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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Marché 'BIO' Raspail & Tomato Tarte

Tomato, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin
A few weeks ago there was a photo in the New York Times of the most amazing looking Tomato Tarte. Naturally, the only reasonable thing to do was drop everything and seek out heirloom cherry tomatoes (known in France, though not to me, as 'cocktail tomatoes'). It happened to be Sunday, and there is no better place to search for these multi colored, generally tasty, very sweet beauties than the Marché 'Bio' Raspail.

Sundays in August are practically spacious at Marché Raspail!

The last 2 weeks of August in Paris are a special time.  Not if you're a visitor eager to experience Paris in all it's hustle and bustle, because there is none.  Most Parisians are gone for 'Les Vacances", which translates not as "A vacation" or "MY vacation" but literally "THE vacation".  That precious time of year in every true Parisian's life when they pack up, abandon their work, close down their apartment for up to a month (!!!) and head out for the countryside, the beach or an exotic island paradise someplace warm.  Leaving Paris to the rest of us who are pleased as punch to have the terraces of what remaining open cafes there are (and the empty streets) to ourselves.
Delicious 'cocktail' tomatoes waiting to be transformed

The Marchés have a similar exodus. Vendors of produce purchased from wholesalers at Rungis vanish for 'les vacances'.  It's the small producers and growers who  tend to stick around to service their regulars (who go and then return from holiday) and pick up some new regulars because their 'guy' is on holiday and the stand has been taken over by bedspreads from Provence, African masks or Moroccan pottery. I really think Summer visitors to Paris get the totally wrong idea of Parisian Marchés - but then, I digress.

The Bio (Organic) market at Raspail is held only on Sundays.  It is a small market, but here you will find a beautiful and large selection of certified organic produce, meats, eggs and dairy products as well as breads, pastries, English muffins, American style muffins, soaps and scents.

All organic, Sundays only
I like this market for all that it offers and for the general friendliness of the vendors and clientele. Should you arrive hungry, no worries: Thibault of Les Gustalins makes amazing potato galettes at one end of the market, and a couple of ladies (who use only home made organic jams) cook up crepes to order on the other. 

The line for these amazing potato, onion and cheese galettes is often very long
A hot beverage vendor sits smack in the middle of everything offering soy chai, mint tea and organic coffee. You'll also find several other stands with 'loving hands from home' style (savory and sweet) pies, turnovers and cakes - many of which are gluten free and/or vegetarian, something fairly hard to come by in Paris. 

La Cucina Italian Vendor with home made Organic Pasta and other great stuff
It would be an understatement to say that La Cucina has become a 'Raspail' favorite.  Since visiting family in Puglia, we've developed quite the Italian habit: fresh mozzarella, coppa and salume (all of which can generally be found in the fridge).  The variety of Organic Italian groceries, meats and cheeses offered by this charming family is vast considering the size of their stand and the prices are better than you'll find most anywhere in town. Lines here tend to be long. 

The Bio bread stand has lots of choice including many wheat free breads

The variety and prices for produce vary from stand to stand, so do walk the length of the market checking out what's available before making your purchases; a stroll I'm pretty sure you'll find more of a pleasure than a chore.

Now, back to that Tomato Tarte Tatin.  The original recipe calls for puff pastry, fewer onions and is cheese-less. I made it exactly as written and while perfectly acceptable, I'm just not crazy about store bought puff pastry under something as potentially juicy as tomatoes - it gets soggy too quickly for my taste.  After a few more or less successful tries, here is my favorite version:

freshly flipped out of the pan - notice there is NO juice to make the crust soggy

Tomato, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin

Pre-heat your oven to 375 F /190 C - place a rack as close to the bottom of the oven as possible.

Little tomatoes - Enough to snugly cover the bottom of your 9" or 10" 'Tatin' pan                            (about 2 lbs/ 1 kilo)  Stems removed, rinsed and dried    
 4 - 5    Sweet Onions
4 ounces / 114 grams fresh goat cheese - cut into 1/2 inch pieces (best done when 
      cheese  is cold)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
fat pinch each of rosemary and thyme (preferably fresh) leaves removed from stem
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
Your favorite, all butter, savory crust
Fresh Basil for garnish

1) Make your crust, set it aside so that it "relaxes"
2) Peel and thinly slice the onions

3) Put 2 tablespoon butter and all the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the Rosemary and Thyme.  When the butter is foamy and you can smell the herbs, add all the onions, salt and pepper. Stir.  Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown (caramelized) throughout. This should take a good 10 minutes, maybe longer.  Don't be impatient as the flavor you are creating here will make all the difference.  Adjust the salt and pepper (be sure to first taste your goat cheese for saltiness, or lack of it)

4) Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of sugar in the pan you will be using for the Tatin (can be a 9" or 10" oven proof skillet) over medium heat.  When melted and frothy, add your tomatoes and allow them to cook a bit.  Shake the pan gently to coat the tomatoes,  but DO NOT STIR.  You don't want to break or crush them. After about 3 or 4 minutes, remove pan from heat.
5) Roll out your crust to the inner circumference of your pan.  It's okay if the crust is a little thicker than usual.

Before the crust
6) Place the caramelized onions evenly over the tomatoes, scatter the goat cheese over the onions then place your crust on top.  Cut 4 'steam' lines in the top of the crust.

7) Place pan on the bottom most rack in your pre-heated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Fresh from the oven, waiting to be flipped
8) Remove the Tatin from the oven, allow to cool about 10 minutes. Cover the pie with a plate large enough to hold it flat - carefully flip the pie over onto the plate - Voila!

If some of the tomatoes stick to the mold, no worries, just use a knife to carefully remove them from the pan then put them back in place on the pie.

 Garnish with fresh 'Chiffonade' of Basil leaves.

This Tatin makes a nice 'Entrée' (starter in France) or delightful lunch served with a simple, vinaigrette dressed, green salad. I recommend a crisp Rosé, 'no oak' Chardonnay or something bubbly (as in water with lemon) as accompaniment.

A bientot,
Marie Z

Marché 'Bio' Raspail
Sundays 9am to 1:30pm
Blvd Raspail between Rue du Cerche-Midi and Rue de Rennes
Metro:  Rennes (line 12) or Sevres-Babylon (line 10)

View Marche "Bio" Raspail in a larger map


Stephen Swafford said...

That crust looks good enough to eat by itself! YUM!!! I am so glad we found each other!

alexisbriet said...

YUM! While I don't particularly enjoy making crust, this tarte will be worth it for sure :)

Marie Z said...

Thanks Stephen & Alexis... The crust is really good. Suppose I should share that too... lol

ann m. said...

Hi there,
This receipe sounds like it would be a regular for guests too, I would love the crust receipe.
Love your website1

Thank you,
Ann M.

Anonymous said...

This looks incredible. I am going to some friends to show them my slides of my trip to Paris. They are going in October for the first time. I usually bring a dessert but this looks too good to pass up.
Cheers, Stephan

croquecamille said...

I still haven't made it to the Raspail Bio market, but now I might just have to make the trek!

Marie Z said...

Thank you Ann and Stephan, let me know how that worked for you!

Camille... you won't regret it. I now wonder how I ignored it for so long, especially as it's so easy to go by my favorite Marché Grenelle vendors on the way home.

Sharon Landon said...

Oooh, yummy! I hope to make this for brunch this weekend, although I will have to sprinkle half of it with feta crumbles because my hubby won't go near goat cheese. And, please do share your crust recipe!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that the onion/tomato tarte was a smash and I have made it several times since and always to raves. I did change the recipe slightly like using Gruyere instead of goat cheese and substituting fresh thyme for the basil. My friends loved it and my slide presentation of Paris. They thought I could be the next Rick Steves. The husband took copious notes as to what to see and do as they only have three days to take it all in. Cheers, Stephan

Marie Z said...

Hello Stephan.. I'm so glad the recipe worked for you! I've also made it with Gruyere and Thyme - how fun!

Hope your friends have a wonderful time - wish I could have seen your slide presentation...

Best, Mz