THE Lemon Tart

May 10, 2008

Randy (my husband) and I are heading to some friends’ house for dinner tonight and I was asked to make dessert. This is a common request when I offer to bring something because most people we know don’t bake and they know I love to. Our sweet friend Regan said he is inspired to cook a spring dinner (although the weather in Seattle hasn’t exactly been spring-like) and I when I think spring I think lemon.

In my experience, if you are going to make a dessert that you want everyone to like, either make chocolate, lemon or apple. I have never had someone refuse a bite of anything from one of those three families. People have opinions about rhubarb, cherries, even ginger, but everyone loves a lemon tart, an apple pie, or a chocolate cake. I have made many lemon tarts in my day but the best one by far is from the Tartine cookbook and that’s the one I will be making today.

I first tried it out on my family during a Hanumass (my family is Jewish but Randy and my sister-in-law are not) dinner. My brother Alex is among the best eaters I know. He went from being a VERY picky kid who would only eat rice, yogurt, and apple juice to an adult who will eat anything except mushrooms and artichoke hearts. It’s actually a huge bummer that those are the two things he has decided to not like because I love both of them and mushrooms are a big part of vegetarian cooking. Anyway, not only does he love almost all food, but he loves a lot of it and is very enthusiastic about every mouthful. He is not a big dessert eater unless that dessert is in the lemon family and then he goes nuts. So I decided, in honor of him, to try out this new lemon tart and I swear he ate half the tart himself. Needless to say, this became my go-to tart and everyone who has tasted it loves it.

Speaking of dessert, Randy and I had a good one at Trellis last night – a rhubarb strawberry pie with creme fraiche sorbet. I actually don’t love pie but Randy does and this was a nice one. The fruit was that perfect blend of tart and sweet and the crust was good and not soggy. It was a lovely date. Dinner was…fine. I was impressed that prices were so low – my salad was $6. When was the last time you paid $6 for a salad at a fancy-ish restaurant? My entree was (drum roll please…) pasta. Now it was a nice, obviously homemade spinach ravioli with a yummy tangle of spinach on top. There were also some tomatoes that had been cooked down (roasted?) that gave the dish some needed acidity. But why oh why does it always have to be pasta?? I have nothing against pasta – actually I love the stuff, but there are many more inspired veg dishes out there. Overall the menu was good, very simple clean-sounding food. Randy had a “wine country platter” as an appetizer that came with this delicious red onion marmelade that paired beautifully with bleu cheese. I think that is going on my menu for the week after next.

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