Being from the South, I'm not just a connoisseur on real Southern cuisine (Jimmy Dean sausage and black pepper in the white milk gravy, please); I can also brag about what it takes to whip up a good dessert. For starters, it ain't nothin' slick looking and stackable and it most definitely ain't somethin' that's about six hundred ingredients deep and still doesn't taste like a slice of pie. Usually, the best Southern desserts are made up of these four simple ingredients: flour, sugar, butter and eggs. That's it. Toss in a bit of bread, maybe some cinnamon, even a splash of heavy cream and then you've got something to write home about. Clearly, those kids over at Wishbone have been to the South and from the taste of it, it was the Deep South.
I've been a fan of this place for years, always heading there when I was craving real mac and cheese, buttery corn muffins and soppin' wet, grease-soaked collards. When I had my real addiction going, Monday was always me least favorite day of the week due to the 'Bone being shut down for a mini-break. But now that I have one in my own 'hood (Lincoln & School), things still tend to get out of hand for the ol' sweet tooth at least once a week (let's face facts, twice is more like it).
Its dessert menu, which changes daily, is packed with hardcore Southern traditions like chocolate pecan pie (a la mode, of course), fluffy lemon cloud cake, dense pound cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream, peach cobbler, chocolate sour cream cake and gooey banana cream pie. Most are about $3.50 and seriously, forgo dinner and just order four of 'em (minimum). Every single one of the desserts floats me back to a breezy summer day on the back porch, back when there wasn't a care in the world (except thoughts of when I was gonna eat again, and oh, in the meantime, maybe I'll skip down to the creek, catch a crawdad, and kill it).
But out of all of the items on the menu (I've tried them all), none compare to the bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce. This is the kind of dessert that haunts the taste buds from the first intense bite to the very last scrape on the plate. Served up with a fat scoop of vanilla ice cream, the goal is to be the victorious diner that acts like they share; you know, the old, "oh, you take the last bite, really," move. And, meanwhile, as the rest of the fools are wasting precious time chewing their previous mouthful, nodding that "sure, you bet I will" nod, you swoop in for the final glob of melted ice cream, the teeny smidge of bread pudding and all the glorious caramel sauce.
This is how these games are played, you know? You gotta get in while the gettin's good and make your momma proud. Plus, there is no greater comfort than a pile of those four ingredients I was raving about, all whipped up into a sweetie-pie frenzy. The aftermath on the belly is quite another story, though.
The Final Rave: It's rarely on the menu, so when you see the sabayon (a giant martini glass full of delicious Italian-style custard and thick strawberries), get it. You won't ever look back.
KEEP IT GOING:
Read It: Whole Foods
"Flour, Sugar, Butter, Eggs." This book does indeed exist and it will blow your mind with its options (there are hundreds of them) for makin' just one more sweet for the crowd.
Drink It: Sugar
Night clubby and absolutely stackable, Sugar's desserts are a tad on the pricy side, but when you're wasted, who cares? Word to the wise, though: Drawstring pants are key.
Eat It: Heaven on Seven
Head further south into Cajun/Creole country and fill up on meaty crab cakes, deep fried catfish and the Louisiana classic, red beans and rice. Just make sure to save room for the coconut cream cake; it's a mighty fine example of what makes the South the beefy South.
Get Crazy With It: Chicago Park District
On July 11, head to the park and check out Southern Cooking on the Shore. Local chefs do their best to out cook one another in this four-part series and this hands-on cooking class will leave you feeling like you've been down yonder and back, all in the span of a few hours.
Fatcake Misty Tosh explores back-alley eateries, holes-in-the-wall and seedy ethnic joints as she treks the city in search of the next raving dish. Join her in the quest.