Dining Chicago

Sweet of the Week: Worms & Dirt at Grand Tour

So I know that I already opined about Grand Tour in general, but one of their desserts merits special analysis on its own. I'll tell you why: worms & dirt. Typically resigned to children's menus once in a blue moon, worms & dirt is a divine amalgam that typically consists of chocolate pudding, crushed cookie crumbs (aka "dirt"), and gummi worms. It sort of looks like a handful of muddy earth, but in a delicious way. And kids eat it up. But so do adults when the worms & dirt feels right, and when chef Roger Herring is manning the wheel.

Worms and dirt
(Worms & Dirt, Grand Tour-style)

My first experience with worms & dirt came at a hokey restaurant in North Conway, New Hampshire, called Horsefeather. My family and I used to vacation up north during the summer and winter months every year, and I distinctly remember Horsefeather being a go-to restaurant in the "downtown" area. The restaurant was charming, homey, and fairly bustling considering the environs. But the thing I remember most, as clear as yesterday, is the worms & dirt. As a kid, I thought this concept was hilarious, and my siblings and I just gobbled it all with reckless abandon. The idea of worms & dirt is something I have loved ever since, though I rarely have the opportunity to indulge because when I do find it somewhere, I'm too embarrassed of the judgemental looks I receive from kids and adults alike.

Grand Tour to the rescue! For the first time since Horsefeathers, I've found a worms & dirt on a menu that I can actually order shamelessly. Although it's an adult riff, it's still kid food at heart. It looks like childhood fodder, but Herring implements different mature touches throughout, such as hazelnut-chocolate pudding, mint gelee, and cocoa dirt. Gummi worms are still placed on top, because some things never change.

- Matt Kirouac

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