Monday, August 21, 2006

Small World And Dessert ...

A couple weeks ago, I found out that a woman I used to work with in our Thomson days lives on the next block! It's some crazy kind of world we live in that we've never run into each other at the grocery store or the dry cleaners or any other neighborhood haunt. No, it took a mutual friend and a Thomson reunion to connect our dots.

So tonight was the night to reconnect. She invited me over for dinner and put me in charge of wine and dessert. All righty. Now, let's see: I make spectacular brownies, I make a bazillion kinds of cookies, cheesecake, layer cake, tortes, pies. So, of course, I decided to make something I'd never made before. Now, everyone knows that if you're going to try a recipe for the first time, you don't try it out for any kind of occasion. You make it for no reason and if it's inedible, you foist it on your immediate family or toss it in the yard for the critters.

I decided to make a rustic tart. What kind of tart would be determined by what kind of ripe fruit I found at the store. When I got there, nothing appealed to me except the apples. So, rustic apple tart it was. For good measure, I added toasted walnuts, some vanilla, and lemon zest. Two kinds of apples. And a recipe for foolproof pastry dough.

Foolproof, my ass. As written and prepared, there was no way this dough was going to yield anything resembling a crust. I eventually rolled it out and cut leaf shapes out of it and baked it off, figuring it might be good for garnish. And then I hauled out my tried-and-true recipe for pie crust and made a recipe I knew would work.

Yup, like a charm. Here's the result: This is a slightly arty shot of it. There's only so much I can do with existing sun for lighting a shot. The cleaner shot of it is at the end of this entry, but I took it when it was still cooling, and a cooling rack ain't sexy. Still, it's a pretty, pretty thing, my rustic apple tart.

I plopped a chilled bottle of pinot grigio and a pint of vanilla ice cream in my nifty insulated shoulder bag and hopped in the car, yes, to drive to a house less than a mile away. But I had a dessert to transport. Driving made sense. I was having a bit of trouble figuring out which door I should approach. "Hello?" I said through the open back door. No answer. I walked around to the front. Clearly, the front door wasn't used, as suggested by the volume of scattered newspapers that are delievered but apparently not read. I wandered back around back. There was another door next to the open door, but it was closed. "Debbie?" I called through the open door.

"Come on in!" she said. So I did. She met me in the back hall for hugs. We weren't best friends in our Thomson days, but I always liked her. We'd have interesting chats in the kitchen, avoiding work. We shared red hair in those days. I've since moved on. Turns out, she hasn't. But it never suited me, and it looks great on her.

She was cutting brie into the pasta sauce when I arrived, so she continued on. We chatted while she stirred, I opened wine. We plated salad and moved out to the deck. Lovely. As Gemma would say, the temperature where there is no temperature. Normally, in groups, I'm the person who rarely speaks. I sit back and take it all in. But with only two people, it's hard to be entirely mute, thouh it felt a bit strange to speak so much.

We moved onto the pasta, along with a massive loaf of garlic bread. But not the garlic bread you're thinking of; no, this is bread with whole cloves of roasted garlic inside. Carbohydrate heaven. And more wine.

The daylight waned and we bussed the table. Debbie scored a Diet Coke out of the fridge, I got a glass of water, and she gave me a tour. I love her house. It's fabulous. Actually, decor-wise, it's a lot like mine. Me 'n' Debbie got a lot in common. Planted in her den, we sat on opposite loveseats and chatted some more. Time was ticking away. But we made time for dessert. It was, happily, quite good. Would have been better warmed, but neither of us was complaining.

And now, of course, we'll see each other at the store all the time.

(Work Pal Kelley thinks I should start taking orders and make these for Thanksgiving, the first step in my baking empire! When the cookie story is published, I'll share the image from that photo shoot, too. I saw a PDF of the page today. The layout is fab.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmm... if you do start taking orders for Thanksgiving, I will definitely take one. Looks fabulous!

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

Insulated shoulder bags are a MUST here in TX. Best $7 we ever spent. (Note: I don't actually walk around with it slung over my shoulder, I use it to store cold/frozen items while driving the "swing route" between grocery stores in what has been daily 100F heat.)

8:54 AM  

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