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Bread Pudding X 2

June 16, 2006

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Most people go through life without ever having to get a root canal, but considering the amount and variety of sweets I consume, I’m thankful I’ve only had one! Hehe. But seriously. Getting them fixed is mighty expensive – we’re talking a dozen or so tasting menus at Alan Wongs! Back to desserts. I know I use the word “favorite” quite often, but this time it’s FOR REAL. And how do we know it’s FOR REAL. Because I’ve said it before. Bread Pudding is my favorite dessert. In the world. Thats it. Nothing ranks high than bread pudding in my book. Preferably warm, I’ll take it plain and simple or lavishly overdone, rich with toasty walnuts, dark chocolate chunks and bananas. With or without creme anglaise, a drizzle of rum I welcome bread pudding in
any form. No discrimination, provided it’s good for what it is.

I mentioned a while back that my goal was to try all the bread puddings on Oahu. Making true on my promise, here’s a couple for the record. This first one is from Nico’s at Pier 38. I had it a few months ago but never got around to posting the review.

You can probably call it the bread pudding that failed me. I’ve had many good puddings, a few excellent ones and a bunch in between. But this was the first that left me queasy. It was a sad surprise and shock since I had heard much about Sami C’s wonderful pastries. Having baked at the beloved Grand Cafe and now at Sam Choy’s and 12th Ave Grill, I had high expectations while she was working at Nico’s. Appearance wise, her pudding is a simple and elegant creation. At a towering hight with a slighty carmelized crust and a side of anglaise I was eager to dig in. Looking closely I could see that the pudding was made up many different breads. Contrasting shades and textures revealed a poppy seed, banana, chocolate and strawberry loaf. Though not offered, the staff was happy to heat the up the pudding. I poured a bit of anglaise over the corner and forked up a bite. ARGH! Like SUGAR! Like BAKED MUFFIN SUGAR. Crap. This was not BREAD pudding. It was MUFFIN pudding.

Most muffins are sweet to begin with and this last thing you should do in soak them in more sugar and fat. Croissant, broiche and challah puddings I love and understand – buttery but not sugar-azied, they have a rightful place in bread puddings. But muffins? I felt gypped. The texture wasn’t custardy enough, I felt like she had added just enough custard to bind the chunks of muffins together and then stuck it in the oven. And when I say chunks, I’m not kidding. I was able to pull out whole big pieces of different flavored muffins. See how it wasn’t eaten like “normal” bread pudding. I was not happy. No, more like sad. I expected too much. However, I will not cross Sami’s name off my mental dessert books because I have heard too many drooling reviews from friends who have tasted her other desserts. Perhaps I will shimmy on over to 12th Ave Grill later this week for her newer version of bread pudding. Never lose hope!

From the Covenant Cafe, the Chocolate Bread Pudding ($3.25) can be more accurately named as the Chocolate Pudding Bread Pudding. It’s gooood. But it’s sweeeet. A very moist, custardy pudding, it was hard make out the “bread” element in the pudding save for a few chocolate pudding soaked cubes. After ordering it from the counter, the lady assured me that it would be heated up before being sent to the table. I guess they forgot! Nonetheless, while this is far from being my favorite, the cold chocolatly soft custard grew on me with each bite. It was like I was eating chocolate pudding with texture and slight firmness that easily gave way as soon as a spoonful magically found it’s was into my mouth. Finished with a buttery cake crumb coating and a whoof of cream, the two elements were simple afterthoughts that managed to complement and provide contrast to the intese cocoa flavors. It soft, chocolatey and glorious all at once. When is cool sweet comfort ever refused?

(Note: Covenant Cafe offers simple soups and sandwiches in addition to dessert. Do not miss out on the soups! They have a special each day and I’ve yet to try one I don’t like. The sandwiches are of the ordinary sort but I imagine a bowl of warm soup – think tomato basil or pumpkin bisque with giant garlic croutons, followed by a square of their Chocolate or Apple Cinnamon (sold out by the time I got there at noon) Bread Pudding would make for a most divine lunch.)

Nico’s at Pier 38
1133 N. Nimitz HWY
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 540-1377

Covenant Books and Coffee
1142 12th Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
(808) 732-4600



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