It’s one of those meals with a treasured female friend where discursive dialogue is dotted with dialectics. But when dessert arrives, it successfully decimates all conversation.
For a full 30 seconds.
“My god, Lesley, what is this magnificent thing?” My voice is husky, my breathing is staggered.
There are other desserts that will score higher in the visual “va-va-voom” department yes, but this one rivets our eyes, our gazes like lasers boring holes onto the stark white plate. A quartet of desserts unassumingly calling itself Il Cioccolato, its components strewn in chocolate “dirt.”
First, there’s the chocolate truffle looking very much like the hallowed fungus it emulates; whether it be a white truffle or a black one, it doesn’t matter. This one is pitch black holding a hard heart of chocolate glory. I bite, and my teeth sink slowly through a creamy mass of smoke and cocoa.
Lesley takes one look at my expression and beckons a waiter. “Sir, one more dessert set, please.” The server nods briskly, knowingly.
Moving from right to left, it’s time to smoke. A chocolate ‘cigar’ that could also be a horn or cone, its chocolate shell gleams. A bite yields a crrrack! but the well-tempered shell persists under pressure and proffers its treasure: chocolate mousse. Stiffly set and laced with an orange liqueur, the rather sudden citrus smack on smoke is disarming. “Whoa, this baby’s quite a kicker,” I remark. But Lesley doesn’t agree; she likes the aggressive flavor. I admit, it grows on you.
Bombolone (plural: bomboloni) is Italian for tiny filled donuts. This one carries a memory of warmth to it from the fryer, its pudginess pocked with granules of sugar. Its chocolate center spills out like a juicy secret revealed, complete with the requisite giddiness and eyes-to-the-back-of-the-head reaction. That Lesley and I can lick the sugar off our fingers afterwards is a plus to this dessert.
“Lori, the gelato has melted!” Lesley points. The last in the quartet but never the least, the gelato lies languidly, fluid pieces of itself line and stain the plate: laugh lines or an invitation to lick? Scooping it up with spoons, the gelato’s coolness tames the thrill of the three prior sweets, replacing it with placid pleasure. It’s as soft as passion, and its flavor lingers like hope for yet another Il Cioccolato.
Il Cioccolato at Paparazzi
Mezzanine Level, Tower Wing
EDSA Shangri-La Manila
1 Garden Way, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City