Rated: Bob Bob Ricard’s Rice Pudding Brûlée.

Rice Pudding Brulee

Fragrant Rice? Or flagrant lies…?

What? I don’t go to fancy joints often, Ogglers, but when I do I expect big things: concepts I can’t find in other places; flavours to blow my mind.

So when I saw ‘Rice Pudding Brûlée with Prunes and Armagnac’ on the menu of the lavish Bob Bob Ricard, I found myself rubbing my trotters with glee.

Here was something I’d never envisaged before, let alone put in my mouth – and the consequences of it could be great.

Just imagine what else might benefit from a cheeky little booster of Brûlée: Ice Cream; Yoghurt; a boring old piece of bread. All at once there was a whole new genre of desserts, just waiting to be discovered.

For the moment, however, the idea of it crowning a creamy bowl of Rice was far and away the most promising: I pictured a gooey, Vanilla pudding, sealed with a decadent Caramel crust, brought to life with a shimmer of booze and the odd rich pruney glob.

I could hardly wait to try it.

But, alas, reality refused to deliver.

What arrived was not a dish with a glowing top, or anything I could crack with the back of a spoon. In fact, the dessert that B.B.R. had created was not brûléed at all: instead it was a bowl of Rice with a lattice of hard Caramel resting lightly across the top.

Perhaps I should report them for mislabelling. As we all know, ‘brûlée’ – from the French for ‘burnt’ – is a process involving a blow torch and thick drifts of sugar. The resulting glaze is part of the pudding – not something which can be lifted and left to one side.

Such definitions are important. Otherwise, what’s to stop anyone wearing a Caramel lattice hat, then selling themselves as a ‘Brûlée’ too?

False labels and fakeness aside, the taste of the thing was also a letdown.

Essentially, it was flavourless: I could see Vanilla Pods but couldn’t taste them; my Prunes were not punchy or boozy. They barely registered. And although the Rice was pleasant and silky enough, the whole combination was sadly sub-par.

It’s not as if they don’t know how to make decent Brûlées at that place – The Man ordered a trio of them, all perfectly formed, which were worth a small round of applause.

But for flavourful Rice-based puddings, take my advice: go elsewhere, or make your own.

Where? Bob Bob Ricard is in Soho, London

How Much? £6.50 (plus a ‘discretionary’ 12.5% tip)

Rating?

4/10

Misnomer alert

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Gothenburg Goodies: The Fransk Jitterbugg.

The long-awaited Second Part of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden

Jitterbugg Biscuit

Think you know biscuits? Think again

What? You may well ask: Fransk Jitterbugg is hardly the commonest phrase in the Pud-Hog canon. Indeed, its weirdness is mainly what caught my attention in the first place.

Deciphering the name – which translates to ‘French Jitterbug’ – hardly solves the mystery. But what sounds like some kind of 1940s dance movement is in fact a Meringue/Butter Biscuit hybrid.

Crazy, no? But so intriguing – so apparently ingenious – I had to give it a go.

It certainly looked exciting: like it would be wonderfully chewy and moist, with a helping of crunch to boost; a feast for the teeth and the taste buds.

In fact, I soon learned it was neither.

The texture was samey and horribly dry; entirely lacking that much-needed crunch/chew contrast (and seemingly undercooked).

The taste was completely bland too; just butter and sugar with yet more sugar on top.

How dull.

Had a seam of fruit coulis been weaved in there somewhere, it may have been more of a biscuit befitting its wondrous, zany appearance.

As it was, I ate half then abandoned the rest, and ran for the nearest piece of Blueberry Pie.

Where? This disappointing specimen came from Café Kringlan, in the centre of Gothenburg’s Haga district (just down the road from those giant Hagabullen)

How Much? Around 30 kr (just under £3 in today’s money)

Rating?

2/10

More likely to give you the jitters than the bug

Rated: The Mishkins Salt Caramel Blondie.

Blondie with Salt Caramel Pretzels

Rather Hit-and-Misskins

What? According to the menu, an exciting premise of ‘White Chocolate Blondie, Salted Caramel Pretzels’.

In reality, an extremely dry Blondie topped with a much-needed ball of Vanilla Ice Cream and surrounded by Pretzels with semi-burnt (and therefore bitter) Caramel and Dark Chocolate.

A couple of bites came together quite well, but mostly it just didn’t hit the right buttons.

Twas a real shame – there was so much unfulfilled potential. A bit more goo in the Blondie might have salvaged things – though the piece would still have been too small.

As for the Pretzels, they were clearly more coated with Chocolate than anything else. Normally, that’s not a problem – but it isn’t so great when you fancy a dose of Salt Caramel.

Harumph.

Where? At Mishkins, the ‘kind-of Jewish deli’ near Covent Garden

How Much? £6 (plus an optional 12.5% service)

Rating? 3/10

Overpriced and underwhelming

The Millionaires Ice Cream Bombe.

Tick tock…

Is there anything more extravagant than an Ice Cream Cake? The whole concept smacks of impracticality: once you’ve taken it out and served the thing there’s no going back.

Too few of you clustered around the table and things start to get obscene pretty quickly. Unable to refreeze it you have only two choices: either stuff your face or watch in dismay as the leftovers melt into oblivion.

I recently faced this dilemma myself. With four of us craving sugar after a splendid Indian feast, someone had to go out and buy dessert.

The brief, to suit all appetites, was this: costing less than £5 it had to be both gooey and exciting – with a generous serving of Chocolate to boot.

Our emissary returned with a Millionaires Ice Cream Bombe from Sainsbury’s, plating it up to a round of applause. He had covered all the bases. Not only was it studded (and topped) with Chocolate-covered Biscuit nuggets, but inside was the excitement and the goo:

A.K.A. a raunchy Caramel filling

Extravagant indeed!

Especially when you consider that we’d eaten less than half before feeling full.

What to do with the rest though? After softening a little at room temperature it was clearly at its best: smooth and melty without having made the full transition to liquid.

The contrast in textures was lovely too: crunch and goo; hard and soft. But soon it would all just be damp. And, with none of us fancying full-fat Milkshakes for several days, all would go to waste…

Some of the group stayed strong, recognising the madness of trying to finish the lot.

Others, however, metaphorically (and literally) decided to step up to the plate.

Seconds went down all right, but proved more than enough for my comrades. Alone, I soldiered on, but the third bowl of richness was perhaps a bowl too many.

Damn you, Ice Cream Bombe! I cried. Are you trying to make me obese?!

With a quarter still dripping defiantly, it seemed like I was fighting a losing battle.

Thankfully, minutes later, we were saved by a stray housemate, who mercifully ate the last of it, putting us out of our misery.

Even so, the damage had been done. Though thoroughly delicious, I realised I could never buy another one: the Bombe had lived up to its name, and gone off far too quickly.

It was time for the Pud-Hog to call for a truce. And a very long lie-down indeed.

Review: Za Za Bazaar and the Pudding Bowl Blowout.

Food as far as the eye can see…

There are some concepts I just can’t resist, however much I might want to.

Za Za Bazaar is a prime example: an all-you-can-eat buffet, with 1,000 covers – apparently making it Britain’s largest restaurant.

Before I go on, you should know that I hate crowds. I also hate feeling like I am competing for food – there’s nothing worse than having your eye on a certain Cake or Pastry, only to see it snatched up by the person in front of you.

Nevertheless I was drawn to the place, namely because of the choice: most of the world’s cuisines in just one room – from Sushi to Sausage and Mash – with a dessert list longer than anywhere outside my dreams.

Since we were in Bristol – i.e. home to this particular Bazaar – it seemed like we really should give it a go. The website alone made my eyes spin, but when else would we get the chance?

From the outset it was clear that this wasn’t your usual dining experience. You can’t just book any time you want, but have to go on the hour.

The price also varies depending on when you go (as does the range they offer). Our visiting time being peak (i.e. Saturday night), we supposedly had the whole range of their dishes, for a fairly meaty £15.99 per head.

When we got there almost the first thing they told us was what time we had to leave: it was 8.45 at the latest; little more than ninety minutes after we’d arrived.

Which brings me to another thing I hate: time-limits.

With one-and-a-half hours to sample various cusines, the main temptation was to pile up our plates and start scoffing. But no: the Man and I had been working on a plan.

It ran as follows: do the rounds first to scope out the joint; try tiny samples of everything we fancied; minimise the carbs (too filling and cheap – not easy to get your money’s worth); drink plenty of water; and – most importantly – try to avoid being sick.

I have to say, our main meals went surprisingly well. The food quality wasn’t generally great, but the spectacle was amazing: our first recon took about ten minutes, so vast was the range on offer. Each station was themed by place, and was manned by at least two chefs; some of whom could make things on request.

Enough about savouries, though – this blog post is hardly the place. As I learnt that night, it’s vital to save space for pudding.

So here it is (brace yourself):

Four kinds of cake on this side…

…a Chocolate Fountain with Fruit, Marshmallows and Cake Chunks…

…Gulab Jamun, Sweets, and two cabinets of Jellied Desserts…

…a Mr Whippy-style Ice Cream Dispenser…

…PLUS Ice Cream for scooping, Crème Brûlée (in the background), AND Kheer, Apple Crumble and Custard (just out of shot). WHEW.

In short, there was quite a lot – and my aim, as the Pud-Hog, was to try a little snuffling of each thing.

Alas, however, my ambitions were unfulfilled. Not, I might add, because my stomach was overwhelmed (I’d been sparing with my savouries in preparation for this challenge), but because a great deal of what was on offer was apparently not vegetarian.

In fact, the issue of what was and wasn’t veggie caused myself (and the Chefs) no small amount of headaches, mainly because the labelling was so ambiguous: on the few occasions that it was visible, it was hard to tell exactly what it meant.

Take this label for the Indian-style Rice Pudding, for example:

Vegetarian: X

Where most of the labels wrote ‘Y’ or ‘N’ beside the word ‘Vegetarian’, this one plumped for an ‘X’.

But was that an ‘X’ as in a tick box? Or an ‘X’ as in I’m-crossing-this-bad-boy-off-my-list-and-so-should-you?

Nobody seemed to know. One Chef said it wasn’t veggie, another disagreed. Back at the table, our waiter told us it was gelatin-free…

Who to believe?

Elsewhere, as well as the usual no-nos (the Marshmallows and Jellies) a whole cabinet of cakes was apparently off-limits too. Not that this seemed rational either.

Perhaps someone had made up their mind to bake gelatin into everything like some hog-hungry maniac. Or perhaps the labelling department was being incredibly lax.

As for the contradictory Chefs, I’m not sure what the problem was. A language barrier? Undertrained members of staff? A ruse to prevent the Pud-Hog from gobbling up all the stock?

I have my suspicions…

But, again, let’s bring ourselves back to dessert.

What, after all this confusion, did I eventually choose to eat?

Well, this was my first plate:

And so it begins

Sadly, some of it didn’t get eaten (the Chocolate Square, the Swiss Roll and the Pie), but purely because of my aforementioned bewilderment. As for the rest, I’m surprised to reveal that it wasn’t half bad.

Indeed, as products for what is basically a mega (and generally indiscriminate) feeding frenzy, they could have been a whole lot worse.

The Crème Brûlée tasted nice and fresh, with a thin but crunchy caramel top.

The Chocolate Tart was pleasantly rich and dark (if a little too thick and soft in the Pastry department).

The Carrot Cake was something I’d be happy to pay full price for in a bakery, while the Gulab Jamun wasn’t perfect, but just as syrupy as you’d hope to get.

My next stop was the Chocolate Fountain, where I dosed up on Tinned Peaches and a square of Sponge. Alas, you couldn’t just spoon the Chocolate in (instead you had to spear and dip), but I managed to get a fairly decent covering, topping the lot with a scattering of generic chocolate-filled shells.

Like so

Again, it was OK. No Purbeck Chococo wizardry, obviously, but fine as long as you had average expectations. The Chocolate was slightly too thin and oily, but the Peaches were juicy and moreish.

My third bowl quite surpassed them though, with both Kheer and Apple Crumble being pretty gosh darn tasty.

Trust me, it was better than it looked

The former (which I’d decided just had to be veggie) was nice and creamy, with a lovely flavour of Cardamom. The latter was very comforting: a stodgy (though only part-baked) Crumble, with plenty of warm, cooked apple.

It was so comforting, in fact, that I went for seconds – this time with some custard.

My thirds came with Melon and Pineapple.

My fourths with another Gulab Jamun and a sliver of Chocolate Fudge Cake (like one of those Betty Crocker ones; sludgy, but not too bad).

Of course, if you think six bowls of pudding sounds rather piggish, you’d be right.

Then again, it could have been worse: I didnt have the Cupcakes or the Ice Cream – they just didn’t seem that exciting. By the end I was also feeling slightly full…

…and then we were herded out.

The verdict then? A pretty impressive experience, but not one I’d like to repeat.

One session of scoffing against the clock is more than enough for me.

The Smallest Scone in Bristol?

Blink and you’ll miss it

What can you buy for £1.95?

I can think of a few things, even in this day and age: several bars of Fudge; 300g of broken Chocolate; a rather nice box of Free Range Eggs; a slice of Hungarian Strudel

For most of these things, you would even have change left over – and jolly good too, I might add.

In some places, however, £1.95 doesn’t get you much. Of course, in high-end stores like Harrods or Paul A. Young, this is just what you’d expect. But in your average cafe, when all you want is a takeaway buttered Scone? Well, for £1.95 you would hope it to be fairly decent.

Alas, this wasn’t the case in Cordial & Grace, a ‘Sewing Cafe’ situated in Clifton.

We found the place on our mission to scout out the tastiest cakes in Bristol – a mission which started at the Primrose Cafe (the intriguing creations of which I wrote about yesterday). Inside, chalked up on a blackboard, were a few words that caught my eye: ‘Treacle and Oat Scones.’

Now, last time I had a Treacle-based scone, it was served to me by a huge cheery chap in Dorset, who’d cooked up the beasts with Ginger and Clotted Cream. They were incredible – the stuff of legend – but the next time we sought them out his shop had gone.

Rumours began that the man had died from eating too much Clotted Cream. I like to think his Scones were just too perfect for this world…

However, as I’m sure you will have guessed by now, the same cannot be said for the Scones sold at Cordial & Grace.

The flavour, indeed, was promising, and – I thought – would be great as a lunchtime snack for our walk over Clifton Bridge.

There were none on display when we entered the shop, but I put my faith in the concept of Treacly goodness and asked if I could have one to go. The lady behind the counter seemed surprised – I guess it’s not a question they get asked that often – and said it would be £4 for two with all the trimmings (Cream and Jam) plus a Hot Drink.

But how much for a single buttered Scone?

That’s right, Ogglers – you’re way ahead of me. The price was £1.95.

I suppose I’d expected to pay about £1.50, so it was a little more than I had hoped. Not off-puttingly so though – especially given the new and exciting flavour.

I handed over my savings and waited for it to appear.

As soon as it did, my heart sank.

Wrapped in a layer of greaseproof paper was by far the smallest Scone I’ve ever bought – so small, it fit roomily into the palm of my hand, weighing no more than a thin slice of Bread.

I’ve had nosebleeds that were bigger. I almost had one then, in fact.

However, as usually happens in such situations, a typical English awkwardness took hold. Even the lady who sold it seemed mildly embarrassed. But instead of complaining, or commenting on its underwhelming size, I gave my thanks and scurried away.

Outside, the anger kicked in:

How can they justify charging so much? For a TAKEAWAY?!

It’s TINY!

I can’t believe I bought it without checking how big it was first.

Stupid Pud-Hog! Stupid, stupid, STUPID!

I could have got a SANDWICH for that, goddamnit.

I could have made a whole frigging TRAY for less!

Amidst this sudden shower of rage, the Man tried to soothe me with a few suggestions, one of which was taking it back for a refund.

Can you really take a buttered Scone back for a refund though, Ogglers?

I doubted it.

Besides, who wants to go into a quiet Clifton Tea Room and argue about the size of a Scone?

Not me.

So saddled with this saddening little specimen (the Scone, I mean, not the Man), I stomped my way towards Clifton Bridge and let the views calm me down.

An hour or so later, I was able to take a more positive look at the situation. After all, I still hadn’t tried it. What if it was amazing? What if it was the tastiest thing to have ever passed my lips?

If that was the case, then £1.95 would be a mere drop in the ocean. For the most special Scone I would pay twice that – maybe even more.

By the time it came to eating it, a great deal rode on the outcome.

So how, then, did it come out?

As you already know, I was not overly impressed.

The flavour was pleasant but nothing fantastic. I could taste the Flour almost as strongly as Oats or Treacle.

Texturally, too, it was good – but no better than I could have cooked up at home. Worse still, it was gone in about three bites.

Diet-size? Maybe.

£1.95-size? Unfortunately not.

In Praise of Veggie Percy.

Here he is: everyone’s favourite pig (after the Pud-Hog, of course)

What’s pink, round, vegetarian, and lurks in the confectionery aisle?

That’s right, Ogglers: me!

I’m not alone in that respect, however. In Marks and Spencer, nestled with his brethren, lives a very special fellow who shares those attributes: the green-eared Percy Pig.

Understandably, I feel a certain kinship with the guy; a love that expands as he settles beneath my molars.

Oh my! I think, as his juiciness spills down my tongue. What a very delicious sacrifice you make!

Thankfully there are lots of little Percys in a bag – nobody wants to erase a whole race, least of all myself.

Then again, they ain’t half addictive: that sweet-smelling face contains real fruit juice, and bursts with the flavour of grapes and cherries (his ear is supposed to be apple, as if the rest wasn’t fruity enough).

Veggie Percy’s texture is awesome too: very squishy and light (though he tends to get stuck on the teeth now and then – a soppy goodbye hug, perhaps? What a lovely chap).

Apparently they make him out of Pea Protein, which is A-OK with me. The alternative – containing Beef or Pork Gelatin – seems frankly rather pointless in comparison.

After all, what child would look at that smiling chewy face, and rejoice to think they were eating part of a real ex-Percy’s corpse? The kind of child who dissects live insects for fun, I expect. Not the kind of child who needs more sugar to fuel their deeds.

Ah me. What a shame to think that such children exist – and that they can choose the inferior non-veggie Percys – stocked beside him on the shelves of M&S.

Listen to me, Ogglers. This ode is getting ranty (it’s not the first time this subject has troubled me, I admit).

Still, this remains a positive post at heart. I love Veggie Percy. I just wish the other sweets followed his lead.

Gelatin sucks. Big time. And when it comes to confectionery, that should only be something I say about my mouth.

Cake-punch.

Take THAT, Vitalife

When it comes to botching recipes, there are so many reasons why things can go wrong.

As you regular Ogglers will know, I’m no stranger to baking disasters myself. The other day I knocked up a duff batch of Vegetarian Marshmallows, but thankfully managed to salvage the syrup.

On that occasion, the problem was lack of experience – something you just have to practise to beat. It happens, Ogglers. Deal with it.

Sometimes, the problem can be that the recipe doesn’t work out – like the time I made Chocolate Gnocchi. Annoying, I know, but it wasn’t exactly a foolproof dish – sometimes the gambles just don’t pay off.

Even after making that batch of inedible Jelly Bean Cookies I couldn’t stay angry for long. Who knew Jelly Beans didn’t like being baked? Not I, dear Ogglers – but now I do, and together us numpties can learn not to do it again.

Some disasters, however, are nothing but full-blown frustrations; destined to make you lose your cool and blacken the air with obscenities. The recipe’s great, the oven is working, everything’s there that should be.

The problem is nothing to do with the cook or the person who’s written the recipe.

In short, the problem is plainer than that: one of the ingredients SUCKS.

Not because it’s been misused. Not because it’s out of date. Simply because it is crap.

Today, dear readers, I’m up for some naming and shaming. Because last night, in order to use up some of the aforementioned Marshmallow Syrup, I cracked open the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and decided to make some Brooklyn Blackout Cake.

Yes, I tweaked the recipe a tad – adding syrup instead of sugar, and making one layer instead of the three – but I knew what I was doing, and had no doubt that, given the right oven time, the texture would turn out exactly as planned: gooey inside and crisp at the edges.

For those of you who don’t know of this cake, it’s essentially an intense Chocolate Sponge, containing about half a cup of Cocoa. The resulting flavour is rich, dark and – of course – extremely chocolatey.

At least, that’s how it should be.

Not, it seems, if you’re using Vitalife Cocoa.

That’s right, Ogglers. Today’s tirade has been caused by a humble carton of Cocoa – the worst Cocoa I’ve tried, in fact. Possibly the worst EVER.

I’d had it in drinks before and can’t say I was keen – not only was it gritty, but something about the flavour wasn’t right. It tasted musty – with hints of vanilla that didn’t quite hide the bum notes.

The powder is made with 100% Cocoa Beans, so I can’t blame the taste on additives or other strange ingredients. Instead, I can only assume that Vitalife pulled their beans from a sewer – perhaps even pre-digesting them.

Still, having given up using this stuff in my drinks, I thought it might work in a cake or something – perhaps other things would mute its oddness: eggs, butter, sugar, milk…

But no.

I made my mix. I baked my cake. I pulled out a beast that was perfectly cooked. I served up a slice…

AND IT WAS GROSS.

Like eating a decomposed cardboard plate, on which Miss Havisham’s cake had stood to rot.

Or, in the words of the Man, ‘Faintly fecal.’

Even drowning it with ice cream didn’t help. That taste – that fusty, nasty, river-silt taste – was utterly irrepressible.

It. Was. Infuriating.

With ingredients, time and pudding all wasted, I did the only thing I could.

CAKE-PUNCH!

If I’ve learnt anything from this disaster (aside from avoiding Vitalife, of course) it is this: hot cake hurts the knuckles. Still, not nearly as much as bad cake hurts the soul.

Cake Tops (and Bottoms).

I have another riddle for you, Ogglers: why, oh why, are the top halves of cakes nearly always the best bits (cheesecakes excepted, of course)?

The thought occurred to me last night. I was gnawing on a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake – having salvaged some from my work’s cafe bin (before it went in there, I might add) – when I noticed a pattern to how it was reaching my mouth.

In the tradition of saving the best until last, I had quickly made my way through a dry and flavourless lower half, before taking my time with its zingy citrus top.

The drizzle’s the shizzle – understizzle?

I had done it automatically, but instantly realised this is what I do with every cake I get: enduring the bottom before I reach the top.

I suddenly wondered what percentage of the cakes I’d eaten was truly enjoyable – and how much I could have happily done without.

Just imagine: if all those boring sections had been cut off, I could have been surfing a glorious wave of icing and crusts all my life. I could have saved myself hours of arduous jogging.

But no. Instead I’d been filling my mouth with sub-par cakey appendages. What a Ho[g]-Bag I had been.

I mean, really. Think about it.

It’s not just Lemon Drizzle Cake, with its gorgeous moist lemony covering. It’s the chocolate ganache on a birthday cake. The semi-crunchy muffin top. The fruit-dampened crust on an Apple and Blackberry Crumble.

Yes, underneaths are usually nice enough. But compared to the top… well, more often than not they’re boring. They’re bland. They’re dry.

Why can’t we live in a world that bypasses the bottom? That goes straight to the best bits?

Or is it that we have to have the lows in order to appreciate the highs?

Hmm.

I don’t know…

Maybe the top needs the bottom to be that good. Maybe it’s like a house: bulky foundations supporting a fancy exterior; dull chunks allowing the topping to rise and shine.

Aw, poor bottoms.

When you put it like that, they sound so sad and hard done by.

I guess I’ll keep eating them, after all. If only my own bottom didn’t have to pay the price…

Terroni’s Anonymous Pastry Twists.

Green means…?

I don’t know why, but all of a sudden there seem to be loads of Italian Delis in London. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention before, but at the weekend we counted over ten. Granted, we’d walked a pretty long way, but even so that does seem like a lot…

Maybe my senses were heightened by an incident on Saturday afternoon, when desperation for a speedy cake-hit made me susceptible to anywhere that could possibly help me out.

We were on our way back from Spitalfields Market (where offers of sugary treats were surprisingly few and far between), and the sight of the Terroni Delicatessen in Clerkenwell was too much for me to pass by.

I’d hoped for some delicious-looking goodies – and I wasn’t disappointed. After walking into a fine-smelling room infused with the scent of mozzarella and herbs, a cabinet of temptations caught my eye.

A couple of heaps of sugared pastries made an instant and large impression. I asked one of the servers what they were.

That, he said, pointing to a greenish twist, was nougat. The other, he said, his finger above a swirl of brown and icing sugar, was almond and pistachio. But he called it nougat as well.

Confused as to the difference, I asked if the brown one contained any chocolate. He swiftly got confused as well and asked somebody else. After a long conversation in Italian, he turned back to tell us that one was nut, the other was nougat. But he wasn’t sure which was which.

Moments later, when the Man tried asking again he was told something else – so we bought one of each (at £2.40 apiece) and decided to work out the contents ourselves.

Whatever they were, they certainly looked amazing: both were covered in drifts of icing sugar, and both were apparently freshly-made. We had high hopes – according to the façade of the building, the Deli had been established in 1878. Plenty of time to perfect a pastry twist.

We got as far as the nearest bus stop before my urge to eat them overtook me. 

I plumped for the green while the Man took the brown.

But several bites in I was still none the wiser. Whatever the greenish paste was, I had no idea. The flavour was drowned in icing sugar.

The Man’s was a little bit easier to pin down – I’d say it was filled with Nutella, or something like it. But again it was sadly overwhelmed by the bulk of pastry and sugar around it.

Anonymous Pastry Twist No. 2

In fact, contrary to their tantalising appearance, our pastries were fairly underwhelming overall. The pastry was soft – not crisp, like I had hoped. A bit more filling and it might not have mattered, but my palate was seriously bored. And dry.

It’s weird, really. When it comes to savouries, my all-time favourite cuisine has to be Italian. Pizza, pasta, copious amounts of cheese and tomato – what’s not to like?

But as far as Italian puddings go, this isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – Italian ice cream is probably the best in the world (Gelupo in Soho, Giggi’s in Bournemouth, The Foundry in Camden – all champions for the cause).

But the number of boring tiramisus, dusty pastries, and stale cannoli I’ve eaten seems almost suspiciously high.

WHY?

Do the Italians use up all their efforts on splendid main courses? Are my tastes just too different to theirs when it comes to dessert? Or am I just in the wrong places?

Actually, you can probably ignore the last of those questions. Of course I’m in the wrong place: I’m in London when I should be in Venice.

Still, geographical revelations aside, is it really that difficult for good Italian puddings to exist on English soil?

It’s time someone put the Deli back into delicious Italian desserts…

Or should that be the other way around?