Friday, March 30, 2018

Cissé Cocoa

Cissé is a great company, based on strong principles of ethically responsible chocolate, and quality ingredients, organic when possible.  Cocoa is at the core of all the product lines, including Super Thins, baking mixes (cookies, brownies, muffins, cakes, etc), and hot cocoa.

I tried only the "Super Thins".
"We’ve taken our delicious brownie recipe, spread it out super thin and made it delightfully crunchy. Then we added our favorite superfoods on top to make them the perfect snackable treat. Now you can have your brownie and eat it too!"
Yes, another entry into the cookies/brownie/chips hybrid world, much like the fairly successful brownie brittle from Sheila G's, the HannahMax cookie chips that I didn't like but others did, or even less successful cookie thins from Mrs. Thinsters.

Super Thins come in some interesting flavors, like cranberry pepita, cashew coconut, and cherry & sea salt.  The bag I had though was the most boring: double chocolate.  That said, I don't see any reason to try others.  This market just isn't one I'm interested in.
Double Chocolate.
The crisps were basically like any other brownie/cookie/chip on the market, crispy, slightly crumbly.  The chocolate flavor wasn't very intense, and I just don't care for the crispy format.

But the real problem?  They tasted ... fishy.  It was really strange.  They have nothing suspect in them, just sugar, chocolate chips, butter, flour, etc.  I don't understand where the flavor came from, and it was that strong, but it was there.

So, crispy, and fishy? Not for me.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Baked Goods from Dough-To-Go

I know, it isn't quite fair for me to review products that are only available wholesale and through food service distributors, but, in many cases, you find these products all around town at cafes and coffee shops, you likely just don't know it.
"Dough-to-Go is a company that specializes in the manufacture of high quality raw dough and ready to serve bakery products.  Dough-to-Go strives to make products “like you would make yourself, if you had the time.” 
Well, I think Dough-to-Go achieved their goal.  The products did indeed seem like what I'd make.  They certainly weren't the quality of a real bakery.

I don't recommend.

Sweet Rolls

Dough-to-Go makes two types of sweet rolls: sticky buns and basic cinnamon rolls.  I was only able to try the cinnamon rolls.  They didn't inspire me to seek out the sticky buns, even though those are more up my alley. 
Cinnamon Raisin Rolls.
"Morning rolls with cinnamon, raisins and sweet sugar glaze."

These looked great!  Huge cinnamon rolls.  Tons of icing.

But ... they weren't very good.  Dried out.  Even the very very center of the roll wasn't moist.  They weren't gooey.  They weren't flavorful.  The icing was hard.

Just, not good.


Scones are available baked and frozen, or as raw dough that you bake off.  They come in 8 flavors, mostly fruity.

I was able to try all 4 flavors of their "Chunky Fruit Scones".

They also were not good.
Apple Cinnamon Raisin.
The apple cinnamon raisin were the worst of the bunch.

The scone was just so dry.  No flavor to the base.  Not good.
The cranberry had good pops of flavor from the cranberries, but, the base scone was again dry and flavorless.
Mixed Berry.
The mixed berry were the best of the bunch, they at least had a lot of fruit in them, but, the base scone just isn't good.
Blueberry were about the same as the mixed berry, lots of fruit, but, meh to the scone.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Waffling Leftovers: Potato Gratin

Another day, another set of leftovers to play with in my waffle iron: potato gratin!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go read my intro to my Waffling Leftovers series, and perhaps browse a few of those stories first ...

The big question: Potato Gratin: Will it Waffle?  Basically, but, even after many different batches and attempts, I think this is better left to traditional reheating techniques.

Attempt #1: April 2016

Parmesan Crusted Potato Gratin.
Here was the original dish, a decadent, totally delicious gratin of sliced sweet potatoes and red potatoes, absolutely loaded with heavy cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese, with a little panko on top for crunch.

I don't think I need to tell you how amazing this was, just given those ingredients.  I obviously saved leftovers.
Leftover Potato Gratin.
It turned out to be really delicious cold as well, more like a potato salad.  And it reheated fine traditionally in a toaster oven too.

But I can't leave well enough alone.  Must. Waffle. All. The. Things.

If I can waffle mashed potatoes, I can waffle potato gratin, right?
Several minutes in ...
After a few minutes, I checked on it.

Uh-oh, things weren't looking good.  Half the grill plate was filled with oil.  Most of the gratin was stuck to the lid.  I immediately started thinking that I should have crusted it.  But I left it going ...
This side looks good!
When I checked a few minutes later, it looked ok, although not quite as crispy as I wanted.  I thought that the cheese would get all crispy like with pizza when it runs out into the waffle iron, and that the potatoes would get crazy crispy like a potato pancake.

So I left it a big longer.  The top side never advanced past what you see above, still never quite that crisp.
The other side? Not so much.
But, the other side?  When I pulled it out, I was devastated.  The bottom was totally burnt.  The last few times I used the waffle iron I was concerned that one side was hotter than the other, but this pretty much confirmed it.   Doh!
Note to self: don't just watch the top side, watch the bottom too!

Anyway, besides being burnt, it was still only a quasi-success.

The oil that ran out all over the iron was from the cheese, and the result was that all of the cheesy deliciousness was lost.  The potato did get crispy, and that was good, but, it was really just crispy potato waffles at this point, perfectly good, but a waste of gratin!

Perhaps I could try crusting it to help some of the cheese stay in.  I could certainly flip it halfway and avoid the burnt half.  But ... gratin reheats perfectly fine in a toaster oven, so I think this one may go the way of the shepherd's pie, and be better left to traditional methods ...

Attempt #2: April 2017

The first time I tried waffling leftover potato gratin, the results were a bit mixed.  My waffled creation didn't hold together well, the cheese all ran out, and I burnt it.  The resulting crispy potatoes tasted fine, but, I lamented the loss of the cheesy goodness the gratin original was.  I didn't experiment more, as it turned out, I actually liked that particular gratin leftovers better cold, and finished them off that way.
Waffling Leftovers: Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
But I wanted to try again.  The results?  Not much different.
The Original: Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
The original was dubbed "Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes", which, is basically the same as potato gratin, right?

I guess what makes it scalloped potatoes is the accents of onions, garlic, and thyme, nestled in with the sliced yukon golds, but, the hot bubbly cream and cheddar cheese certainly stole the show, as did the crispy cheese topping.

This was downright delicious when it was fresh.  The potatoes were cooked just right (not too mushy, not to firm), the top was crispy, and swoon, all that cream and cheese.  I adored it, and ate far more than my fair share.

Of course,  I saved plenty of leftovers.  At some level, I liked it even more cold, just like the previous version.  It is sorta like a creamy, cheesy, potato salad, and it just works.  I devoured tons of it that way. 
Layering into the Waffle Iron.
I didn't bother heating any up traditionally, as it was so good cold, I felt no need.  But of course I wanted to try *something*, so I decided to waffle some.

Given the cheese-running-out disaster last time, I mostly scraped out the cheese and cream, and, uh, just ate that part cold (highly recommended!).  I figured this way, I wouldn't need to follow my own advice to complicate things and crust it, and I wouldn't let the cheese goodness go to waste.

So I just layered the potatoes, with a little bit of cream/cheese/onions, into the waffle iron, set to 350 degrees.
Mid-Way: Uh-oh.
I let it go.  And go.  And go.

It never released from the irons.  It never really got very crispy.  I don't really know what went wrong.

Was the temperature not right?  Was it the other waffling experiment I had going on the other side, that might have been a bit thicker, holding the iron too far apart?  I don't know.

But what I do know, is it just didn't waffle. I didn't take a photo of my pile of potato rubble, but, basically, it was just slightly toasted potatoes.  Perfectly tasty, but not a waffle.

I'm going back to just eating this stuff cold, or, perhaps, waffling a much thicker chunk?  The waffling experiments never end.

Attempt #3, July 2017: 

Waffled Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Tallegio Gratin.
Another day, another potato gratin to try to waffle.  This time, Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.

Yes, it waffled, better than any other version actually.

But still, this one I actually preferred reheated the traditional way.  I need to stop trying this!
The Original: Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.
The original was an incredible potato gratin, made with thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes, layered with swiss chard and leeks, plus plenty of heavy cream, taleggio, and parmesan.

In its original form, it was really just a perfect gratin.  The potatoes were soft but not mushy, the top was insanely crispy, the leeks and swiss chard made it moist and not too heavy, and the taleggio was just a perfect choice of cheese, one that melted beautifully, added pockets of gooey cheese, and had a unique flavor.

It was great when it was fresh.  It was amazing as cold leftovers, a la potato salad.  It was fantastic just reheated in the toaster oven.  But I wanted to give waffling potato gratin one last try ...
Leftover Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.
So into the waffle iron a thin layer of leftovers went.

I wasn't willing to sacrifice much to this experiment, as I just liked it too much.
Waffling ...
350 degrees, no crusting.

I checked on it partway through, and, to my surprise, it actually looked fine.  The layers weren't separating since there weren't really layers, as I had done such a thin amount.  The cheese wasn't running out, oil pools weren't forming.

I let it go a few more minutes to crisp up.
Waffled Leek, Swiss Chard and Taleggio Gratin.
And crisp up it did.

The result was a perfectly crispy, thin potato waffle.

It lost the moisture of the original, it lost the gooey cheese,  but, it was far more successful than other times I've tried for making a potato pancake style.  Who knew that I just needed to go for a thinner layer?  I suspect the taleggio's melting point also helped prevent it from becoming a mess too, as it didn't run out everywhere.

I almost wish I had saved more, since this worked well, but actually, I still preferred it just traditionally warmed up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cafe Dulce, Los Angeles

Cafe Dulce is a Japanese bakery cafe located in Japan Town in Los Angeles, in Japanese Village Plaza.  I didn't intend to seek it out, but during my recent visit, it was right next to somewhere else I was visiting (stay tuned, ZOMG, amazing soft serve), and when I saw the baked goods lineup, I *had* to grab something, even though I literally had a huge soft serve ice cream sundae in my hand.  Never too much dessert for this girl ...

Particularly with a lineup like this.

The beverage selection has classic espresso based drinks, hot and cold, trendy cold brew, etc, but they also had a very impressive matcha lineup (iced blueberry matcha latte anyone?)  And they have a slew of sandwiches, ranging from basic turkey and swiss on a baguette to exciting creations like a spicy korean cheesesteak.  And salads, breakfast burritos, etc.  But I wasn't there for any of that.

I was there for the baked goods.  Because, wow.  Sure, what draws in the crowds is signature items like Fruity Pebble donut holes, bright and colorful, or other crazy donut creations.  They are known as one of the top 10 donut shops in the entire LA metro area (which I only learned later).  Don't get me wrong, these did look great, but I was interested in the more unique items.  Like the "Dinosaur Egg", a sweet roll with walnuts, black sesame seeds, and other goodies, a vibrant green from spirulina, made with tapioca flour for some serious chew.  They look like ... well, what you might imagine a dinosaur egg would look like.  They also fry that same dough, and make a "Dino Churro".    So many fascinating choices.
Given that I had my hands full of other dessert, I settled on one item.  I went for one of the roti, which was not anything like a Indian roti you may be thinking of.  It was a bun-like baked good.  I had never seen anything like it before, hence, my selection.

The roti come in nearly as many flavors as the donuts, ranging from Japanese influenced matcha or red bean, to clearly ones aimed at the masses like peanut butter cup.

My treat was handed over in a bag, and I quickly put it away, and focused on my rapidly melting ice cream.  Until later.
Red Bean Roti. $3.25.
I went for the red bean roti, which, was green on top.  Just go with it.

While the bun sorta looked like melonpan, it wasn’t actually crispy on top as it looked, the green top was soft.  The green bread had a very, very light matcha flavor, only detectable when I specifically peeled off the green and ate it alone.

The bread for the rest of the roll was soft and sweet, basic Japanese style sweet milk bread.
Red Bean Roti: Inside.
Inside is where the magic was.

A really unique filling of red bean (paste and some bits of red bean), bits of walnut, and chestnut.  I really liked the mix of textures and flavors, and it was sweetened just enough to offset the red bean, not too much to turn it into a dessert (or so I convinced myself? I was totally being healthy, eating a bun with “protein” inside like red beans and nuts … right?).

It was fine at room temperature as a snack, although I think it would have been better warmed up, and paired with one of their creamy drinks.  I may have had a few bites topped with whipped cream, and that was pretty great too.

Overall, it was good, and I’d gladly try more of their items.  Next time I'm in LA ...
Café Dulcé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 26, 2018


Chaya is a very small chain of Japanese restaurants in California (Los Angeles and, previously San Francisco), although the family that operates it claims to have restaurants going back to the 1600s in Japan.  They now have several concepts, all Asian fusion, in the LA area.

The San Francisco restaurant had an impressive 17 year run, right on the Embarcadero along the waterfront.  The closure was cited due to the lease not renewing, and the operators decided not to pursue another location in San Francisco.

I visited Chaya several times before I started blogging, and I remember thinking the food was all good, but, nothing particularly memorable (although I was there for Earth Hour one year, and *that* was memorable, the entire restaurant, and waterfront, going dark!)

At some point though, about 3 months before they closed, I discovered their "famous" chocolate croissant bread pudding.  OMG.

I really wish they hadn't closed, for that dish alone.


Chaya has both a formal dining room and a bar area available for drop-ins, plus a small amount of outside seating on the sidewalk.
Bar Area.
The bar itself has some classy looking stools and fairly ornate decoration, and a very wide variety of booze on display.

On my first visit, I opted for a glass of Frank Family 2013 Zinfandel, which I really enjoyed, very smooth, yet complex.  On my second, I went for white wine since I was pairing with seafood, and took the server's suggestion of the Astrolabe 2015 Sauvignon Blanc.  It was unremarkable.

Visit #1: Drinks & Dessert, May 2017

My first visit was with 3 others, just to have drinks in the bar, and, I'll be honest, for me to get some tasty dessert.
Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding / Vanilla Ice Cream / Caramel Sauce. $12.
Um, wow.

So, I know Yelpers all love this bread pudding.  I know that it is "famous".  But still.  It takes a lot to impress me with a dessert, particularly bread pudding.  Bread pudding is a personal favorite (sweet, savory, served as dessert, breakfast, you name it).  I eat a lot of desserts, and I have very strong opinions on bread pudding.  There is a particular style I like, and many that I loathe.

I like bread pudding with a crusty top, but a moist, custardy inside, yet not soggy or mushy (like the ones at Scollay SquareLegal Crossing, and Luna Park).  I like bread pudding to have chunks of bread, not a homogenous dense mass (like the smoked bread pudding at Alden & Harlow, the Hawaiian brunch bread pudding at Stone's Throw, the truly horrendous cold version at Soma Inn Cafe, the fruity version at Blue Plate, the famous donut version from Causwells, or the chocolate sour cherry version at Mikkeller bar).  I prefer it warm, and of course I like to see it served with ice cream or whipped cream.  Extra points of it is made with a rich bread like croissant (like the amazing version at The Westin breakfast buffet in paris, brioche, or even french toast (like the epic version at Baker & Banker).

This bread pudding had all that, and more.

It was served hot and fresh, clearly not just warmed up, but actually baked right then, to order, in the oven.  Big points there.  It had a little scoop of ice cream on top, that, even though the bread pudding was hot, wasn't just a melted mess.  More points.

This bread pudding was actually unlike any I've ever had before.  It was almost like a more typical bread pudding crossed with crème brûlée (oh, yeah, another favorite dessert item of mine with its own label on my blog).  It even came served in a crème brûlée style ramekin.  It did have distinct chunks of bread (check).  The bread used was croissant (bonus points).  The top was crispy (check).  But the inside went beyond just a great moisture and custard level ... it really was almost like crème brûlée pudding inside, if that makes any sense.  The custard was intensely vanilla flavored, with visible specs of vanilla bean.  It was absolutely delicious.

This is called "chocolate croissant bread pudding", and, there was a little chocolate inside, all very well melted, but the chocolate was not a feature, nor dominant component.  If I had wanted a chocolate dessert, I would have felt led astray, but this was actually what I wanted.

The ice cream itself was rather unremarkable, but it melted in well, and provided even more creaminess.  The bread pudding was so phenomenal though, that I actually didn't think it needed it, and that is seriously saying something.  I *always* want whipped cream or ice cream with my desserts!

The caramel was just a little drizzle on top of the ice cream scoop that added a touch more sweetness.  Again, had I really cared about caramel, I might have been disappointed, but this was not a problem.

This was entirely magically, one of the best desserts I've had this year, and although fairly simple, just totally delicious.  We devoured it and ordered another instantly.  I could have finished one myself with no problem

Visit #2, Lunch, June 2017

A month later, my work group had an all day working meeting, and when it came to lunch time, we decided to go out rather than eat at the office.  We made this decision at 12:05pm, with a group of 9.  We didn't want to go far though, as we didn't have much time.  Um, yeah.  Our neighborhood is made up of fast casual places with no seating, or nice restaurants for power lunches.  Um, yeah.

Chaya came to mind, mostly because it was close (1.5 blocks) and I know it is kinda off the radar.  Plus, to be honest, I was still dreaming about that bread pudding.  I called over, and they said they could seat us on the patio, which seemed fine, given the mild weather.  When we arrived, we were offered a table inside instead, which we took.
Lunch: Small Plate, Side Dish, Dessert, Coffee.
Food was ... ok.  Dessert still good.  Service was not great.

It took a very long time to receive our sparkling water.  When our bottle ran out, no refill was offered.  Random dishes were left out of strange periods of time, like, when the main dishes were cleared, and my plate was left even after dessert menus were handed out.  Then my knife was left after everything else was cleared.  The person pouring ice water spilled water nearly every time he filled a glass, and even dropped ice cubes onto the table, and failed to do anything about it.  "Free ice!", one diner exclaimed, but, really, come on.  Who wanted a puddle of water in the middle of the table?
The lunch menu is more low-key than the dinner menu, but still quite large.  It caters to a wide variety of interests, likely geared towards business lunches, so your sushi lover, foodie, and just-give-me-a-burger guy can call dine in harmony.

The first page started with the opulent seafood platters, filled with lobster, oysters, shrimp, sashimi, and scallops, available for an individual (for $39!), or group.  Again, expense accounts targeted here.

That page also had small plates, many of which are also on the dinner menu, including shrimp cocktail, scallop ceviche, sashimi, tuna tartare, and more.  Mostly raw seafood preps, although there was also a token salad.

Inside the menu was an insert with the daily specials, the soup of the day, and the bento box offerings.

The second full menu page started with sushi rolls (no individual nigiri or sashimi available at lunch), all fairly complicated, filled with things like aioli and tempura, rather than simple classics.  Next up was large plates, full size entrees, like king salmon, the aforementioned burger and fries, and a token vegetarian pasta dish.  The savory menu was rounded out with three sides: fries (er, pommes frites with togarashi dip), tempura cauliflower, and classic edamame.

A full dessert menu is also offered at lunch (phew!), and included the bread pudding, several cakes (dark chocolate, strawberry chiffon, matcha apricot almond), ice cream and sorbet, and, cheese.

Our group wasn't interested in sharing any small plates, sushi, or sides, which I found a bit odd.  Of our group of 9, 4 went for the bento, 3 went for donburi, one for the burger, and then there was me.  I opted for a small plate + side to make up a meal, which was more than enough (plus dessert, of course).
Small Plate: Tako Tacos. $10.
"Braised Spanish octopus, green papaya, avocado, cotija."

The tako tacos were at the top of my list of dishes I was interested in trying at Chaya, besides the happy hour only unagi dog.

I adore octopus, particularly grilled octopus, and I hoped this would be a really fun way to enjoy some.

The small plate came with three portions, not quite "tacos" (not that I was actually wanting, nor expecting, real tacos).

The shell was ... really strange.  Cut into triangles, which made it impossible to eat.  You couldn't just fold it in half and eat like a taco.  It made no sense, honestly.  The amount of filling was also far too generous to fold up, even if the thing was a better shape.  The shell was also ... gross.  It was really greasy, spongy.  Almost more like a really bad, too thick, crepe.  Or Indian paratha.  This was not a good component.

The filling was a green payaya, cabbage, and carrot slaw, covered in a way too sweet dressing.  I liked the green papaya, but this stuff was just way too sweet.  It was also really wet, making the already greasy, soggy, shell even more moist.

The octopus, which was really why I ordered it, was ... boring.  It wasn't rubbery I guess, but it also wasn't really grilled nor charred, had no flavor imparted on it.  The serving was generous however.

On top was a scattering of cotija cheese, which was entirely lost.  I'm kinda glad, as I don't think cheese and octopus would go together very well.

Since I'm allergic to avocado, I had that left off.  The garnish was a slice of radish and jalapeño on each, plus slices of lime that I repurposed for my water.

Overall, this just wasn't very good.  Greasy soggy shell, too sweet slaw, flavorless octopus, and messy and impossible to eat.  It really, really needed a creamy component as well, which perhaps the avocado would have provided?

I ate the too-sweet slaw, and salvaged the octopus and dunked it in the aioli that came with my other dish, but, yeah, not a winner.  The $10 price was reasonable though, as the filling really was quite generous.
Side: Tempura Cauliflower / Vidalia Onion Aioli. $9.
Since I wanted more than just the tacos, I also opted to get the tempura cauliflower side dish, assuming others at the table would help me out.

It was ... unremarkable.  I expected a thicker tempura batter, this was extremely light, barely there.  It wasn't seasoned.  So, basically, just some cooked cauliflower.

In the mix was also raw slices of pepper, and random garnish like a sprig of mint.  And more lime.

I'm a serious sauce girl, so I was excited for the aioli, "vidalia onion aioli", at that.  It was ... just aioli.  Creamy, sure, but I didn't taste any onion.

The vessel for the aioli was also more narrow than many pieces of cauliflower, so you couldn't dunk most of the pieces.  I feel like they just didn't think about the actual eating experience of some of these dishes.

I offered this up to my table, a few people tried some, but, it went unfinished.  Also meh.
Chaya's Bento. $29.
"Three or four components, daily house medley."
  • Appetizer: Little Gem Lettuce, Radish, Puffed Wild Black Rice, Champagne Vinaigrette.
  • Sushi: Tuna & Salmon Temari & Spicy Tuna Roll.
  • From the Sea: Pan Roasted Petrale Sole, Sauteed Kale, Summer Succotash, Salsa Verde.
  • From the Land: Grilled Chicken Breast, Beet Greens, German Butterball Potatoes.
The lunch menu always includes a bento special, with the option of 3 dishes for $24, or 4 for $29.  Most of my colleagues went for this option.  For those who wanted the 3 component selection, they had to choose between chicken or fish.

I didn't have any of this, but, I have to comment on something I saw here, besides just the obviously non-bento plating.

The sushi.  The sushi was ... round?! This is the first time I've ever seen this, and, it turns out, is totally a thing, called temari, sushi balls, served at parties and special occasions.  It just looked so wrong to me, but I applaud them for introducing us to this.
Decaf Coffee.
To go with my dessert, I ordered a decaf coffee.

It was pre-brewed, dispensed from a big vat in the corner of the room that was never refilled during our time, so, not very fresh, likely brewed before service.  I had it at nearly 2pm, but, honestly, it wasn't bad.

It was served in a large mug, with sweeteners, sugar cubes, and a little thing of milk alongside.  It was fine.
Dessert: Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding / Vanilla Ice Cream / Caramel Sauce. $12.
The saving grace of the meal?  Dessert.

I went there knowing this is why I was going, but, still, I was worried it wouldn't live up.  

I spoke so highly of it that our group was quite boring.  We had 7 people order dessert, 6 of us got this, and one just got a bowl of housemade ice cream.

I wish I had taken a photo of all 6, as they actually all looked a bit different.  The one I was served had the most visible chocolate, right on top.  Since I wasn't actually excited for the chocolate component, I switched with someone else.
Dessert: still a winner.
This one was also more photogenic, with a visible croissant swirl on top.

It was just as good as I remembered.  Served at the perfect fresh-from-the-oven temperature.  The consistency was again amazing, sooo much like pudding or crème brûlée inside, with soft croissant in the custard, and crispy croissant on top.  Remarkable textures really, and again, unlike anything I'd ever had before.

The others agreed, it wasn't really anything like a bread pudding, but, they liked it.

The ice cream was clearly added right as it was served, as it arrives barely melty, even though the bread pudding is hot.  It melted in nicely, adding a cold contrast to the warm pudding, more creaminess, and something to cut the sweetness of the pudding itself.  I found out that the ice cream is actually made in house.

The little tiny drizzle of caramel I felt was actually too much sweet.  The pudding itself is so sweet that you just don't need this in addition.

So yes, this was still delicious.  But ... it is too much for one person, really.  It is too rich, too sweet.  I found myself not appreciating it near the end, and getting sick of it.  So rather than finishing with a smile on my face, it was a bit of an "ugh".  Of course, I still finished it, and licked my ramekin clean, but, I really do recommend splitting with someone, or, just getting this, and not a meal alongside perhaps.