Sunday, June 12, 2005

Brag, Boast, Crow!

Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
One of the best things I’ve ever eaten was an onion tart thing that I found in a bakery in Italy’s Maritime Alps. Whenever my Italy trip comes up in conversation, I never fail to mention the divine onion tart—for going on 10 years now. B, for one, is probably getting heartily sick of hearing about it, but it was really just that extraordinarily good and memorable. It deserves to be canonized: St. Onion Tart the Delectable.

The photo shown here is not, in fact, the legendary onion tart, but my own re-creation of it. Now, as I have mentioned before, baked goods of this caliber are not often sighted in my kitchen or, if they are, they were made by someone other than myself. Yeasty things daunt me, you see. However, when I was browsing through the cookbooks at the library last week, I found Anne Gardon’s Comfort Food Fast, which contained a photo of what looked almost exactly like the vaunted onion tart of the Alpi Marittime. I knew I had to attempt it--yeastophobia be damned!

It turns out that the tart in Gardon's book is a traditional French dish called a pissaladière.* I’m pretty sure it is what I had in Italy since the Maritimes are so close to France. I was really psyched to try making it, even though I do not possess culinary conveniences like a dough hook or a food processor. I cut up all 8 (!) large onions by hand and used a wooden spoon and elbow grease to prepare the dough. I’m sure it took me two to three times longer than it would take most people. The results, however (crow, crow, crow!!!!), were fabulous! The crust is just as light and crisp as can be and miraculously unsoggy--I can hardly believe it! And the onion-olive topping--scrummy! The caramelized onions and the salty black olives provide a really nice, full-flavored contrast. It is absolutely the very most perfect thing to take on a hike and eat while surveying an unbroken expanse of forested mountain ridges in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness—infinitely better than the usual peanut butter sandwich. And it travels well! And it is wonderful reheated! And it’s magnificent straight out of the fridge! I just can’t say enough good things about it. (You see how aptly titled this post is.) I may now be able to finally stop talking about that tart I ate 10 years ago, now that I have one I can actually take credit for. Expect to hear about it for the next 20 years--at least!

* This totally sounds like something Jamie would make (and probably has made). Had I been able to predict last week that I was going to get it into my head to make a pissaladière, I would have offered to guest blog at her site (since she is away at the moment), where this post would seem a lot less out of place.


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