Fresh figs marry beautifully with goat cheese and rosemary, so I decided to combine them in a savory tart. I came up with this plan after my downstairs neighbor brought me a bucketful of figs — lush, plump and ultra flavorful — from her vacation place in Sardinia. Although it’s theoretically the height of fig season in France now, too, there’s been a dearth of homegrown figs this year, making me all the more grateful for the gift.
Tarte chèvre-figues-romarin / Goat cheese tart with figs and rosemary
Full disclosure: I actually came up with the idea behind this dish after spotting a similar tart at Picard, the exceptionally good French frozen-food chain. I didn’t buy it, prefering to experiment. And my first try was less than exceptional — I blended the goat cheese with Greek yogurt rather than the more typically French milk and crème fraîche, and the tart was a bit heavy. So I tried again, and came up with a formula for a light, full-flavored tart that my neighbor enjoyed when I brought it to her as a return gift. (I tasted it first.)
On my first go, I made the pastry myself, using the pâte brisée recipe from this site, as pictured at right. I served it to dinner guests as a first course, and the verdict was: too much pastry. So please don’t tell anyone about this, but on my second go I used store-bought savory dough, as pictured above — and it was fine.
This tart may be served as a starter or as a main dish at lunch, perhaps accompanied by a salad of tender leaves. Serve it warm for maximum flavor, and pair it with your favorite wine — a chilled rosé, a subtle red or a spicy white.
Meantime, I just received the latest newsletter from the writer Ann Mah, who’s been living in Hanoi for the past year. Ann’s newsletter comes out once a month, with charming vignettes on food, books and travel — when possible. In this issue, she paints a dire picture of life in Vietnam. Travel is impossible as the country is in strict lockdown. People are allowed out of their homes only to shop for food or go to the hospital — even going out for exercise or dog walking is banned. This month’s newsletter also includes fun facts like how people in other cultures say ‘I love you’ via food. To read more, click here.
The situation in Paris is far better, in fact practically back to normal, with cafés, restaurants, galleries, theaters, cinemas and swimming pools all open to anyone who can provide a vaccination certificate. This is thanks to President Macron’s excellent initiative aimed at boosting vaccination rates to improve collective immunity. The only other way to go out to dinner or a movie is to have a negative test result less than three days old. Tests have been free, but there will be a charge starting in mid-October — the hope being that this will inspire more people to get the vaccine.
It’s hard to believe that we have been masked for a year and a half, and even harder to consider that it’s likely to go on for a while, with experts now saying that the pandemic has become endemic. Thank goodness we can still take pleasure in beautiful food.
At left, the gifts from my neighbor: figs from her fig tree, her homemade fig jam (fabulous!), and a bottle of olive oil pressed from olives grown on her property.