500BestSquareBaked Alaska @ Antoine’s

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Baked Alaska is a strange idea: ice cream, hot out of the oven. This is accomplished by insulating the ice cream with a layer of meringue all over the top, and a foundation of pound cake. (I keep telling them they should replace the pound cake with bread pudding, but nothing yet.) It’s an old dish–created in French restaurants in the mid-1800s, made popular at Delmonico in New York City, and adopted by Antoine’s about a hundred years ago. They’re one of the few restaurants still making it. No other comes close to its perfection. It’s beautiful: a toasty, smooth-skinned, light brown mound, decorated with Antoine’s name and “Since 1840” and a few little birds that resemble Peeps. In recent years, they’ve taken to offering chocolate sauce with it, but I insist that baked Alaska is a study in vanilla. With a half-bottle of Sauternes, it’s among the best dessert-wine combinations imaginable. You must order it at the beginning of the meal. And make sure the one they make is big enough, or some people won’t get any ice cream (the only possible problem that might come up).

Christmas, Antoine's, and Baked Alaska.

Christmas, Antoine’s, waiter Charles Carter and Baked Alaska.

Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St. Louis. 504-581-4422.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

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