My birthday tradition with the cousins I grew up with and my best friend is to have dinner at Stubrik's, that classic Fullerton steakhouse that knows charred beef the way Nolan Ryan knows how to fling a baseball. I'm usually so stuffed after knifing through one of its slabs that I have no room for dessert, but I ate lighter this time around, choosing to go with some pasta dish topped by chicken. The chicken, roasted and juicy, was memorable; the pasta, though, was too buttery.
One of my cousins ordered bananas Foster, a dessert I've never really particularly cared for--not particularly sweet, not particularly memorable. But what came out--four scoops of vanilla, two standing on top of the other, surrounded by a lake of amber and golden bananas--made me go in for a spoonful.
Most versions of the dessert err on the side of brown sugar at the expense of the cinnamon and the rum, but Stubrik's didn't make this delicious mistake. This is a Foster of bite, of a sharp rum, sweet and smooth. The cinnamon fought its brown-sugar cousin to a tie; both clumped together under the rum and crystallized into concentrated niblets. The banana slices, meanwhile, were flambéed past the point of caramelization--how many different notes of dark sweetness is it so far? And the vanilla ice cream, while . . . well, vanilla, maintained its integrity despite the heat, leading to a dessert in which all of its angles remained true and not overwhelming one another.
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That mound in the photo lasted two minutes--next year, I'm ordering one for myself. Pinche primos. . . .