Columnist Katie Aberbach says farewell to her favorite D.C. desserts.
Since I began this column in October 2011, I’ve dined on pigeon, sampled Tunisian street snacks, treated myself to booze-laden cupcakes, and more. I’ve expanded my waistline slightly; I’ve boosted my knowledge of intriguing local foods greatly. So I’m sad to file my final Eater’s Digest. I’m moving to Boston (making a return to my native New England), where I’ll explore an entirely different food scene. There’s much I’ll miss about Washington’s restaurants, cafes and markets. I’d reveal my favorite place to you now, but I’ve never been able to settle on just one! Instead, I’ll write about a topic dear to my heart: desserts. These are some of the sweets that have seen me through the past 7½ years I’ve lived here, treats I will truly miss. Please give them some love for me.
Michel Richard’s chocolate bar, served at Central ($9; 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-626-0015), and also at Georgetown’s temporarily closed Citronelle, is perfect in appearance and flavor every time I order it. A rectangle of soft chocolate atop a crunchy, cookielike base is served on a bed of milky and sweet hazelnut sauce dappled with chocolate “pearls” and rice crisps. It’s a rewarding and diverse combination of tastes, and it’s so rich, I’m proud if I finish it by myself.
It was a joyous day when I discovered Boccato ($3.75 for one scoop; 2719 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-869-6522) had opened near my Court House home in 2008. I love Boccato’s cozy storefront and its creative flavors: Oreo biscotti and Ferrero Rocher are among the best I’ve tasted. I’m generally a fruity desserts girl, however, so I’m drawn to the rotating sorbetto selection, including lycee-peach and mango, below. All three are tangy, light and (I pretend) guilt-free.
Every time I visit modern European Kafe Leopold ($1.75 each or $8.50 for five; 3315 M St. NW; 202-965-6005), I skip the menu and simply analyze the desserts case. When I’m paralyzed by indecision about what to order, I request the petit fours plate containing mini versions of tarts and other treats. For a full-size pick, I gravitate toward the decadent fruit desserts, such as the pistachio-cream-filled Fraisier cake with fresh strawberries ($7.50). Leopold reminds me of an Italian pastry shop near where I grew up in Connecticut, where you could stop in on a lazy afternoon for a slice of cake and a cup of coffee. Is there anything better?
“Stressed? Overwhelmed? Feeling pressured?” reads a sign outside Teaism’s Lafayette Park location ($3 for two; multiple locations). Those words describe how I’ve often felt upon entering Teaism’s Asian-fusion cafes. But I always find relief inside with the ginger scones (a breakfast or lunch “dessert”) and a mug of hot chai tea. Candied ginger flecks inside the not-too-crumbly scones deliver sweet spice and complement the subtly tongue-tingling tea. I wouldn’t recommend this warming combo in the summer, but I’m sure I’ll pine for it during frigid Boston winters.
Top Nutella Fixes: Over the years, I’ve conducted extensive first-hand research on desserts containing Nutella (to which I became addicted during college semesters in Italy). My preferred sources:
Pizzeria da Marco (8008 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-6083) serves massive Nutella-and-banana pizzas and calzones ($10 each).
Boloco (4930 Elm St., Bethesda, 301-986-6962; 1028 19th St. NW, 202-223-2704) blends addictive Nutella shakes ($3.40-$5.20).
The Italian Store (3123 Lee Highway, Arlington; 703-528-6266) sells cute and satisfying Nutella tarts ($13 for five).