post51 // 48 hours in paris


bonjour! i hope your november is off to a wonderful start, with the bundling of scarves and sipping of hot cocoas already making you feel the coziest you’ve been all year. at least that’s how i feel 🤗.

it’s truly fall here in paris! the leaves have almost all fallen off their mama branches and the temperature is starting to drop. daylight savings is past and i can now wake up without it being pitch dark outside, woohoo! in celebration of this beautiful season, i compiled a 48 hour guide to paris, specific to this leafy, festive, and warming (check) time of year! some notes:

this guide is not for the list checker. no, it doesn’t include every major sight and you may not recognize every area or name. instead, this guide is for someone who wants to really see paris: to see the brasseries, to see french people sunbathing in luxembourg gardens, to see what they eat and how they are. of course, there’s some great food in here too. so if you’re interested, hop on board!

day one, morning


pastry breakfast at a local boulangerie: all hail the boulangerie! for those of you who were stumped by the word like i was, it translates to a bakery, specifically one focused on bread products. many boulangeries in paris also include viennoserie — typically laminated bread products i.e. puff pastry, croissants, the pain au chocolat above — and sometimes patisserie — a term you’re likely more familiar with, indicating pastries i.e. macaroons, tarts, etc. regardless of your hotel (though i’ve listed some great suggestions below!), you’ll be seconds away from a solid boulangerie in paris. they’re frequent and smell wonderfully doughy from the outside sidewalk so don’t be shy — head in and pick up a croissant! find it! but do note that many boulangeries are not open on sundays

rodin museum: this museum is a true treat in the fall as the gardens are shades of green, yellow, orange and everything in between. the artist behind the museum is auguste rodin, a french sculptor during the late 19th-century, early 20th-century. below you can see his (arguably) most famous work, Le Penseur a.k.a The Thinker. additionally, the gardens and museum offer a fabulous view of the hôtel des invalides. 77 rue de varenne, 75007 paris, open 10am-5:45pm every day except monday



lunch at kapunka: it’d be a shame for you to come all the way to paris and not taste some of the incredible ethnic foods this city has to offer. it’s half the fun (or more)! kapunka is a thai restaurant that i have absolutely fallen in love with here. musts: tom kha kaï soup to start, pad thaï, and their mango rice. 32 rue delambre, 75014 paris (with other locations in paris), open 11:30am-3:30pm and 6:30pm-11pm every day but sunday


a walk through luxembourg garden: there’s no prettier place to digest a big lunch than here. if the sun’s out, grab a seat like a true parisian and get some color on your face. despite the crowds, this place can make you feel miles away from the city. jardin du luxembourg, 75006 paris


snack time at pierre hermé: depending on how long you sunbathed, you might be a bit hungry! never fear. ditch the touristed and overblown macaroons at ladurée and head to pierre hermé. their entire showcase, macaroons included, are exquisite and definitely something you can’t get anywhere else! my favorite? their salted caramel macaroon. 72 rue bonaparte, 75006 paris, open 10am-7pm daily


if you’re like me than the following activities don’t begin without a nap. grab some quick zzz’s before heading out for a night on the town!


walk through saint-germain: it’s hard not to be enchanted with this neighborhood. saint-germain is filled with gothic architecture, pedestrian-only streets, live music, bustling brasseries, shops, the list goes on! for a weekend night, it’s a wonderful place to soak up culture and enjoy the evening. walking through saint-germain’s alleys and under it’s arches will definitely wake you up and work up an appetite for dinner.

dinner at le relais de l’entrecote: now, there are many, many, many!!! steak frites restaurants throughout paris. i am not here to say le relais de l’entrecote is the best as i haven’t been to them all. but, if you are looking for a solid steak frites option, this is a great one. service is wonderful, food is served immediately, and there’s a beautiful indoor-outdoor patio out front. there’s no menu so all you have to choose is wine. voilà! 20 rue saint-benoît (with other locations in paris), 75006 paris, open 12pm-2:30pm and 7pm-11:30pm daily

second round of wine at bar etna: a cozy bar in the middle of a bustling street! bar etna will make you feel at home, and their wine doesn’t hurt either. 33 rue mazarine, 75006 paris, open 6:30pm-2am tuesday-saturday

day two, morning

breakfast at fragments coffee shop and cafe: i linked to this gem of a cafe last week in last week’s post and i still can’t get enough! their sweet potato cake is superb and though you may never feel as cool as the hipsters who walk in here, it’s a great place to people watch the young and hip frenchies. 76 rue de tournelles, 75003 paris, open 10am-6pm on weekends

sit in the place des vosges: this is the oldest planned square in all of paris and boy was it planned well. take in the sun and grab a seat at one of the endless benches that line the square. place des vosges, 75004 paris


lunch at glou: luckily you didn’t fill up too much at fragments, leaving plenty of room for a delicious lunch at glou. though they offer both entrees and small plates, i’d recommend the latter. highlights: comte cheese, eggplant. 101 rue vieillle du temple, 75003 paris, open 12pm-5pm and 7:30pm-11pm on weekends


shopping in le marais or le pompidou: your choice! in terms of shopping, le marais is the place for interiors and clothing. my favorite shop in the marais has to be les milles feuilles (translates to the thousand leaves), an interior shop. give it a look! 2 rue rambuteau, 75003 paris, open 10:30am-7:30pm on saturdays and 2pm-7pm on sundays

and the pompidou! check out the exhibits they’re running as you get ready for your trip. some are pretty unbelievable. not to mention, the architecture of the building itself: a staircase you don’t want to miss! place georges-pompidou, 75004 paris 


walk down to aux merveilleux de fred: eat a true french meringue, covered in chocolate shavings, exploding with buttercream from all sides. sounds good, right? the meringues at aux merveilleux de fred are so beautiful and inviting, you might just have to have more than one. think of it as dinner’s appetizer! 24 rue de pont louis-philippe (with other locations in paris), 75004 paris, open 9am-8pm


eat dinner at la régalade saint-honoré: come here for the soufflé. stay for the soufflé. eat the soufflé. 106 rue saint honoré, 75001 paris, open 12pm-2:30pm and 7pm-11pm on weekends

nightcap at harry’s: end your trip with a nightcap at the home of the bloody mary and the french 75. known as the original cocktail bar, this “new york bar” was a popular spot for expats in the 1920s. with history and liquor on your side, head to harry’s for a true time warp. 5 rue daunou, 75002 paris, open 12pm-2am on saturdays and 4pm-1am on sundays

lodging recos

hotel relais saint germain 9 carrefour de l’odeon, 75006 paris

hotel emile 2 rue Mahler, 75004 paris

or this uber chic airbnb rue delambre, 75014 montparnasse

planning your trip yet?

all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs with the exception of the 6th photo by sofitel, and the 5th and last photo by her mama, caroline fawcett


post48 // ricotta and tomato tart


hello friends and happy friday!! despite the arrival of pumpkin season and my month to ideate halloween costumes, tomato season is not yet over! and from what i hear about the weather back stateside, it sure doesn’t feel like fall there either.


last week my french host mom brought home a bevy of bright green tomatoes after visiting a friend’s farm in bourges, a city south of paris. yes, she casually spent her day picking tomatoes, foraging for mushrooms, and drinking wine. #frenchlifestyle like wut?? anyhow, i wanted to put these tomatoes to use! in my pastry courses at le cordon bleu, we’ve been baking many tarts that have me reminiscent of my homemade pies and their ever-buttery pie crusts. i decided to try out my pie crust recipe from the states in a french kitchen and turn it into the base for a tomato tart.



  1. my american recipe for a double pie crust didn’t even fit (!!) in my french mixing bowl. (see all that spilled flour?) this isn’t the first time i’ve noticed how my reference point for portions is far bigger than france’s.
  2. as a twist on the recipe, i used some of my french host mom’s leftover chestnut flour that she had in the pantry! the chestnut flour gave the pie crust a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that i’d highly recommend! i’m not sure where you can find chestnut flour in the states, likely at a whole foods or specialty foods shop. but if you can’t find it, don’t fret! the recipe is superb with regular ap flour.
  3. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, weighing ingredients is far superior to the endless cup and spoon measurements we make back home! i learned this while working at bread furst this summer and i’m never turning back. but don’t fear, i *do* include them for you below. i know this is how a lot of home cooks bake!


the perk of this recipe is that you can make your tart base and use the baking time to prep your toppings. instead of making a completely green, wicked-themed tart, i went to the farmer’s market and picked up a couple more tomatoes in different colors for a rainbow effect. i chose ricotta cheese as the bed for these tomatoes, drizzled with honey, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. i used to make a bowl of ricotta just like this for meetings back at food52! throw same basil on top and voilà!



you can see that one of my tart crusts is a bit browner than the other. i used a higher ratio of chestnut flour in the dough for this tart and that’s why it browned easier. what are your favorite alternative flours to use? i’d like to do more testing with them.



if you’re looking to hold onto summer as long as you can, this recipe is a surefire way.

and in this week’s other stuff, i have lots of goodies!

until next week! xx

ricotta and tomato tart

makes two tarts



2½ cups ap flour // 320 grams (*i used 160 grams ap and 160 grams chestnut flour)

1 teaspoon salt // 6 grams

1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter // 225 grams

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan // 64 grams

extra butter or oil to prep pan


6 beefsteak tomatoes, in various colors

16oz ricotta cheese // 500 grams

8-10 basil leaves

lemon, honey, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper for seasoning


bag of rice or beans for par-bake

tin foil

tart pan (like this one) or a 9-inch pie pan


crust (adapted from Kate Lebo’s, Pie School):

  1. preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 3/4 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prep the following steps.
  3. in a large bowl, mix the flour, parmesan and salt. drop 1-tablespoon pieces of butter into the flour and toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
  4. place your palms up and curl your fingers back to scoop up the flour and fat. rub, rub, rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. make sure you reach into the bottom and around the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. it should be chunky—mostly cherry-size pieces, the smaller bits resembling coarse cornmeal.
  5. take the water out of the freezer. pour it (slowly!) in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. toss to distribute the moisture. as you add a bit more water and toss, the dough will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. if it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. if the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done.
  6. split the dough into 2 and form each ball into a thick disk using your palms and thumbs. wrap both disks in plastic wrap. refrigerate for 30 minutes to 3 days before rolling.
  7. once rested, take the crust out of the fridge and roll to fit your tart or pie pan. before transferring to the pan, make sure you’ve buttered or oiled the pan. fit to the mold.
  8. layer a sheet of tin foil on the crust. pour the beans or rice onto the tin foil to prep the crust for par-baking.
  9. bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes.

assembly (while your crust is baking!):

  1. finely chop the basil leaves. add half of the chopped leaves to the ricotta cheese and reserve the rest for decoration. add a hefty drizzle of lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and honey to the ricotta. season with salt and pepper.
  2. wash and slice your tomatoes. you’re looking for a width around 1cm. i also peeled my tomatoes but it’s not mandatory!
  3. once crust comes out of the oven, let cool completely. to speed things up, you can put it into the fridge or a quick dip in the freezer for cooling. (but don’t freeze it!)
  4. once cool, spoon a thick layer of ricotta on the crust. then layer the tomatoes on top. season to finish!


all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post47 // paris market tour


hiya friends!! bienvenue à mon tour aux marché parisien. (welcome to my paris market tour). last week our chefs at le cordon bleu took us on a three-hour walk through the saint-charles market, which happens to be right around the corner from school! this market is open on tuesdays and fridays from 7am to 2:30pm. if you come to paris you’ll find that many of the markets are open on specific days of the week, so you have to plan your market tours accordingly! thankfully chef was watching out for us and already had some cheesemongers and farmers awaiting our arrival.

*i’ll be referring to chef throughout the post! if you want a visual, here’s chef kerdranvat! he’s one of my cuisine chefs and we get along great due to our shared irish heritage. he comes from brittany in the north of france and was thrilled with all the produce from brittany on our tour!



we began the market tour with fruits and vegetables! don’t they look so tasty? all the produce here that i’ve eaten has been exceptionally fresh and i think (along with other reasons) it’s because markets like these are so popular! at school, our ingredients come fresh from farms and at home, my host mom shops reguarly at this very market. a local food movement in the flesh! but that truly is paris. just 20 miles outside the city you’ll find real farms that make me feel like i’m in the middle of america.


chef k was very excited to show off the mushrooms as they are in peak season this very second! you can see the regular white buttons in the photo above, along with the chanterelle mushrooms. should i go mushroom foraging this weekend??

next stop: cheese!! ohhhh the cheese. a tent we came across offered such cool variations on their cheeses like nut fillings and herb coloring. i learned that now is the best time to eat fromage de chevre (goat cheese) and this has helped me finish two packs of goat cheese this week! all for seasonality purposes, of course.



our group befriended a cheesemonger and she had some fun showing off her crème fraîche. her cheese comes from normandy which is famous for this cream so chef k was very, very excited. when in normandy, make sure you eat crème fraîche.


next came the butcher. these days i’ve been feeling like a butcher myself as i’ve been chopping off chicken heads, trimming veal fat, and taking out pork bones all day long! i have a very long way to go in this department so it was awesome to see a true butcher at work. what was interesting about this stand at the market was that there wasn’t a speck of food waste. every part of the meat was on display. gizzards? yes. heads? yup. tongues? oh yeah! blood? wrapped in a sausage casing — that’s what blood sausage is!



after a nice tasting of brain cheese and blood sausage (i’m not kidding!! it was good), we moved onto oysters and fish! this tent at the market was extremely busy so we had a feeling the seafood was fresh. chef k tested the waters and cracked open an oyster. very fresh indeed!



just before the market, our class made two recipes with fish, one being a sole fillet braised in fish stock and white wine and the other a breaded whiting fish with tartar sauce. if you’re on the lookout for some fish recipes, remind me to share these with you!

after a great walking tour, chef k treated us to an 11am cheese and meat plate, wine, and a dessert plate with espresso. i felt like a queen! c’est la vie français.



i hope you enjoyed my virtual paris market tour! i’ve had some recipes bubbling that i’ll be cooking up for next week’s post. stay tuned!

this week’s other stuff!

all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post44 // paris, first look


bonjour mes amis!!! greetings from paris. i made it! today was my first full day in this city and i am a wonderful combination of jet lagged and excited at the moment. i’m writing to you from my host family’s apartment in the 15th arrondissement, a neighborhood situated in the southern part of paris. i got lost finding the apartment yesterday with all my luggage in hand but one taxi and two mobile stores later, i found them! #immersion #frenchinprogress

for those of you wondering why the heck i am in france — i’ve just moved here! i’ll be in paris for the next year attending le cordon bleu, a culinary school here. while i get some cooking and baking skills, i’ll be living with a french family, learning the language, figuring out paris, and eventually working at a bakery or restaurant here as an extern. woot woot!!


upon arriving yesterday, my host family greeted me with a homemade lunch of quiche lorraine, a warm baguette from the neighborhood boulangerie, and a simple green salad. it was so quintessentially french. and the good food didn’t stop there — from the milk that i poured on my cereal to the croissant that i ate at orientation this morning, everything has tasted both delicious and wholesome.


my orientation was just a half day so that left me with the entire afternoon to do whatever i wanted. so i walked! i explored my neighborhood, the neighborhood around le cordon bleu, and beyond. the eiffel tower is just down the street from school so i headed that way first. even on a gloomy day, paris looks beautiful!


during my walk, i found a great bakery called boulangerie le moulin de la vierge (translated: the mill of the virgin lol). i wasn’t familiar with it as i still have yet to sift through my list of bakery recommendations — that will be this weekend!  — but it was a true french boulangerie and a great place to stop if you find yourself in paris. they have locations in both the 7th arrondissement where i was today, as well as across the seine river in the 1st arrondissement. i tried their croissant and it rivaled what i had at le cordon bleu this morning. buttery, flaky, just as it should be!


the boulangerie also offered fresh jams. i’ll have to pick one up the next time i stop by!

the rest of the afternoon was spent feeling camera happy. evidence below 👇










i’d say it’s a photogenic city.


last night my host mom, martine, whipped up some tasty crêpes. i watched her and helped a bit, realizing as she went through the motions that sarah dadson’s crêpe recipe, which i shared on foodstuffs a month back, is almost a clone. bravo to sarah! i’m including her recipe below so that you can make them yourself!

and in this week’s other stuff…

i haven’t taken this denim jacket off since i bought it two weeks ago

my cousin greg and his new bride victoria (aka my new cuz!) stepped out to this song on their wedding night and everything was perfect

questions from me to you: what are your favorite things to do and see in paris? and eat? please comment so that i can do all the things!

goodnight! (bonne nuit!)

french crêpes

makes 12 crêpes


4 eggs

4 cups milk

2 cups flour (all-purpose is fine)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (+ more for coating the pan)

1 teaspoon salt

sour cream

toppings: parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, nutella, powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc.

special tools

a medium-sized fry pan


  1. mix the milk, flour, eggs, and salt together to form your batter. heat the fry pan over medium-high heat. prepare any toppings such as slicing or shaving the cheeses.
  2. pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan and move it around so that the entire pan is coated in a thin layer. let warm until the bottom side turns lightly brown. turn and repeat. take the crêpe off the burner and let it rest on a nearby plate. repeat until you’ve baked off all the crêpe batter.
  3. you can eat your crêpes now as is with sweet toppings but if you are looking for a more savory crêpe, keep your fry pan warm and add a crêpe back to it.
  4. top crêpe with a thin layer of sour cream. add your egg immediately to the center of the crêpe. as the egg begins to cook, add other toppings around it. cover pan until the egg cooks off and other toppings have melted.
  5. fold the crêpe in an envelope manner, as i described above. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal.
  6. serve immediately and enjoy!

post38 // french crêpes

good morning to you! or afternoon, or evening — just the time of the day you happen to be reading this. you’re in luck because whatever time it is, it’s time for a crêpe.


crêpes have never been a routine meal of mine. i’m usually eating their cousins (a.k.a. pancakes and dutch babies), which i have more confidence in cooking. my memories of crêpes are special though, associated with château montebello, a hotel in quebec that my family used to drive 12 hours to each new years eve. the endless hot chocolates and crêpes at the hotel made up for the “when are we there yet” and often nauseating car rides for my brothers and i. year after year, crêpes with maple syrup were reason enough to go back.

since those days at montebello, i haven’t spent much time eating crêpes. until now! just two months ago i was invited over to my friend stella’s apartment, which she shares with her sister sarah. sarah is a francophile and has lived in france on-and-off over the years. she has a wonderful host mother from paris, who was visiting new york at the time. given my impending move to france for the year, the sisters thought that i should meet sarah’s host mum and experience a true french crêpe.


aside from learning so much about paris, i learned how to make (and eat) many french crêpes that night. fast forward two months and sarah is now living with my family for the summer in washington, d.c. (her own american homestay of sorts!). within her first week here, crêpe ingredients were added to our grocery list.


crêpes are an anytime meal. while we made these ham, egg, and cheese crêpes for dinner, they could just as well be your breakfast or lunch. the batter itself is simple, as sarah says, “think 4-4-2: four eggs, four cups of milk, and 2 cups of flour.” a bit of salt and vegetable oil added complete the batter and next is just the fillings. both sarah and sofie, her parisian host mum, cooked off the entire crêpe batter, kept the cakes warm, and then prepared the fillings right before serving. this is the best way to ensure your crêpe comes out hot. the batter will be much thinner than a normal pancake batter, so don’t be afraid if it looks runny! sarah describes that the consistency is best when it coats a wooden spoon upon lifting, but still drips back into the batter bowl.


once you’ve cooked off all your crêpe batter and have a stack of eager cakes waiting to be filled, it’s time to load on the toppings. a couple good tips for fillings are to keep them thinly sliced so that they don’t overwhelm the crêpe, another being to spread your crêpe with sour cream (for flavor!) before adding the fillings. if working with uncooked eggs, cover your pan so that the egg can cook off while the rest of the toppings are melting together.


folding the crêpe together at the end is a simple envelope fold. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal. by this time, your egg yolk will have burst and it is seriously time to sit down and eat your crêpe.


very soon, i’m sure you’ll be reading about all the different types of crêpes i’ll be trying in france. until then, i’ll be working on my own crêpe-making skills.

au revoir!


p.s. this week’s other stuff!!!

i’ll admit to singing this with the windows down very loudly this past weekend. one of my favorites

obsessed with this account and their shop in greenpoint, bk

the drink of my summer (recipe comin’ soon to foodstuffs!)

french crêpes

makes 12 crêpes


4 eggs

4 cups milk

2 cups flour (all-purpose is fine)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (+ more for coating the pan)

1 teaspoon salt

sour cream

toppings: parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, nutella, powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc.

special tools

a medium-sized fry pan


  1. mix the milk, flour, eggs, and salt together to form your batter. heat the fry pan over medium-high heat. prepare any toppings such as slicing or shaving the cheeses.
  2. pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan and move it around so that the entire pan is coated in a thin layer. let warm until the bottom side turns lightly brown. turn and repeat. take the crêpe off the burner and let it rest on a nearby plate. repeat until you’ve baked off all the crêpe batter.
  3. you can eat your crêpes now as is with sweet toppings but if you are looking for a more savory crêpe, keep your fry pan warm and add a crêpe back to it.
  4. top crêpe with a thin layer of sour cream. add your egg immediately to the center of the crêpe. as the egg begins to cook, add other toppings around it. cover pan until the egg cooks off and other toppings have melted.
  5. fold the crêpe in an envelope manner, as i described above. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal.
  6. serve immediately and enjoy!

post26 // a day with chef joel: where i gained an irreplaceable wealth of culinary knowledge

Imagewith Chef Joel Delmond and our Tarte Tatin

It all began on a warm Palm Springs night, under an umbrella-covered dining table where I sat languidly, dead from the parties of Mardi Gras that had slowly sipped the life out of my body. My mom and I sat in the chairs of Pinzimini, the new dining spot in the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa. Despite my normal rash approval of my mothers’ occasional wine offer at dinner, tonight, I declined. Yet, when our waiter circled back around, his news enlivened my drained sensibility. He pointed over to the corner of the veranda, identifying a tall man clad in a pleated tall pearly hat as a James Beard honored chef. For those of you lost as to what “James Beard honored” indicates, the James Beard Award is the highest of national culinary awards, typically referred to as the “Oscar’s” of the food world. While Chef Joel Delmond is not a recipient of this award, he has cooked in the James Beard House, a sensational recognition of its own. In this moment, my ears perked up like those of a puppy hearing the word walk. My mother and I immediately wrapped our friendly waiter into a conversation where we relayed my infatuation with all things culinary, the blog that I began writing in Peru, my obsession with photographing meals from every imaginable angle, and so on. Before I could add another detail about peruvian cuisine, the waiter had brought the amiable Chef Joel to our very table.

My mother, Chef Joel, and I began discussing my love of food, rummaging through the details of my ever-developing blog. In his impeccable English, dusted with a distinct layer of french inflection, Chef Joel spoke of peruvian gastronomy with a striking fluidity. Though soon to get back to the kitchen, Chef Joel did not leave without sharing his information and inviting me to bake with him in the coming days. We exchanged e-mails the next day and decided on an afternoon spent baking a Tarte Tatin, an upside-down apple tart from the Loir-et-Cher region of France, along the Loire River. I later learned that the tart originates from the Hotel Tatin, where the two sisters and owners, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, famously baked the first Tarte Tatin, the result of a horrid kitchen diaster. Fittingly, Chef Joel hails from this specific part of France and after hearing my stories on peruvian cuisine, he was anxious to share a quintessential french dish.

My afternoon spent in the kitchen was beyond any of my expectations for baking the Tarte Tatin. Not only did I learn an irreplaceable amount of information on pastry-making from Chef Joel, but he elected other members of his staff to introduce me to their large-scale operations of sushi making, pizza dough molding, and the like. When I say other members, I allude to Chef Shawn Aoki, a former Iron Chef contestant. I could not then and still cannot fathom my luck!


Rolling sushi with Chef Shawn Aoki


Learning how to handle the pizza peel

By the end of the day, Chef Joel and I had two baked Tarte Tatins. During the assembling of the first tarte, Chef Joel took me on a detailed journey through the art of pie-crust making and caramelizing. He shared tips only a pro would know like how to flour your dough before using your rolling pin, what kind of surfaces you should use for specific actions, how to caramelize for different end results (looking for a sweet and light caramel or an almost-bitter type?), the list never ends.


Letting the apples soak in water to keep fresh before baking


Constructing the upside-down tart


Top layer of the upside-down tart


Rolling the dough between two sheets of plastic to keep the dough from melting or sticking to the pin

Both Tarte Tatins slowly evolved into beautiful, really striking pieces of culinary art. Smothered in buttery caramel, the apples congealed together in a perfect geometric form, seated upon a thick base of flaky pastry crust. After many Friday afternoons and Christmas seasons spent baking, I cannot say I have made such a beautiful dish as this Tarte Tatin.

With our finished product, Chef Joel and I took the fore-picture of this blog post, a student and instructor, both grinning happily at a Tarte Tatin well done. That evening, my parents and I ate our final meal in Palm Springs at Pinzimini, electing Chef Shawn’s Tasting Menu. We couldn’t have chosen a better meal and to cap it off, we each engulfed our hardy servings of the Tarte Tatin, brought out by Chef Joel himself. I waddled home in the eighty-five degree paradise, brain full with improved pastry techniques and a stomach wide with caramelized apples.


The baked Tarte Tatin, before being flipped


The flipped and final Tarte Tatin

Unfortunately, I do not have Chef Joel’s Tarte Tatin recipe for you yet. However, in the meantime I thought that Julia Child’s rendition will do. Bon Appetit!

For the Tart Dough:
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed
For the Tart Tatin:
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved
1 lemon, zested and juiced
11/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Slice the halved apples into 4 lengthwise wedges each, and toss in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest and 1/2 cup sugar. Drain the apples after macerating 20 minutes.

In a 9-inch skillet melt the butter over high heat. Stir in the remaining sugar and cook until the syrup bubbles and caramelizes, and turns a brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange a layer of apple slices in a neat pattern on the caramel in the skillet, then arrange the remaining apples neatly on top.

Return the pan to moderately high heat and cook for about 25 minutes, covering the pan after 10 minutes. Every few minutes press down on the apples and baste them with the exuded juices. When the juices are thick and syrupy, remove the pan from the heat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a circle, 3/16-inch thick and 1-inch larger than the top of the pan. Drape the dough over the apples, pressing the edge of the dough between the apples and the inside of the pan. Cut 4 small steam holes on the top of the dough. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped, about 20 minutes.

Unmold the tart onto a serving dish (so the pastry is on the bottom), and serve warm or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as desired.

Read more at: