I didn’t discover s’mores — that graham cracker, marshmallow, Hershey’s chocolate bar concoction — until I was a grown-up. My sister was a Brownie scout, but I don’t remember her mentioning the glories of s’more making over a campfire, which I associate with scouting.
I do know that I love the glorified “S’more” dessert at The Gray Canary. It’s absolutely delicious.
Instead of making gooey treats over a campfire, this dessert — which is quite large — reminds me of Baked Alaska, which I used to order as a birthday cake at the old Justine’s restaurant. I also got a Baked Alaska “birthday cake” at Antoine’s one year in New Orleans. This is that great ice cream/cake concoction that arrives at the table in flames.
Ditto The Gray Canary’s “S’more.” It also arrives at your table on fire.
I ordered one at a recent dinner with five friends at the restaurant and I immediately said I wasn’t going to share it. The server brought extra spoons, so I reluctantly relented. Then a fellow diner said, “Let’s order another one for the table.” We did. And that immediately was devoured. To the last smudge of cream.
I asked Michael Hudman, who co-owns Gray Canary with Andy Ticer, the history of their S’more dessert.
They were working on a dessert menu while driving to New Orleans, Hudman says. “We knew we wanted to use fire in some form or fashion. We played around with smoked cream, burnt cream, this and that, a lot of different ways. Andy may have said, ‘Hey, I love s’mores.’ So, we thought about that. It makes so much sense. When you’re down on a beach doing s’mores with the kids, it was a lot of fun.
“The restaurant kind of encapsulates high energy, lots of fun. The whole premise behind this restaurant was fun.”
The Gray Canary chef de cuisine Ysaac Ramirez showed me how he assembles the dessert.
He poured chocolate and hazelnut ganache — the base — on a plate. On top of that, he placed a frozen graham cracker-encrusted flor di latte soft serve cream, which he covered with Italian merengue that he piped on. He then torched the whole thing to give it a golden brown, added graham cracker crumbs and hazelnuts to the plate and, finally, doused the dessert with grappa and ignited it.
Hudman agrees the dessert looks like a Baked Alaska. So, it perfectly fit with the restaurant theme — fun. “That same vibe — nice, loud, and rambunctious.”
The Gray Canary is at 301 South Front; 901 242-2932