I’m a sucker for a good lemon tart, so when I saw this NY Times recipe for a Cranberry Curd Tart I just had to give it a go.
I tried a couple of different variations of the curd & pastry but still haven’t found a combination I’m completely happy with.
First off I made the curd exactly as specifed & used the shortcrust pastry I had in my freezer (made using this Jamie Oliver recipe – I find it’s always handy to have a tart case or some pastry in the freezer). For me the curd was too sweet & the tartness of the cranberries didn’t come through as I’d hoped. For my next try I halved the sugar. This time was better, but I think I took a little too much of the sugar out. If I was to make it again I think I’d try 3/4 of the sugar. In the second try I also changed the pastry to more of a gingerbread. I used the same Jamie Oliver recipe but replaced the icing sugar with dark brown sugar and added a ton of dried ginger. This was a much better match. If I were to make it again I think I’d try the hazelnut pastry from the original recipe & see what that’s like.
When I’m on holidays I love to take a break at about 5 or 6pm & stop at a nice bar somewhere for a drink, which more often than not, is a gin & tonic.
I’m a bit energetic when I travel & try to cram as much as possible into each day, so for me, it’s a nice way of relaxing & thinking about everything that I’ve seen or done that day.
Which brings me to Gin & Tonics in Barcelona…
I never in my life expected to enjoy my evening holiday ritual as much as I have in Barcelona.
First off, there’s the ordering. Some of the restaurants/bars I’ve been to this week have a gin & tonic menu. You select the gin you want & sometimes the type of tonic water too. I guess you can pick the gin you want back home, but it’s not formalised in a specialised gin & tonic menu so it’s just not as nice, as it is here in Barcelona.
Then they bring a glass (the bar staff will pick the appropriate garnish for you – cucumber with Hendricks, lemon with Bombay, citrus & mint with Tanqueray 10) to your table, along with the bottle of gin & bottle of tonic. They (generously) pour the gin & tonic in front of you at your table & then leave you to enjoy your drink.
It may seem strange that I’m so excited by something so relatively simple but it’s so nice that some of the bars here seem to have a similar sense of ritual that I do about this drink.
At the end of 2008 I travelled to Germany to visit some friends of mine, Per & Carol. Per & Carol showed me around in Germany & we travelled to Vienna & Paris. We saw so many beautiful places & yet one of my most vivid memories is of a friend’s Tiramisu.
One day we went on a day trip to the castles of the Black Forest, with a couple of Per & Carol’s friends, Massimo & Stefania. The sky was clear & the sun was out but it was bitterly cold. We spent most of the day getting lost in the hills looking for the castles, in the end I think we only visited two. We ended up back at Massimo & Stefania’s apartment for dinner. Dinner was nice, a walnut pasta I think, but what I really remember is the dessert. Massimo had made two full trays of Tiramisu for us to eat. We ate maybe half of one tray for dessert & we were full. Massimo insisted we take the other tray home with us for later, we tried to argue that we had to catch the train to Paris the next morning. He insisted we take it anyway, telling us it would make for the best breakfast we’d ever had.
He was right. I still remember standing next to Per & Carol’s fridge at 6am scofffing Tiramisu, before heading off to catch the train to Paris.
To this day that was the best Tiramisu I’d ever had. The sponge was moist, but not soggy. There was a clear coffee flavour, but it wasn’t overpowering. This was helped by the fact that it was alcohol free. The marscapone was soft & light & fluffy. I’ve been searching for a recipie that comes close ever since.
This Gourmet Traveller recipe for Tiramisu did come close. It does use a small amount of booze, (Marsala), which I halved. That worked quite well, you still had the flavour from the Marsala but without the sting of the alcohol. I used store bought sponge fingers instead of the ‘make-your-own’ variety, but that’s mostly because I was lazy.
I may never find a recipe that produces the same Tiramisu & if I did I’d probably be disappointed because the moment would be lost. But this one came pretty close.