70. Buttermilk Panna Cotta at Lola Gaspar

So.. creamy
So.. creamy
Photo by Jennifer Wang

Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

I still remember the first panna cotta I ever ate. I was a 21-year-old college student at Chapter One on the recommendation of a girl who I thought was cute. It was the Milk and Cereal panna cotta that's sadly (in a nostalgia kind of way) no longer on the menu, and it was amazing.

It was rich and yielding like flan, which I love, but it felt airy, more upscale. Unfortunately, following a few awkward dates and late night texts, every panna cotta I've had has been hit or miss. Wonderful or bland to the point that it's really just milk-colored jello.

But I'm happy to say that the Buttermilk Panna Cotta at Lola Gaspar, one of just two desserts that the restaurant serves, is one of the wonderful ones, even without the help of a little bit of puppy love.

The custard, served inside one of those jars with a latched top that I don't know the actual name of, is rich, with a slight sweetness that's calming but unobtrusive. On top is a coulis (the kind of fruit rotates) with some fruit bits and tajin for a little salty, sweet, slightly spicy kick.

The magic, though, happens when you eat everything together, plunging your spoon through the thin sauce and plump custard to the very bottom of the jar. You first taste is the salty tartness of the tajin and fruit and for a millisecond you pucker, until the relentlessly comforting richness of the buttermilk custard cuts in, relieving you of your discomfort and leaving you with something simple and sweet to remember. It's almost like I'm writing about love. Or maybe there's a food-as-sex metaphor in there somewhere?

Anyway, it's good so go eat it.

The List: 71. Hummus at Mick's Karma Bar 72. Savory Baked Goat Cheese Bread Pudding at Eat Chow 73. Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza at Perry's Pizza & Italian Restaurant 74. Kabocha Honey Nuts at Kabuki 75. Smashed Potatoes at Standing O 76. Dim Sum at Seafood Cove #2 77. Loco Moco at Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe 78. Bratwurst at Barley Forge 79. Beef Noodle Soup at (Wafting Fragrance) Noodle House 80. Taco de Nopal at Urban Cactus 81. Fried Chicken at Crazy Chi-Mac 82. Mole Tots at Amor y Tacos 83. Khao Soi at S.T. Noodle Bar 84. Chili Cone Queso at Cozy Cone Motel 85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood 86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate 87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft 88. Cornbread Waffle & Chicken at Mrs. Bea's 89. Everything at Crispy Town 90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms 91. Tostilocos at Tortas y Biónicos "Nice" 92. Milanesa at Delicias Peruanas 93. Super Nachos at Kelly's Korner Tavern 94. Tortas at Sliced and Diced Eatery 95. Seasonal Dumplings at Coconut Rabbit 96. Burrito de Birria de Res from Burritos La Palma 97. Bò Kho at Song Long Restaurant 98. Pancake Sandwich at Willowick Golf Course 99. Tahdig at Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill 100. Quatro Formaggi Panini at Old Vine Cafe

Follow Stick a Fork In It on Twitter @ocweeklyfood or on Facebook! And don't forget to download our free Best Of App here!

You can also follow Charles Lam on Twitter @charlesnlam and Instagram @charlesnlam. He's less sardonic there, we swear.

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Lola Gaspar

211 W. Second St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701



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