Once upon a time, whenever my thoughts turned to tarte Tatin, I imagined caramelized apples brazenly displayed apple-side up on buttery pastry. However, my Tatin gestalt forever changed when I ordered an onion tart at Trails, a simple bakery/cafe at the foot of my favorite hike in Griffith Park. It was a warm day and the assumption of a cool, custardy quiche seemed like perfect pre-hike sustenance. However, what emerged from the kitchen was a tart of an altogether different order: a perfectly crisp, savory tarte Tatin.
Los Angeles is in the middle of an early season heat wave. Which means our meals, at least in the short-term, will move to the patio. To be more specific, they’ll move from the over-heated kitchen to a table under a shady tree, where we can eat in the open air and still be protected from the glare of the sun.
When eating outdoors I refuse to do battle with individually plated portions. It’s way too warm to carry a multitude of perfectly composed plates from kitchen to garden. Besides, 90s-style formal dining is quite passé. When dining al fresco I prefer a more communal approach of passing food around the table from person to person – each taking what they want.
Savory Tarte Tatin with Spiced Carrots and Feta
A vegetable tart (even the traditionally cool weather savory tarte Tatin) works well for this type of shared meal: it’s terrific served at room temperature, it makes an impressive presentation, and it’s highly portable. These are the qualities I look for in casual patio dining.
Also, a savory tarte Tatin is extremely flexible. The inspiration may have come from the colorful rings of a red onion version, but there are countless other combinations to consider. Zucchini comes to mind as do root vegetables. So when I saw scads of colorful carrots (sized just right for a 10-inch savory tarte Tatin) at the Hollywood Farmers Market I decided to bring a Carrot Tarte Tatin in all its uncut glory to my patio table. What better way to beat the heat than to pass a platter for everyone to slice as much Tatin as they like then pass it on to the next person. A dish to get everyone talking and, above all, sharing. GREG