Tarte Tatin: Memories of My Maman

apple tart

Tarte Tatin has been popular worldwide since its birth at Jean Tatin hotel since its creation in the late 1800’s.   Jean Tatin opened his hotel (l’Hotel Tatin) in the 1800’s.  In 1888 his two daughters Caroline and Stéphanie took over when he passed away.  Caroline managed the books while Stéphanie cooked.  From morning to night, she worked in her kitchen.  She was a great and gifted cook but not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth.

The sisters were always busy during hunting season and their restaurant was exceedingly popular. One day, Stéphanie, running late because she had been flirting with a handsome hunter, rushed into the kitchen, threw the apples, butter and sugar in a pan and then rushed out to help with the other duties. The odor of caramel filled the kitchen, Stéphanie realized she’d forgotten the apple tart, but what could she do now? She decides to put the pàte brisée on top of the apples, pops the pan in the stove to brown a bit more and then turns it upside down to serve. Raves of delight emanate from the dining room. The story continues a bit from that first day. Curnonsky, the famous gastronome of the time, hears about the Tarte and declares it a marvel. Word of this new gastronomic delight reaches Paris. Maxim’s owner hears about it and he decides he must have the recipe.  He supposedly sent a cook/spy, disguised as a gardener, to Lamotte-Beuvron to discover the secret. The spy is successful, brings the recipe back to Maxim’s, and it has been on the menu of that famous restaurant ever since.  Our version features fresh California figs which currently are in season.

Figue Tarte Tatin│ Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Chef François de Mélogue

 Yield: 10” tart

ingredients:

¾ c.                Sugar

¼ c.                Butter

15                    Figs cut in half

1                      Orange, zested

1 pinch          Cinnamon

1 recipe         Tarte Tatin Dough

Directions:

In a heavy gauged pan, preferably a 10” cast iron pan, caramelize sugar and butter.  Add zested orange and cinnamon.  Arrange fig halves in pan.  Top with dough, tuck in edges around the sides and then bake in a 500˚ oven till the dough is golden brown, about ten to fifteen minutes.  Let cool slightly then flip over onto plate, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Tarte Tatin Dough

 Ingredients:

12 oz.             All Purpose Flour

¾ t.                  Salt

1 t.                   Baking Powder

½ pound       unsalted Butter

½ c.                ice cold Water

 

Directions:

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.  Cut the butter into small cubes and mix into the flour mixture.  You’ll know it’s mixed in correctly when it looks like coarse corn meal.  Add just enough ice cold water to make a dough.  You want to be very careful NOT to over mix the dough or else it will be tough.  Flour develops gluten which acts very similarly to a muscle.  It’s what gives our bread and pastries structure.  Let the dough rest for one full hour, or overnight.  Roll the dough out to a 12” circle.

Aswah008

49 Years Old… Damn, how did I get here?

dj red foo

Another one of these short posts…  49?  How the hell did I get here?  I still feel 18 years old till (a) I try to get out of bed and (b) I look in the mirror.  Tonight could not have been better than it was.  Our opening party and we (that is my kitchen staff), totally fucking crushed it.  We had so many obstacles, first a kitchen that was supposed to be done and ready to roll, then a one day approval that failed on the day of the event…  three menu rewrites…  Through that my entire kitchen staff held the faith and towed the line.  To each and every one of them I am beyond thankful.  To my sous chef Alex Hernandez and to guest chef John Villalba, undying love and affection and big thanks.  A chef can never claim to stand on his own two feet without the support of their sous chefs.  They truly are the unsung heroes of the kitchen world.  Tonight we did an amazing opening party for a children’s benefit with tennis superstars, Hollywood stars and the good natured customers who support these events.  I came home to a beautiful wifey with an amazing cocktail in hand…  I should mention Debbie Wolvos, photographer goddess supreme gave me an amazing Chateau Margaux 1989 as a birthday gift… Wow, age 49, has my life finally peaked?

Opening Party Desert Smash 2013 11

Asparagus Puree, Crunchy Brioche, 1,000 Year Old Olive Oil

Where the Olives End…

It is said, the Mediterranean Ends

Where the Greeks stopped planting Olive Trees…

From the gracious reception welcoming you to Figue through the last, lingering bite of a seductive dessert, ‘sharing’ is the thread that unites the Figue experience. The sofa we enjoy unique cocktails on, the shared quartinos of wine to complement the array of enticing aromas served with loving detail on colorful small plates, to the long sharing tables where we can make new friends and taste the cuisine of the azure waters of the Mediterranean.  Figue is the place for sharing.

The menu of Figue is the story of the Mediterranean. It is the shared history of conquest, immigration and exploration, each wave bringing far off ingredients, cooking techniques and a cultural melding of the peoples. Savor sensations inspired by the ancient Romans who shared the art of salting and curing meats and fish, to the Moors who spread the habit of sharing many small dishes to the modern cuisines of France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Greece and the Middle East. Each culture shared their knowledge, wisdom and cultural preferences to create the world’s first fusion cuisine.

Figue: Where the Olive Trees end and the Tradition lives on!

lente 25

Figue: Opening Menu

 

“The Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most colorful and vibrant in the world, providing sensual dishes flavored with wild herbs gathered from the hillsides; lamb and chicken are often roasted whole over coals; vegetables are abundant and used in a wide variety of soups, bakes and salads.”

The menu of Figue is the story of the Mediterranean.  The history of food and culture is one of conquerors, immigrants and trade.  Each wave brought far off ingredients and cooking techniques and a melding of the peoples.  For example, Provence has a long history of being colonized by foreigners. Early Ligurian and Celt tribes intermarried with the local people.  Phoenician galleys brought Greek traders and eventually founded a trade post in Massalia, the future city of Marseille. The Greeks gave Provence olives and grapes.  The expansion of olive groves and civilization went hand and hand with the expansion of the Greeks and Phoenicians. It has been said that the Mediterranean ends where olives cease to grow.    The Romans came to help protect the besieged Greeks.  Eventually claiming the region as theirs and forming ‘Provincia’, the first Roman Provence outside of Italy.  The Romans built some of their greatest cities, Nîmes, Arles and Orange.  Anchoïade, the sauce made from Anchovies, Garlic and Olive Oil is a close cousin to the famed Roman sauce Garum.  Salt cod came from the Romans.  The Moors at one point controlled 3/4 of the Mediterranean.  Only the Roman Empire reached further.  The invading Moors brought the habit of serving many small vegetable appetizers as well as a preference of saffron flavored rice to potatoes. They introduced lamb, eggplant and almonds.  Many of Marseille’s residents are descendants of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and North Africa. Marseille was also a major resettlement point for former colonists who returned to Europe when Algeria became independent in 1962.

The cuisine and culture of the people continued to be influenced by galleys that sailed to distant outposts in the Far East and North Africa. Marseilles and other Mediterranean ports were major points on the trade route. Trade route brought exotic ingredients like saffron, olives, tomatoes, salt cod, eggplants, peppers and many other staples to Provence.  Immigrants and ship crews brought different techniques and recipes.   Salted codfish from the New World was being eaten in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and other nations. Tomatoes from the Americas became an important part of the diet.  Arab traders brought various fruits and vegetables. Each culture left their own unique imprint on the people, culture and gastronomy of the Mediterranean.

The countries surrounding the Sea share the blue azure waters, temperate climates with hot summers and mild winters.  Each country grows and raises products loyal to the seasons, artichokes, squash, fennel and a bounty of wild mushrooms in the Fall; lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits in the Winter; asparagus, radishes, lettuces in Springs; and the bounty of tomatoes, eggplants, onions, garlic in the Summer.

The menu at Figue will capture the spirit and sensibilities in an American way.  Less locked into the cultural dogmas and more focused on the vibrancy of the experience…

 

Chef Francois de Melogue

 

 

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Below is my charcuterie card that will be on each table and in the bar area…

Figue Dinner Menu December  2012 Charcuterie Card

 

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