Latah Bistro’s Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta was born out of necessity, “a byproduct of having too much Greek yogurt in the house” after breakfast service was over, says chef David Blaine. He needed some way to use it all.
When editors at Bon Appetit first approached Blaine about submitting a recipe for the panna cotta, he was flattered but taken aback. By that time, Latah Bistro wasn’t doing breakfast anymore, and thus didn’t have the vast Greek yogurt supplies that had facilitated the dessert.
This was roughly two years ago. He agreed to give the recipe to magazine editors and waited to hear back. A year later, they called again, this time to fact-check. Blaine says he assumed they’d killed the story, but the editor assured him, no, no, it’d run in December.
December 2008. It just came out in the January 2010 issue. It’s a fast-paced food world swirling around us, but stories like this show that a good recipe is timeless. Or, at least, it has a shelf life of somewhere between one and three years.
Since publication, the panna cotta has experienced favor outpacing its original run. “It was not a terribly popular desert then,” Blaine says, but now people are out for it. The panna cotta doesn’t need a ton of yogurt, so it doesn’t make sense to buy bulk. Blaine was planning to just pick it up at the grocery store.The only problem: it’s hard to find full-fat Greek yogurt in this town.
Traditional Greek yogurt, says Blaine, is “a high-fat yogurt, like a tangier cream cheese.” All he found in area stores — marketed as healthy alternatives to Yoplait — was “nonfat Greek yogurt … which baffles me.”
Because of these logistical hurdles, Blaine seems to wish the panna cotta would just die. He had it as a special through January, last put it on the Valentine’s menu, and planned to leave it at that. But writers keep calling to ask about it — like us, asking to hear the story and then wondering when people will be able to find it on the menu again.
Blaine responded with a hint of resignation. “I’ll do it again this week,” he says. “I’ve got a couple tubs of yogurt left. I was just going to eat them.”