The presentation of the glistening little birds ringing a large platter was impressive with additional walnut stuffing mounded in the center. The fruit and wine reduction sauce was velvety smooth. Since fig balsamic vinegar went into the sauce, I made a fig balsamic vinaigrette for the salad, and gave the option of adding the toasted walnuts and chevre, which were out for appetizers. I’m glad I was inspired to change at the last minute. The flavors really dovetailed all around, from soup to nuts – well, from appetizers to the repeated use of the walnuts.
But in the end, it was the Opera Cake.
“Elise, this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten here,” my father-in-law gushed, adding that anything he’s “had at Latour doesn’t even compare.” [A restaurant in Bergen County]
I delivered two slices of the cake on Monday morning to my best friend, who at the last minute could not attend. I felt like the Easter bunny, hopping up to her back door and hanging the gift bag on the doorknob early in the morning. Once she found the surprise, she called immediately, confessed that both pieces were gone, and that she’d be “out of commission for the next two hours” on her Wii Fit.
It is a beautiful and tasty cake to say the least, with a 100+ year history. But honestly, it looks a lot harder to make than it is. Sure, there are a number of components, but if you break them down empirically, it’s Pastry 101 (maybe Pastry 201): sponge cake, simple syrup, icing, melted chocolate.
My five-year-old daughter was there every step of the way with a very active hand, and it came out great.
Here is a link to the recipe from Gourmet Magazine, September, 2004 issue. Good luck, and enjoy!