Food Stuff

Illustration By Elwood Smith

Restaurant desserts often are like the late actor John Belushi—loud, overweight and prone to excess. In contrast, César, a great tapas bar in Berkeley, serves a refreshingly simple dessert called miel y mato. Miel means honey, and mato is the name of a fresh cheese made in Catalonia’s Montserrat Mountains. We have yet to see mato available in local shops, but a friend came up with a satisfying substitute. Blend fresh ricotta or farmer’s cheese with cream cheese and a bit of honey. Place a small scoop of the mato-like mixture in the center of a dish. Scatter a variety of nuts and dried fruit (particularly prunes, figs, cherries and raisins) around the dish. Drizzle honey over the plate, pour a glass of sweet sherry, and there you go! Unlike Belushi, the pleasures of this faux miel y mato are subtle but, like the comic actor, quite memorable.