PLAT DU JOUR: TARTINES!
Visit any quaint neighborhood bistro or cafe in France in the summer, and you are sure to find “tartine du jour” in a cursive scrawl on the chalkboard menu passed from table to table. The popular open-faced sandwich is the French take on “fast food.” Leave it to the French to take a rustic slice of sourdough, dress it with interesting and colorful toppings and voila you have something elegant on the plate!
When my husband and I lived in Paris, we would make a weekly pilgrimage to the famous Poilane bakery in our neighborhood. You know you have reached your destination by the buttery scent that tickles your nose and the line of elegant Parisians with their manicured dogs and silk scarves eager to cross the threshold into bread heaven.
The family-owned Poilane bakery turns out rustic boules of sourdough from a centuries-old, open wood fire oven below the bakery. It is truly a special experience, especially relishing one of their exquisite tart au pommes made with croissant dough. Next door there is a tiny cafe whose specialty is the “tartine” (on Poilane bread of course!). You can savor the quintessential ham and cheese with French mustard, smoked salmon and capers, a creative variation on the egg sandwich, roasted vegetables with fresh-made aioli and of course something with chocolate!
Last week, I created an assortment of tartines using locally-made bread and ingredients from the 12th South fruit and vegetable market and then displayed them on a large wood cutting board for family and friends to enjoy. It was a fragrant and colorful canvas of fresh ingredients, a cornucopia of nuts and cheeses, fruits, vegetables and cured meats drizzled with honey, olive oil and balsamic.
Tartines are perfect for summer picnics, cookouts and a light dinner! There are no rules but it does help to have a great bread. I used a thick, crusty sourdough from Ancestor Bakery here in Nashville. The owner has a wood-fire oven on a trailer (a food truck bakery!) and turns out fresh-milled hearty breads with thick crusts. They are perfect for tartines. I also used “the best baguette” in Nashville from my new favorite cafe, Dozen Bakery!
I constructed a cherry, pistachio and manchego tartine, one with fresh peaches, toasted hazelnuts and ricotta drizzled with honey, a simple avocado toast with lemon and parmessan, the traditional tomato buffala mozzarella with homemade pesto, a tartine of sliced pears, prosciuto and dressed with ribbons of parmessan and a balsamic glaze, the French specialty of shaved radishes, salted butter and dill and our family favorite of fresh-ground almond butter and nutella! On other occasions, I have created a roasted vegetable with pesto, smoked salmon with creme fraiche, dill and a squeeze of lemon, flank steak with arugula, Parmessan and balsamic, and my husband’s favorite of sliced fresh figs, toasted walnuts, blue cheese and rosemary honey.
Pair the open-faced sandwiches with a green salad and light vinaigrette, a cup of gazpacho or chilled cucumber yogurt mint soup, a glass of rosé and voila, you have a memorable meal!
I usually slice the bread thick, drizzle with olive oil or my favorite salted Irish butter, toast the bread under the broiler and then layer with colorful ingredients. It’s that simple!
Cherry, pistachio, manchego & peach, toasted hazelnuts, ricotta and a drizzle of honey & avocado and lemon