This traditional Romanian amandine is poetry in cake form.
pon my entering Black Forest Foods Café & Delicatessen
, a little Monument café across the way from Covered Treasures Bookstore, the dessert case catches my eye. It bears four lovely cakes: a tri-color chocolate mousse, a caramel cream cake, a coconut cake and something Romanian called an amandine, which dates back to the 19th century. I pick a slice of amandine to bring back to the office.
For those like me who aren’t familiar with Eastern European confectioneries, an amandine is a chocolate cake flavored with rum, layered with chocolate buttercream frosting, soaked with caramel syrup, then coated with a thin chocolate fondant.
Owner Dragos Matache says he uses rum extract, not proper rum. But we don’t mind. It’s one of the best cakes we’ve had, no qualifiers needed. At $4.75 for a big slice, it’s moist to the point of lunacy. Thick layers of frosting don’t cloy with heavy sweetness — they’re restrained. The chocolate, rum and caramel flavors resolve to that fruity-nutty sweetness one gets from amaretto or other liqueurs made from stone fruit pits.
Matache has operated the business with his family for the last year and a half. He’s been in the restaurant industry for 15 of his 20 years in the U.S. And he’s been cooking since childhood in his native Romania. In addition to stellar sweets, Black Forest Foods offers a range of take-and-heat deli options, including soups, roasted lamb, full entrées and more. There’s also a small selection of groceries, including pasta, huge jars of giardiniera, and Ritter Sport and other European chocolates.
But we’ll shun those meager calorie loads for the Mataches’ creations. We find the coconut cake equally praiseworthy, more fruity than sugary. There’s lime in the cake, which adds a pleasing citrus kick, and it’s just as moist and marvelous as the amandine while lighter, a perfect diversion for a warm end-of-summer morning on the restaurant’s spacious patio; it could only be made better by a good cup of tea.
We’ll happily settle for coffee, though. The café serves Italian roasted Lavazza beans, and an on-special violet latté tastes delicately of the flower, and like the cake, there isn’t too much sugar. Those who favor pastries will enjoy a fruit-forward apple strudel with raisins, wrapped in buttery pastry.
Black Forest Foods shows well with savory items, too. Our Impossible burger, which features the notoriously beef-like veggie patty of the same name, gets served with sautéed onions and mushrooms for a savory overload, with creamy aioli. It lacks a certain brightness, but a swirl of offered yellow mustard mends all.
On a server’s snap recommendation, I abandon sandwiches and generous salads for the smoky chipotle burger, a grass-fed beef patty piled with German-style cold-smoked spicy bacon, house pimento cheese and chipotle aioli. It’s that timeless mix of meat, smoke, pepper spice and heavy cumin, and it could only be more Colorado with a buffalo patty. Fries, served with both, are nothing special, but they get the job done.
For future visits, we eye a croque madame, as well as stuffed cabbage and soups as highlights from previously mentioned take-and-heat offerings, the latter of which Matache recommends as a point of pride. After we enjoyed his stellar cakes and burgers so much, whatever Matache is serving up, we’re more than happy to try.