“I like a bit of controversy in a dessert,” says chef Jenna Reich. So, this salted lemon semifreddo dessert lands like an herbal, salty–sweet bombshell on the tongue, surprising diners even after they have been warned that it’s almost more savoury than sweet. Reich, who loves playing with temperatures and textures, started with a glut of preserved Meyer lemons leftover from Brothers Food & Wine, the former Bay Street resto and home to several members of the Restaurant 20 Victoria team.
Best Dessert of the Year
Restaurant 20 Victoria’s Salted Lemon Semifreddo delights with cream, eggs, sugar, puréed salted lemons, honey and olive oil.
Since the kitchen lacks an ice cream maker, Reich opted for a simple semifreddo. What might have been a hackneyed cop–out in the hands of a lesser chef instead became a brilliant hack: She rinses and purées lemons that have been cured for at least six months in salt or salt brine, peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves and coriander. The purée is added to a pâté à bombe (a base of sugar water and beaten egg yolks) that’s been whipped with heavy cream, lightly whipped cream and a bit of fresh lemon juice.
The concoction is frozen in a mould, then sliced and finished with a beautifully floral wildflower honey verjus reduction and a drizzle of olive oil. “It’s kind of an accidental solution to a problem,” Reich says modestly.