The best memories are made almost always by accident – stumbling upon a quiet beach while on holiday, running into interesting people who have intriguing stories to share and finding surprisingly delicious food in places where you go in with no expectations. That last one has happened to us many a time. One such instance was when we were out in Dublin on a Saturday, found ourselves starving and decided to try out a rather nondescript restaurant called ‘Penang’ located on central O’Connell Street. It was the name and the menu that attracted us. While the interiors won’t blow you away and it is definitely not the place you’d go to for a romantic dinner, the food is simple yet scrumptious and good value for money.
The first time I ever made a tarte tatin was during my one-month cooking course in Dublin. We made it from scratch including the pastry. Flipping the tart out of the pan onto a plate was quite an anxious moment. I remember we did it in turns with everybody standing around the person whose turn it was, cheering them on. We were a small close-knit group of just 7 people so it wasn’t nerve-wracking to have people around you while you were hoping that it didn’t turn out into a major fiasco.
It was simply the best tarte tatin we’d ever tasted – flaky pastry topped with sweet golden caramelised apples, simply heaven! Although I’ve made an upside down cake a couple of times since then, I’ve never tried my hand at a tarte tatin since that very first attempt.
Yep, you read that right. It is indeed a cake that has blue cheese in it and it is not a savoury one either. I came across this recipe in a book I bought recently on Auvergne cuisine. It is a small book full of recipes for dishes you’ll find in any local eatery here. Having lived here for a decent amount of time over the last year, we’re both totally in love with this region of France. As we keep reading more about its history and explore more of the local cuisine, it only keeps getting interesting.
I’d actually made these tarts to use up some of the rich ripe early summer strawberries from the in-laws’ garden a while ago. It never made it here mainly because I was pretty annoyed with the pastry shells that shrank on baking (again!) and wanted to get it absolutely right the next time. Of course, I never got around to making these tarts again and they did actually taste great with a filling of creamy creme patissiere topped with luscious deep red strawberries.
So as the last few days of summer go by, I found myself reminisicing of the fun we had with all those strawberries and since this one’s quite a handy recipe for a make ahead dessert, I thought why not share it here. To make it even better, the original Michel Roux Jr. recipe calls for the use of a variety of fruits. So you see, you can make these tarts any time of the year with whatever fruit you have handy!