Three Women with a Sweet Tooth

by Leah Sottile, Sheri Boggs and Ann M. Colford


214 N. Howard St. * 747-2004

Lately it seems like we Inlander folk just can't stray too far away from the brick-walled, white-tableclothed gourmet confines of downtown Spokane's Mizuna. We usually drop by for a quick roughage-fest in a White Cheddar and Apple Salad at lunch, then come back later to drown our weekly deadline woes in a big glass of Sangiovese. When that's all said and done, we're usually too stuffed or too broke to dive into one of Mizuna's signature desserts. Not this time. When this installation of "Three Women..." came around, we all jumped at the chance to sample Mizuna's menu of sweets. And once we finished licking our plates, we topped off the afternoon with three mugs of black coffee to jolt us from our all-natural sugar high. -- LS

Lavender Honey Creme Brulee ($5.95)

I'm a sucker for ritual. I don't smoke, but every now and then I'll light up because I like the cigarette paper nestled between index and middle fingers, the moment of suspense before the flame ignites, the languid curls of smoke drifting into the night. I'm the same way with food, and Cr & egrave;me Brulee is one of my favorites -- I love that you have to crack the top with a spoon, and I'm fascinated with the interplay of the textures. Mizuna's version is the best I've had. The top was a thick pane of amber, which made a satisfying thwack when I tapped it with the spoon. The inside was a rich, delicious custard, subtly infused with the delicate aroma of lavender. It managed to be comforting, sophisticated and inventive all at once. (SB)

Chocolate Hazelnut Pave ($5.95)

When there's something chocolate on the menu, I rarely consider anything else. But at Mizuna, all the choices are tempting. Still, my chocolate craving won out. The pave (that's pah-VAY to us hoi polloi) is an elegant slice of dark chocolate heaven with the texture of a creamy cheesecake and the chocolate content of a truffle, garnished with roasted hazelnuts and coffee beans and served with a delicate hazelnut-infused creme anglaise sauce. This is the kind of dessert that inspires sounds of decadent pleasure, those vaguely indecent moans and sighs that make you glance about furtively to make sure no one heard you. If you're looking for me, I'll be in the corner nuzzling my pave. Don't get too close. (AC)

Bosc Pear and Berry Crisp ($5.95)

The Bosc Pear and Berry Crisp arrived warm and in a hefty dessert bowl, lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar (which I lapped up with my fingers later). This crisp was bursting with the flavors of just-sliced pears, plump blackberries and raspberries along with a sauce in the brightest crimson that Mother Nature allows. The berries were sweet, the pears were tart, and embedded in the fruity goodness were small bits of crunchiness -- they reminded me of the crust on my mom's homemade apple crisp. Faint hints of nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice wrangled the fruit taste together. Tack on $1.95, and you'll get a dollop of house-made maple ginger ice cream. (LS)

The Harvester

200 N. Main St., Spangle, Wash. * (509) 245-3757

That's it. We've put our feet down. We are three women who want the real thing when it comes to dessert, not this huge-plate-with-a-sliver-of-cake b.s. Whatever happened to towering slices of German chocolate, double-scoop cones and inches-thick frosting? We want sugar, and we want it now. So we got in the car, drove a mere 20 minutes and found ourselves with the sugar highs that we had so eagerly anticipated. A stone's throw from Highway 95 lies the Harvester -- the place our readers selected as Best Rural Restaurant in this year's Best of the Inland Northwest poll. Among green hills and rolling combines, we dug in - and afterward, we could barely move. Now that's dessert. -- LS

Blackberry Pie ($2.95)

The UK's Weebl (of Weebl and Bob fame) said it best: "Want pie now!" And here at The Inlander, we often do, too. Neither cloying like cake nor hard-to-manage like ice cream, pie truly is the ideal American dessert. Do not argue. We know whereof we speak. And if you want pie, take a clue from Twin Peaks' Agent Cooper -- the best pie is the kind you have to drive out to the middle of nowhere to get. Thus we ended up at the Harvester; I went with blackberry and was thoroughly impressed to find the filling composed of largely intact berries. This is real fruit, folks, not some blackberry-flavored gelatinous substance from a can. The crust was the real thing as well. This was the Pie of the Gods. (SB)

Cherry Pie a la Mode ($3.50)

Pie is nostalgia. It's Thanksgiving dinner and visiting your favorite aunt and hanging out in the kitchen. It's such a simple thing, really -- just crust and filling -- yet so sublime. Our waitress rattled off the pie choices, but I already knew what I wanted. The cherries held the right balance between tart and sweet, and the rich golden brown crust stayed firm and flaky even under the onslaught of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. I made sure to capture every drop of the cherry-vanilla puddle that formed as the ice cream melted quickly into the warm filling. Had Sheri and Leah not been watching, I might have licked the plate. Haute cuisine? Nah. It's a plate of memories. (AC)

Coconut Cream Pie ($2.75)

Our waitress rattled off about 15 different flavors of pie, but I knew from the beginning that a cream pie - banana, Oreo, whatever - would be in my belly within the next 10 minutes. My slice, which appeared to be close to a quarter of a whole pie, came cool and ready to eat. The top layer of whipped cream was hearty and lay atop a tier of coconut cream that was, no joke, two inches thick. I took a deep breath and dove in. The coconut layer was excellent - a lemon yellow color filled with rich flavor and small, sweet chunks of coconut. The cream, the coconut, the hommade crust -- it was so good it made me want to cry. My slice of pie, without a doubt in my mind, was the best I'd ever tasted. (LS)

Publication date: 04/14/05

Car d'Lane @ Downtown Coeur d'Alene

Fri., June 18 and Sat., June 19
  • or