Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fig Tartlets...and the tiny village of Yvoire


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Growing up in southern Louisiana, figs were a pleasurable addition  to childhood sweets. Figs are such a beautiful fruit.  The deep purple hue is so captivating.  The juicy centers are a surprising contrast to the outside with their gentle color palette and myriads of tiny woven seeds.



I've been seeing fig tartlet recipes quite a bit lately and thought I would indulge in these little beauties.  

Interestingly, the recipe that I followed is not really a sweet dessert tartlet.  These could be considered more savory than sweet but there is a subtle sweetness.  They are a delicious option to that could accompany a light salad.



The filling for this slightly savory tart consists of ricotta cheese, sugar, 1 egg, and pine nuts.  The result was delicious, but different from a typical tartlet that I've had made with frangipane.  The flavors are subtle but the depth of taste is quite satisfying.



We've finally been  getting some relief from the sultry heat of the south.  Afternoon showers of rain are a welcome sight to everyone here and certainly to the parched earth that is ready to drink up and quench its thirst. 

The kids and I often choose a documentary in the afternoons, snuggle into our comfy chairs, and  listen to the patter of rain outside while learning about far away countries and cultures.  

We saw a cute film called The Stone of Destiny.  The movie is based on a true story about young Scottish college students who break into Westminster Abbey to retrieve the stone of Scotland.  

The Scottish scenery was breathtaking, the music soulful, and the accent of the people delightful.



Speaking of far away places, we are dreaming again of whisking off to explore corners of the world.  We have several places in mind but until those tickets are purchased, I'm going to stay "mum".  

What pushed me into the blogging world last year was the experiences we had on a trip through Switzerland and France last fall.  The trip  was so incredible.  The sights were so overwhelming to my senses that I needed an outlet to share my experiences.  

"Snippets of Thyme" is indeed a result that unfolded after  those travel and food  experiences.  

So today, I'm taking a journey back to  through an idyllic little village in France that was one of the many highlights of our trip.  This journey begins in the petite little village of Yvoire, France.


We landed in Geneva, Switzerland, rented  a car, and began driving east along the enchanting  southern coastline of Lake Geneva. About 35 minutes later, we rolled into this jewel of a french village right on the border of France and Switzerland.


Picture perfect?  check.
Gorgeous views?  check
Adorable shops and quaint restaurants? check, check, check!!



Patrick and I travelled to Yvoire when Madeleine was 1 years old.  We literally stumbled upon this little village, got out of the car, put Madeleine in her little backpack, and walked quietly through the cobblestoned streets.  We were young and in awe over the beauty of the village.  


Last year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary.  We vowed that someday we would return to Yvoire again.  Here we were now with our teen children.  Incredibly lovely and fortunate  to share this experience with them.




Little did we know how many delightful villages, towering castles, and winding country roads we would experience on this incredible journey.  This first stop in picturesque Yvoire was a dreamy appetizer to sights to come in the high mountains of Switzerland and then in the rolling hills of Provence.




The rocking of the boats on the water, the flowers tumbling out of seemingly every crevice, and the beauty of the massive stone buildings is truly post card perfect.  




We walked up and down the narrow twisty stone paths, trying to dream of what it would be like to call this place home.  Do the people who live here see this beauty?  Do they take it for granted?  Where do they dream of visiting?



Our hotel was snuggled among baskets of cascading flowers and vines hanging from every window.  The inside was quaint and cozy with a huge stone fire place crackling away to warm up guests from the impending chill of the lake winds.



The kids went up to our rooms to relax and Patrick and I decided to soak it all in on the sweet terrance that opened up from the hotel restaurant and sip on lovely little cups of espresso. 


"Can you believe we are back again in this enchanting village?"  I asked Patrick, with my eyes misting over, and filled with thankfulness for this second experience here.



We walked, just the two of us, hand in hand through tiny paths and in and out of tiny shops.  We were quiet.  Yvoire is about soaking in the beauty and calm of this tucked away little village.  We didn't need any words.  We just walked and walked.


We had passed a tiny little pizza restaurant earlier and the smell enticed us to return.  We picked up the kids from the inn. They were thrilled that their first meal was going to be - pizza!  

The first few hours in Yvoire couldn't have been dreamier.  The little pizza restaurant was warm and inviting.  The doors were all open to the street as soft breezes swept through the village.  The pizza was delicious - crispy crust and toppings flavored just right.  We opened our first demi bottle of heady French Bordeaux wine.



A singing duo from Peru strolled by playing haunting tunes of Peruvian music.  We sat back and just tried to take in all of this beautiful atmosphere.  

A few minutes later, lost in our reverie (and a bit jet lagged), a young man comes bounding into our view right outside the restaurant (pictured above).  He was quite animated and showing off these attachments he strapped to his legs that allowed him to spring high up in the air.  What a sight!


This final photo below is the view right outside of our window at sunrise the next morning.  Patrick and the kids were still sleeping.  I could feel the wonderful chill in the morning air.  I crept to the window, opened it wide and breathed in the morning sunrise.  The vines clinging to the rooftops were tinged with hues of red and orange signaling the start of the fall season. Gorgeous.  

Why do I love to travel so much?  Sights, smells, and sounds that exist like in this tiny little hamlet of Yvoire are why.  They beckon me to come and soak up their atmosphere of beauty, history, culture, and food.



Fig Tartlets with Ricotta Cheese and Pine Nuts (adapted from At Down Under blog)

















Ingredients:


















For the filling:
1/4 cup (110g) ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup (40g caster sugar)  (Snippet's Notes:  I just take regular sugar and run it through the blender to make it fine)
Handful of pine nuts
3 figs, halved

For the crust:
1 3/4 cup (250g) flour
2 teaspoons honey
2 Tbsp  water
1 stick (125g) butter at room temperature and diced
1 pinch of salt



Prepare the short crust pastry and let it rest for an hour in the fridge. Preheat oven to 410°F. Roll out pastry on dusted flour surface and press into tart pans.  Prick the bottom of the pastry. In a bowl mix together egg, ricotta and sugar. Add pine nuts and stir. Pour equally batter in tart pans (3/4 filled).  Top with a half fig. Bake for 30 minutes or until nicely golden on top. Remove from oven, turn out from tart pan and let cool on a wire rack.


22 comments:

  1. Those fig tartlets are so cute and look amazing. My family loves figs so I can't wait to try these out. And I'm jealous about your vacation! I love to travel, but right now we are limited to road trips. Those pictures are gorgeous.

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  2. This was such a treat to see and read! My sister lives in Coppet (right across the lake) and I've actually been to Yvoire...now I want to read all your other posts about Lake Geneva.

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  3. I dont know whether to be happy or sad that you have messed with my fig addiction. Lets go with happy! tremendous!
    T xx

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  4. I have seen before how beautifull this part of Switzerland is.Unfortunatelly I was too litlle when my father took mw to the Car Exibition .I do not remember any of yjhe famous chocolade or other things.
    Greta day fantatsic tartlet;)

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  5. Great looking tarts, I am so curious to try this amazing combination of ricotta, pine nuts and figs. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, the photos are gorgeous.

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  6. The sliced figs are such a gorgeous, dramatic addition to the tops of these tartlets. Figs are incredible little things, aren't they? So sensual and delicious.

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  7. Gorgeous, Sarah! I think those fig pics are some of your best work. Loved seeing your travel pics too. Lovely!

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  8. I love this tart with the ricotta and honey in the crust. will make it when figs are in the markets. I loooooove your photos from your travels, that is exactly the places i would love to visit.

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  9. Your pictures are so beautiful. I love the props you used in the pictures with the tarts.

    Yvoire looks so charming and cozy. If I didn't already plan on studying abroad in France/Europe during college, these pictures would have sealed the deal.

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  10. What an absolutely charming village. Always so special to be able to return to a place you love and share with your kids! And - I just love the image of the fig. Such fine art!!!

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  11. Wow it's so pretty. I love to travel too especially to old villages in Europe. As for the beauty around us, I think we all become a bit immune to it and sometimes need to be reminded to appreciate it.

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  12. Not only is your blog a lovely and intoxicating food blog...it is also a beautiful photography blog...I'm always transported to heavenly epicurian delights or to far away lands...in this country and otherwise, and Yvoire is the latest proof of that, so pretty.
    The fig images should be framed and gracing a kitchen or dining room wall. I thought for sure the tartlets would have the frangipane base...I was surprised bu the ricotta-pine nut bit...sounds very interesting. I wonder if the almond would work as well also.
    Another lovely post...
    xo J~

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  13. I adore fresh figs and when they are in season I cannot resist them! These look gorgeous!

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  14. Wonderful! Fantastic!
    Thanks for sharing, Sarah! I enjoyed the visit. :)

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  15. Stunning photography and a great read! Thank you for sharing! :)

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  16. Wow what a post!! I adore absolutely anything with figs - and these tarts look delicious!! And loved the tour of Yvoire - so beautiful!! What an incredibly charming village. And as usual, your photography is exceptional. Thank you for the vicarious visit!!

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  17. These pictures and the stories behind them are simply captivating -- truly an inspiration to travel. The tarts are an inspiration to eat something too!

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  18. I love figs! These tarts look and sound delicious. I am a big ricotta fan also so these had me as soon as I saw them.

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  19. Stunning photos.. ;) I always adore your works of magic here.. :)

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  20. Wonderful images.

    I remember thinking the same thing when I went to France.... do the locals realize how beautiful their villages are? What do they consider beautifully different from their norm? Where do they dream of going? Where have they gone in the world that made them feel as inspired as I did when I saw their gorgeous places? I'll bet many of those locals have never left... why would you need to?!

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  21. Hello dear Thyme !

    your website is so beautiful !

    I love cooking,I've been leaving in London, I'm now near Paris, I've been travelling in the US, first in Texas ( Dallas & San Antonio ) then in silicon valley for work,

    I have my elder son in Canada the yonger is in Africa

    what else ?

    please be welcome in my website's kitchen
    I'll be honoured


    kindest regards

    bree

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How wonderful to hear from new friends...