Let me tell you a story about my search for the perfect lemon tart recipe. It all started last summer in Normandy, France where we went on a family vacation. My dad and brother joined from New York, Vito's mom and brother with his girlfriend made us a merry little group of eight. We stayed in a lovely town by the sea called Saint Aubin sur Mer, where time didn't hurry, tourists were not many, yet there were plenty of things to do and see. It was a delicious week of family bonding, discovering the sites and of course eating as many pain au chocolate for breakfast as humanly possible (well, maybe this last one was just my personal achievement).
We stayed at a camping (Cote de Nacre) a ten minute walk from the seaside promenade lined with sunny colored villas, happy little cafes and restaurants. Our mornings consisted of sightseeing, and afternoons in the pool or at the beach and of course no day went by without promenading up and down by the sea.
But back to the lemon tart... as you can imagine a family of eight including one 1.5 year old boy and one 13 year old boy there is always someone ready for a snack (or a 5 course meal).
On one such occasion we stopped at a cozy cafe with cream colored furniture, nautical prints and walls lined with book shelves giving you a feeling of a sea side day lounge. Lemon tart was the first thing we saw on the chalk board menu and that was enough of a suggestion for all us to order a round. The tart was incredible! The lemony filling was creamy with sweet and tart flavors in perfect harmony. The crust, a wonderful companion, perfectly yummy yet not trying to compete jealously with the filling for attention. The tart was so delicious that we immediately ordered seconds nervous that the cafe might not have enough! Thankfully they did, so there was no need for violence. And since that moment I've been looking for a recipe that will reunite me with my perfect lemon tart...
Until finally! I have come across this recipe on Julia's blog. She in turn found it in a newspaper article about a German illustrator who lived in Lisbon for a while. This illustrator upon tasting this tart at a rowdy summer backyard party asked the cousin of her neighbor, a certain Anita, for the recipe. She then illustrated the recipe which Julia transcribes on her blog. (In English thankfully.)
So there! A recipe found via our global neighbor Julia, from literally someone's actual neighbor (well cousin of said neighbor) has made its way to me in The Netherlands! AND! What has set off this world wind recipe search? Why a visit to a little seaside town in France called Saint Aubin sur Mer... Now tell me we are not all connected. :)
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If you are like me and have been searching for an easy way to make lemon tart feel free to raise your hopes high. Real high! This tart does not require intimidating baking thermometers, high scores on your math tests to perform calculations involving heat, altitude, timing, and egg yolk temperaments. There are two, JUST TWO ingredients for the filling. Condensed milk and juice of 2 lemons, ok 3 if you count lemon zest. That's it!!! The crust? The easiest ever, and you don't even have to have your butter at room temperature. I hate it when recipes call for that, when I want to bake, I must bake right then and there before inspiration leaves me and I can't wait for princess butter to arrive at room temperature. (Excuse me, I'm an Aries, it's a biological fact that I can't wait for stuff.)
Now I'm not a baker and trust me when I say, you can't do this recipe wrong. I did have to look up how to beat egg yolks stiff on youtube because I wasn't 100% sure of the right way to do it. I know my grandma did it by hand with a fork but after 2 minutes (ok 15 seconds) I gave up and looked it up on youtube. Here is the video, listen to the nice Italian lady all the way to the end, that's when she tells you how to make your egg whites really stiff.
Recipe: on Julia's blog.
Saint Aubin sur Mer, Normandy, France.
Stay at: Camping Cote de Nacre (Groups)
Eat at: Wherever speaks to you on the promenade, however for dinner you should make a reservation, and of course lemon tart and other deserts at Aux Bains des Mots.
To do: Visit the town of Cabourg on market day and eat lunch on the promenade, bring your swim suits for when the inevitable desire strikes for a dip in the sea. Normandy is also the land of apple brandy, do visit Château du Breui, a Calvados distillery and a historical manor house.
Sight see: Saint Aubin sur Mer is a great base for discovering Normany. Not to miss Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery Memorial. Visit the UNESCO heritage site, the medieval monastery Le Mont Saint Michel.
Take home: a bottle of Calvados. Hemingway would have approved.
Now, what have we conclude from all this madness?
• • • LESSONS LEARNED • • •
You might find your lemon tart exactly where
you didn't think to look for it.
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