It was a warm night in Provincetown, Massachusetts, when I first discovered the magical combination of pear and goat cheese. I was an intern at the Fine Arts Work Center. The world was my oyster that summer. I had gotten probably the worst haircut of my adult life (pixie cut = no), but I wasn’t letting that stop me – I had an internship, a job, a cool town to hang out in, and fabulous roommates to boot.
That night, the night of the pear-goat cheese revelation, I had gone to my boss Dorothy’s apartment for a party. Her assistant, Mark, poured me my first gin and tonic, and once I added an extra lime, I was happy, happy, happy. I was told it was a signature drink in Cape Cod. I quietly sang to myself, “I think I’m gonna like it here.”
Dorothy is a tall woman with big presence to her – she’s friendly, energetic, and has long, curly, red hair. I went into the kitchen to say hello to her, and she was bustling around like a ball in a pinball machine – pinging off of counters and stove, opening and closing the oven door, and generally adding warmth and verve to an already warm kitchen.
As I stood there, feeling slothful, drinking, she handed me a plate of little toasted pieces of baguette, smeared with something white, and then topped with a slice of pear. “Goat cheese,” she explained. “It’s bread, goat cheese, honey, and pear.”
I took one bite of these adorable little snacks, and I was transformed. Sweet pear, tangy goat cheese, sweet honey, perfect baguette. I could have eaten the whole plate of them. And often, when I serve a similar appetizer, I’m tempted to do just that, pushing people away and muttering “my precious” between bites.
The salty-sweet combination is one of my favorites. I look for ways to mix the two tastes whenever I can, sprinkling sea salt on chocolate chip cookies or adding honey to salty cheese on crackers.
In last month’s Bon Appetit, there was a recipe for an Artichoke and Feta tart. It’s made with puff pastry, and it seemed terribly easy, but I also thought it sounded terribly adaptable (a good combination for a food blogger). The recipe below is an adaptation on the tart. Continue reading »