When Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau first started to get into the business of making tarts in New York, Jerome took samples around to various stores looking for customers. On that first afternoon, he took only one order — for 40 tarts! That was over 10 years ago. The imaginative and talented team of Frank and Jerome soon opened a very successful cafe and bakeshop in New York’s Soho and now have a cookbook. Like their cafe, it’s called “Once Upon a Tart: Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More from New York City’s Favorite Bakeshop.” They discuss the book and demonstrate some of their recipes on “Today.” Sample some of their secrets below.
When Frank was growing up, there was an annual backyard party given by his neighbors. “It was the kind of event where you were sure to see people you hadn’t seen since the same party the year before. And that you wouldn’t see again until next year’s party.” Frank particularly looked forward to the strawberry-rhubarb crisp brought every year by a woman named Shamey. Well, Shamey gave Frank the recipe. And Frank made it into a tart. At home, he still makes it as a crisp — because it’s easier, and because he likes the higher fruit-to-crust ratio. Theoretically, rhubarb is harvested in the earliest days of summer, at the same time strawberries come into their own sweet selves. If for some reason you find strawberries but no rhubarb, you can substitute sliced tart apples for the rhubarb in this recipe.
Excerpted from “Once Upon a Tart: Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More from New York City’s Favorite Bakeshop and Cafe,” by Frank Mentesana. Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf a division of Random House, Inc.