Taste: Trend: Eat Your Vegetables

Local pastry chefs expand our horizons with savory after-dinner additions

Carrot cake? Okay, we’ll bite. And zucchini bread makes sense to our taste buds, too, especially in late summer, when local gardens overflow with the squash. We’ll even go as far as sweet potato pie. But how did other garden standards make their way to the dessert tray?

At the Cira Centre’s new Rae, pastry chef Elizabeth Brozoski garnishes the restaurant’s namesake cheesecake with fresh strawberries and soft cooked celery. The pastel celery, in a celery-infused sugar syrup, adds color contrast to the three-cheese (mascarpone, chèvre and cream cheese) cake on a graham-cracker crust. The unexpected vegetable also appears, dried, as a delicate tuile.

Water Works Restaurant pastry chef Chad Durkin has experimented with cucumber and fennel, among other garden ingredients. On his late-winter menu: a caramelized banana and date cake with a burnt-sugar sabayon. The dessert’s richness is cut by a salad of julienned sweet carrots and crunchy jicama, dressed in a mint sugar syrup.

Chef Daniel Stern serves up a meal-ending endive parfait at his Queen Village restaurant Gayle. The bitterness the endives add to the pyramid-shaped dessert, more semifreddo than parfait, is balanced by crisp cocoa wafers and thread-thin twirls of candied citrus rind.