Escapade to Georgia.
A few months ago, we noted that we are making it our mission this year to try to seek out lesser known dessert spots in NYC. From a store specializing in milky tres leches cake, to two focusing on tofu pudding, a cafe offering a small selection of Filipino desserts, another with an array of sweet baked baos, today we feature two Georgian dessert spots. If the French love cream in their desserts, the Italians almond, the Greeks honey, Japanese mochi, and South East Asians tropical fruit, the Georgians treasure grapes and walnuts.
- Dessert destination: Cafedelia, 59 East 8th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
- Budget: $.
- Must-eat: Honey Cake and Churchkhela.
- Short and sweet story: A stone’s throw from NYU and Washington Square Park, and opposite one of our favourite Sichuan dry pot spots in the city, you will find Cafedelia. More of a takeaway place than a sit-down restaurant, we visited Cafedelia for its selection of Georgian desserts, and would return for that and some of the loveliest hospitality in NYC. We can never resist a “Honey Cake” ($7), and instead of the usual sour cream filling found in the Russian version, Cafedelia’s version is a cake tower generously layered with condensed milk caramel. You won’t be able to stop at just one bite.
- There are also three types of pastries available. Composed rather simply of sugar, butter and flour, it is difficult to describe the “Kada Cake” ($4). It is a pastry that seems like the offspring of an Italian biscotti married to an Asian biscuit. The “Cigarette Cake” ($5) is similar to something from the Middle East, albeit filled with walnuts and raisins, rather than pistachio and honey. The most interesting pastry from Cafedelia has to be the “Churchkhela” ($7) — we have never had it before. The unofficial candy treaty of the country, it is essentially, a skewer of walnuts dipped into a grape syrup that is left to harden.
- Dessert destination: Chama Mama, 149 West 14th Street, Chelsea/Greenwich Village border, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$.
- Must-eat: Pelamushi.
- Short and sweet story: A few streets away from Cafedelia, Chama Mama boasts a simply splendid leafy courtyard ideal for leisurely weekend brunching. Don’t miss the “Taste of Georgia” dip platter, or any of the meat dishes, and most certainly, don’t miss two of the desserts on offer. The “Honey Cake” ($10) features thinner layers of cake and caramel than Cafedelia’s version, but is imbued with stronger honey tones. We love both versions equally. The stand-out dessert though is the “Pelamushi” ($10), a grape jelly-like pudding that is a nod to the country’s roots as one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world. Served cold, it tasted somewhere between a bottle of wine and a platter of grapes, smooth yet tart at the same time.