The best desserts are the ones that emotionally catapult you back to sweet childhood memories. They need not be refined memories of highfaluten desserts, but rather the simpler times when lunchbox snacks and frills-free pastries satisfied like nothing else. Those were the days. One dessert that recently sent me on such a nostalgia trip was the caramelized plum kolacky at Eastern European-inspired Bohemian House. It didn't remind me of kolacky of my youth, because I don't think I ever had such a thing as a kid. Even better, it reminded me of my favorite childhood breakfast: boxed Pop Tarts. I'm not afraid to admit that Pop Tarts were my go-to. I would eat them like clockwork most mornings before school, usually in silence in the pre-dawn dark of my living room. That was kinda weird in retrospect, but I wouldn't trade those fruity pastry memories for the world. And now I can relive those memories in the form of an elevated dessert at River North's hottest new Euro haunt.
(Caramelized plum kolacky at Bohemian House)
Bohemian House's kolacky is an upgraded variation on the classic European cookie, a sort of fruity, jammy shortbread. This is to Eastern Europe as chocolate chip cookies are to Americana lore. While I never really had kolacky growing up, it's something I love and appreciate today, for its buttery rich simplicity and dainty cuteness. I applaud Bohemian House for giving them the platform of a composed dessert plate, filling the crimped cookies with plum jam and stacking them alongside slivers of caramelized plums. The whole thing is an apt homage to stone fruit season and the innate sweetness of plums. A sprinkling of powdered sugar rounds out the composition, and altgother the dish somehow tastes like my favorite Pop Tarts of my youth, the strawberry- or cherry-filled varieties bedecked with a thin sugary glaze, lightly toasted, and consumed with vigor.
- Matt Kirouac