I suppose I must really like a challenge because, on the night that I made the bouillabaisse, I also attempted a famously difficult dessert: Lindsey Shere’s Almond Tart.
Lindsey Shere, in case you don’t know, helped open Chez Panisse in 1971 and stayed there as pastry chef until 1998. I first heard about her famous almond tart on my trip to San Francisco in 2007; I think it was at a place called Jojo in Oakland, with my friends Derrick and Melissa, that I first heard tell about it. The word “legendary” might’ve been applied.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No it’s me, The Amateur Gourmet, blogging to you live from Delta flight 2243, en route to Atlanta, Georgia.
Yes, this is an absolute first for me, my first blog post written from a plane. And I choose, as my subject matter, a dessert that I made back in December, before it got wicked cold out. And it’s a cold dessert so you might be thinking: why would we eat something from the freezer when it’s 0 degrees on the thermometer? Patience, people, I have my reasons.
So that dinner I made for my friend Alex’s birthday (the one with the soup) began a few days earlier when I e-mailed Alex a very important question: “Dear Alex,” I wrote, “what are your Top 5 favorite desserts of all time?”
Alex wrote back: “Hmmm…top five favorite desserts…I’ll do this w/o thinking too much: pecan pie, warm cake with cream cheese frosting, strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate lava cake, lemon cake.” Seeing as she did this stream-of-consciousness style, I had to trust that the first dessert she named was truly her favorite. Which is why I ended up making what turned out to be (in my opinion at least) the greatest pecan pie ever.
Delusional isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself. Sure, I have my flights of fancy and my exaggerated sense of what’s happening at any given moment, but am I so-out-of-touch that I deserve the “D” word? Doubtful!
But I was delusional on Saturday when I took a bunch of rhubarb–rhubarb that I’d purchased with Deb of Smitten Kitchen, issuing a challenge in the process (“Let’s have a contest to see who does the better thing with this rhubarb”)–and convinced myself that I could casually piece together a rhubarb pie. “I’m not gonna stress about it,” I said to myself. “I’ll be like a country grandmother and just make this pie happen.” There’s only one word for such a line of thought, especially when it comes to me and pie: it’s the D word.
Ok, I promise, this is it with the Meyer lemons. You’re sick of them–after this post, and that post–I know, I know. And when Lindy drew lemons (that sort of look like Meyer lemons) into my banner this month, who knew I’d be writing so much about them? Unless this was Lindy’s master plan? What if she works for the Meyer lemon industry? What if her banners are prophecies and whatever she draws in them comes true? What if next month’s banner features me…DEAD?! This is like an episode of the X-Files!
But even Mulder and Scully would tell me to come off it and just get to the recipe for that gorgeous-looking pie in the lead photo.
[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today is British Guest Poster Day! Our first guest poster is a very sweet lad and reader of this blog, Edd Kimber, who I met for lunch at Prune a month or two ago. Now he’s got a fancy blog of his own called He-Eats and his photography is pretty exquisite. Take it away, Edd!]
When Adam asked me if I would like to do a guest post I jumped at the chance. About an hour after I said yes though, I began to panic wondering, “what on earth am I going to write about”. My site is mainly recipes, mostly baking, so I knew I should probably stick to that. I also thought that as a guy from England I should probably bake something that represented where I’m from, and show a regional specialty.
Ok, let’s play a game, a game called: marry, boink, kill. (Note: “boink” is the G-rated version). Usually you play this game using celebrities (who would you marry, boink, or kill: George Clooney, George Stephanopoulos, Boy George.) Today, however, we’re going to play this game with pastry. Are you ready? Marry, boink, or kill: pies, tarts & crostatas.
Some of us have Oedipal complexes, others have Electra complexes, but very few of us have a complex based on apple pie. Allow me to lay on your therapist’s couch for a moment: I have a serious pie issue. My apple pie is inadequate–it comes from Martha Stewart–and though it often inspires a happy nod and a fleeting smile, it rarely induces the kind of exaltation that comes when Craig’s dad–who we’ll call “Steve” because that’s his name–makes his signature apple pie.
What is it that makes his pie so good? Why do my pies never measure up? On a recent visit to Bellingham, Washington–home of “Steve”–I decided to solve this mystery once and for all. What follows are the closely-guarded secrets of Steve’s Signature Apple Pie; a pie that I finally recreated at home to much acclaim–so much acclaim that I don’t need this therapy anymore. How much do I owe you?