Please welcome Passionate Cook Amanda Usen to the Cafe!
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I didn’t always want to be a chef. Most of the way through college, I planned to be a writer. Eventually that plan came to fruition—although it took a fifteen-year detour. Meanwhile, I waited tables even though I quickly discovered I had no talent whatsoever for the front of the house. However, all of my failures as a server—like the time I dropped an overloaded tray of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy in the middle of the dining room…and the time a regional manager came in and I did NOT remember to push the house wine…and the four zillion times I forgot to consolidate my orders, thus necessitating four zillion trips back and forth across the dining room—were worth it for one reason: I discovered tiramisu.
I was working at Amerigo, the Italian restaurant across the street from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Back then, I wasn’t a fan of cream cheese, so a dessert made mostly of cheese sounded disgusting. I was so wrong. The sponge cake was soaked with espresso, providing a perfectly bitter counterpoint to the sweet, creamy mascarpone mousse. The dessert was served with two sauces, a cool, voluptuous vanilla crème anglaise and a warm, rich, espresso fudge. Bitter and sweet, hot and cold, creamy and cakey, it was the sexiest thing I had ever eaten. Thus began my love affair with tiramisu.
Many years and many moves later, I discovered The Olive Garden also has an excellent version. In fact, I used to order a whole one for my birthday. Now I make my own, using my Luscious Tiramisu recipe. It’s not a simple recipe. It’s not cheap to make, either. But I never regret a second or a penny spent making the dessert. I don’t regret those jobs waiting tables, either, because the tiramisu was worth it!
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