Fresh winter flavors are the focal point of Provenance’s new offerings, which will satisfy any sweet tooth this season.
By Ashley Probst
Transport yourself to the wine country when dining at Provenance, a Newport Beach-based restaurant that is described by its executive chef and owner, Cathy Pavlos, as a “Napa-esque” environment that serves contemporary Californian fare. After almost four years of operation, this sustainability-minded eatery has gained a renowned reputation for providing its diners with fresh and flavorful dishes that change with the seasons. One aspect of the restaurant that patrons tend to find most appealing is the 1,300-square-foot garden situated on the open-air patio, where ingredients are picked off the vine, right in front of their eyes. In addition to the savory plates and exquisite cocktails, Provenance also has an ambrosial selection of seasonal desserts—now featuring whimsical winter confections through January.
The Apple Pie a la Mode on the Beach is a delightful play on a traditional apple pie that features caramelized Granny Smith apples, bourbon-candied pecan sauce, spiced cookies, caramel and cinnamon “sand,” all topped with vanilla bean ice cream. The cookies are so crisp and flavorful, it’s almost impossible to tell that they’re actually gluten free; and the pecan sauce is the perfect accompaniment for the sweet, yet slightly tart taste of the apples. This dish brings back memories of indulging in homemade pies as a child, while also having a sophisticated touch that leaves adults wanting more.
For those who enjoy simple flavors accented by a burst of zest, the vanilla bean budino is the ideal after-dinner treat. The vanilla base is refreshing and creamy—like a custard—and will please even the pickiest eater, but the toppings are what really make this dish stand out. Garnishes of succulent chunks of a passion fruit and rhubarb compote, edible flowers and small winter leaves for a festive feel, and served in perfectly portioned, single-serving pots, all come together to make this dish a lovely light bite to end a gratifying meal.
Another shining star on the winter dessert menu is the Old Fashioned Gingerbread Waffles, which comprise flavors that are truly reminiscent of Christmas. This dish tastes like a freshly baked gingerbread cookie but with the texture of a waffle that’s crisp on the outside, yet fluffy inside. And with toppings that beautifully complement the decadent foundation, including brandy-spiced poached pears, toasted walnuts, burnt honey and creme anglaise, it’s clear why this dessert so easily evokes feelings of holiday cheer.
The Pumpkin and Pecan Country Galette is one big combination of timeless holiday treats: pumpkin and pecan pie. Not only does this dish meld these two iconic winter desserts, it is also presented as a galette—a French pastry that marries all of the best parts of pie and a crusty cake. For those who can never seem to choose which type of pie to put on their plate, opt for one that gives you the best of both worlds. And don’t forget the butter-pecan ice cream.
Chocolate lovers will rejoice when the dark chocolate tart hits their palates. This rich, velvety dessert melts in your mouth, with a brownie-like exterior encasing a smooth, almost mousse-like center. Being topped with torched bananas and marshmallows gives it an extra layer of texture and taste that really make this dish pop. All of the elements that go into this plate, even the presentation, work together to make this sweet treat appear like a work of culinary art.
Notably, these seasonal desserts aren’t all to be eaten with a fork or spoon. Not Your Mom’s Milkshake is a delicious combination of bourbon, banana cordial, whole milk and peanut butter stout reduction, blended together to create a boozy beverage that is both nostalgic and modern. For another elaborate mixed drink, there is also the black walnut espresso martini, which comprises Van Gogh vanilla vodka, Lavazza espresso and black walnut creme liqueur: Perfect for anyone who likes their coffee with a bit of a kick.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Naughty Toddy, Provenance’s steamy rendition of a hot toddy that is a simple mixture of James E. Pepper 1776 rye and green apple cordial, then garnished with a lemon and cinnamon stick. This is the perfect sip before stepping back into the chilly night. (provenanceoc.com; 949-718-0477)