created 11 months ago | Tagged:
UP UNTIL ABOUT two centuries ago, with the introduction of the gas range, pretty much all cooked food had a faint whiff of smoke to it. Maybe it was wood smoke, maybe coal, perhaps bones or dung—whatever fueled the cooking fire made its way into dinner.
Smoke-tinged desserts more or less stayed at the campground until, in 1983, at Beechwood, the Astor family's Newport, R.I., mansion, chef Jeremiah Tower served up a dessert of coconut ice cream with a compote of mesquite-grilled tropical fruits. Since then, smoke has (as it does) permeated everything—sweets included. It's been returning with growing frequency to the dessert menu.
Chef Ferran Adrià was known to offer cigar-smoke-flavored ice cream at the now-shuttered El Bulli, while San Francisco ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe periodically offers Fume, a smoked-flavored ice cream. Mostly, though, smoke is used as an accent note—a counterpoint applied much the same way spice or bitterness might be used to amplify the earthy notes in chocolate. Stella Parks of Table 310 in Lexington, Ky., summons summer campfires with the smoked vanilla in her S'mores ice cream, while Bill Corbett at Absinthe Brasserie in San Francisco calls up the autumns of his Canadian youth with his cinnamon smoked apples served over hazelnut crumb.