Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with TripAdvisor. All opinions in this post are my own.
Whenever I travel, one of my first questions is always, “Where are we going to eat?” The meal part of any of my travel itineraries is usually the first to be filled out, and usually the most elaborately detailed as well. Whether I’m visiting a place for the first time or making a return trip to a favorite destination, knowing what’s good to eat there is always at the forefront of my mind.
TripAdvisor invited several bloggers to recreate a dish based on a restaurant we had visited on our travels, to help promote their 2015 Travelers’ Choice Restaurant Awards. Although many people may think of TripAdvisor primarily as a site to book hotels or research attractions for sightseeing, they also have a comprehensive restaurant database of over 3 million restaurants around the world. What I like about TripAdvisor is the sheer depth of the reviews; you can find opinions from literally all over the world, on any spot all over the world. It makes it simple to do all my travel research, and I enjoy seeing the perspectives from all different kinds of travelers. It’s interesting to see what visitors think of some of my local restaurants!
Although I was tempted to make something based on some of my more far-flung travels, upon perusing the list of top restaurants in the US, I was immediately delighted to find Chez Panisse at the #8 spot. Alice Waters’ landmark restaurant not only remains a superlative icon of California cuisine, it’s one of my very first fine dining experiences. I remember moving to Berkeley for college, and upon arriving, wandering the streets of North Berkeley to explore my new neighborhood. I came across this beautiful Arts and Crafts style house nestled back from the street, looking like it belonged in the middle of the woods. The name across the wooden archway leading to the door read, “Chez Panisse”. I was eighteen years old, with no knowledge of the culinary world or the history behind this restaurant, but I knew one day I wanted to eat there. I did, several years later, and it remains one of my fondest gastronomic experiences. For any travelers coming to the Bay Area, Chez Panisse is one of the loveliest introductions to California cuisine, presented in the warmest and coziest of settings.
The food at Chez Panisse is simple, unpretentious, and focuses on the quality of the ingredients, which are almost always locally sourced and sustainably grown. There are no overly-complicated-sounding dishes, no unpronounceable ingredients or techniques, just food showcased at its peak, like a spit-roasted duck over amaranth greens, or simple frisée salad with chanterelles and Mission figs. This apple galette is a prime example of the cuisine of Chez Panisse. I remember having this dessert there: a seemingly rustic tart composed of apples sparked with a bit of lemon peel, delicately arranged inside a crisp, buttery crust, baked to juicy sweetness. Deceptively simple but perfect in execution. It tasted like autumn in California.
This apple pomegranate galette is my tribute to the many wonderful dinners I’ve had at Chez Panisse. Tarts are my favorite dessert to make, and this galette uses my favorite pastry recipe – a super quick and easy blitz puff pastry. I’ve written an ode to my love for blitz puff before; the recipes I’ve found for Chez Panisse’s apple galette seem to use a basic pie dough, but I love using puff pastry for the extra flakiness and crunch. Making blitz puff takes almost no extra time from making pie dough, and I think the results are more than worth a little bit of rolling and folding.
You should, of course, use the best apples you can find. Golden Delicious and Granny Smith are always good baking apples; I also like using Honeycrisp or Pink Lady. The apricot jam at the bottom gives the galette a boost of sweetness and bakes into a deliciously gooey layer that helps soften the apples. I added my own touch by sprinkling some pomegranate seeds over the top for some extra burst of sweetness. I love the bits of red from the pomegranate seeds and the apple slices, which gives a galette a festive look.
Every time I make a galette, I’m reminded of how something simple can be made special, just by taking care with choosing the right ingredients and assembling with care. I’m glad Chez Panisse is still here to inspire me and countless other visitors with its gorgeous food.
Check out some of the other restaurants on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards list, or use their restaurant database to find suggestions for the next city you visit. I’ll also be participating in a Twitter chat about the Travelers’ Choice restaurant awards on October 28; be sure to tune in to my Twitter @anitachu and the hashtag #TraveltoTaste to get some more recommendations for places to eat!
What’s one of your favorite dining experiences from your travels?
- 5 ounces all purpose flour
- 5 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-in pieces
- ½ tsp salt
- 45 ml (45 g) water, ice cold
- 2 medium apples (about 1 pound, I used Honeycrisp)
- ¼ cup apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- few teaspoons milk for brushing crust
- turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- Combine the flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the ingredients together on low speed until the mixture is shaggy and resembles cornmeal, with visible pieces of butter still. Do not let the flour and butter turn into a solid ball of dough – if the components are completely mixed you will not have the layering of flour and fat needed to form the flaky layers!
- Add the salt to the mixture. Pour in the water and mix on low speed just until the dough starts to come together; again, don’t let the dough turn into one solid lump. There should still be little pieces of butter and the dough should be sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and form into a square. If the kitchen is warm and the dough is very soft and sticky, place it on a sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes until it firms up enough to work with.
- Using flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, roll out the dough about ½ inch thick and in the shape of a rectangle. The dimensions are not important – a roughly rectangle shape is fine, but try to keep the edges straight and square with each other so when you fold the dough over the edges will line up evenly.
- To do a single turn on the dough, imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into thirds. Fold one end third over onto the middle third, then fold the other end third over on top, making a trifold. Make sure the edges are lined up as evenly as possible.
- Roll the trifold out again to about ½" thickness and in the shape of a rectangle, switching the directions of the long and short sides – in other words, the folded sides of the trifold should become the long side and the open sides should become the short side.
- Do another turn (trifold) with this rectangle.
- Repeat this process one more time so you have done a total of three turns. If at any point the dough starts becoming very soft or rubbery, let it rest in the refrigerator for a little bit before working on it some more.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle. This time, do a double turn – imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into fourths. Fold both end fourths over onto the center fourths, then fold the two sides together again so all four layers are stacked on top of each other. Wrap the dough up completely in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out on a piece of parchment paper to a 13" diameter round. Transfer parchment to a baking sheet and place back in the refrigerator to chill while you cut up the apples.
- Wash, peel, core, and cut the apples into ⅛" thick slices. Place the slices in a bowl of water mixed with a few drops of lemon juice.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Brush with the apricot preserves, leaving about 1½" free around the border.
- Arrange the apple slices in overlapping circles, starting from the outside and working in. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar.
- Fold the border of the dough up and over the fruit, pleating the edges together.
- Brush the edges with a little milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake galette for 40-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and crisp. (You want to bake the galette a little longer than you think so the bottom is fully cooked as well and doesn't get soggy.)
- Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from parchment. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.