All Treats—and a Few Tricks
Just reading this column may make you gain a few pounds. This month, it’s sweets and more sweets.
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3565 Waialae Ave. // 735-7717 // Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. // Pay parking lot, major credit cards // www.cafelaufer.com
Café Laufer is on to the trick of eating light and then having dessert. Its whole menu—with dishes like a cup of soup, a green salad and a roll—is designed to leave you gazing longingly at the bakery display case. The case is full of things like a nearly authentic Linzer torte, its dark, rich, nut- and spice-filled crust full of raspberry preserves instead of the currant preserves favored in its home city of Linz, Austria.
But Laufer also has ice cream—and you might want to investigate the Coupe Romanoff. This $11.25 sundae is vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream, and surrounded by fresh strawberries in a mix of brown sugar and Grand Marnier.
It is, as my companion pointed out, “all the great ways to eat strawberries—ice cream, whipped cream and brown sugar—all at once.”
The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong
Macy's, Ala Moana Center // 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. // 945-6573 // Breakfast Saturday to Sunday 8 to 11 a.m.; Lunch Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner Monday to Saturday 4 to 8:30 p.m. // Free parking, major credit cards // www.alanwongs.com
I have been remiss, perhaps, in not mentioning how stunningly attractive many of these desserts are.
I encountered no more beautiful a dessert than the Baked Hawaii at The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong.
A Baked Hawaii is just a 50th state version of that classic, 19th-century dessert, Baked Alaska. A British physicist, Benjamin Thompson, is sometimes credited with figuring out that you could wrap super cold ice cream with meringue, brown the meringue in the oven and get a dessert that was both hot and cold.
Wong’s $8 Baked Hawaii—filled with pineapple-coconut ice cream—is perhaps the most beautiful version I’ve ever seen, a genade of meringue, nicely browned at the tips, surround by little birdlike designs of guava in circles of lilikoi sauce. The plate is then further decorated with diamonds of pineapple kanten (Japanese agar).
The Baked Hawaii is fit for a princess—it’s even topped with a gilded tiara of white chocolate.
If you’d like something less elaborate, Wong’s version of a halo halo is coconut shave ice over haupia tapioca, with dots of banana, pineapple, azuki beans and, surprise, a few kernels of sweet corn. Nothing half-baked here.
Waikiki Beach Walk // 226 Lewers St. // 926-6961 // Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 12:30 a.m. // Validated parking at Embassy Suites, major credit cards // www.mondogelatohawaii.com
You can’t get one of my favorite desserts at most restaurants—even though almost any restaurant has the ingredients and it’s simplicity itself to make an affogado.
An affogado is a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato over which is poured a shot of espresso. How hard is that?
I used to be able to get one at the old Palomino, even after it disappeared from the menu. But I was pleased when Mondo Gelato moved into Waikı-kı- Beach Walk. Now you can get an affogado, seven days a week, more than 12 hours a day.
For $4.95, this version has good gelato and decent espresso. You can have one with any gelato flavor. But be careful not to overwhelm the espresso. As well as the hot-cold thing, you want the bitter versus sweet dynamic that plain vanilla provides.
If vanilla is too plain for you, try stracciatella, which is a vanilla gelato with bits of dark chocolate, adding one more dimension to the experience.
You consume an affogado with a spoon. The only problem here: The plastic spoons are too tiny.