Just Desserts- A Camp Newaygo Adventure
By Ken DeLaat
When Camp Newaygo’s Executive Director Jane Vitek asked if I’d be available to partake in a little dessert tasting to assist in rating and reviewing candidates for possible future inclusion in their upcoming Ridge Specialties Catering menu there was not even a tiny moment of hesitation in my ever so grateful acceptance of the invitation.
I mean, first off, having sampled the creative cookery that emerges from their kitchen at a few events I have never failed to be delighted.
Also, we’re talking desserts, my friend.
Don’t get me wrong...
... I adore appetizers, am a sucker for salads and enjoy entrees as much as anyone, but these, to me, are merely warm-ups. A series of pleasant experiences meant to gastronomically pave a path to the crowning glory of the meal,….dessert.
Chef Chris Gribble set before us a sextet of the most attractively presented dishes witnessed through these eyes in quite some time. Two tables sat anxiously awaiting the signal to begin and after a short introduction to the dishes by Chef Chris the onslaught began in earnest.
The first selection was a Panna Cotta with fresh berries sprinkled unsparingly on top. Unfamiliar as I was with Panna Cotta our initial encounter is one I will long treasure. Possessing a custard-like texture with a far more subtle taste sensation this Italian in origin dish provided a savory backdrop that allowed the berries to reign while providing a flavorful accompaniment that proved most memorable.
Moving on, the next sampling was the Ooh La La Chocolate Mousse. I admittedly have a bit of a history with Mousse, often finding its lightness matched by an all too restrained body of flavor but this particular incarnation by Chef Chris did not disappoint in the least and may have repaired some long standing issues between us.
I meant the mousse, of course and not Chef Chris.
Lemon Cream Cheese Pie was approached with a bit of anticipation. I came to love lemon as a confectionary item late in life having spent many years eschewing even the slightest sampling of such. A long held prejudice against citrus related desserts fell in recent years when I bonded with a lemon flavored cake and yet there is always a bit of a trepidation as to whether a new variety will revive the prior bias.
The pie was splendid and reinforced my need to advance beyond outdated belief systems.
The Butterfinger Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars were decidedly sublime. There are few words that would do justice to the gastronomical pleasure these innocent looking bars provided.
Two other options made it onto my plate. The tasty quick bite ice cream sandwiches were a nice surprise and for one who rarely goes a day without ice cream (yes, even in the dead of winter) they stood up well to a high bar of approval when it comes to frozen desserts.
And then, despite the rave reviews given above, came what I considered to be a truly extraordinary epicurean experience.
Roasted Pears with Espresso Mascarpone Sauce.
This was a sheer delight with varied taste sensations blended together in an unlikely partnership that intertwined the flavors seamlessly. After my first bite it was all I could do to temper my urge to revisit the table and stuff a couple into my pockets since some of the slower eaters had not yet reached the portion of the table where these beauties were nestled.
Instead I lingered a bit and when things were wrapping up and one dish remained I edged to the table and said (softly) ‘well if no one’s going to want this….. ‘ then savored my second plate nearly guilt free.
Ridge Specialties Catering knocked it out of the park with these candidates, presenting a slate of choices scrumptious enough to provide a stiff competition for top honors.
As for their future?
I understand a few of the aspirants are already on the schedule to debut at one of the upcoming Camp Newaygo Epicurean Events in the coming months, the first of these being the Mother’s Day Brunch held May 14th.
From a well informed source we understand the Ooh La La Mousse will be making an appearance for the Mom’s Day attendees.
And given I currently reside with one of the well deserved honorees of this day….
So will I.
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman