Truffled Tomato Tarte Tatin

A great online gourmet store got in touch with me recently and offered me a product to review. How cannot I not say yes to such an offer. And the best part too about this online gourmet food shop is that they are right in my own backyard of the world. O Gourmet is based right here in Montreal, Quebec.

They really offer up a nice variety of hard to find local and high quality import products. The menu even offers up a Wild, Organic and Shop by Region section which is great for someone looking for a specific ethnic ingredient. O Gourmet graciously offered me a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar with Black Truffles to try out, imported by  a German company called A. Viani Importe. Most of A. Viani Importe products come from small local European producers, such as this Italian vinegar.

I did a little straight forward taste test and found this vinegar to be quite sweet and full bodied. I could not say I specifically notice a truffle taste but you can tell there is a hardy woody extra flavor in there.  It is great with  caramelized fruits, on roasted potatoes or spring vegetables and salads. And it took me quite a bit of time to come up with a fitting recipe to try it out on. Finally I made a savory tarte tatin with tomatoes and Thai eggplants (another one of those Asian grocery finds). The result was just exquisite. This is truly a recipe worthy of a fine epicurean meal.

Truffled Tomato Tarte Tatin

2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 small eggplant or a bunch of Thai eggplants
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 tbsp butter
2tbsp Balsamic Vinegar with Black Truffles
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 sheet sheet of puff pastry

optional: goat cheese, 1/4 tsp truffle oil

Directions:

  1. In an oven proof large skillet caramelize the onions with 2 tbsp of melted butter and a pinch of salt over a medium-high.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of water to lift any bits from the bottom of the pan for about 30 seconds, transfer to a bowl.
  3. In the same skillet melt the remaining over a medium-low heat until it turns golden.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and leave for a few seconds on burner until the harsh vinegar smell disappears.
  5. Remove from heat. Place prettily the sliced tomatoes and eggplants, salt and pepper, then top with the onions.
  6. Roll out the puff pastry a little bit larger then the size of the skillet. Cover with the puff pastry, tuck the edges under and cut several long vents in the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
  7. Bake for around 30 minutes in a  preheated oven at 425 F until golden.
  8. Let stand a few minute and then run a knife around the edges of the pastry before you flip the tart onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.

I sprinkled a few roasted pumpkin seeds I had and I also fluffed up some room temperature goat cheese with a for and a little bit of truffle oil. The goat cheese and truffle oil alone is absolutely incredible, with the tart is was just phenomenal worthy of any 5 star restaurant.

Thai Eggplants, the latest exotic find!

Miracle Berry: Fruit Dropping Party

Hey, psst…wanna by some Miracle fruit tablets? Have you ever heard of the Miracle berry and the hallucinogenic games it can play in your mouth? This is the coolest thing! The Miracle berry is a fruit originally grown in West Africa and has been used for centuries but of course the word of mouth spread only after the European dropped in for a visit/invasion. This berry makes sour foods taste sweet.

The berries contains a glycoprotein molecule called miraculin which coats and binds to the tongue’s taste buds when eaten. Science has extracted this molecule and successfully created a edible tablet which does the same thing than eating the fruit. Scientists have made the tablet yet they still don’t know why the phenomenon occurs. The one thing they know for sure is that miraculin messes around with your taste bud receptors.

Ever since I read about the Miracle Berry I have been so eager to try it. After some online shopping I found miracle fruit tablets at a very reasonable price. Finally the packet arrived in the mail. Right away I sent out an email to invite a select group of friends to my Fruit Dropping Party.

Why is it called that? Best guess I have is you are meant to eat acidic food so I assume is is a play of dropping acid? Such parties are also nicknamed flavor tripping parties. Let me assure you miracle fruit tablets are not a drug and are perfectly legal. It is however a subject of controversy as well, see last paragraph.

We were a party of 8 guinea pigs for this tasting experiment. Everyone brought a food to contribute. We all took a tablet and let it dissolve in our mouth, making sure we swished it around the whole tongue. The tablet itself tasted quite sour ironically. Then we all felt a earthy/powdery residue on the tongue. Someone volunteered to take the first lemon bite. It worked! We all jumped on the acidic buffet. See Karyn here bite into a lemon…

It was the strangest food spread I had ever seen: oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, tamarind, unripe mango, tomatoes, strawberries, pickled vegetables, sourdough bread, goat cheese, sour cream, salt and vinegar chips, salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, a sour candy called Toxic Waste, red wine and Guiness.

Not everyone reacted the exact same way to all foods but all found foods unusually sweet. A lemon still tastes like a lemon…just really sweet. Same for all other citrus. Tomatoes and unripe mangoes were so sweet ans strawberries were almost to sugary. The sour cream, the bread and goat cheese only had a slight effect but there was an unusual sweetness to it. Vinegary foods were less tangy but still had a bit of kick to them. The toxic candies were still sour..perhaps because it is a chemical sourness? Guiness had a more chocolaty taste to it. Bit I think the biggest shock for all was red wine: it tasted like Kool-Aid made with 5 cups of sugar, it was unbelievable.

We just ate in amazement for about 40 min until we started noticing the effect of the tablets was slowly wearing off. The effects can last between 15 to 60 min. At this point some guest were really happy I had bought antacid tablets. You flavor perception made be different but your stomach sees no difference! Oh boy! Many had a slightly sensitive stomach the next day. But it is totally worth it once to try. We had such a blast.

I highly recommend this experience. It is not expensive so get some and have your own Fruit Dropping Party. Just make sure to supply a bottle of antacid tablets too!

By the way Miracle Fruit tablets are great for those lacking appetite due to the metallic taste resulting from chemotherapy. Diabetic patients and dieters can use it as a way to calm a sugar craving without the calories or playing with their sugar levels.

But the US government has put a stop to any such research. It is legal to grow,buy, sell and consume Miracle berries on their own. It cannot be added legally to foods though because the FDA suddenly decided to classify it as a possible food additive instead of a food (as first planned). Why? Well there are stories that the sugar industry was not to happy about the whole situation. All we do know for sure is that in 1974 the one company developing miraculin for the diabetic market had to close its doors when the FDA slapped the food additive label. Such a label involves years of research and a whole lot of money, more then the Miraculin Company could ever dream of having. Did I mention too that it is a fact the offices of the Miraculin Company were ransacked not log before the FDA stepped in? Hmm, make your own conclusions.