Monday, March 22, 2010

Desert Mouse in the City

{In Which Yours Truly Is Dispatched to LA for the Making of A Tart}

My phone rings at 8am on Saturday morning. It's Kate. She is having a dinner party and needs me to come to Los Angeles and make desert, right now. LA is a two and a half hour drive from our little desert world, but when your best friend from high school needs you to come over and make dessert you grab your tart pan and you go. Luckily the husband is *very* understanding about these things.

And he was planning on driving to LA that morning anyway. Lucky for two doggies who love road trips. Lucky for everyone the freeway was lined with wildflowers. Lucky for me that rich California afternoon light filled Kate's adorable apartment when I arrived with my tart pan.

We cooked all afternoon. We were still flour-speckled when the guests arrived, but no matter. Kate ushered them into the apartment building's garden armed with hors d'oeuvres.  It is the kind of the garden one does not mind being ushered into. Especially when armed with hors d'oeuvres.

When you are young and just setting out in life a dinner party is a shared endeavor. So someone brought the table. And someone brought two very large, whole red snappers with very large, whole eyeballs. Which we stuffed with lemons and parsley and roasted in an encasement of rock salt.

We ran out of dinner plates so we used salad plates and saucers. We poached ferns and ivy from the neighbor's overgrown yard to pep up the sprays of freesia and ranunculus.  One has to be resourceful, if willing to trespass occasionally, when one has limited party supplies of ones own.

And I delivered on my promise of dessert in the form of a Meyer lemon tart, albeit one that had a rather shy, shrunken crust on one side. It was delicate, it had zing, it was not too sweet. And the making of this tart required the pulverization of an entire, perfect Meyer lemon. Who can contain herself from putting a whole lemon in the food processor and pressing the puree button with destructive glee? Not I.

During the course of dessert the obstreperous corgi discovered the aforementioned red snapper heads in the garbage and devoured them, googly eyes and all, which resulted in much scolding and fretting on my part and much coddling on the part of other, more forgiving friends.

We all ate too much, we drank too much, and we stayed up far too late, and it was marvelous. Sunday morning was not without some gentle chiding from a fresh-faced husband who was in fact Not Hungover, and who Knows How To Act Responsibly When Visiting Friends in LA. What can I say? A desert mouse has to make the most of her trips to the city.

Meyer lemon tart perfectly simple to make and perfectly, outrageously delicious to eat. Cheat and buy an unformed frozen pie crust if you're short on time or pastry dough expertise. Recipe from reliably wonderful Smitten Kitchen here.


  1. you are the bestest friend in the whole entire world and i just adore you and how beautifully you captured the evening, my apartment, and your rooster painting ( don't think i didn't notice) love you to little bits n' pieces. xo - kate

  2. This is fantastic (and I forgive you for posting a picture of me making a horrible grimace). It was lovely seeing you as always. I must squeeze in more Lily time before you head overseas!

  3. Wow! Thank you lovely for capturing a wonderful night. Honestly, that night would not have been the same without you. And the lemon tart was unforgettable!

    How is Biscuit's belly?


  4. aw!

    to live within distance of high school best friends for emergency desert! sounds so lovely.

    that patio! that painting!

  5. things I need: that lampshade and that garden.

  6. I love this story!!! And that tart looks divine.

    PS that garden is amazing.

  7. I had such a wonderful time seeing your sweet face and devouring your sweet desert! I swear I wasn't on the iphone for long. What a wonderful night! Gonna go take my typhoon pills now.

  8. What a yummy night you had...and you were not trespassing you were liberating the ferns and ivy...of course!

  9. That lemon tart looks so yummy. I am new to your blog and I just really love it!

  10. My corgi once ate an entire block of cheese off the hors d'oeuvre plate while we were sitting in the next room eating dinner. The are indeed obstreperous, but amazing, little creatures.
    P.S. I love your blog!

  11. Aww, you're a great friend and that tart looks yumalicious! Seems like such a fun night and what a lovely garden (and rooster painting, of course)!! xoxo

  12. The corgi's name is biscuit? Hell YES!

    Ok, so, I get my Harry Potter movies all mixed up, but ever since we watched The One With All The Boggarts, Bill's pronounced ranunculus "Ran-nun-CUL-ous" and flourishes a bit.
    It's pretty excellent now that they're in season again.

  13. LOVELY!
    I also couldn't help myself for drooling over the dessert!

  14. So Lily, when you visit Bangalore, I will be asking you to make a tart desert with some substitutions - An Indian Lime tart. You will be fed with plenty of Ritchie's biriyani (a Cooke Town staple) and watered with lots and lots of Kingfisher Beer.
    Then we can take loads of pictures and blog about it...:)

  15. Oooh Desert Mouse, that sounds like so much fun! Did it turn out to be okay for the corgi to eat fish heads? I hope so.

  16. soulflower: thank you for reassuring me that I am not going to be punished in the afterlife for my repeated trespassing offenses.

    meghan: thanks for stopping by!

    emma: we need to talk about your cogi. they are SO NAUGHTY. do you know the welsh term for plural corgis is CORGYN? yes. and it is a term frequently employed in this household.

    priya: deal.

    mouse: thanks for asking. the biscuit has come out on top yet again. fish heads: 0, biscuit: 1.

  17. What a fun and spontaneous trip!! I wish LA was a drive away from me! That tart looks amazing and those dogs are SO CUTE!!

  18. In fifth grade I learned to differentiate dessert from desert with the simple: when ordering ice cream(dessert), you'd want two scoops instead of one. Hence the two s'. I spelled it wrong in an earlier post. My bad.

  19. Oh Lily, I do love you.

    And now I'm completely overcome with nostalgia for the days when friends lived near enough (as in, on the same continent, even) for dinner parties like these to happen.


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