Ruby Red Rhubarb

I started writing in my notebook after I tasted a rhubarb tart in Alsace. It was my first trip to France, I had just arrived, I had just settled into my room in an old bakery that had been renovated into a guest house and maintained by a baker in a small town in Alsace. I was getting comfortable and excited. My wife and I ate the tart straight out of the pastry box from the pâtisserie and smiled silently for longer than the tart lasted.

 

Here’s a method to make a rhubarb almond tart:

Rhubarb stalks

Powdered almonds

Butter

Sugar

Pastry flour

Egg yolks

Pinch of salt

Cut rhubarb into equal sized pieces about an inch in length; sprinkle enough sugar to extract juice and gently warm for a few minutes or until sugar is melted ensuring not to stir too often lest the delicate red skin on the rhubarb peels away; remove from heat and let the rhubarb exude its ruby-red juice; strain and reduce juice to a syrup. Using the remaining ingredients, make dough and prepare a fully-baked tart shell. Coat the inside bottom and sides of the cooled tart shell with the rhubarb syrup and arrange rhubarb pieces in an arrangement of choice. Glaze the top of the tart with more rhubarb syrup and serve.

 

 

I haven’t seen rhubarb in the farmer’s market and the few vendors I asked hadn’t either. My grocery store, however, has rhubarb from Oregon for a short period of time as spring transitions to summer. I wanted to buy some this year and ensure that the skin of the rhubarb was as firm and intact as I could find. When I went to the store, I couldn’t find long stalks of rhubarb with unblemished skin, so I asked a nearby staff member taking care of vegetables who readily volunteered to bring a box from cold storage that had just arrived. As he selected long beautiful stalks that he trimmed with his pocket knife to remove blemishes, I thanked him and felt compelled to explain how I was going to use the rhubarb so he might see reason in my request. Before I could finish, he nodded his head, I stopped, and then he told me about his mother - who was no more - who used to grow rhubarb in her garden and was very particular about how she cut and prepared the stalks. “I understand,” he said.

The tart seemed to acquire another dimension in addition to that provided by Alsace.

One thought on “Ruby Red Rhubarb

  1. Bala

    Email comment from reader, Ms. Nirmala:

    It is always lovely reading your blog about' Rhubarb Pie'. It was the first time I was seeing this vegetable . It reminded me of the red stem keerai thandu specially used in making curry with dry fish during the month of aadi.

    Interesting to note that sugar is used with the vegetable and both the vegetable and the syrup is used as the filling in the tart. Not knowing the vegetable and not able to sense its taste but the visual treat you have shared in your blog has got me salivating. The soothing colour of ruby pink filling has got to taste awesome. Will be lucky if I happen to visit you during its season so that I can request you to make it for me.

    Reply

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