passion & fruit
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Passion & Fruit
Gwen Ashley Walters
March, 2012, Page 129
The creative genius behind restaurant Noca’s inventive desserts is Kriss Harvey, a pastry chef nomad currently based in Southern California. Thankfully for us, Harvey’s sugar-rush wanderlust often leads him to Phoenix. Noca owner Eliot Wexler contracts the pâtissier to develop desserts and train staff on how to execute them. Wexler has hired Harvey to consult and train several times a year since he opened in 2008, and Harvey’s desserts at Noca are dependably quirky and show-stopping.
Take, for example, the playful Passion & Fruit ($9) presented on a rectangular, black-slate plate. “The idea was to create a dessert that looks like real fruit, made with fruit, of course, but it isn’t really fresh fruit,” Harvey says.
To achieve this sweet semblance, Harvey crafted artisanal imitations of citrus, such as the orange “segments” made from freezing sugared orange juice into wedges, and semifreddo raspberries and strawberries made from sabayon (egg yolks gently cooked with sugar over simmering water) and fruit purees, then frozen in fruit-shaped molds.
A moist, steamed-then-chilled passion fruit pudding cake lends heft to the otherwise light dessert. Dots of passion fruit and raspberry curds add whimsy and richness, and a sprinkling of lemon pixie dust adds sparkle.
Harvey’s other new creation is just as inspired, but significantly richer: chocolate “soup” poured tableside over an Italian pistachio ice cream dome studded with fleshy amarena cherries and punctuated with caramelized croutons.
The juxtaposition of textures and temperatures – warm, silky chocolate; semifreddo with chewy cherry bits; and crunchy, buttered, sugared croutons – is brilliant. This “soup” is as delicious as the Passion & Fruit is whimsical and refreshing.
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