Extreme decadence

Go big or go home, right? Well, let me tell you, never was that more the case than at brunch this weekend at Norma’s at Le Parker Merdien.

All joking aside, I probably had my caloric intake for a good solid week all in one sitting.  All on one plate. And I’m not exaggerating or kidding in the least bit. It was intense. What I had might very well be the single most gluttonous thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was worth every hour I’ll spend at the gym this week paying for it.

The menu at Norma’s was a wonderland of edible awesomeness. There were chestnut pancakes, foie gras brioche french toast, and mango-papaya brown butter cinnamon crepes among other things.  But for me there was nothing else to get, nothing else to think about, nothing else but those four sweet words: Chocolate Decadence French Toast. (Yes, decadence was actually in the title.)

Norma's Chocolate Decadence French Toast: about 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Forget your diet.

Equal parts awe and intimidation filled my head when the waiter placed the chocolate mountain before me. Was this actually French toast made with chocolate cake and not bread? And were there really three spongy, thick slices of it, stacked one on top of the other, between layers of fat, bright red strawberries, topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream, all of it dusted with powdered sugar , sprinkled with whole pistachios and drizzled with valrhona chocolate syrup? Was I ever going to be able to finish this without falling into some sort of sugar induced coma?  Yes, yes and of course yes.

More than just a standard brunch option, the Chocolate Decadence French Toast was just one massive dessert, and because I’m ok with starting the day with a huge quantity of chocolate, I was in heaven. Even though I worked slowly through the huge stack, each mouthful of moist chocolate cake maintained its fresh-from-the-kitchen heat, so that every bite was warm and rich, with the tart sweetness of the strawberries and the nutty crunch of the pistachios only magnifying the deep chocolatey perfection of the french toast.

With the exception of maybe only the “Zillion Dollar Lobster Fritatta” (which is packed with lobster and caviar and costs $1,000), the Chocolate Decadence French Toast was probably the most ridiculous thing to have ordered. Large, over the top, and decadent to the point of obscenity, I can’t think of a better way to have started my Saturday.

Gingerbread Tinseltown

Foundations of Rice Krispies treats and driveways paved with chocolate, roofs topped with M&Ms, and cookie walls held together with icing. You’d think it would be my dream home, but somehow Gingerbread houses always seem to disappoint. Icing gets crusty, gumdrops get hard, and to be honest, I’m just not crazy about gingerbread itself.

A recent trip to the Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien proved to be no different. While the gingerbread creations on display were cool and the theme was fun, “Movies made in New York,” the word extravaganza was perhaps a bit strong. It wasn’t so much of an extravaganza as it was about six different designs from bakeries around the city, each in a glass case, in a small area off the hotel’s lobby.

A Night at the Museum by Soutine Bakery

From Soutine Bakery, was this fun gingerbread replica of the American Museum of Natural History from the movie A Night at the Museum. I particularly enjoyed the red M&M-covered roofs and the rolled wafer top above the entrance…mostly because I could eat (and have before) a sickening amount of  both of those. Also, you can’t really see it, but there’s a cookie T-Rex standing in the courtyard-like area of the museum. Points for edible dinos.

Ghostbusters by Tribeca Treats

This gingerbread “house” by Tribeca Treats was cool because it recreated the Ghostbusters station, complete with the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and the Ectomobile, but really, I think given all the right ingredients, I could make the same structure myself. I dunno, am I being too harsh?


King Kong by Norma's

And of course, they couldn’t have the theme they had without King Kong being represented, so the hotel’s very own restaurant and brunch hotspot, Norma’s, made the classic gorilla-topped Empire State Building,

I think my main problem with gingerbread houses (or in this case, movie scenes) is that for being something made of cookies and candy, I never have a strong urge to eat them. And that sort of weirds me out. Then again, I guess there should be at least one thing during the holiday season that I don’t want to devour immediately.