Say Cheesecake

Now that I’ve gotten hooked on the new HBO series Rome, I’m eager to see if the program will show the lusty Titus Pullo (played by actor Ray Stevenson) biting into a slab of cheesecake, which apparently was a delicacy even in Julius Caesar’s time. Silly me, I thought it was strictly a New York invention (as do most New Yorkers).

On Linda Stradley‘s Web site — www.whatscookingamerica.net — the culinary guru lists some interesting historical data about cheesecake, including the ancient Roman recipe for the dessert (it involves a hot fire and a brick) and the trivia note that the Roman name for this cheesy cake was placenta.

It’s a fair guess that placenta cheesecake will probably not be joining the Godiva Chocolate or Coffee Heath Bar Crunch models in the Cheesecake Factory (see review) lineup, though the seasonal pumpkin cheesecake will return to the dessert lineup in mid-October.

While I was on a cheesecake roll, I got a nice little sample of a freshly defrosted Cheesecake Factory product when I was wheeling my cart through the aisles at Costco (241 East Linwood Boulevard). One of the in-store sample vendors was passing out little cubes of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory “Summer Collection” (four slices from four different cheesecakes), available in the store’s freezer cases. The boxed slices aren’t nearly as big as the pumped-up slabs served at the restaurants, but you don’t have to wait in line to get one.

I also got right to the front of the line at The Pastry Goddess (20120 East Jackson), even if I did have to drive all the way out to a shopping center in Independence to get there. This attractive, comfortable bakery and lunch venue sells a delicate sliver of fruit-sprinkled New York cheesecake made by owner and goddess Kathy Huddleston. It wasn’t quite in the Lindy’s category — the ne plus ultra of New York-style, uh, placenta — but it wasn’t bad. I much preferred Huddleston’s white layer cake, a really terrific coconut cream tart, a generously filled chocolate √©clair and beautifully flaky Danish pastries.

When I walked out of the Pastry Goddess, I saw a banner for a new Indian restaurant planning to open a few doors down, the Bollywood Indian Bistro. I can’t wait for that, so I can dine on both aloo gobi masala and a Pastry Goddess chocolate-chip cookie at almost the same time. I’ve had enough cheesecake.

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