Savoring summer tarts at NoMI, Perennial

August 17, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Chefs can only make so much sorbet and ice cream from summer berries. One more creative - and delicious - way to feature them is in a tart. They can be large enough for a group or completely individualized.. And they offer the pastry chef a chance to present summer's bounty in all its glory.

Since it re-opened earlier this summer, Perennial Virant has been a poster child for all things seasonal. So even though pastry chef Kady Yon no longer oversees the day-to-day, her summer tart recipes are still a big part of the dessert menu.

"You can have fun with it, they're very versatile. If you want to choose like a fruit filling, keep it light or if you want to play heavier you can make a chocolate tart with fruit in there," she said.

Yon showed us how a summer tart is assembled: she first rolls out her dough, cutting a circular disc, then bakes it off. Almond paste is piped onto it, followed by tart lemon curd. Fresh berries are tossed with honey, and a few handfuls are mounded onto the base. A few toasted, slivered almonds add another level of crunch.

Meantime, downtown at the newly-revamped NoMI Kitchen, on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, pastry chef Meg Galus always has a trio of hyper-seasonal tarts on her menu.

"..and then we throw in a chocolate one for the chocolate lovers out there. But we've been changing them every two to three days, and just trying to keep things interesting and fresh," said Galus.

Her tarts begin much the same way, with a bottom crust, but that's where similarities end.

"It's not just a fill-and-bake operation. We have a flaky dough that we're using, a chocolate shell we're using, there's a hazelnut that we're using, we're doing a puff pastry for one and there's one encased entirely in a shell," Galus said.

That would be the lemon-rhubarb tart - a late spring/early summer offering that was positively splendid. For her cherry tart, she adds a thick layer of hazelnut paste to her crust, then another layer of vanilla pastry cream, followed by the ripe cherries.

"At the end of the day it's a really simple dessert, served very simply, very elegant; they're nice for sharing or eating all yourself too," she said.

NoMI Kitchen
800 N. Michigan Ave.

Perennial Virant
1800 N Lincoln Ave

Also mentioned:

Floriole Bakery
1220 W. Webster Ave.

1114 W. Belmont

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