"There's no beauty without poignancy and there's no poignancy without the feeling that it's going, men, names, books, houses--bound for dust--mortal--" - F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Beautiful & Damned)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Apple Crostata & Chapel Hill, NC

Durham, NC

Goat, Fearrington Village, NC

I love D.C. - walking everywhere, street concerts, museums, and the many, many, all-you-can-drink mimosa brunches – but I still miss swimming pools (that I can’t jump across), hiking, and affordable restaurants. That’s why I went to Chapel Hill, NC for my birthday.

The first night, there was no electricity, so we sprawled on second-hand futons, ate crepe cake layered with pastry cream and lemon-curd, and drank pink champagne by candle-light. It was Amish meets French aristocrat. The next morning, we walked around the former headquarters of American Tobacco in Durham, now renovated into restaurants, apartments, and entertainment areas, and then had breakfast at Rue Cler. I ordered fresh beignets, which reminded me of the doughnut holes I ate hot from the deep-fryer as a child, only better, and Eufs Rue Clear, poached eggs, ham, and asparagus on toast, drizzled with béarnaise sauce. 

After regenerating pool-side, I put on my “party-clothes” and we went to a place I’ve been dreaming about since it was rated #47 on Gourmet’s top 50 restaurants, Lantern
. Through the clandestine ally entrance, we stepped into the intimate black and red bar. We ordered Chaat, dumplings, and my personal favorite, salt and pepper shrimp, which were fried in their shells, and showered with fried jalapenos and coriander.  There was also a single piece of bright, tender butter lettuce.

The next day, we hiked to a nearby quarry where we floated on blow-up rafts and watched more ambitious (interpret younger) boys flip into the water. Afterwards, we had Maple View Farm's ice cream, I recommend Carolina Crunch, and I ran around with an Australian Shepard who had nicer hair than me. To end the trip, we visited Fearrington Village, which has one of the top rated restaurants in the U.S., Belted cows, fainting goats, and event areas. The goats live in a “glen,” and the property has glowing spheres hanging from the trees… maybe a bit contrived, but magical.

Apple Crostata

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, September 2011
Sea Glass, Cape Elizabeth, ME

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt)
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
Note: I like to cube the butter, and then stick it in the freezer, to make the cubes as cold as possible.

-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons cornstarch
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-Pinch of salt
-2 1/2 pounds apples (about 5 large), peeled, halved, cored, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices (preferably organic)
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-1 large egg
-2 tablespoons raw sugar-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

-Parchment paper

To Make:
For crust:
1) Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar until well blended.
2) Add chilled, cubed butter, and mix with pastry-blender until coarse meal forms (do not over mix).
3) Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water, gently mixing with a wooden spoon, to form a dough ball. Knead the dough together gently, if necessary, but do not over-work dough.
4) Flatten dough into disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, removing 15 minutes before rolling out.

For Filling:
1) Preheat oven to 400°F.
2) Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. Roll out dough disk on parchment to a 15” round (it is okay if dough extends over the edges of the paper).
3) Whisk sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Add apples and lemon juice to bowl, and then toss apples to coat with sugar mixture.
4) Mound apple mixture in the center of rolled out dough, leaving a 3” border. Drizzle any remaining juices over apples.
5) Fold crust edges up over outer edges of filling, crimping and folding dough as necessary.
6) Transfer parchment and Crostata onto a large baking sheet.
7) Beat egg until blended, and then brush crust edges with beaten egg. Sprinkle crust generously with raw sugar.
8) Bake Crostata in the oven until juices are thick and bubbling, and dough is brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, and then run a thin knife around edges of Crostata to loosen from parchment, and prevent sticking.
9) Brush apples generously with maple syrup. Let Crostata cool, and then enjoy!

"Never eat more than you can lift" – Miss Piggy

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