An apple-themed restaurant, tucked in the heart of Paris’s eighth arrondissement on Boulevard Haussmann, has reinterpreted France’s famous tarte Tatin into a delectable work of art and the ultimate Parisian apple pie.
The establishment, Pomze, is clearly nuts about the biblical fruit, offering diners an apple-based menu made with every kind of in-season apple you can think of, cooked in a multiplicity of ways.
So it goes without saying that Pomze has always served tarte Tatin, France’s iconic apple dessert. In the last 15 years since the restaurant opened, Pomze’s menu has featured the dish in its traditional form – an upside-down pastry with caramelised apple on top. The dessert has also been presented as a Pink Lady apple pie with gingerbread and more recently, took on a terrine-shape.
But in the last year, Pomze has taken an international turn delivering a tarte Tatin with a Japanese influence: "tarte Tatin en mille feuilles de pommes confites et crème fraîche de Normandie". In English, that translates to thousands of candied apple "leaves", served with crème fraîche from Normandy, France.
This unique creation features layers of delicately sliced apples, individually caramelised and moulded together to form a dish resembling the rounded appearance of an apple.
Pomze chef, Alexia Falcone, tells SBS she uses a Japanese daikon slicer to cut the apple into hundreds of thin slices, which are then individually baked in butter.
“We have this little Japanese machine that makes the apple into ribbons,” says Falcone.
“Then you have to roll it back [into the shape you want]. You put it back into the mould with a caramelly syrup. I deglaze the dish with lemon juice, cider and butter – lots of butter. It then goes into the oven for about two or so hours.
“The idea is to not cook the tarte Tatin for too long in that it turns into a fully candied apple, but long enough so that it has a bit of caramelisation.”
The result is like a symphony of melted apple slices that weave together to form the body of the whole tarte Tartin, served on a pastry crumb. This version also omits the burnt caramel flavour you often taste with some versions.
In the height of the European summer, Falcone uses Pink Lady apples to make the dish. But the apple variety will change depending on the season.
“Every time we get new apples, we try them with the tarte Tartine recipe and see if it holds well,” she says.
Owner of Pomze, Daniel Dayan, says although the appearance of the restaurant’s Parisian apple pie is a bit non-conformist, it still adheres to the traditional requirements of a tarte Tatin.
The result is like a symphony of melted apple slices that weave together to form the body of the whole tarte Tartin, served on a pastry crumb.
“You can’t say it’s not a tarte Tatin,” says Dayan. “We are not competing with the grandmother – that’s very important to know.”
The grandmother is the traditional upside-down apple pie variety, which Dayan respects and spent a long time researching before branching out into unique recipe variations.
“This dish has got all the elements of a tarte Tatin. We just go through a lot more work than we should do to make it, but the end result is very good.”
Dayan says the treatment of the apples before cooking also influences whether or not the dish will be too juicy and qualify as a decent tarte Tatin.
“The way you keep the juice in an apple can change the complete result of the tarte Tatin,” Dayan says. “At the end the day, it’s about the way you store your apples, the way you use the apples and the way you cut the apple.”
Throughout a full calendar year, the restaurant features up to 200 apple varieties on its menu. “In high season, we go through about 300-600 kilos of apples a week,” Dayan says. He also tells SBS that all their apples are sourced from French producers and stores them throughout the three-floors of the restaurant.
In addition to tarte Tatin, Pomze serves dishes featuring apples that are roasted, grilled, caramelised, spiced and smoked. Dishes also include apple-based alcohol like Calvados and apple cider; apple cider vinegar; apple ice-cream; apple sorbet cold soup with apple; and apple chutneys.
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Originally invented by the Tatin sisters at the beginning of the 20th century, tarte tatin recipes have become a French classic. The classic apple tarte tatin recipe can also be done in many different variations with pear, banana, pineapple or mango.
"This is a sticky, sweet and pretty damn decadent dessert that can stand up to quite an intense dessert wine. You want to make sure that the wine has good balance, which means plenty of natural acid to keep the sugar in check. This helps give the wine a really clean and refreshing finish; great when you think of that rich pastry and caramel combo. You can reach for a botrytis wine (usually riesling or semillon), which means the grapes have been shrivelled and concentrated in the vineyard, so the sweetness is intensified. Try a Hunter Valley Semillon like this one from Glenguin â€“ a great little producer based in Broke Fordwich." - Dan Coward