I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a showcase of local dessert makers. It didn’t help any that I went to the wrong Marriott first, but Long Wharf and Custom House aren’t two blocks away from each other so the fact that I had just filled a parking meter with quarters was ok. My wariness escalated however when I spied the Cholives booth between the two check-in tables.
I started by taking a tour of the entire floor and figuring out what was here. Mostly it was cupcakes. It seems as though the craze from New York has finally made its way up the coast. There were a few chocolatiers and some people who had devoted themselves to singular items. The first thing I tasted was a Bean Pie that drew nice parallels with sweet potato pie. There was even a demonstration on a makeshift stage where they made brownies, but it seemed like the only people watching all had cameras.
Despite what I’d been hoping, the only dessert that included ice cream was at the booth for the Chart House, a restaurant that shares Long Wharf with this hotel. Their Hot Chocolate Lava Cake usually takes thirty minutes to prepare as the chocolate cake has a molten Godiva Chocolate Liqueur center, but here we were shown miniatures that were microwaved for a minute. The dessert is topped with Dreyer’s vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and Heath bar crunch. I’m always surprised that a place that takes such care with the cake just accepts whatever ice cream Sysco brings, even the executive chef who was describing the dessert swallowed his words when he realized that I was more interested in the ice cream than the way it was displayed. As a little treat this was a nice cake, and it would be nice to taste it on a full scale.
But really, it was the cupcakes that dominated the proceedings. There seemed to be cameramen everywhere I turned, and every time they pushed me backwards in order to get a shot, I seemed to stumble over small Asian women and had to catch them to keep them from falling over like dominoes. There were a few local bakers there with nice cookies, and the Godiva chocolates were insanely decadent but in less than an hour I had sampled something from every booth and it wasn’t yet lunchtime.
With another hour on my meter, I wandered around to take a survey of other ice cream joints near Long Wharf. The most obvious is the Dippin’ Dots stand right in front of the Aquarium. Unfortunately, there was no one manning it and that leads me to assume they are done there for the year if no one was working at noon on a Saturday. Plus there’s the entire question of just how I’m supposed to classify those frozen treats.
On the wharf itself, there is an ice cream window that is part of the gift shop attached to the Boston Harbor Cruises building. Harborside Gifts is mostly there for folks to buy hats and t-shirts and plastic lobsters. The two girls working were both wholly engrossed in their books as I went by, and with the line of people getting ready to board a boat, I just shrugged and walked by. It was pretty apparent that they weren’t making their own ice cream here anyhow.
Just around the corner is an Emack & Bolio’s and while the doors were swung open, I didn’t see any employees inside. This is the only place around who makes their own ice cream locally, but I haven’t always had the best luck at any of the shoppes in this chain. I did get a Passion Fruit sorbet at the Brookline location a few weeks ago that really was pretty great, so I won’t malign them entirely, but at this time of day I was far more inclined to a sandwich, I had enough sugar still coursing through my veins from the 2009 New England Dessert Showcase.