It wasn’t until I was already engaged that I realized the faux-pas I made with my then-girlfriend, who asked, “Want to share a dessert?”
Maybe most guys know that the answer to this is, ‘Absolutely.’ In my case, the answer was, “Actually, I think I could eat a whole one myself.”
Fortunately, she married me anyway. If I’d been drinking a Nespresso at the time, however — and even if I’d been a little savvier about these kinds of dating nuances — I might have stuck to my original answer.
Back in 2012, the coffee maker began running a competition called Cafe Gourmand, where aspiring young chefs from schools in France submitted desserts that would pair well with its signature blends the way fine wines go with certain kinds of meats, fishes, chicken or pasta. Last Fall, Nespresso brought Cafe Gourmand to Canada, where George Brown College student Ana Cotoros won for two creations.
These included “Coffee Bliss,” which actually infused Espresso Decaffeinato granita directly within layers of coffee-milk chocolate crémeux and crunchy almond crumble, topped with coffee-white chocolate mousse and covered with and a crispy cocoa nibs nougatine.
“Griotte Mist,” meanwhile, was a combination of joconde biscuit and feuilletine insert, topped with griotte-kirsch jelly and all covered with dark chocolate mousse, a chocolate mirror glaze. It was decorated with a chocolate triangle, and an Amarena cherry.
John Higgins, a chef who has served the Royal Family four times and who has hosted Food Network Canada’s Chopped along with teaching at George Brown, was among the judges of Cafe Gourmand 2017. He said the competition was a good reminder that what you eat with a coffee should be given the same consideration as any other aspects of a fining dining experience.
“If what you already ate off the menu was rich or heavy, a piece of cheesecake is the last thing you want,” he said. “For the restaurant, it’s really about completing the experience. No one necessarily sees the pastry chef, but the last point of contact (with the customer) is dessert.”
Besides winning a $5,000 scholarship, Cotora got to see her desserts served with Nespresso coffees in restaurants across the province of Ontario, including the firm’s boutique bar in Yorkville as well as Lavelle.
Higgins said he hopes the Cafe Gourmand competition will help inspire more people who go out on the town to expand their horizons in terms of cuisine and the beverages that accompany them.
“There was a time when (the introduction of) butternut squash soup was, like, ‘Wow.’ Chocolate lava cakes were ‘Wow,’” he pointed out. “But once you get a taste for something, you want to progress.”
And if you want your relationship to progress, I’d strongly recommend sharing that dessert.