Forget peanuts, the crown jewel on a Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait, iconically striped in vanilla soft serve and hot fudge. Forget even hazelnuts, the default “Northwest move.” For its recent reopening menu post pandemic shutdown, Canard–Portland Monthly's Restaurant of the Year 2018–taps the earthy, burnt-toasty, beguiling flavor of … pine nuts?
We're not talking the simple act of subbing pine nuts for peanuts on top. For his DQ homage and remix, chef de cuisine Taylor Daugherty is on a pine nut rampage, going deep and sideways, Canard-style, while staying true to the classic foundation: soft serve, chocolate sauce, and nuts.
To begin, Daugherty goes for a soft-crunching double-down. He toasts the nuts, then candies them to boot, to be scattered on top but also hidden inside. The rule of extra pleasure is observed: texture, texture, texture.
More toasted nuts are transformed into a nut butter that appears as both a single layer and a thick patch of buried treasure at the bottom of the glass. Meanwhile, pine bud syrup gives the hot fudge sauce a sneaky savory note. The whole thing is capped with a dark, mysterious little candied pinecone, a Russian specialty that also dovetails with Oregon's spooky woods and pinecone splendor.
Bottom line: This is a no-drip-left-behind sundae. At $10, it's big enough for two—but who's sharing?
Daugherty started out as a prep cook at big sister restaurant Le Pigeon. Owners Gabriel Rucker and Andy Fortgang tapped him as chef de cuisine at Canard on day one. Look at where he is now! Busting out Buster Parfait send-ups.
On a recent phone call, I pried loose some of Daugherty's philosophy, Canard-ian and otherwise. Herewith:
Pine Nut Buster Parfait, the origin story: “Dairy Queen has been an inspiration for Canard since the beginning. Like a lot of things here, someone says something silly or a play on words and you start thinking, 'What would that be?' I've been mulling this for at least a year. Some friends gave (my wife and I) a jar of candied pinecones in syrup, which they found at the Kachka Lavka market. The idea started falling in place."
Length of time to master that luscious pine nut butter: “I never made it before,” Daugherty admits. His formula includes toasted pine nuts, cooked down in sweetened condensed milk, then blended into nut butter in a Vitamix.
On finding the missing link between hot fudge sauce and pine bud syrup: “We use Primitivizia Mugolio Pine Bud Syrup. It's special stuff. Like honey, it complements the bitterness of the dark chocolate and brings up the notes.”
Reaction to the coup de grace—a candied pinecone on top: “They're chewier than expected. No one has said a word.” Come on, Portland.
Pro tip for ordering a Peanut Buster Parfait at Dairy Queen: “It comes with hot fudge sauce, and peanuts. You have to ask for a peanut butter layer.”
Life goal: “The roadhouse ice cream and burger drive-thru is my favorite part of any road trip. Locally, my go-to is Mike's Drive In. It's exactly what you want. Aspirationally? A burger and shake shack I love called The Spot in Carpinteria (Calif.). It's one block from one of the most beautiful beaches on the West Coast. I'm from the beaches of Florida. Any restaurant goal for me is a burger spot on the water. Call it a good life.”