the man from Marseille…

A small tart of tapenade, mozzarella and tomatoes in shortcrust pastry

Our local supermarket’s male employees tend not to be slim, suntanned and, above all, smiling; nor do they wear their hair in the mini ponytail once popular with hipsters and now de rigueur with rugby players but yet there he was….the man from Marseille, purveyor of olives, chillies, pistou, tapenade and confit d’ail, illuminating that bleak nether world that lies between the checkouts and the exits, a purgatory where souls become aware of what they have just spent and that they themselves are spent and yet the day stretches out before them still. In this heart of greyness stood a wooden table laden with so many huge glass bowls in which lay piled the most beautiful fruits of the Mediterranean indolently bathing in golden olive oil. When confronted by a plethora of good things, good things in the way that Jane Grigson wrote of things that she thought to be good,  I try to carefully consider which of them I greedily want and which of them I need and, if I conclude that I do indeed need one or some of them, I painstakingly assess which one or ones they may be. Then I take them all….or I would if I could. Shopping for food, be it in a shop, market or, sadly and more usually, in a supermarket, is one of my great pleasures and, as with all my great pleasures, financial probity is my watchword; it might be worth mentioning at this point that in my working life I would regularly receive compliments from my bank and my many suppliers mentioning my “outstanding balance”, indeed, I think I can say without fear of contradiction that few people, apart from the Great Blondin, would have received more.

small jars of black olive tapenade, amber pistou de poivrons and ivory purée de confit d’ail

After several seconds of deep reflection I had narrowed down my selection to but a couple of dozen essential larder items and a few other frivolities…which I quickly rejected on mentally assessing the worth of the loose change in my hand..”be sensible, Roger,” I said to myself “olives and stuff like that can’t cost much” went my thought process ” they grow on trees..and this isn’t a shop, it’s a table, but still, leave out the frivolities, stick to essentials”.
“How much will that be?” I asked, confidently holding out my hand in the palm of which nestled the equivalent of a six year old’s weekly pocket money. Odd how fast a smile can disappear….and how fast I became a mind reader capable of understanding “daft old cunt” in one of the more obscure Marseille patois.
When I returned from the cash machine I handed over a king’s ransom ( not a very important or well loved king it must be said) and left with three little bags of essentials. There is a happy ending to this story and here it is:

A small tart of tapenade, mozzarella and tomatoes by me

For tarts like this I always use a pate brisée from Patricia Wells’ “Bistro Cooking”…but use what you like, although I definitely would advise shortcrust over puff pastry for this tart.
175gms ordinary flour
105gms cold butter, cut into pieces
pinch of sea salt
3 tbsps of iced water

Put the flour and butter in a food processor and process for about 10 secs until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the iced water and then pulse 6-8 times until it starts to come together. Do not let it form a ball. Remove from the processor and place on grease proof paper. Flatten the dough to a disc, wrap and refrigerate.

For the filling:
I just made a small tart with some left over pastry so it’s up to you to decide on quantities for the filling. The idea is to line a tart tin with the pastry and chill it for 30 mins. Then spread tapenade over the base of the tart. Take some creme fraiche, beat grated Parmesan into it and spread a layer over the tapenade. Scatter torn lumps of mozzarella over this, season with black pepper, and then add a layer of slices of real tomatoes, by which I mean tomatoes with good flavour that are not full of seeds. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook in a preheated oven of 200C for approximately 45 minutes.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2017, baking, Cheese, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, Jane Grigson, Mediterranean food, Mozzarella, mozzarella and tomatoes, Olive oil, olives, Parmesan, pastry, Pesto, Photography, Provence, Recipes, tart, tart of tapenade, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to the man from Marseille…

  1. Nadia says:

    I actually prefer it with puff pastry. Luckily we are all different. Marseille is not the city it used to be unfortunately.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    That’s a beautiful picture (as always) and perfect, considering I’ve somehow seduced the egg lady at the farmers’ market into giving me all her cracked eggs when I buy my weekly half dozen. She is so charming and generous that there’s no way I’m refusing her kindness, but I often come home with a dozen eggs and need all the quiche, tortilla, fritatta, omelette recipes I can find.
    I’ve just returned from the French, after working on the French bar at the Soho Village Fête in St. Anne’s Churchyard. It’s all for a good cause. I got out just in time to have enough energy to visit the London trade drinks show at Olympia tomorrow. Tuesday could be a quiet day…
    I’m reading “Francis Bacon in the Blood”, by Micheal Peppiatt – it’s quite entertaining – food and drink play a big part. I’m sure you’ll recognise most of the bars and restaurants they visit.

    • Working on the French bar must have been fun. John Claridge has been running a wonderful set of pictures of Soho people that he shot in the 80’s …wonderful black and white portraits. I shall have to check out “Francis Bacon in the Blood”…sounds very interesting….I’ve gone back to reading ( for the fourth or fifth time) “The Gastronomic Me” by MFK Fisher which is marvellous….always good hearing from you.

  3. Michelle says:

    Happy ending indeed.

  4. Eha says:

    Hate to be a bore but relate to the ‘serious’ aspects of this only too well Roger 🙂 ! Usually go for my monthly on-line-shop late at night with a much bigger ‘desire’ component than wallet size: and somehow the ‘sad deletion process’ at the checkout to bring a total to half-way as to what seems right and proper is twice as slow as the eagerness of the supermarket to lay claim on what one ostensibly bought in the first place! Result depends on one’s mood . . . love the three gorgeous ‘specials’ of yours on show . . . .

    • My wallet has certainly shrunk with age….a result of enjoying oneself too much so I don’t mind. I expect you’re caught up virtually in the Tour de France….have a good month:)

      • Eha says:

        *smile* Not quite ‘my year’ – too much on on the proverbial plate to stay afloat until 3am for 3 weeks 🙂 ! Am trying for the ‘mountains’ but ‘thank you’ for remembering !!! Oh, I AM so there : !!!

      • I’m not good at late nights any more….love early mornings in summer. Good luck on the mountains …maillot a pois:)

  5. Ardys says:

    Sounds heavenly. I had to re-read the bit about ‘outstanding balance’ first interpreting it as praise for your canny saving skills…then realising that did not fit with the tenor of the piece 🙄. I have the same problem, discerning wants from needs… I think sometimes a ‘want’ is a need because to deny my desires goes against my philosophy of what life is for…and therein lies the problem.

    • Eha says:

      Thanks Ardys . . . as a at few times before you have made me read again and think again . . . and learn again . . . wish we has met at that Melbourne luncheon almost two years aback . . .

    • I’m very much of your opinion…..I’m also reaching the point were “wanting” is becoming better than “having”… certainly prevents any disappointment…:)

  6. Takes me into “salivating food heaven”, reading your brilliant recipe.

  7. Linda Duffin says:

    This made me smile … because the pictures look so appetising but also because I recognise your descriptions of the tedium of supermarket queues, the risible bank account balance and ergo, the questionable wisdom of spending shedloads of money on food I could live without. Like you, I usually succumb. Life would be duller without those little luxuries though.

  8. Lovely and delicious and all of those things together. Happy 4th of July to you in your beautiful country.

  9. Anuj Agarwal says:

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  10. What a spectacular food photo! I want to make and eat it right this minute.

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