Making the Orange-Almond Tart for this week’s French Friday’s with Dorie assignment brought to mind an ex-boyfriend of mine from many years back. I hadn't thought much about him in a long time but just like this frenchie tart, he was a bit fussy and, once all put together, not quite right. The comparison is furthered by my recollections of the many and excessive steps and preparations required in order for him to be “ready”. More steps than ideally necessary, I would have to say. Final reviews and inspections would usually reveal at least one thing that was a wee bit wrong leaving the final product not as perfect as you would otherwise expect so much trouble to create. Going to a friend's house for dinner at 8 required the 'get ready' process to begin at 3 -- and this would only possible if outfit choices and the requisite laundry operations were completed the day prior. Final sartorial options were laid out and ironed should they eventually be called into active duty.
The personal grooming routine was as endless as the individual steps in this tart. How many individual starts and stops should a grooming regime require anyway for a simple night out? Shower, cleanse, exfoliate, shave, face mask, cleanse again, tone. The hair routine alone had its own list of steps involving a similar sounding list of ingredients. "Tonic","pomade", gel, and “finishing spray”. Once body and face were properly cleansed and moisturized cologne was applied and final outfit choices were applied. Phew! How exhausting. Just like this tart.
Its not that this ex of mine was really a bad guy. Like this tart, the stuff in the middle was abundantly decent if often unwilling or unable to show itself through its slightly affected crust, er, manner. We all have our quirks, right? This guy certainly had more than his share of them. The discovery of each one made it increasingly difficult to see past to his sweet filling. He wasn't hard to look at either. Sigh. In fact, many would take a look and say "mmmm". Just like this tart. And yet something just wasn't right! This would often provoke those around him to try to take a closer inspection or even a taste. The shirt a bit too loud? Perhaps he is just slightly eccentric. Too much cologne? Often. Uneven side burns? Yup. Usually. You have to wonder how a person with such a detailed grooming routine wouldn't insist on making everything perfect. Do you think he just didn't know?
The erratic and unpredictable final product would often have me wondering whether or not the payoff was worth the lengthy routine at all? If all that routine still couldn't showcase him at his best why bother with it at all? (Obviously, since we are no longer together, I ultimately decided not to. Bother with him that is.)
Unlike my ex, whom I have managed to avoid for over a decade, I have been frequently running up against another of my former somewhat complicated relationships; one which also also failed to avoid perfection despite the meticulous attention to detail it recieves: Crust. WTF? Perhaps its not the tart but rather the crust that is drawing my mind to make these comparisons with Whatshisname? All those damn steps and procedures resulting in stunning mediocrity! Cold butter, cold egg, rolling, freezing, oiling, foiling, weighing down and finally, baking. Then, uncovering, more baking, filling and baking yet again. Geesh.
In the end it turned out good enough. Upon closer inspection you could tell that just something, one thing was off. A tad overdone? Not enough oranges? (Maybe actually chop them up next time?) Maybe it was an oven issue -- I don't recall overdoing crust back in the day. Proportion issues? (Hate it when men have proportion issues!) Nonetheless, my guests devoured it just as my family loved him.
I wanted that crust to be a little more tender and, well, less 'crusty'. And I like a bit more fruit in my fruit [pause] tarts. I will certainly take advantage of our next crust assignment by stockpiling and experimenting more. This almond cream stores quite well so I will make a triple batch of that and flirt. Its ok to flirt with an ex, isn't it?
Too much cologne, a loud shirt, or a toasty crust can be overlooked every now and then but you really don't want it that way all the time.
(Find the recipe here. Or email or follow me @sisboomtweet to get the keys to my entire Dorie library.)