This weekend I went home for the day to have a date with my mom exploring Roanoke. I had to be back in Indy for a day of filming on Sunday, so I came back the same night. We had a great time and I finally got to meet the woman behind La Dolce Vita, which is Italian for ‘the sweet life.’ She has catered my parents’ wine club and I am an avid reader of her newsletters, so it was a special treat to finally meet her. She is a Cordon Bleu alum and an all around talented lady, who also loves her dogs, good food, and people. I would love to take the trip to Paris that she leads every year, complete with cooking classes, yoga, and amazing food. In the meantime, my trip to Paris next month will have to do and her travels inspire me to see as much as I can. Her shop is adorable, so if you’re ever in Roanoke (close to Fort Wayne), it is a must. My mom let me pick out something and I chose a tart pan and two tiny fleur de sel (salt) dishes to have on the table for my next dinner party. There was a catered lunch the day we visited, so my mom and I made our purchases and wandered over to Joseph Decuis, one of the best restaurants in Indiana. Their Waygu beef burger is out of this world and the restaurant is connected to an old bank – you can even eat in the bank vault. My mom and I enjoyed the barley soup and oyster crackers and then made our way up and down the main street.
We shopped at a store called North End, where I tried on a $300 red dress that I did not buy, but I did get a navy dress for $40 to wear with leggings and riding boots as the weather gets colder.They also had a goldendoodle as the store greeter, so we had to go in. Roanoke has a small town feel with a lot of upscale stores. Their farmer’s market was one of my favorite weekend traditions when I came home for the summer.
Today I had the opportunity to see Barbara Pierce Bush speak at the annual Lugar Series luncheon and was so impressed by her! I am an alum of the program (Class of 2012) and continue to be so proud to be a part of the legacy of women working to make Indiana a better place. It was great to see so many of my friends and mentors in one place. Barbara Bush spoke about her work with Global Health Corps and her experience helping to fight HIV and TB in South Africa. My first nine weeks at the PR firm where I work were spent at our state department of health and we had two outbreaks in the state that I worked on: HIV in Scott County (over 160 cases) and a TB outbreak (100+ cases) at a school in Clark County. I am also going to Africa next September, so her remarks really hit home with me. She became passionate about public health during a trip to Africa with her father when she was at Yale. I became interested in it by accident – I spent the last two years of my life visiting doctors across state lines to try to figure out what ailed me and then the department of health opportunity arose and I was up for the challenge. A tad terrified, but I knew my government background would help and that everyday would be different, challenging, and life changing. I now work on a PR account for a hospital in Indy and am blown away by the subject matter and learn something new every day.
Barbara Bush mentioned that they had two people in their program dedicate a year to educate and help pregnant HIV positive women in Africa learn how to prevent their babies from being born with HIV. Over 7,000 women participated in the program and all 7,000 babies were born HIV negative. She also teared up when she spoke about her grandparents and how much she loves them. As someone who lost their last grandparent early in college, I treasure the memories I have with them and the letters I have kept in shoeboxes. Laura Bush was a librarian (she had a cat named Dewey, like the Dewey Decimal System), so she remarked that they are all nerds, which made me happy. My grandmother was a librarian and my mom taught kindergarten, so I come from a long line of nerds as well.
“My sister and I were raised to think that there’s no distinction. We could do anything as women.” – Barbara Pierce Bush
Now onto the recipe. I picked the tart pan as my treat since I didn’t own one. I love that the bottom comes out for easy removal and to easily mark the wax paper cutout to line it with. I chose this recipe from Whole Foods because my mom and I went back and forth in the car deciding ‘What would La Dolce Vita’ make and we decided pears. I used asian pears because they looked the best at the market, but any kind of pear will work!
PEAR AND ALMOND TART
Recipe via Whole Foods
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 eggs
- 5 ounces almond paste , broken into pieces
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup cold butter , cut into small pieces
- zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used two large asian pears)
For the frangipane, put almond paste, sugar and one of the eggs into the food processor and purée until smooth. Add butter, zest and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined. Mix in flour and baking powder then add remaining egg and continue mixing until smooth and well incorporated. Transfer frangipane to a medium bowl, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a (13-inch) circle. Transfer to a tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing pastry into bottom and sides of pan. With the rolling pin, roll over the top of the pan to cut off excess dough then prick bottom and sides all over with a fork. Spread frangipane mixture evenly over pastry. Starting in the middle, arrange pears in a spiral pattern on top, pressing them down lightly and leaving some room between pear slices for frangipane to puff up.
Arrange tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until pastry is golden brown and frangipane is set in the center and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside to let cool for 15 minutes then carefully remove outer ring of pan and transfer tart to a serving plate