There's a good Italian restaurant called i Ricchi in the Dupont neighborhood of DC. One of my favorite small dishes to get there is polenta tartufata ai funghi farciti, or as the menu describes it, truffled polenta served with mixed wild mushrooms deglazed in balsamic vinegar. I'm a huge pasta fan as well, and i Ricchi hasn't disappointed. Last night desserts were in order after dinner, and they were so beautiful and tasty that I couldn't resist taking snaps of them with my (old) camera phone (sorry for the poor quality!).
The first dessert to arrive was the watermelon sorbet, a refreshing concoction of fresh watermelon, sugar, and water--so simple and yet this was the best sorbet we'd ever had. I'm really picky when it comes to watermelon. Typically I don't enjoy the fruit unless it's naturally super sweet, and I hate artificially-flavored watermelon anything because it tastes to fake to me (maybe that's why I hate orange and grape sodas?). I warily tried a bite of the sorbet, and it was fantastic. What was so neat about it was that not only was it incredible to eat, the presentation was fun; the chef had molded some of the sorbet onto an actual watermelon rind and dotted it with three chocolate raisins on either side to make it look like a slice of watermelon. Add a small side scoop of sorbet with a sprig of fresh mint, two plump strawberries, a small cup of cold water to keep the spoon and drink afterward, and a dusting of sparkling red sugar, and, in the words of Emperor Joseph II from the film Amadeus, "there it is." There was a guest chef from Italy who was preparing the sorbet as one of last night's specials, and afterward we walked up to her to personally thank her and remark on how delicious the sorbet was. She was very kind and grateful for the compliments, and explained that she worked in a gelateria in Italy and said that the secret to any good sorbet was really fresh, really good fruit. As we started to walk out of the door, we noticed another one of her creations leaving, some sort of meringue treat with fruit and cream. The finishing touch? A crystalline butterfly made from what looked like carmellized sugar (imagine the crunchy top part of crème brûlée formed into two honey-colored wings).