Savory Tarts Made with Local Bounty
BY ADAM ERACE
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: cauliflower and cherry tomatoes with Linden Dale chevrè, guanciale and mustard; beets and sorrel with BirchRun Hills Blue cheese, PorcSalt bacon and herbs; cipollini onion with currant tomatoes
It is easy to spot Gil Ortale at Headhouse Farmers’ Market. Alongside girlfriend and business partner Nem Ngo, he is the laser-eyed, silver-haired face of Francophiliac bakeshop Market Day Canelé, surrounded on any given Sunday by dozens of caramel-brown canelés (a traditional Bordeaux confection) and the market-going devotees who love them. Last fall one of those devotees recommended Ortale try his tanned mitts at savory tarts, and when he brought a few of these “labors of love”—filled with guanciale, chèvre, ramp and fiddlehead—to market in May, Ortale says “there was traction right away.” With so many sugary draws at Headhouse—there are Ric’s Bread & Bakery’s cinnamon bread, Garces Trading Company’s macarons and Three Springs Fruit Farm’s berries engorged with nectar, for starters—Market Day’s savory tarts have become a hot commodity. The filling changes every week and features seasonally specific produce laid into Taproot Farm egg custard like precious gems.
Savory tarts have existed as long as tarts themselves have been filled; the earliest recipes date to medieval Europe and feature meat as the principal ingredient. But somewhere between the 15th and 21st centuries, these savory showstoppers fell out of fashion as transatlantic sugar cravings propelled those filled with fruit, jams, curds and creams to the fore. Today, as autumn cools the city and triggers a hunger for heartier fare, the tart trend is in reverse. “Sweet tarts are viewed as maybe more of a splurge, so folks need an excuse to indulge,” says Ortale. “In contrast, a savory tart is more adaptable. For breakfast, lunch or a light dinner, these just need to be warmed and served. They offer relief from shopping, prepping and cooking.”
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW KAHL