The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 03.31.06


Dangerous Desserts 101

Diners take heed! Desserts can be dangerous! Eat with caution!

Now that I have your attention I should explain that innocent after-dinner indulgence can lead to more than an expanding waistline as was witnessed recently at a meeting of the QCGN (Quebec Community Groups Network).

A group of hungry meeting-goers escaped the confines of overpriced hotel culinary offerings in search of post meeting sustenance in the provinces illustrious capital.

Trust me when I tell you that Quebec City has much to offer in the way of food and dining, which makes settling on a destination a trial in itself.

If you are a Libra as I am, choosing between varieties of restaurants can be a time-consuming exercise. I internally battle indecisive tendency with sheer urge and craving while allowing the stomach to override mental leanings. At one point the stomach says enough already and demands immediate attention, of course.

Arriving at consensus on a group dining destination can be even more challenging and I have been known to abandon a group in search of my own hungry Nirvana. Eating alone leaves much to be desired, however, as sharing the experience is much more satisfying to the overall human palate.

In the end, and back to my original point, no matter what location is chosen there is one inevitable truth -- all good things lead to dessert.

Our assembly of six weary conference attendees enjoyed a wonderful evening filled with delicious Quebec products such as wild boar spareribs with a Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, grain fed Cornish hen, Oka cheese melted atop oyster mushrooms, local goat cheese-stuffed cherry tomatoes and an unidentified local cheese and cauliflower soup.

We ventured out of province for a good Australian Shiraz to whet our tongues. All this leading to…you guessed it …dessert and a refusal of our collective treasury board guideline expense claims.

And that's where the danger began.

Each dessert individually chosen was decorated with artistic flair in the form of sugar sculpture and, curiously, Asian gooseberries which seem to be a common Quebec City chefs choice for pretty adornment in all manner of dishes.

Spiral and sharp, square or triangular, each sugary attribute prompted intense curiosity and when a heritage prone diner next to me leaned over to inspect the architectural dessert he almost impaled himself on the spiky tower intended for eating.

As I leaned in closely to sniff at my wedge of cheesecake I nearly lost an eye too. A neighboring community leader suggested that the gooseberries provide extra danger as one could choke easily on them, prompting rounds of laughter in remembrance of warnings via worried mothers about "taking and eye out" with any given item around the house.

All this to say that you must be careful when dining in dark establishments and you should remember your mother's directives. Chew your food slowly, watch what you eat, and don't play with sharp instruments -- especially when it comes to dessert.

I also have a small suggestion: When a dish comes with a bourbon reduction such as Jack Daniels and veal stock, ask that the bourbon be served on the side. This will dull any eventual pain due to inevitable dessert injury and a treasury board audit.

Just a thought…