggs, sugar, butter and buttermilk.
And, our favorite question has many answers per usual. What to drink? One of Hedy’s favorites to sip, Montanaro’s Liquore di Camomilla, was part of the line up. With COCONUT CAKE, its cousin Grappa di Arneis did the trick. Counterintuitive, perhaps, but the intense, leafy and fruity perfume and delicate, dry flavor of this classic, white Grappa from Piemonte is a match for tropical notes. For BLOOD ORANGE TART, The Genuine Hospitality Group Wine Director Eric Larkee went straight to the bitter orange liquors, all of them in fact.
“So here are all of our bitter orange liqueurs,” he began. ”We have the Grand Mariner, the Clement Creole Shrubb, the Dry Curaçao, the Mandarin Napoleon and Salerno.”
“That’s blood orange,” Hedy notes. “I’m thinking Campari, but then again I’m always thinking Campari with citrus.”
“There is part of me that is thinking Salerno and a cube,” Eric continues. ”The crust is so buttery and it’s really well balanced. I don’t know why I was scared of the citric acid (laughs.) What bitters do you have?”
Eric prepares a rocks glass with Dry Curaçao, an ice sphere and Fee Bros. orange bitters.
“I think we may have a winner here. I think this is lovely,” Hedy says. ”Wow, the ice cube really opened it up. Yum. There’s just something about this. The label, the bottle shape, that I just keep getting drawn to.”
“Yes, it’s very Cypress.”