It's been no secret that I have a sweet tooth. My biggest problem with the dining scene in Sacramento is that we have a serious lack of good dessert places. Yes, there are a few good pastry chefs working at certain restaurants. What I'm talking about is specialty dessert places where you can take a date or go for an after show treat late at night. The choices with large dessert selections are Tower Cafe, which I do like, and Rick's Dessert Diner, which isn't that great but survives, in my opinion, because of this great lack of options in town.
Where are the great desserts? Try fifteen miles down the road in Davis. Somehow this college town has gotten the good stuff. I mentioned one place in an old post. Little Prague is a Czech restaurant with Eastern European food and a nice dessert carousel filled with lovely pastries. See that review for more on their selection.
Recently I went on a pastry trek to Davis. My mission - to try two places that beckoned me. One was Konditorei, which I've been aching to try for a long time. The other I had just heard about, a new gourmet cupcake place called Let Them Eat Cake. I read about them in the latest issue of Edible Sacramento.
My first stop was to Let Them Eat Cake. I wanted to compare them to my recent visit to Esther's Cupcakes. LTEC is hidden away and almost missable in an non-descript building on L Street. It's not even facing the street, but in a back door down the side area. Since I was there late on a weekday afternoon, some of the flavors were sold out and all that was left were their basic flavors. I got the last brown sugar cake that I think had a pineapple cream cheese frosting and their Dubliner a “Guinness Stout chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting”.
What I liked was that the cakes were good. As I've mentioned in other posts, the texture and flavor of the cake is more important to me than icing and decoration. Americans have become too complacent with fluffy cake mixes and store sheet cakes. A quality cake is denser and closer to pound cake than those awful examples. The brown sugar cake had a good crumb and nice, light flavor. The chocolate cake had just the subtle flavor of the beer that gave it a nice difference from plain chocolate. The pineapple cream cheese frosting was nice, but the chocolate buttercream was not as good as Esther's. I'm still in love with Esther's frostings.
A couple more things to mention. I will try to go back on a Saturday. Apparently they do a special, unique flavor every Saturday. I really want to try something truly different. Lastly, I'd like to see them use a different packaging. They are in Davis, after all. Get rid of the plastic and go with paper.
Off I went to my next stop, Konditorei Austrian Bakery. Konditorei is the German word for a confectionery shop and this one has plenty.
To one side was a cake carousel, then the pastry counter, a gelato counter, a chocolate counter, and another pastry/danish counter. I was in sweet tooth paradise.
In my book the best pastries in the world come from Austria (although some will argue France). Give me a delicate, flaky pastry filled with pastry cream and fruit and you will become my BFF of the moment. Let's not forget my Napoleon comparison.
I took two pastries home to try. The one above is the Manzana Verde - cookie dough crust with a layer of Quark cheese with raspberries and topped with a tart green apple cream. The one below is the Layla Torte - white cake layers filled with marzipan cream and chocolate Grand Marnier cream and then the whole cake wrapped in a thin sheet of marzipan. Of the two I preferred the Layla. I found the Manzana a little too sweet but had good apple flavor. But you do have to like marzipan to eat the Layla as the almond flavoring is very strong too. In fact, that would probably be my overall criticism here, tone down on the flavors and sweetness.
So, Sacramento, when are you gonna get it together with one or more quality dessert places? I've had the discussion with some of my foodie friends and they agree with me. We are seriously lacking considering how far our dining scene has come. There's a need, and if someone who has the skills could just find a great location in Midtown, I know they could succeed. Meanwhile, I guess I should count my blessings that those pastries are calling from Davis. Otherwise, my waistline and wallet would be in trouble.