Oldie but goody

Posted on June 29, 2006 by Aun

The goon was still ranting. He was, thankfully, ranting rather diplomatically, speaking in rather hushed tones, not wanting to call obvious attention to himself. Unfortunately for me and my colleague, what he lacked in volume he was more than making up for in longevity. We had been sitting together for over an hour and for at least 45 minutes, he had been ranting.

In all honesty, I enjoyed knowing the goon. He was, in so many amusing ways, like a character from a bad book or movie come to life. He chain-smoked, wore long black leather coats, considered himself both charming and handsome, and liked reminding me and my colleagues as often as possible that he knew everyone and anyone worth knowing in his home town. More importantly, he wanted us to know that we wouldn’t be able to operate in his backyard without his help.

But he was also a gourmand. Over the two years we worked together, he introduced me to the very best restaurants in Venice. We got along, I think, mostly because we shared a passion for great food and wine.

The last time I saw him, however, he was pissed off. My colleague and I had agreed to have dinner with him in hopes of maintaining good personal relations and also answering some of his questions. Big mistake. The dinner turned into a 90 minute long complaint session which turned from painful to tedious to almost farcical. Farcical because by the end of the night the goon was practically threatening our organization. The only saving grace of the evening was that, as usual, the goon had brought us to an amazing place for dinner. The shoebox-sized restaurant was on a small, narrow street near Saint Mark’s Square. It specialized in steak, which in a city famous for seafood, made it a rare gem. The food was good, so good in fact that after awhile, I began to pay less and less attention to the ranting Italian sitting opposite me.

Still, it is kind of hard to ignore someone telling you that your company and your country is now his enemy, no matter how politely he was trying to say it. Dessert, however, did the trick. Once our main courses were cleared, the goon insisted I order Vini Da Arturo’s tiramisu. He said it was the best in Venice. And then he went back to complaining. He was right though. It was easily the best tiramisu I had eaten in the city that had given birth to this popular dessert. In fact, it was the best I’ve ever eaten in my life. I dare say that it’s the best tiramisu on the planet. It was also not your traditional tiramisu because it lacked the usual ladyfinger cookies. It was just cream… gloriously rich, sweet, delicious cream scooped on a plate and sprinkled with chocolate. But the cream was so good that despite everything else that was going on that night, I was in heaven.

Tiramisu has kind of a bad rep. It’s mostly because the dessert is way too commonly served at bad Italian restaurants around the world. It’s also one of the first desserts amateur cooks try their hands at making. I’m no different. I made my first tiramisu in college, using a recipe that came free with a bottle of Godiva liquor that I had just purchased. I can’t remember if that tiramisu was any good, but I do remember enjoying every last drop of that chocolate-based booze.

Since tasting the tiramisu at Vini Da Arturo, I’ve been reminded that this Italian “pick me up” doesn’t have to be boring. If done well, it can be as good, as amazing, and as satisfying as any magically complex confection concocted by Pierre Hermé. It can even distract you from threats made by chain-smoking half-drunk goons.

Vini Da Arturo
San Marco 3656, Calle degli Assassini
Tel: 041 528 69 74

Tiramisu
This recipe is from The Silver Spoon. I like it because it doesn’t call for alcohol. I’m not a big fan of boozy desserts. Plus, I’ve discovered that the traditional recipe for this dessert didn’t have the marsala wine that so many people think it requires.

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1.25 cups confectioner’s sugar
1.75 cups mascarpone cheese
7 ounces ladyfingers
3/4 cup freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Stiffly whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the mascarpone, then the egg whites. Make a layer of ladyfingers on the base of a deep, rectangular serving dish and then brush evenly with coffee. Cover with a layer of the mascarpone cream and sprinkle with a little of the grated chocolate. Continue making layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with a layer of the mascarpone cream. Dust with cocoa and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Rosa's Yummy Yums June 29, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I love tiramisu, but have not yet tested this one! Unlike you, I like using a bit of booze in certain desserts…

    Your story was very captivating!

  2. oyster June 29, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    So good food makes up for bad company eh? Will be interesting if the party knows what’s going on in your mind… Good article, and yes, I love tiramisu, esp those wet moist ones that melts alcohol in the mouth. *wink*

  3. Anonymous June 29, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    is it the tiramisu or the ring that we are supposed to focus??

  4. umami June 29, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    Tiramisu happened to be on the menu of a wine dinner I attended this week at La Strada Ristorante. It was 95% cream and 5% boozy cake, really nice.

  5. keiko June 29, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    This is the most beautiful tiramisu I’ve ever seen.

  6. fiordizucca June 29, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    a classic dessert, easy and quick but as you say, always good! :) well done
    ciao

  7. Orchidea June 29, 2006 at 11:47 pm

    I love Tiramisù and I just made one a few days ago for some friends… the recipe you used is exactly like mine.
    Ciao.

  8. gerald June 29, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Very nice, I’m glad to read that listening to all that rambling paid off in the end!

  9. lobstersquad June 30, 2006 at 12:38 am

    So many crimes are committed in the name of tiramisu, it´s terrible. This one sounds just perfect. I don´t like a boozy dessert either. Will try it.

  10. Anonymous June 30, 2006 at 1:04 am

    Sorry but may I know how many people does that recipe feed?

  11. Walker Thompson June 30, 2006 at 1:04 am

    I live in Durango, CO. We are a resort community thriving on the tourist dollar. I swear, every restaurant in our town from the local steak joint to the sushi spot serves tiramisu. I like it, but, my goodness when you see it as often as we do, it drives you crazy! It sounds like you’ve had this kind of experience…

    Great blog!

  12. risingsunofnihon June 30, 2006 at 1:16 am

    Tiramisu can go so wrong when it is wrong, but so right when it is right. Your pictures look good enough to eat. I may have to revist this old friend soon.

  13. ThyCountess June 30, 2006 at 9:06 am

    It’s great to know that there are Tiramisu recipes that doesnt include alcohol. I’m gonna try yur recipe this weekend for my housewarming with a couple of close friends..good blog btw. Keep up with more interesting postings!

  14. bohemianlisa June 30, 2006 at 9:29 am

    That’s great. I’ve been wanting to make one without any alcohol.

  15. Frederico June 30, 2006 at 10:27 am

    Nice! Yet another recipe to add to my “Chubby Hubby’s Cook Book of Delights!”
    :-)
    You should consider publishing your own cook book… seriously. :)

  16. Chubby Hubby June 30, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Spots: Yum. I love Bailey’s. That’s one alcohol I don’t mind in my desserts.

    Rosa: Thanks. I think some times people but too much alcohol, and it overpowers the other flavors. A little is okay.

    Oyster: I think I was nodding along on autopilot, saying things like “yes, I understand” over and over again. Don’t think he realized I was trying not to pay attention. :-)

    Anonymous: Hah hah… would you believe it’s a piece of CK costume jewelry?

    Umami: Hmmmm, we’re gonna be trying La Strada next week. Looking forward to it. How was it?

    Keiko: You flatterer! My little mess in a bowl is nothing compared to your creations.

    Fiordizucca: Cheers.

    Orchidea: Excellent. I also like this recipe because it is very simple.

    Gerald: Yah, if not for the tiramisu, I would have had a very unhappy evening.

    Lobstersquad: Totally agree. Thanks.

    Walker: Yah, it’s so bizarre. You can go to restaurants all over the world that aren’t Italian and they’ll try and serve you a tiramisu. I just went to an awful Turkish place this past week and they had one on their menu. Sigh…

    Anon: I made 4 bowls using this recipe. You can probably feed 6 comfortably if using one large dish.

    Risingsunofnihon: Thanks. I think a lot of it is also finding really good mascarpone. I’m still searching.

    Thycountess: Yah, I was surprised when I read that the first recipes didn’t have any booze. I like my booze in a glass instead of on my plate.

    Bohemianlisa: Glad I was able to help.

    Fred: Well, if some very nice agent or publisher is out there, I’d be more than happy to talk to them (hint hint).

    S and I are actually in the process of putting together a very thin volume (like 48pp) of recipes and anecdotes for friends for Christmas. We’re thinking of calling it “weekends away”. The idea is to have a very small, portable book of recipes that you can make when travelling. We’re hoping to have the prototype ready by October. We’re heading down to Margaret River for a week, to attend a wedding and to chill out. We’re rent a house with another foodie couple and we’ll be testing the recipes there. The goal is to select only recipes that are easy to make with produce easy to find. But we’ll also have a few recipes based on produce that we’ve discovered while travelling and that’s inspired us. We’re thinking of self-publishing this via lulu.com and giving them to our friends.

  17. Austin June 30, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    Ironically I recently made my first tiramusu a couple weeks ago. I interviewed a cheese producer here in Bangkok and ended up with a huge tub of locally-produced mascarpone.

    I followed these recipes, which have step-by-step illustrations, which are always helpful:
    http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article.php?id=60
    http://www.annamariavolpi.com/page30.html

    I didn’t use alcohol either (didn’t have any), and it turned out great.

    Austin

  18. Eggy June 30, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    Looks great. I’m not big on boozy tiramisu either; in fact, i’m not big on boozy anything — it just doesn’t agree with me. So your recipe certainly is compelling. Did you watch the last ep of Come Dine With Me (Pippa’s house)? She is such an ass :-D

  19. Melissa July 1, 2006 at 1:21 am

    It’s funny, I was just thinking about tiramisu yesterday, though to be honest I was wondering how I might incorporate some fruit into it – blasphemy, I know! Judging from your experience at Vini Da Arturo, though, maybe I should rather be moving in the other direction – who knew a minimalist tiramisu could be so good?

  20. J July 1, 2006 at 2:27 am

    hiya, beautiful pictures, as always! also, thanks for fabulous idea – terrific use of those coupe glasses ;) i now have a sudden urge to go make trifle-type layered thingies

  21. spottiswoode July 2, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    yup, bailey’s is definitely the way to go! :)

  22. Vidya July 3, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Wow.. I discovered your blog recently, and it’s a true treat for a foodie..

    I’m a foodie that lives in the backwoods of japan.. and am dying for a decent tiramisu..

    do you have a good recipe for ladyfingers or savoirdi that doesnt call for exotic ingredients?

  23. S July 3, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Hi Vidya

    Could you please email me directly at s@chubbyhubby.net? Thanks.

  24. jane July 6, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    i just tried the recipe today and the tiramisu is really nice! except the coffee could be better, what coffee do you usually use for it? thanks again for the yummy recipe!!

  25. S July 10, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Jane,

    We use shots of espresso which we make using our Lavazza Espresso Point machine. The coffee actually comes in pods.

  26. Christina December 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    hi, if i would like to add baileys – how should i go about doing it?

    Thanks in advance.

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