If you are anything like me, you would travel to the end of the earth for the ultimate tasty treat. When traveling, I always seek out the best and sweetest places to indulge my love of all things dessert. Here are a few of my all time favorite destinations to tempt your taste buds.
Although not their national dessert (that spot is usually reserved for the Pavlova), the sticky date pudding, is a quintessentially Australian treat that has no rival. Served throughout the year, (although harder to find in summer), it is on most restaurant menus -- from casual eateries to more formal dining establishments. Check your calorie counter at the door on this one -- a slab of date cake made with more butter than you want to think about, served warm and smothered with rich caramel or butterscotch sauce. Best tried at Giorgio's (www.giorgiosrestaurant.com.au) -- a local café restaurant in Melbourne's fashionable High Street, on the corner of Glenferrie Road in the suburb of Armadale. While in the neighbourhood, check out the antique stores, galleries and boutiques. Under $12 a serve.
Aah -- so many patisseries, so little time. I would be doing your stomach an injustice to just recommend one restaurant or bakery in Paris, after all, Parisians take their cakes and chocolates very seriously and there are too many delicious patisseries to limit yourself to just one. Here are a few to get you started though - Ladurée (www.laduree.fr) at 75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées is a little touristy and pricey but definitely worth a visit; Stohrer (www.stohrer.fr) in the 2nd Arrondissement at 51, Rue Montorgueil (Metro: Etienne Marcel), the famous Fauchon (www.fauchon.com) at 26 Place de la Madeleine (Metro: Madeleine), Couderc in thew 11th Arrondissement at 6 Boulevard de Voltaire (Metro: Republique); Dalloyau (www.dalloyau.fr) in the 8th Arrondissement at101, rue du Fauborg-St-Honoré (Metro: St-Philippe du Roule); and Lenotre (www.lenotre.com) at 44 rue d'Auteuil in the 16th Arrondissement (Metro: Michel-Ange-Auteuil). Prices vary from petit to énorme.
3. Rome, Italy
Bar Pompi, (www.barpompi.it) has a reputation for serving the best Tiramisu in town, possibly in the world and has been doing so since 1960. Located right near the Re di Roma subway station on Via Albalonga, it also dishes up a variety of other cakes and gelato. They've recently introduced new Tiramisu flavours, so you can dive into a traditional recipe, banana, or chocolate for less than $10. Closed on Mondays.
4. Hong Kong
There are literally thousands of Chinese bakeries located throughout Hong Kong and Kowloon that bake hundreds or tasty morsels in the form of cakes and buns every day. They appear in Metro stations underground, in hole in the wall shopfronts and ritzier neighbourhoods, but the common factor is the Coconut Bun, which generally would not cost more than $1. A popular item since the 1950's, the bun isn't too sweet or sticky and is a great snack or dessert. Try Tai Cheong Bakery at 35 Lydhurst Terrace in Central or Maxim's Bakery in Theatre Lane, Central (plus dozens of locations including MTR subway stations like Tai Koo and Tung Chung).
Of course no trip to Vienna would be complete without tasting what is considered to be the best chocolate cake the in the world -- the original Sacher Torte. Often imitated but never matched in flavour or texture, the torte has been around for almost 200 years and is still going strong at café Sacher Wien, located on Philharmonikerstrasse 4. For under $20, you can enjoy a fine cup pf coffee and a generous slice to Vienna's finest and of course, you can buy more to take home with you or even get one sent home to the US.
It's difficult to choose just one traditional English dessert, let alone one location to try it, so I have opted for Ffionas (www.ffionas.com) -- no that's not a typo, there really are two "f's" -- located at 51 Kensington Church Street, just off the High Street and a five minute walk from Kensington Palace. Here you can get stuck into a delicious traditional warm bread and butter pudding with ice-cream and warm vanilla custard for under £6. Obviously if you like to share, you can go with friends and try a number of other specialties including trifle, toffee pudding, apple crumble and lemon tart -- all priced at £5.95. There regular menu is quite delicious and reasonably priced as well.
I know that I should probably concentrate on something more American like apple pie, but I had to give an honourable mention to the best chocolate soufflé I have ever eaten, which happened to be in New York. It was at 11 Madison (www.elevenmadisonpark.com), but alas, the dessert chef left (I heard she went to Bouley Bakery, but haven't been able to confirm) and I have been searching for something on par ever since. Madison Bistro (www.madisonbistro.com) at 238 Madison Ave (at 37th Street) also has a very light chocolate soufflé plus a variety of other flavours and at only $9, is quite a New York bargain. La Petite Auberge (www.lapetiteaubergeny.com) in my old 'hood in Murray Hill at 116 Lexington Ave (at 27th Street) has superb soufflé for two for $18.
Some refer to it as Spanish creme caramel, but the Flan Catalan is in a league of its own. Whether you pay $10 in a restaurant or buy it pre-packaged in a supermarket for around $2, you won't be disappointed. It often comes as the standard dessert with a fixed price menu (even those appalling tourist menus) but don't let that dissuade you. For flan and plethora of Catalan desserts and delights, visit Pasteleria Santa Clara (www.pasteleriasantaclara.com) at Carrer de la Llibreteria 21 (Metro: Jaume I).
There's more to Turkish sweets that Turkish Delight and one place to savour the unique tastes of the Ottoman Empire is Saray Muhallebicisi (www.saraymuhallebicisi.com), located in a couple of places around Istanbul including at Istiklal Caddesi 102 in the Mustafakemalpasa area and at Tesvikiye Caddesi,105 in Nisantasi, across from the Tesvikiye Mosque. Puddings of various flavours and textures are their most popular dishes, including caramelized pudding, baked rice pudding, bread pudding (Ekmek Kadayifi) and cherry rice pudding. There are also Turkish specialties like Tulumba and Baklava. All are under $10 a serving.
Quindim is a traditional Brazilian dessert made of egg, coconut and sugar -- almost like a coconut pudding. Available throughout the country, if you are looking to sample its delicate flavour and happen to be in Copacabana, drop into Siri Mole, at 50 Rua Francisco Otaviano for lunch or dinner. The price of the Quindim is around $5.