The gift of travel is truly something to be grateful for. How crazy is it that we get onto a plane that carries us through the sky and plops us down in another land billions and trillions of miles away? (mentally speaking, of course) Last month allotted us god’s gift to holidays here in Israel; Passover. A time in which my little cafe chooses to close and most Israelis get off their butts and go somewhere for the especially long week of vacation time.
We knew when booking this trip that we had two stops to make: Paris & Berlin.
We flew to Paris first. Paris! you sweet city of cheeses and meats, with your cake-like buildings and cobblestone streets, every detailed iron railing and perfectly potted plant screams of charm and beauty. Paris; I’m smitten as a kitten with you and I want to go back to your warm (but chilly) embraces.
We were greeted by our sweet-pea friends Mary and Cedric who wined, dined and divined us the whole time we crashed in perfectly decorated Parisian living quarters. We met Mary in one of life’s many fortuitous chances. She is brains and beauty, wit and charm, with a sweet side of sassy. And Cedric is her match made in heaven.
Udi and I delighted ourselves in their fridge stocked with plated cheeses and tiny french greens for munching. I wish all friends and hosts could take a lesson from these two, and if they did it would go something like this: Lesson 1; be sure your guests are greeted with a full spread for brunch including but not limited to local pastries and croissants. Lesson 2; be sure your guests always have a glass of wine available to them. Lesson 3; be sure your guests like to eat pork and non kosher products as it will make your life easier when shopping and cooking for them.
While we spent our days traipsing around the city admiring the architecture and gawking at every Parisians’ seemingly effortless style, we hungered for all the delectable things we could get our hands on. We ate flaky croissants with our morning coffee without an ounce of guilt. Our stomachs guided us in and out of eateries – and we were grateful that in this city the chances of falling into some place magnificent are pretty high. Our good luck allowed us to dine over big steaming bowls of kimchi ramen, super succulent burgers with running red juices, baguette with ham, afternoon hot chocolates, delicately seared tuna, and with the help our hosts and friends we ate a classic french dinner floral tablecloth and all.
The best part about traveling is creating and believing the fantasy that you actually live there. We did this by jumping on the metro as if we’d been commuting this city all our lives, picking up wine on your way home from a long day, sitting at a cafe for a coffee and people watching, it all makes you feel present and in the moment.
For our French feast Mary arranged for some of the quintessential items of any French household. This meant beef bourguignon, gratin dauphinois, salad of mache and mushrooms, a full on cheese course after the meal, and an apple tarte tatin. All executed to a ‘T’ with grace and poise. Mary my dear, you are my new idol of dinner parties and we can’t thank you and Cedric and all our friends in Paris for showing us a wonderful time. We are planning our return as soon as possible…
150 grams butter cold cut into small cubes
180 grams flour
1 tablespoon sugar
splash of cold water
100 grams butter
1 cup white sugar
7 apples peeled, and cut into quarters
Start by forming your dough. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and add the butter in with your fingers. Work the butter into the flour so that the mixture resembles coarse sand. Dump the contents onto the counter in a mound and make a well for the egg. Crack the egg in and carefully begin mixing in the dough starting with the inner walls. Add a splash of water and continue mixing until you have a dough that can be worked and kneaded on the counter. Work the dough for a minute before wrapping it in plastic and placing in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting take your pan to the stove and begin by melting sugar and butter letting it bubble for a few minutes while stirring. this part could take some finessing ( i caught Mary’s oven mit on fire!) so be careful. It should darken in color and thicken to the consistency of caramel after about 7 or 8 minutes.
Lay your apples in the pan, concentric circles if possible, being sure to tuck apples into any and all gaps.
Roll out your crust using a bit of extra flour to coat the counter and the rolling-pin until you have formed a circles just bigger than your tart pan. Lay the dough over top of the apples and caramel, carefully tuck the dough under (do not burn your fingers!) and pinch the crust along the edge to keep everything inside.
Bake on a cookie sheet to catch any drips for 25 minutes at 160 C until crust is nicely golden.
Once you remove it from the oven prepare for the flipping part. Run a knife along the edge of the crust to ensure it’s loosened. Place a large plate on top of the tart and carefully flip the whole mess, it will be hot and cumbersome the first time you do this and after that you will get the hang of it. If any apples stick to the pan, have no fear – you can just pinch them out and place them in their designated place.
Serve with vanilla ice cream if you know what’s good for you.