During the summer at Padre Island National Seashore, The National Park Service releases Kemp’s Ridley…
“Quite honestly, I’m a fat kid in a little chef body.” That is how Palmilla Beach’s Cordon Bleu trained Pastry Chef, Vita Jarrin, describes herself when she tells us that on a cold winter night, her go to comfort food is “…definitely mac ‘n cheese. For that matter, my Sicilian roots kick in-if there’s pasta and bread, I’m going to be happy.”
This time we asked Chef Gail to let us eavesdrop while she and Vita discussed Vita’s award winning cooking style, and here’s the dish!
Vita says, “I love using as much Texas product and produce as possible. It may run from using a good Texas bourbon in a cheesecake or gelato to using Texas peaches and pecans in our desserts. Texas has such a great variety of amazing fruits and other products.” Vita tries to bring traditional Texas flavors together in her dessert innovations with Southern flair. For example, she reinvented banana pudding to be ‘Nanner Pudding Gelato’. She also makes Baked Alaska with a traditional Southern Butter Cake.
Both cheesecake and gelato are blank canvases for Vita, and she loves to transform them into Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake, Peach Cobbler Cheesecake, or even Lucky Charms Gelato. This way Palmilla guests are transported to another time and place, experiencing something new and yet familiar without leaving their chairs.
Philosophically, and because of her classical training, Vita feels that no dish or meal is ever complete without an accompanying sauce, and her desserts are no exception. And so, she spent over a year developing Biscotti Butter, a pourable cookie butter that serves as a dip, frosting, or filling. In addition to working together at the Black Marlin, Gail and Vita co-own A la Mode Gelateria where instead of just the usual strawberry, fudge, and caramel toppings they feature their Biscotti Butter, which will soon be available to eat and purchase at Palmilla Beach. (I know you want some but get in line ‘cause I’m at the front!)
Vita says, “I learned a lot about Sicilian desserts growing up. As I made my way through culinary school, I learned more about desserts from other countries and cultures and that completely transformed my ideas about dessert commonalities and differences. My love for travel has allowed me to try all sorts of things from every adventure I take, and as a result my baking, and my cooking in general, has branched out to encompass many world cuisines.”
Besides her own cooking and of course Chef Gail’s, Vita’s favorite food on Mustang Island is sushi and fresh seafood. And her favorite spice is cayenne, which she sneaks into just about everything (but don’t worry, she does NOT put it in the Biscotti Butter!).
Now you know, it isn’t just Chef Gail’s brilliance and talent responsible for the famously good eats at Palmilla Beach, but also Pastry Chef Vita Jarrin and her inimitable sweet style that make the Black Marlin and the Agave Cantina the best food on the island.