Sugar Rush: Frozen Lemonade from Rouge Tomate
During "heatwave week" in New York I tried to seek out desserts that had the words "frozen" or "ice" in their names. That led me to shave ice sold off the street, but also to the Michelin starred Rouge Tomate and their fantastic Frozen Strawberry Lemonade ($12) plated dessert.
Although the ingredient list is long, every component pulls its weight. This dessert successfully covers an entire spectrum of crunchy components and also does a masterful job of balancing sweet and tart flavors.
The two "main" components of this parfait-style dessert are a tart and tangy lemon curd, made with coconut oil instead of butter, and a sweet basil granita. The granita compliments the curd with its sweetness and its crunchy icy texture. A large chunk of strawberry lemon meringue that looks like a Henry Moore sculpture is slightly less tangy than the curd, and adds the characteristic crunch of baked meringue. Tart, compressed strawberries and a sweet dehydrated cake crumble complete the crunch spectrum.
The dessert is gluten-free and dairy-free (but not vegan due to eggs in meringue). Executive Pastry Chef James Distefano says the dish is a result of a collaboration with his Jr. Sous Chef Breanne Butler, who initially came up with the idea.