A Cheese Course in Disguise

By Caroline Hatchett | Briana Balducci

By

Caroline Hatchett
Briana Balducci
Sawicki's Pine Nut Tart
Sawicki's Pine Nut Tart

Laura Sawicki has cooked for Austin diners for more than eight years— first at La Condesa and Sway, and now as pastry chef and partner at Launderette and Fresa’s. Her menu at Launderette wanders through nostalgic territory (birthday cake ice cream sandwiches) and pushes on toward the bold and unfamiliar (compositions sporting coconut ash, avocado, and pickled chiles), and more than half of the restaurant’s guests don’t leave without trying at least one of her desserts. Why would they?

Instead of serving a cheese course that might languish unordered next to her sweets, Sawicki developed a format-busting dessert anchored by a funky hunk of bleu de Basques cheese. “I wanted it to have the presence of all other desserts,” she says. From there, she built out the accoutrement: earthy sunchoke-vanilla purée; a gooey, crunchy sunflower seed-pine nut tart with herbal rosemary-honey caramel; crunchy, salty sunchoke chips; and salt and pepper ice cream that acts like a gravy as it melts. (Gravy! Oh, a dessert worthy of infatuation.) The plating is a thinly veiled but successful ploy. “It’s our most savory dessert and surprisingly popular,” says Sawicki. The composition encourages guests to design their own bites, alternating between components and textures—just as they would a cheese course. 

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