Cheesecake -- be it New York-style, Chicago-style, vegan or savory -- is a pretty wonderful invention and I wish I could kiss the Greek who came up with the first recipe. Because, seriously, cheese on its own is one of the best things in the world and praise the Lord someone managed to make it even more decadent. In honor of him/him and National Cheesecake Day (July 30), here are five to try in Houston.
5. Gorgonzola Cheesecake (Happy Fatz). There's no law that cheesecake has to be sweet, and the chefs at Happy Fatz wonderfully exploit this fact by offering a full menu of savory cheesecakes (in addition to some awesome sweet kinds, like Turtle and Oreo). I like the gorgonzola because different dimensions of its pungent flavor emerge depending on whether you eat it warm or chilled.
4. Pumpkin Cheesecake (The Chocolate Bar). I first tried this cheesecake while vetting candidates for my Top Ten Pumpkin Dishes To Try in Houston, and since then I eagerly await autumn and the return of this seasonal specialty. The layers of butter crust, creamy cinnamon-squash filling, and candied pecans give rise to a multi-textural eating experience and, I guarantee, will make you look forward even more to Thanksgiving.
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3. Triple Chocolate Cheesecake (Ooh La La Bakery). Sometimes I like to binge on baked goods alone in my study while watching Mob Wives (who doesn't?!). Now, thanks to Ooh La La Bakery, I know what will be the sweet object of my next feast. Although triple-chocolate-style desserts can often be too saccharine even for my tastes, the infusion of cheese fats works to mellow the rich striations of dark and milk chocolate, chocolate cookie crust, and glaze, such that you can easily finish a large piece. And even maybe top it with chocolate ice cream.
2. Red Velvet Cheesecake (Petite Sweets). One night, after a very filling dinner at BRC Gastropub, I demurred when our server asked if we had room for dessert. My friend, who is not a fool like me, ordered the red velvet cheesecake (supplied by Petite Sweets) and offered me a bite, which I accepted. Then she proceeded to talk to me about something semi-serious like campaign finance reform and all I could think of was the deep cocoa flavor of the scarlet filling, casually adorned with dollops of vanilla cream. Next time, I ordered my own slice.
1. Baklava Cheesecake (Cafe Pita). Given that I've gushed about this cheesecake in the past, you shouldn't be terribly surprised it's numero uno on this list. The flaky sweetness of the delicate baklava finds a firm complementary base in the thick vanilla cheesecake, and this conjunction of nuts and cream, dairy and phyllo makes you wonder why these two desserts, so fabulous in their own right, are ever eaten apart.