Love is Real

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

“What is REAL?”
asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.  “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly,
except to people who don’t understand.”

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche FraîcheFig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

Since Life first unexpectedly sprung from unassuming, antediluvian and micellar murk on a planet wholly unrecognizable to us, so too did Death.
Organisms, animals—man and beast and plant alike—enter this realm and pass into the next.
And by the time sentience came into vogue, grief had entered the mix as well.

The unfairness of loss draws out our most innate and intimate emotions, primal keening and crying accompanied by
external, physical pain.  It hurts.

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche FraîcheFig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

To my best friend, my honey bee, keeper of my secrets and sharer of my memories—

Know that everything you feel is Real.
Love, regret, anger, and sadness all roll together to become the acutely painful sensation of grief, which is, paradoxically, the balm and toxin during heartbreaking loss.

Know, however, that your heart isn’t breaking.
It is swelling so full of love and memories that it is fit to burst; the dull ache of each thump in your chest only serves to remind you how very full it is.

No matter how deeply it feels like it is rending, it is knit together tightly by years of love.
That much, my dear, I can certainly promise you.

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

“Time, that infallible, indefatigable soldier, marches on.
I pool myself at his knees, pull at his clothes, cry, implore him for more, more, more.
I beg a retreat, a repeat– just one– beg for second chances, for one minute, one hour longer.

But he is deaf, this cruel god.  There is no rewinding, no turning back.
Done is done; done is done, calls his war drum.
Onward we march.  Forward we go.

Healing is not easy.
But you cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.
One walks hand in hand with the other.
And so must we, as their waves beat down on our beaches, as they soften and change our malleable souls.
This submission is not comfortable; it is not easy.

We do not like to be changed.”

It Gets Better, 2014

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

I must share this beautiful snapshot of writing:

“She was speaking last night about a litter of cats she wanted to bring home, and the look of the moonlight on a lake.
Memories from the past resurfacing.
When we are about to cross over, these thoughts are the things we take with us.
Philip Eastman

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

This stunning tart is definitely one of the most delicious and beautiful things I have made yet this summer.
Figs, to me, signal the dog days of summer: sticky, syrupy heat that produces fruit of the same temperament, as the season bleeds lazily into Autumn.

They are an unctuous, sensual fruit, and it is truly hard to beat a perfectly ripe fig.
Figs pair well, in my opinion, with savory flavors as well as bright, citrusy flavors.
This tart blends the two, with woodsy rosemary and tart lemon creating a perfectly harmonious backdrop for lots of thinly sliced, ripe figs.

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche FraîcheFig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

For this tart, buttery crust, crisp and perfectly fluted (no shrinkage! Heh.) is hit with pine-y rosemary and molasses-y brown sugar to elevate it above a basic pâte sucrée.
The shell is filled with tart citrusy cream, rich with cream cheese, cut with a whole lemon’s worth of zest and juice.
When chilled, it sets into a sliceable form, solid enough to support any number of fresh or seasonable fruits.
I can easily imagine this tart/pie made with sautéed plums, or candied citrus, any type of berry, or many tiny apricots.
Here, I’ve chosen a bevy of super ripe, late-season juicy black mission figs, sliced thin and brushed with warm apricot jam for shine.
The effect is jaw-dropping, a spiral of late summer’s finest fruits, showcasing their orange-y pink centers—a veritable sunset of beautiful colors.

When figs pie, indeed.

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart | La Pêche Fraîche

Fig, Rosemary, and Lemon Tart
makes 1 8-inch tart

for the rosemary-brown sugar pastry:
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour
30 grams (1/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar
50 grams (1/4 cup) brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
130 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) butter
1 egg
Whisk together 180g (1 1/2 cups) flour, 60g (1/2 cup) confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cut in 130g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) butter and whisk in an egg. Press into a tart pan and freeze. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Fill cooled shell with lemon cream: beat 130g (10 ounces) cream cheese with 90g (3/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar, the juice and zest of one lemon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Top with fresh, ripe fruit!

for the lemon cream:
130 grams (10 ounces) cream cheese
90 grams (3/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar
juice and zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

to assemble:
8-9 ripe figs, sliced very thinly
1 tablespoon apricot jam (optional)

Grease an 8-inch tart pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the crust: whisk together flour, confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, rosemary, and kosher salt.
Cut in the butter and whisk in the egg.
Knead lightly until dough comes together but is still slightly crumbly.
Press into prepared pan, prick all over with a fork, and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Weight with pie weights and parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.
Allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the lemon cream: whip cream cheese with confectioner’s sugar for 2 minutes until fluffy.
Add in the lemon zest, juice, and salt, and whip for 3 more minutes.
Fill cooled shell and chill for 15 minutes, until partially set.
Top with sliced figs or other fruit (berries, plums, candied citrus) and a brush of heated apricot jam for shine and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until completely set.
Serve chilled (cut with a hot, sharp knife).

15 thoughts on “Love is Real

  1. Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh this is so utterly gorgeous and perfect. Like seriously perfect. Like even the flavors sound like just whatcha need on a perfect summer afternoon! P.s. is that your backyard?!
    Many of your words really struck a chord in me, as I’m sure it does for others as all of us have also experienced loss too. Best wishes & prayers for your friend, Rachel<3

    1. Courtney, thank you so so much for your kind words and prayers. It is my backyard, in a rare moment devoid of bugs and rain—quite a miracle! xx

  2. What a truly beautiful post, all around. The line “Know, however, that your heart isn’t breaking.
    It is swelling so full of love and memories that it is fit to burst; the dull ache of each thump in your chest only serves to remind you how very full it is…” particularly stuck out to me because as much as I’ve read spiritual books on accepting loss as a natural aspect of life, I’ve never heard it expressed so beautifully. They tell you not to be sad when someone dies because their soul never truly dies, just their physical body, and this quote exemplifies that so well; that what all of us feel when we lose someone is an extraordinary amount of love for that person. I just thought that was such a beautiful and positive way of looking at death. I’m so sorry that your friend has lost that physical connection to their loved one, but hopefully they are embracing the memory and love of that person in their heart and mind still.

    As for this tart, it is absolutely stunning. The figs you’ve used are perfectly ripe, gorgeous figs…and on the bed of thick cream filling? Heaven! Also, who can resist a pate sucree? Delicious!

    1. Beeta, you are so kind. Thank you for sharing your (beautiful!) thoughts on this hard experience. I must admit I absolutely can’t resist a pate sucree.. I could pick and snack at a tart crust all day long! xx

  3. I always get a little bit excited when I see that you’ve done a new blog post, I know that what you’ve baked will make me salivate, and what you’ve written will get me right in the feels. I remember as a kid that every year around Christmas a cartoon version of the Velveteen Rabbit would be shown on TV – my parents had to ban me from watching it because for days afterwards I would be inconsolable with grief. Just thinking about it now is getting me a little teary…

    1. Cecily, the Velveteen Rabbit is one of the most heart wrenchingly beautiful children’s stories, isn’t it?! I was also overcome with memories while typing out that excerpt! I shall have to dig out my copy sometime soon…

  4. Wow, these photos are seriously gorgeous – the backyard deep green just kicks those pinks and reds in the figs into high gear! Really really beautiful and inspires me to try to make a tart so gorgeous!

    1. Thanks so much Allie! Wish I had the gumption to shoot outside more often. So glad I could provide a little inspiration! xx

  5. Hi Rachel! I just discovered your blog through Hummingbird High and I’m so happy I did! It’s gorgeous! Your photography is beautiful. And this tart…omg it sounds absolutely delicious! I love the flavour combination.<3

  6. Hi Rachel!
    Incredible words, as with every post. I don’t know how you do it. I love the pictures and the recipe, definitely going to try it!
    I was wondering, how do you choose the quotes that you use in your posts? They are always amazing, and never the sources I would think of. How do you come across them?

    1. Thank you so so much Maartje! The quotes are often pulled from inspiring pinterest quotes (I love my quotes board a little too much 🙂 ) and other times, I have them noted down from when I read books or the news. They’re really a mélange of quotes xx

  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous post. You list “rosemary” as a crust ingredient – what form? Rosemary oil? Rosemary fresh? Rosemary dried?

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