My Most Memorable Dessert: Chocolate Mousse, Olive Oil, and a Touch of Sea Salt

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Dessert. I can't get enough of it. It's what I immediately think about when I scrape that last bite of dinner with a fork. It's what I eat more slowly and especially savor. It's also what I embarrassingly don't like to share — and I usually can't hide my disappointment when someone wants to 'split it.' My favorite is the simple but beautiful chewy chocolate chip cookie, but the one thing I still dream about is something a little more exotic.

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Spain is my kind of country. The streets are filled with grandparents, adults, and even children until 2 or 3am. You'll see them at cafes in common areas —having conversation, enjoying food and celebrating life. It should come as no surprise that I had the best meal of my life there (at Arzak during my honeymoon), and it's also the place I had my most memorable dessert (at Tapas 24).

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Like most places in Spain, the place was very casual, and the food is often just as nonchalant. Oh, here's just a few slivers of Iberico ham freshly shaven from a whole cured leg. Oh, why not just have some fresh tomatoes and cheese, and here's some red wine to go with it. The flavors in Spain sing on your taste buds. Simple flavors carry notes to unforeseen pitches. Everything is more than an ingredient.


Our dessert for the afternoon was the xocolata: chocolate mousse, olive oil, sea salt, and toast points. It arrived to our table in a tuxedo…simple, classic, elegant. My wife and I almost didn't want to touch it, so we pretended for a second that we wouldn't and snapped a couple pictures instead. We looked into each other's eye as we clutched our fork and simultaneously cut through the firm yet delicate mousse for the first bite.

It was divine. Chocolate meets peppery olive oil meets just the right amount of salt and crunch to awaken all your senses. It was a perfectly tuned symphony, and for this particular movement we were seemingly the only people in the whole restaurant. I've yet to try whipping up something similar at home, partly because mousse is a challenge and partly because I don't want to tinker with a moment that's already so perfect in my mind.

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What's your most memorable dessert?


(Images: Chris Perez)

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