Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sent from Heaven

I have a love-hate relationship with good desserts. I love eating them, but hate that it's s hard for me to limit myself to just one! Faced with a pastry case filled with tempting lemon tarts, bittersweet chocolate cake and a fresh fruit galettes, I might want to have one of each.

But I'm going to have to deal with my dessert issues now that there's a wonderful new pastry chef at Heaven Sent Desserts in North Park. Chef Tina Luu, who specializes in creative French style pastries made with fresh fruits and fine ingredients, took over the kitchen several months ago and visiting Heaven Set is a true delight.

I couldn't help but be drawn to the mosaic of strawberry, mango, kiwi, pineapple and starfruit atop the Tropical Fruit Tart. It was even more delicious than it looked; the flavors of the sweet ripe fruits were perfectly balanced by the delicate vanilla pastry cream and the crisp cookie crust fringed with toasted coconut. Chocaholics will find it hard to resist the bittersweet chocolate Lava Lust cake, served oozy and warm, topped with a swirl of sweetened mascarpone and a candy chocolate heart. But from the first bite, I was hooked by the retro charm of sweet whipped cream, luscious bananas and a buttery crust in Luu's Banana Cream Pie.

Besides her cafe desserts, Luu is a Michelangelo when it comes to creating specialty cakes. When Beyonce (yes, that Beyonce) was in town for her birthday party, Luu made the diva a chocolate Tree of Life cake adorned with twisted branches, frilly leaves and berries that were all edible. Luu is a skilled chef who earned a culinary degree from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and spent time with the top restaurants in the Bay Area including Bradley Ogden's One Market, Jeremiah Tower's Star's and Aqua. After a stint at the four-star Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, Luu relocated to San Diego, where she is the lead baking and pastry instructor with the Art Institute of California, San Diego and the angel in the kitchen at Heaven Sent.
Heaven Sent Desserts, 3001 University Ave. (at 30th Street) North Park. 619.793.4758

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