While certain elements of popular culture might pass you by, it’s safe to say that you and your friends are up on New York dessert trends. You watched the Sex and the City-fueled rise of the cupcake, saw the explosion of funky fro-yo joints, and even waited in line for an hour just to get a bite of a Cronut. Now you’re at Rice to Riches in Nolita to find out: Is rice pudding the Next Big Thing?
Trying original desserts is a fun excuse to get together with your friends, so assemble at the oval-shaped storefront and get ready for some serious confectionary research. The playful look of this Spring Street shop makes it resemble a kids’ toy on a shelf, and the interior is a candy-colored wonderland. Here, you find that Rice to Riches has taken traditional rice pudding and kicked it up a whole bunch of notches. Decadent ingredients form flavors with cheeky names like Category 5 Caramel and Fluent in French Toast. The dense, porridge-like texture is still there, but the traditional recipe’s subtle sweetness has been bowled over in favor of in-your-face richness.
All 20-something of the day’s available flavors sound intriguing: Play it Again, Butter Pecan? Take me to Tiramisu? You want to shake the hand of whomever thought up these names. Now here comes the hard work. Not only do you have to decide on which flavors you want, you also have an entire bar full of topping choices to contend with. Everyone in the group is paralyzed with indecision until you step in with a bold compromise: You’ll order a multi-flavor serving dish to share.
Suddenly the outing becomes intensely collaborative — everyone huddles up to negotiate options, demonstrating more concentration and teamwork than they ever showed at the office. You end up with a couple of three-serving “Omni” plates to split, then grab one of the futuristic, gleaming-white tables, and dig in with gusto. Your favorite flavor turns out to be the fruity Pope Pina Colada II, topped with toasted coconut. You never knew rice pudding could taste so tropical.
You’re stuffed by the time you leave, but then you see that the giant, 5-person “Sumo” size is available for online delivery. Maybe you’ll serve rice pudding at your next event — it’d be a nice way to show how on-trend you are.