October 18, 2011

so what if i'm bossy? these desserts are boss.

I’m rather fond of telling people what to do.  I’m even fonder of telling people what to eat.  Today’s dose of bossy is all about dessert. 

Tangent: When folks say they’re not “dessert people,” my mind shuts down as if I’ve heard a language I don’t understand.  No judgment here – to each his/her own and all – but I just can’t wrap my brain around it.  A world without dessert is no world for me.  Sadly for my waistline, I’m equally a “salty snacks person,” a “pasta person,” a “cheese person,” a big time “nachos person,” and basically a “food person.”  It would be easier to list the few things I don’t like.  It’s a short list and includes things like celery, cilantro (controversial, I know), green peas and beets.
Back to dessert.  Sometimes I’m asked things like, “what’s your favorite place for dessert in town?”  My answer is “all of them.”  Claiming just one favorite bakery or dessert = amateur hour.  I discriminate against no baked good, at least not the first go 'round.

Here is a roundup of just a few of my most favorite sweet treats in Nashville.  If I listed all of them, this would be a novel, not a blog post.  Dig in.
The Sweet Stash – The first time I visited Whitney at the Nashville Farmers' Market, I tried the vanilla almond cupcakes.  Oh, my. This here is proof that cupcakes are not a trend.  They're moist & delicate and the almond flavor is just barely there.  It’s my most favorite ‘wedding cake’ flavor ever.  And then, there’s the oatmeal cookie sandwich.  I hesitated to share this morsel with you.  It's so popular that I've engaged in (faux) Twitter-wars over who gets the last one.  It’s a humble dessert, and it's perfection is stealth.  Whitney takes two chewy oatmeal cookies and sandwiches cinnamon buttercream between them.  It’s not over-the-top beautiful and easily overlooked among the piles of gorgeous confections she creates, but it is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  Like, ever.  Just make sure you save one for me.
Don't let this unassuming cookie fool you. It will change your life.
The Painted Cupcake – Tracey at The Painted Cupcake is a fondant rock star.  She can sculpt anything out of fondant, and what I love is that she places the decorations atop the cupcakes so they can be admired and easily plucked off before enjoying the eating part of it, which is of most importance.  We've had two of my daughter's birthday parties in her shop, which is stunning.  She does many things well, but her coconut cupcakes are the best.  They're fan-freaking-tastic.  Like, ‘I ate the first one so fast that I need a second one’ fantastic.  The cake is flecked with vanilla beans, and the frosting is covered with freshly shaved pieces of coconut that she toasts herself.  None of that bagged coconut stuff.  There are no words, really. 

Poof. Gone. Like magic.

Porta Via Italian Kitchen – If you’ve ever had gelato in Italy, it seems that all American attempts at creating it are subpar.  Gelato is creamy, silky, pudding-y.  It’s somehow decadent and rich while also light and airy.  Great news for Nashville: Porta Via makes you think you’re in Italy.  The machinery, recipes, flavors all come from Italy.  The gelateria in the store was trained by an Italian.  It’s the real deal. 

Amerigo – For years, I couldn’t bring myself to order any dessert here other than their unique twist on Tiramisu.  And it’s good – really good.  But then one day someone told me to get the Crème Brûlée Cheesecake.  Damn, the dessert is phenomenal.  It’s exactly what it sounds like – creamy, delicious cheesecake (they use Tennessee Cheesecakes) with a perfectly crunchy crust of brûléed sugar.  Then, THEN they pour Chambord over the top and serve it with fresh raspberries. 
Bongo Hot & Cold – Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams are in a word: incredible.  I could blather on forever about all the flavors.  Just try them all.  There’s a Jeni’s store in Nashville, so why not feature that, you ask?  Four words: Olive & Sinclair Magic Shell.  Bongo covers already brilliant ice cream with the best freaking chocolate topping in the history of the world.  Period.
I actually managed to scrape every bit of hardened chocolate off the bowl.
The Turnip Truck – Speaking of the best things in the world, I was pleasantly surprised by an easily overlooked little dessert on the lunch salad bar at The Turnip Truck in the Gulch.  There was a pan of chocolate mousse that looked like it would satisfy my sweet tooth, so I took a small scoop.  Um, it’s life changing good.  It’s the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had.  Shocker: it’s made with Olive & Sinclair chocolate.  In fact, there’s little bits of chocolate throughout.  I may have gone back for seconds.
See it there in the corner, looking all innocent? Watch out. That's the best mousse in these here parts.
Rae’s – This little sandwich shop is one of those ‘best kept secrets’ places.  Their sandwiches are really, really good, and they have this little (big) thing I like to call ‘crack brownies.’  When you eat this brownie, you start thinking about how you can get another one before the first one is gone.  They’re addictive.  And, adding evidence to my theory, they start with a box mix and build from there.  In my opinion, there’s not a single from-scratch recipe that’s better than a box mix.  Disagree with me?  I’ll gladly taste test your homemade versions. 
I’ll stop there, though this is probably only 10% on my list of best desserts in Nashville (related: I make up statistics). 
Want to do your own ‘research?’  I’ve got delicious news.  I was having coffee with one of my most favorite editors in town awhile back, and naturally the conversation turned to desserts.  We briefly discussed the idea of a dessert event, and well, her affection for confections led to Sugar Rush, a ‘candy coated competition’ among some of the city’s best makers of sweet treats.  Tickets are just $10, and they include two drink tickets and – are you ready for this – ALL YOU CAN EAT DESSERTS.  You’re welcome.  Now go buy tickets 

Full disclosure: I do PR for a living and some of my favorites just happen to be desserts my clients make.  That said, my opinions are my own and I'd never post here about something I don't personally endorse.  I take my desserts seriously.


  1. I think we just became best friends. I too am an everything person and it's much easier to list what I don't like: which is celery, cilantro, and beets. We only disagree on the green peas! Completely agree with you on that oatmeal cookie. Love the peanut butter/chocolate version, too. Rae's has been on my list forever for the sandwiches, I had no idea about their crack brownies. I need to get my butt in there!

  2. The list of foods I don't like is long (very long) and the list of sweets I won't eat is long as well. But I can eat cilantro right out of the garden. Yum.

    And I'm going to pretend I didn't read any of this because I'm trying to quit sugar. I need to get the sugar monkey off my back.

  3. Might I suggest you try the brownie donut bites at PM. And just so you know, I discovered it.