Dessert First

Cherry Strudel at Haus Murphy's

Everyone knows that Arizona has incredible Mexican fare, but who knew that Glendale is home to an award-winning German restaurant? Located in historic downtown Glendale, Haus Murphy's serves traditional specialties like Bacon-infused Paprika Schnitzel, Krakauer Wurst, and Hackbraten. The interior is decorated with German flags, beer signs and steins, and folk art, and outside there's a large biergarten where the restaurant holds its annual Oktoberfest.

For an authentic German dessert, it would appear there's nowhere better to go in town than Haus Murphy's. All desserts are made in-house, and there's quite an extensive selection to choose from, including Whiskey Cake, Black Forest Torte, Sauerkraut Cake (which is apparently much better than it sounds), and Apple Streusel. It was a tough choice, but we opted for one of the two strudels, picking cherry over apple.

The Cherry Strudel has a nice pastry, albeit softer than expected, even crepe-like. Most strudels I've had (including the toaster kind) were incredibly flaky, and lots of American recipes for strudel even suggest cheating and using frozen phyllo dough. That said, the lack of flakiness doesn't by any means ruin this dessert; instead it expanded my idea of what strudel can be. This Viennese Apfelstrudel recipe calls for a noodle-like dough similar to what you'll find at Haus Murphy's.

The cherry filling is very flavorful, with a touch of lemon and a nice helping of cinnamon to add depth, bringing it to a new level of addictive. This is definitely not the same sweet, bright red cherry filling used in American pies. The cherries are not overly sour or overly sweet, and the only drawback is that they aren't fresh. However, it's a few weeks before the start of cherry season, so that can be forgiven. Luckily, the flavor makes up for it.

Most of Haus Murphy's desserts come with the option to include vanilla ice cream, and if they do, get it. It's a very simple ice cream, but it pairs unbelievably well with the warm pastry. The ice cream's texture seemed a little icy when the spoon hit it, but it's fairly creamy and delicate. It isn't extremely flavorful -- without a dessert by it side, it would be begging for toppings -- but it makes the perfect à la mode complement. Even though it's served with whipped cream, the Cherry Strudel wouldn't be nearly as delicious without having the ice cream too.

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Dominique Chatterjee