When Jelena Stekolstsikova moved to Wellington two years ago she set herself to taste every tiramisu the capital had to offer.
“Tiramisu is a simple dessert but it has to be perfect,” she says. “Ladyfingers should be perfectly soaked – moist but not soggy. They should hold the shape but not be dry. Espresso must be good quality and the right strength to provide a ‘pick me up’ effect but not be overpowering or bitter. Mascarpone should be light and airy, not heavy or too creamy.”
Who’s she to judge, you might ask. Jelena comes from Estonia, and with a Master’s Degree in Food Engineering and Product Development from France, is thus well placed to assess an Italian dessert. She’s worked in food research and analytical laboratories, and in a food manufacturing company as a product development technician. But mainly, it’s just that she’s obsessed. “Tiramisu is my passion,” she explains. “It picks me up when I feel down and makes me even happier when life is great. I miss it when I don’t have it for a while and I’m excited when I see it in front of me. There’s some magic in this dessert.”
Jelena has tried every tiramisu in Wellington, Lower Hutt, and Petone. She documents her adventures on Instagram (@chasingtiramisu) where she posts a photo, location, and tasting notes for each sample. Favourites include tiramisu from Scopa, Bongusto, and Mediterranean Foods Trattoria and Deli.