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Carte Blanche and the 23-layer crepe cake

Do not attempt this at home

A cake of 23 crepes with chocolate hazelnut spread, chocolate whipped cream, and hazelnuts
A cake of 23 crepes with chocolate hazelnut spread, chocolate whipped cream, and hazelnuts

I had my eye on this cake all summer. Friends kept heading into Oceanside to get a piece of it, their every photo set to stun. A 23-layer cake, really a tower of crepes, stacked one on top of the other, held together with a sweet mortar of hazelnut spread and chocolate cream.

Place

Carte Blanche Bistro & Bar

339 North Cleveland Street, Oceanside

Yes to all of it, I thought, following the dessert like a guiding star to Carte Blanche Bistro & Bar. The Oceanside restaurant had the misfortune to open just before the world went sideways. It sits two blocks from the pier in a building so new Google Maps doesn’t know it’s there yet, blessed with an open dining room and large enough patio to feel safe in spite of covid concerns.

Behind the cooking of chef Alex Carballo, best known as the longtime executive chef of Stone Brewing World Bistro in Escondido, Carte Blanche brings together French and Mexican cuisines. It’s the sort of fusion that serves octopus and chorizo hash during brunch service ($15). Or pairs duck confit and mole negro in a trio of beautiful tacos, finished with duck skin chicharrons, smoked cotija cheese, and edible flowers ($13).

Duck confit mole tacos

Considering the elevated concept, established local chef, summery outdoor space, and a stellar cocktail program, Carte Blanche has plenty of appeal to go around without needing a showstopper dessert to lure customers.

But in times like these, every bit helps, and if you’re looking for an excuse to dine out, this cake is it. Carballo tells me he conceived it and several menu items with that intent: to offer customers something unlikely to prepare for themselves at home.

Margarita Ooh La La, with cointreau, guava foam and black sea salt

To wit, the two-day process behind this cake starts with having to make 23 crepes. The cooled crepes then have to be stacked, each layer held together with a hazelnut spread, similar to Nutella, but made with 70 percent Mexico-sourced chocolate, plus cinnamon and chili spice. Crushed hazelnuts are added between layers, as is a chocolate infused whipped crème. The constructed cake sets overnight, with a top layer finished by more nuts, encrusting a chocolate ganache.

Close to the pier in Oceanside

The $13 slice of cake is heavy enough that it should be shared, whether following a meal or a couple hours at the beach. If it’s the former, you can really expect more than a strict French influence to Carballo’s Mexican-inspired dishes, which include the likes of harissa fried quail, huitlacoche-buttered pasta, and duck poutine served over a mix of plantains and potatoes.

And even if you mostly go for the beaches, consider stopping to dine somewhere next time you’re in Oceanside. It has quietly developed one of the best restaurant scenes in North County.

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A cake of 23 crepes with chocolate hazelnut spread, chocolate whipped cream, and hazelnuts
A cake of 23 crepes with chocolate hazelnut spread, chocolate whipped cream, and hazelnuts

I had my eye on this cake all summer. Friends kept heading into Oceanside to get a piece of it, their every photo set to stun. A 23-layer cake, really a tower of crepes, stacked one on top of the other, held together with a sweet mortar of hazelnut spread and chocolate cream.

Place

Carte Blanche Bistro & Bar

339 North Cleveland Street, Oceanside

Yes to all of it, I thought, following the dessert like a guiding star to Carte Blanche Bistro & Bar. The Oceanside restaurant had the misfortune to open just before the world went sideways. It sits two blocks from the pier in a building so new Google Maps doesn’t know it’s there yet, blessed with an open dining room and large enough patio to feel safe in spite of covid concerns.

Behind the cooking of chef Alex Carballo, best known as the longtime executive chef of Stone Brewing World Bistro in Escondido, Carte Blanche brings together French and Mexican cuisines. It’s the sort of fusion that serves octopus and chorizo hash during brunch service ($15). Or pairs duck confit and mole negro in a trio of beautiful tacos, finished with duck skin chicharrons, smoked cotija cheese, and edible flowers ($13).

Duck confit mole tacos

Considering the elevated concept, established local chef, summery outdoor space, and a stellar cocktail program, Carte Blanche has plenty of appeal to go around without needing a showstopper dessert to lure customers.

But in times like these, every bit helps, and if you’re looking for an excuse to dine out, this cake is it. Carballo tells me he conceived it and several menu items with that intent: to offer customers something unlikely to prepare for themselves at home.

Margarita Ooh La La, with cointreau, guava foam and black sea salt

To wit, the two-day process behind this cake starts with having to make 23 crepes. The cooled crepes then have to be stacked, each layer held together with a hazelnut spread, similar to Nutella, but made with 70 percent Mexico-sourced chocolate, plus cinnamon and chili spice. Crushed hazelnuts are added between layers, as is a chocolate infused whipped crème. The constructed cake sets overnight, with a top layer finished by more nuts, encrusting a chocolate ganache.

Close to the pier in Oceanside

The $13 slice of cake is heavy enough that it should be shared, whether following a meal or a couple hours at the beach. If it’s the former, you can really expect more than a strict French influence to Carballo’s Mexican-inspired dishes, which include the likes of harissa fried quail, huitlacoche-buttered pasta, and duck poutine served over a mix of plantains and potatoes.

And even if you mostly go for the beaches, consider stopping to dine somewhere next time you’re in Oceanside. It has quietly developed one of the best restaurant scenes in North County.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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