There’s this thrift store directly across the street from my apartment. Actually, I suppose I should address it by its proper name – une friperie – which, in French, is derived from the verb friper, which means literally to crumple or crush. For our purposes, une friperie is a second-hand store. This friperie is a hodgepodge of wonders and atrocities – hidden gems amidst, put delicately, a pile of worthless crap. For instance, you’ll find a multitude of ancient tablecloths, plastic dish ware from the 90s, and a box stacked with taper candles that are either broken or bent at dubious angles.
However, throughout my incessant trips to the store in constant anticipation of a great (and dirt cheap) find, the friperie has stood up to the test. Over the 10 months that I’ve lived in this apartment, I have found countless cups and mugs, a beige vintage suitcase, a handful of LPs, a small Le Creuset skillet ($1.50), and a few floral-print dresses that are delightfully susceptible to being blown around in the wind. And the list goes on.
So, naturally, as I was conjuring up the perfect flavor combinations for this here tart, and in realizing that I was tart pan-less, I sauntered down 3 flights of stairs and journeyed across the street. Within minutes, I spotted a sturdy looking spring-form pan, and I thought to myself, “this place is awesome.” As I paid at the cluttered counter, I chatted with the store owner, a jovial woman from Senegal, in broken French before heading back across the street to bake a tart.
And about this tart. I’m not one to toot my own horn or anything, but this tart is the reincarnation of delicacy, richness, and tang. “Reincarnation, Chris?” you ask. “That’s a strong word.” Well, folks, yes it is, but it’s entirely appropriate. The filling, made almost entirely from white chocolate and cream – and at this point, I’ve either lost you for health reasons, or I’ve got you fully on board (do me a favor and fall into the latter category) – is smothered in raspberry coulis, which is infused with mint and lemon rind. The whole thing sits on top of a buttery, crumbly crust of roasted hazelnuts. The finish is airy, yet dense, and the creaminess of the custard-like pie is offset by the snap of raspberries and lemon.
Really, need I say more?
Now, time for some tunes.
Amidst my first musings about this album, I created a playlist titled, “magic meadow”, into which I dropped bits and bobs of psych-folk rock. For me, the words “magic meadow” conjure up a vivid image: a bright, green clearing in the woods, wildflower in bloom, a group of friends sipping red wine, and of course, some seriously good tunes. Someone would need to cart along a musical instrument—perhaps a pedal harp. Usually, I would rely on Joanna Newsom to bear the burden, but recently I have discovered an equally talented songstress.
Josephine Foster does not just play the harp. Originally studying to be an opera singer while she lived in Colorado, Foster mixes falsetto with the twangy plucks of her guitar and ukulele. The warbling rise of her voice can peak like morning over the mountain, or dip low in a sound rich and primal.
Of all her albums, I have most quickly connected with this one. Perhaps it is the beat of her jaunty, plucky rhymes, or perhaps it is the distinct feeling that her music instills—as if you’ve drifted somewhere into the past. Whatever the reason, the aching sweetness of her songs is guiding me into the warmth of spring.
Listen here to a few of my favorites:
“Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You” (Foster plucks the harp to this title-winner)
“Hominy Grits” (a short lil’ doozy that conjures up images of a clopping horse ride along the prairies)
“Pruner’s Pair” (a soft, sad ballad)
White Chocolate Tart with Raspberry-Mint Coulis on Hazelnut Crust Filling:
1 1/3 cup ground graham cracker
3/4 cup hazelnuts
4 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cream
10 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup fresh raspberries, washed
1 tbsp freshly chopped mint leaves
1 tsp lemon rinds
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Make the crust
Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes at 400°F. Remove hazelnuts from the oven, then rub them together inside a damp dishcloth to remove the skins.
Lower the oven heat to 350°F.
In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, skinned hazelnuts and brown sugar until the mixture is coarse-grained and gritty (no large chunks). Add the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, and pulse just until the mixture comes together (the mixture should keep its shape when you pinch it together.
Press the crust into an ungreased spring-form pan (or a tart pan), making sure to press it up against the sides. When the crust is uniformly flattened into the pan, par-bake the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Make the rest
In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat. When the cream is warm and slightly foamy around the edges, add the chocolate, stirring to melt. When the mixture is fully combined and slightly glassy on the top, remove from heat. Whisk in eggs, flour, vanilla and salt. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked crust. Bake the tart at 350°F degrees for 25 minutes.
While the tart is baking, make the raspberry coulis. Pulse raspberries in the food processor until the mixture is liquid and uniform. Add the chopped mint leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, and powdered sugar, and pulse to combine. Set aside.
Remove the tart and let cool for 10 minutes. Carefully run the edge of a knife between the crust and the pan to loosen the crust. Remove the ring of the spring-pan, then evenly spread the raspberry coulis over the top. Slice and serve with fresh mint and raspberries.