Dessert First

Beaver Supreme at Beaver Choice

Looking for a new dessert that's unlike anything else? It's no surprise that you'll find it at Beaver Choice, the Swedish-Polish-Canadian restaurant that throws Western palates for a loop with dishes like Flying Jacob, a combination of chicken, bananas, peanuts, cream, and curry, and laxpudding, a fried dish with cured salmon, potatoes, egg, and dill. See also: - Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Dessert Lover - AndyTalk: The Surprising Lesson in Olive Oil Cake

If like anything else, Beaver Supreme is comparable to pavlova. They're both made of meringue, whipped cream, and fruit, but the similarity ends there. This isn't one of the best desserts when pit against the gourmet pastries served here in the Valley, but it's satisfying and fun to eat. Plus, it's always great to have an excuse to visit Beaver Choice, which will be relocating early next year from Tempe to much larger digs in Mesa. Right now, this dessert is available on Thursday, Friday, and -- if everyone else didn't already eat it -- Saturday. Word is that the expansion will benefit customers in numerous ways, including that Beaver Supreme will be available every day of the week.

The main part of this dessert is a walnut meringue. Made with great technique, it's crisp, airy, and melts on the tongue. Occasionally you'll also happen across a chunk of toasted walnut encased in the fluff. On the inside of the dessert, the meringue is softened by the thick whipped cream that holds the big chunks of meringue together into a loosely formed cake.

The cream isn't flavored with much, not even vanilla, and the simplicity makes it taste extra rich and heavy. The basic whipped cream is what makes this dish feel like something made at home with pride, as much of the menu at Beaver Choice does. That encourages the idea that this is a special treat, one that can't be found in every corner bakery or restaurant.

In this dish the component that really pops is mandarin orange. Small slices are enrobed in the cream, their bright color hidden by the homely brown and white. Happening upon one can be a bit of a surprise. The mandarin oranges, however, are what make the difference between a great dessert and an outstanding one. If they were fresh and local, rather than being like the soggy fruit found in fast food salads, it would make Beaver Supreme so much more supremely flavorful.

If one thing besides the dessert's foreign novelty makes it special, it's the composition of the three parts: meringue, cream, and fruit. There's no way to get orange or walnut pieces in each bite, which enables this fairly simple dessert to have several alternating flavor profiles. Although it certainly doesn't look like much more than a big pile of fluff, Beaver Supreme is pretty carefully orchestrated, especially when it comes to the real hidden gem, the toasted walnut pieces.

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Dominique Chatterjee