The Best Tarte Tatin is on Rue Tatin
Monday, March 13, 2006
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DINNER AT CHEZ JENNY
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At historical Chez Jenny, “an authentic Brasserie with a soul, a style and a history.” Includes apéritif, three-course dinner, wine and coffee plus guest speakers and presentation by DAVID DOWNIE and ALISON HARRIS, authors of “PARIS, PARIS: JOURNEY INTO THE CITY OF LIGHT.” Signed copies of the book will be available.
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
When we entered number 1 rue Tatin in the town of Louviers, chef and author Susan Herrmann Loomis declared she needed help peeling the apples for the Tarte Tatin she was making us for dessert. There were 12 of us who had signed up for the day with her, to learn a few of her best cooking techniques, taste her handiwork in the kitchen and visit her centuries-old half-timbered home in the old Normandy town.
I quickly volunteered and then just as quickly broke a piece off one of the precious Normandy apples ruining Susan’s perfect design. Okay, okay…so I don’t make such a great sous-chef…and even more quickly left the rest of the peeling and coring to one of the others.
Susan showed us how to arrange the apples for a perfect Tarte Tatin and advised using the best apples you can find — one secret to a France’s best dessert.
The apples bubbled away on the stove in a big round copper pan, and while I basted them regularly with butter as they cooked, they caramelized and softened. We toasted with apple cider, tasted six different kinds of salt, and swooned over baked oysters with butter and pear sherry. Once the oyster liquor drippings had been cleared off the marble counter of rue Tatin’s luxurious country kitchen, Susan demonstrated how to make the tart’s buttery, flaky pastry using a Cuisinart instead of her bare hands and rolling it out thin, cutting it into a perfect circle.
In the oven the pie baked and we dined at one long table on chicken tajine with honeyed apples and orange flower water, braised Brussel sprouts, crisp fresh salad of mache, and an assortment of Normandy cheeses with both white and red wines in the charming dining room with a view on the Gothic church. This may be described here in one sentence, but it was really two full hours of gastronomic pleasure.
Then came the Tarte Tatin to top off the magnificent meal.
If you don’t know what a Tarte Tatin is, then think of it as France’s equivalent to the American apple pie, but upside down, and as much of an iconographic symbol of the nation’s culinary accomplishments.
The story goes that in 1888 at the Hotel Tatin in the Sologne region, deceased proprietor Jean Tatin’s two daughters, Stéphanie and Caroline, took over the management of the hotel. Caroline naturally took the roll as business manager while Stéphanie managed the kitchen. “From morning to night, she worked at her ovens with her copper pans. She was a particularly fine cook but was not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth. One day during the hunting season, during the midday scramble, Stéphanie placed her tart in the oven the wrong way round. The pastry and apples were upside-down but, nevertheless, she served this strange dessert without giving it time to cool.” (http://www.tarte-tatin.com/)
France has never been the same since. Tarte Tatin can be found on just about every menu and I taste it everywhere I go. Finding the best one became a little sport long ago when I started taste-testing restaurants for the Leeds Good Value Guide. And I can positively assert that Susan’s upside-down apple tart is world-class — absolutely the best Tarte Tatin I’ve ever had the pleasure of savoring, served of course with rich fresh Normandy crème fraiche. We all agreed and licked our plates clean.
It was a memorable day and a memorable meal in the country that we couldn’t have had anywhere else but France. Both Susan Loomis’ cooking courses and her Tarte Tatin is just a reservation or a recipe away, so maybe you should try your hand at the best Tarte Tatin France has ever known…made by an American, no less!
Thanks to Susan’s generosity, here it is for all to enjoy:
To learn more about Susan Herrmann Loomis and her “seductive” cooking On Rue Tatin, visit http://www.onruetatin.com or e-mail mailto:email@example.com and be sure to let Susan know you’re a Parler Paris Reader!
A la prochaine…
P.S. Be sure to join us for tomorrow’s Parler Paris Après Midi from 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information. See you there!
P.P.S. Parler Parlor’s 8th Anniversary was celebrated with a huge turn-out, delicious crèp
es and lots of fun! See pictures at http://www.parlerparlor.com/events.html
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…it remains comforting to know that a Paris forum is waiting for your work, that a community of listeners and equal interest friends are relatively easy to locate once you have arrived. Furthermore, the community here has always had its distinguishing qualities which separate it from those similar gatherings in other big-city locations. Many Paris-based writers often remark, however generally, on the accepting nature of the community, the lack of commercial-based competition replaced by support, open-minded experimentalism, and an undiluted commitment to the art itself – qualities which have been characteristic to the Paris expatriate community since the start of the twentieth-century and are less evident in larger communities, such as New York, where the sheer number and lack of a tangible commonality (i.e. foreignness) tends to create a less homogenous and accessible group. The relative accessibility and smallness of the community, qualities which one can assume have not really changed throughout each generation, are truly warm welcomes….
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Leeds Marais Guest Room or Entire Two-Bedroom Apartment
Available in its entirety May 19 – 30, 2006
Located in a 17th century Le Marais Hotel Particulier, this 70 square meter two-bedroom apartment with lots of light is nicely furnished and is perfect for a single woman in the freshly renovated guest room when owner Adrian Leeds is in or for up to 4 people when she’s traveling.
Pictures and more details available here: Marais Guest Room or Entire Apartment href="/parlerparis/apartments/rentals/leeds.html">/parlerparis/apartments/rentals/leeds.html
APARTMENT RENTAL Coming soon…Parler Paris Apartments rental representation at ParlerParisApartments.com. If you have a property ín Paris you’d like to keep booked and represented properly, please email Parler Paris Apartments at Apartments@AdrianLeeds.com for more information.
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The Best Tarte Tatin is on Rue Tatin
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