Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One Last Time: A Trip to the Neighborhood Grocery and Bakery

I will miss the neighborhood shops and cafes and coffeehouses just a short walk from our apartments. A French Bakery less than a mile a way....

Urban worlds do decentralized shopping- local shops- tiny shops- mom and pop hardware stores of every variety. These tiny neighborhood centers create a "small" town feel that our suburban lifestyles obliterate with all the chain stores and shopping malls and strip malls with acres and acres of free parking. Not here- you walk- or double park and run in "just for a minute"- to pick up the loaf of bread for dinner.

Now there are the BIG GROCERY stores here- but I love the small- the neighborhood grocery- with all the ingredients of most any meal I might prepare- no- there's only one choice of pasta- and sauce- But there's a meat and fish market that is marvelous (6 cuts of lamb- and 20 varieties of fish everyday- and of course chicken, pork and beef)- and butchers that don't mind special requests (they'll cut that lamb into just the perfect size pieces for my tagine)- and chat about recipes while they work.

I'm going to miss FRIENDLY! We stand and talk while the clerk is ringing up the groceries- about the weather- politics- recent news- holiday plans- Nice people- Neighborhood people. The help here at the deli counter never minds the order- unlike at Country Fresh in Cincy where the clerks roll their eyes and sigh out loud if anyone dares ask for two things- or extra thin slices. Here the clerks drop what they are doing to help me find something- chatting and laughing as we search together. I'm going to miss this. And produce- pomegranates, persimmons, leeks, chard, kale, arugula, meyer lemons, 6 varieties of potatoes... They know that only one good brand of boxed pasta in variety of shapes is just fine- as long as there are plenty of variety of produce-
And they even have a van to take folks home if they want- free of charge- just for the price of the groceries (that are very expensive- that's not the part I love!)

So the last trip to the market- and the last home cooked meal- was for a Dungeness Crab Tart. The Dungeness Crab has just come into season- and I wanted to try this recipe just once before we left.

First you make the crust (lots of flour and butter). And then you prepare the tart:

One tart shell (could use "store bought")- the recipe is for a 9 inch tart- I halved the recipe and used a small 7 inch pan

8 ounces of crab (I used Dungeness- fresh- local- but back in Cincy I'm going to try frozen)
2 leeks (sliced thin- white parts only- sauteed in 1 tbsp of butter- after the leeks have softened add:
1-2 cloves of garlic- minced- and slightly brown the garlic
1 cup of Gruyere cheese (I've seen a couple of recipes that use Swiss cheese)- Grate the cheese
2 eggs and 1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2- whisked together
1/8 cup of fresh herbs- I used parsley- that's what I had left over in the frig- but one recipe I saw called for Herbes de provence- 1 tsp dried

Gently mix tart ingredients together and pour into pan (because of the liquid nature of this tart do be sure you don't have tears in dough- or it will "leak" out of pan- might use a pie pan instead if you'd like- rather than a tart pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in 350 degree oven.

I served with an Arugula, Walnut, Roasted beet, red onion salad (I made the dressing for this salad using Walnut oil and Balsalmic Vinegar). The taste was superb!

But even as I write this the movers have packed the kitchen into boxes- and the next cooking I'll do will be in Cincy. So it's almost time for the final good bye to this lovely foggy city that I love.

1 comment:

Beyond The Strip said...

Mmmm, everything in the French bakery looked delightful! So does your tart. Looking forward to seeing you on Friday, safe driving.