Monday, June 28, 2010

Extraordinary Desserts


This place has the stuff that dreams are made of.

And I don't just mean foodie dreams, although those are definitely manifested here as well.  For the everyday man, woman, or child, Extraordinary Desserts is a magical place with rainbow-colored sauces, cloud puffs of meringue, chocolate medallions, and pillows of whipped cream to lull patrons into sugar-induced bliss. 

love love love this place.


Extraordinary Desserts has two locations in San Diego, and they are the brainchild of pastry chef Karen Krasne.  She is a native San Diegian who lived in Hawaii for a time (probably where she gets inspiration for more tropical desserts), worked in several other countries, and has formal training from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  She opened the first ED in the Hillcrest neighborhood in 1988 and later expanded to the downtown location in Little Italy on Union Street.  I always frequent the latter, partially because it is a central meeting place for me and my girlfriends (ever practical), but also because the draw is not just desserts; the downtown ED is architecturally interesting.






The restaurant layout and facade were the work of architect Jennifer Luce, and I think most patrons would agree that her team did an excellent job.  Both the exterior and interior make use of several raw materials such as steel and wood, and they are crafted in a way that seems organic and simple, showcasing all the offerings of ED perfectly.  The interior also has a lovely open floor plan, clean lines, and high ceilings, which enhance an overall modern vibe and make the eating experience feel communal, yet decidedly not stuffy.  And of course, the masterpiece of the entire restaurant is the show-stopping glass case that runs the entire width of the entrance and houses those outstanding desserts that make this place famous.  



Extraordinary Desserts is definitely best-known for its sugary treats, although they feature an extensive menu of small bites, paninis, cheeses (cheese, cheese, cheese!), artisanal teas, coffees, beer, and wines.  In short, if you are on a diet, this place is not for you; your willpower will be severely tested (in a good way of course) because I would definitely recommend having the full ED experience by enjoying more of their fare outside of desserts. 



Namely, you should do what my girlfriends and I do each time we come here:  Order yourself a bottle of wine, or try out one of their teas, or even a house coffee.  You really can't go wrong.  Then, peruse the small snacks menu, and pick something out to get yourself started.  I would recommend the Pesto Genovese, which they serve with outstanding bread from local Bread and Cie.  Next, please please please, order some cheese.  We die waiting in anticipation for this cheese.  Well, we really die waiting in anticipation for the Italian Moliterno served with luscious truffles.  It is truly heaven in your mouth.  Angels will sing.

If you order some cheese, then you can sit back and leisurely enjoy your "meal" (don't even try to tell me that bread and cheese is not a meal), while sipping your wine and appreciating the simple pleasure of eating and talking with friends.  Because you can do that here; no matter how crowded the restaurant has gotten, we have never felt rushed or hurried with our desserts and food, and I appreciate that.


But speaking of the desserts, let's not forget about the linchpin of this whole dining experience!  Whenever you are ready to order your dessert, the waiter or waitress does not come over with a menu.  Instead, they invite you to head back up to the front of the restaurant and take another look.  The decision is made with your eyes, as you gaze longingly at each creation in turn and wish you had brought along a second stomach.  Now, I am sort of an indecisive person (my friends will laugh hysterically at this, I am completely indecisive), so the dessert choice is always difficult for me.  Should I get the Banana Creme Tart, or the Warm Croissant Blackberry Bread Pudding?  The Blood Orange Ricotta Torte or the Truffle Framboise?  This time around, I decided on The Moroccan, because I have recently been obsessed with pistachios.

Velvety smooth chocolate mousse surrounds a delicate layer of honey pistachio almond
nougat. This exotic torte is finished with dark chocolate, crushed pistachios, and a light
pistachio cream.  Yes please!!!







My lovely friend and fellow blogger, Jill, ordered the fruit topped pavlova, which is beautiful, completely delicious, and HUGE.  Actually, all the desserts here are huge, and well worth the price tag, which is definitely not huge but not tiny either.  Plus, the gigantic size means you can enjoy half of the dessert at the restaurant, and take the other half home to nibble on for the next day or two (if it lasts that long).  


My girlfriends and I hold this place in a sort of reverence, because we have come here so many times, and it never disappoints.  We look forward to each visit for days... weeks... potentially even months, and when the big day comes we greet each other with big hugs and then promptly proceed to ogle the desserts like small children in a candy store.  Or, like giddy adults in the best dessert shop ever, since that is really what we are. 

              

Extraordinary Desserts on Urbanspoon

31 comments:

  1. Every thing looks so amazing.. those desserts are so pretty! Definitely need to make a stop there next time I'm in San Diego!

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  2. Extraordinary is a perfect term...Wow! Beautiful write up:)

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  3. How pretty! It is great to hang out with girls in somewhere familiar.

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  4. wow...this must be dessert heaven!! that pavlova was huge! must be a great place to just relax and enjoy life, a bottle of wine, great cheese and then a wonderful cup of coffee and and a mind blowing dessert! Now thats my idea of a night out!
    thanks for sharing and say hi to Jill!

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  5. Wowowow! I need to go visit my cousin in San Diego NOW! This place does look incredible. I'll have to find out if she's ever been here.

    Great post!

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  6. I just LOVE place like this! It would be hard not to order one of everything!

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  7. I found my way here through my own blog (thanks for the great comment!!) and I'm thrilled that I found you! I can't believe this post; Alan (my husband) and I used to eat at the Hillcrest location all the time when we lived in San Diego! This place is FABULOUS. Thanks for a nice trip down memory lane!

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  8. OMG, you know my favorite thing there is their cobb salad and KICK ASS blue cheese dressing...we should hang! I live in San Marcos right now.

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  9. You know how I feel about this place. But let me just reiterate -- it's the best place in the WHOLE WORLD. And it wouldn't feel right to go there without you. Also, that pavlova really was the size of my head, but I managed to polish it off in just two sittings. ;) Thanks for the link love!

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  10. This sounds like a perfect place to have lunch or dessert. That cheese and the desserts, wow.

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  11. This looks like such a fabulous place to spend an afternoon. Now I just need to cross my fingers and hope I get to travel here soon :)

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  12. this is a fabulous post! I would love to go there. It's like a wonderland! Okay, I would totally order that coffee you showed and the pavlova. I've been craving that so bad lately but too lazy to make it. one word...LUSH!

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  13. Chef Dennis: I will definitely pass along a hello to lovely Jill!

    Jenni: Yes Yes Yes! Come down to SD proper anytime you want and we can hit up ED. :) I was actually thinking of trying to organize a food blogger dinner for those in So Cal/Greater SD area... do you think you would be interested? Anyone else???

    Jill: Hahaha, looking at the picture again the pavlova really IS the size of your head. Awesome!

    All: If anyone travels to the SD area, just shoot me an email or post a comment here to let me know you are on your way. I will drop everything and head straight to ED to meet you. :D I am not joking.

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  14. This place looks like pure food heaven! I have a dear friend in San Diego and next time I visit, I will have to take her there. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. What a lovely post; the pictures are beautiful.

    I do agree with you that cheese and bread (and wine) make a meal. That is my kind of place.

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  16. That looks like paradise! I'm heading to Southern California this fall so I'm going to have check it out. Thanks for sharing a great looking foodie mecca.

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  17. I love their use of petals on the Napoleon cakes. I am craving for a piece. I agree with you about the excellent design of the shop. I need to plan a visit to San Diego.

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  18. OMGosh! You beat me to it!! I was going to write a post on Extraordinary Desserts. They're amazing. Haven't been there in awhile but always good times when I have. With their gorgeous display of desserts (and even more delicious), they serve a eonderful spicy chai tea.

    Great post! =)

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  19. I've never heard of this place but I am adding it to my list of places to go when I am in San Diego. Great write up!

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  20. I love extraordinary desserts!

    Re: your comment, it's from Lupicia. They have a store at the Westfield Century City mall in LA. They have a few other shops, check their site to see if they have one near your home. Or order online, they're really good! :]

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  21. This place looks fantastic - gives me a great excuse to go back to San Diego!! Thanks for the tour! :-)

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  22. Me again, I will shoot you an email with contact info and perhaps we can meet over the summer!

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  23. Oh I so did not need to know that this place was in San Diego. I think I already gain 5 pounds just stepping out of my car in Hillcrest. But I'm definitely going to stop in and just "sample" a thing or too. It would be rude not to - right?

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  24. That would be heaven for me. I'm going to head down south later in the year. This will be my first stop.

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  25. stumbled upon your blog and i love it!!! this post makes me want to go to SD... NOW!!!

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  26. I love this place too!!! Dessert and some great wine, live is just too good :)

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  27. I wish I would have known about this place when I was in San Diego last summer! I would have absolutely had to try it! I was reading your most recent post as well and I think the sunshine awards are an awesome way of showing foodie/blog love! I haven't made the leap to twitter and now I'm highly questioning it...

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  28. oh how i love this place!! I definitely need to come to back to SD to visit you - and Extraordinary desserts!!

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  29. This looks like absolute heaven!

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  30. I love reading your blog, but this post makes me sad! I've lived in San Diego my whole life and have had nothing but disappointing desserts from Extraordinary Desserts. Although, the architecture and dessert presentations are beyond amazing, I recommed swinging by any of the restaurants on Prospect Street in La Jolla next time you find yourself wanting to go out for dessert! You won't be disappointed :)

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