Eye Candy: Icewine–Pear Granité

pear granite Chef Jason Parsons surprised guests with this extra course at last Thursday's Beard House dinner. He combined pear juice and icewine to create a tart granité, and garnished the intermezzo with flower petals, gold flakes, and a delicate twig from an icewine vine. See more photos of Parsons's elegant menu here. (Photo by Geoff Mottram)

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Eye Candy: Seasons of Québec

Cranberry granité For an interlude between braised veal cheeks and goat cheese crème brûlée, Judith Laflamme served a crisp intermezzo of tea–infused cranberry granité doused with Champagne. Take a look at more photos of the chef's contemporary Québécois dinner. (Photo by Tom Kirkman)

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Tastebud: An Encore for the Intermezzo

Intermezzi make a comeback at the James Beard House

Italian for “interval,” an intermezzo is an icy interlude, a small dish to be consumed between courses, rejuvenating the palate and prepping it for the rest of the meal. Also known as palate cleansers, intermezzi tend to be sorbets, granitas, or other icy treats that are usually flavored with fruit, especially highly acidic citrus. While the fat and salt of previous courses deaden your taste buds, acidity perks them up; following a couple of savory dishes with a spoonful of lemon sorbet is like hitting a “reset” button on your tongue. Auguste Escoffier encouraged chefs to serve sorbets or other ices between courses, which helped popularize the intermezzo in 19th-century Europe. (The French legend himself was fond of Punch Romaine, an alcoholic lemon–orange ice that refreshed the tongues of diners aboard the Titanic.)

Over the past year intermezzi have popped up on an unusually high number of Beard House menus. We've seen a wide range of

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