July 19, 2011

Tartines are a fun thing. A hefty piece of bread with some sort of substantial topping, it takes buttered toast to the next level. I am not sure what defines a tartine exactly. Savory or sweet, any combination of ingredients seems to fit the bill, as long as one is spreadable. Also, it is always ‘openfaced’ or else you’d have what we in the biz call a sandwich. Just kidding… everybody calls it a sandwich. Anyway let’s not ruin a damn good snack with labels.

While living in France I put together this not-timid tartine often. The secret was the perfectly correct blue cheese (the name of which has been long forgotten) and a good and bumpy blueberry preserves. Sweet and salty melding with tart and tangy, the jam and the unctuous bite of cheese make magic. Since then I chase the dragon, trying out blue cheeses with this naughty little brekkie in mind though I had never really hit it until recently.

MG picked up a few cheeses at our favorite neighborhood place and wound up with Azul Penacorada among others. A Spanish cow’s milk cheese, the Penacorada is creamy and rich and not too crumbly. It snaps you back from its deep blue haze with a touch of the crystalized texture that some cheeses have, otherwise known as lactic acid, which develops as the cheese ages. Though it’s not French, as soon as I tasted Azul Pencorada I left the house to run out for some blueberry preserves.

The next morning, on the fattest pieces of Amy’s whole wheat pullman toast, I put a good layer of the jam, a serious crumble of the blue (you want them to fight for space in your mouth) and that’s it. Tartine for kings and queens.

“Breakfast, then, can be toast. It can be piles of toast, generously buttered, and a bowl of honey or jam, and milk for Mortimer and coffee for you. You can be lavish because the meal is so inexpensive. You can have fun, because there is no trotting around with fried eggs and mussy dishes and grease in the pan and a lingeringly unpleasant smell in the air.”

M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf

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