“Abra came in with shining eyes and a red nose from the frosty wind, and she brought such pleasure that Lee giggled softly when he saw her. Where are the tarts? She demanded.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Late spring and early summer is my favorite time of the year. When the harvest of local berries begins I can’t seem to get enough. Strawberries are the first. I eat them freshly picked and tucked into salads, but desserts with fresh berries are the best. I am not referring to the lackluster strawberries from the grocery or big box stores. These strawberries can be found almost year round. The grocery store berries are a variety grown to have a long shelf life and stay fresh after they are shipped cross country. (They also get a blast of MAP gas to lengthen shelf life.) I patiently wait for sweet strawberries that are picked when ripe and juicy. They are uniformly red! These berries must be eaten right away, the day they are picked is best. These sweet strawberries can be found at a local farm stand, farmers market or as part of a CSA. I’m fortunate that The Farm just outside Salinas grows some of the best organic berries. At least once a week during strawberry season you’ll find me there buying strawberries.
The best part of this Epicurious recipe is the rich mascarpone filling and port glaze that complement the sweet berries. I met up with fellow food blogger Gerlinde, of Sunny Cove Chef, for lunch and brought a tart to share. She couldn’t get enough of the port glaze. The glaze is easy to make, ruby red port and the juice from the macerated berries is simmered until thickened and reduced in volume. I added lemon thyme from my herb garden too. The port wine glaze would also flatter other berries–raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries and Olallie berries. Although the press-in in crust is easier to make than taking the time to roll out pastry dough my crusts were tough. We enjoyed the tarts but they would have been better with a tender crust. I will make this recipe again, but with my favorite pie crust recipe. Tips for a better pie crust can be found here. The original recipe makes a 10 inch tart. I made 4, 4 inch tarts instead.