Side Dish: Esin’s Poached Pear Brown Butter Tart
Eating out of season.
Cooking or eating off-season produce is considered taboo in these culinarily enlightened times. But when I was dining at Esin Restaurant and Bar in Danville two days before spring and was told that the rhubarb strawberry galette had sold out, I went for the poached pear brown butter tart (knowing full well that pears are a fall classic).
“Now”—as too sincere politicians are fond of saying—“let me be clear.” I am not advocating tomato salads in winter, nor Brussels sprouts in summer. In-season produce is typically grown locally, and is better tasting, more environmentally friendly, and less expensive. But I am saying it’s OK to break the rules once in a while and not feel guilty about it.
As for those purists, I say let them eat cake (or Esin’s bittersweet chocolate fudge brownies). It’s always in season.
So, on Sunday, two days after spring began, I found a way to eat at Esin again and, without reviewing my sins or even glancing at the dessert menu, I asked for the pear tart. In other words, I’m a repeat offender. And, as this blog makes clear, I’m unrepentant.
In my defense, the tart’s crust is so good, and the brown butter filling (a lightly sweetened baked custard) so rich that the pears played but a minor role. I would have probably delighted in a brown butter jicama tart. No, in my opinion, the true sin committed in offering this unseasonable fruit was that the warm tart came without vanilla bean ice cream. So I asked for it. Both times. Unrepentant.
Esin Restaurant and Bar. 750 Camino Ramon, Danville, (925) 314-0974, esinrestaurant.com. Lunch and dinner daily.