We all have our favorite restaurants. And we all have our favorite dishes at those restaurants. As I’ve mentioned here before, my all-time favorite restaurant is Fore Street, in Portland, Maine. It also happens to be my husband’s favorite restaurant, which is fortuitous. Such things ensure long and happy marriages.
We do not agree, however, on what qualifies as Fore Street’s greatest dish. For me, it’s definitely the warm chocolate souffle cake. For him, it’s the tarte tatin. The problem is, their menu changes every day, and you never know if the tarte tatin will be available. Last summer, we stopped in at the restaurant one afternoon to inquire whether the tarte tatin would be on the menu that evening. The host said she really didn’t know, but she’d check for us. Two minutes later, out walks this short, furry, ponytailed, tattoed fellow.
“Were you asking about the tarte tatin?” he said.
“Yes,” my husband stammered, totally thrown by this turn of events.
“Do you want a tarte tatin tonight?”
“Yes,” said my husband, deer in the headlights.
“How about a tarte tatin with nectarines and golden cherries?”
“Yes,” said robot boy.
“Cool,” he said, and walked back into the kitchen.
Dave turned to the host and asked, “Who was that man?”
“Oh, I thought you knew. That’s our pastry chef,” she said.
Dave walked back out into the street, shook off his trance, then did a little jig with joy. “The pastry chef at Fore Street is making a tarte tatin with nectarines and golden cherries just for me!” I let him celebrate for a minute, then reminded him that we have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old and no babysitter for that evening. This reminder did nothing to dampen his spirits. “It’s about time they tried the tarte tatin!” he crowed.
And they did. My daughter still talks about the tarte tatin, and its accompanying scoop of apricot sorbet, to this day. The other diners in the bar area that night probably still talk about the preschooler and toddler who shared their space for one surprisingly peacable hour of tarte tatin heaven.
Every year, at the end of the summer, I promise to make a tarte tatin for Dave. And every year, I become daunted by the prospect of trying to create a dessert that has been done to perfection at Fore Street. So it’s with great relief that I was tasked with making a tarte tatin for Tuesdays with Dorie to celebrate the group’s 2nd anniversary of baking together. (It also, coincidentally, marks the first-year anniversary of my blog!)
This tarte tatin is something special. I’m not saying it rivals the short, furry, ponytailed, tattooed guy’s version, but for a homemade tart using frozen puff pastry and store-bought ice cream, it is utterly delicious. Oh, and I made it earlier in the day, then reheated it, which is expressly forbidden in Dorie’s marginal comments. She says the tarte tatin must be eaten within the hour. I believe that, but I can also promise that it’s extremely good after that hour has passed. The apples were perfectly soft, with a rich layer of caramel flowing around them, all surrounded by a lightly crispy, chewy crust. The ice cream is critical, and I’m already excited to make this again with homemade cinnamon or salted caramel or even just plain vanilla.
Thanks to our fearless leader, Laurie of Slush, for choosing this tarte tatin. Tuesdays with Dorie members were torn between the tarte tatin and a cocoa buttermilk cake this week, so I actually had an option (and an out). But I’m so glad I finally made the tarte tatin. It will be a regular part of the dessert rotation here. You can find the recipe here or on pp. 312-313 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.