The food: lemon meringue tarts
I like finely crafted desserts as much as the next food obsessive, but I balk at a price of more than five bucks for one serving. And I scoff when presented with a restaurant dessert menu that lists items costing $10-$15. Hah! And no thanks.
This professed frugal attitude does not explain why I purchased an individual Bouchon Bakery lemon meringue tart at the SoHo Dean & Deluca store during a recent trip to New York, and willingly handed over $8 for it. I guess I was swayed by how pretty the tart looked (above). And because it seemed big enough to split in half and eat on two separate occasions in one day – once after lunch, and once after dinner. Or so my rationalization went.
I actually did end up portioning this tart out over two occasions. Partly because upon tasting it, I was disappointed to find it did not constitute my idea of lemon meringue tart perfection. The lemon filling was generous, tart, and sweet, and the meringue was nicely textured (soft and airy inside, a whisper-thin browned crust on the outside), but I did not care for the crumbly cookie-type base on the tart, being more of a classic pastry fan.
Back home in Toronto, I was charmed by both the price (only $4!) and lovely look of the individual lemon meringue tarts sold at Bobbette & Belle, a beautiful Leslieville bakery cafe devoted to artisanal pastries and high-end, custom made special occasion cakes.
The tart was almost as pretty as the store, but when I cut it open, I had another disappointment:
the layer of lemon curd was too thin to make any flavour impact.*
The winner, then, in the first round of the international lemon meringue tart wars that I will heroically continue to wage – and make caloric sacrifices for – in the coming months, is the $7 lemon meringue tart from The Canadian Pie Company shop/cafe on Queen Street East in Toronto.
This tart has it all: a pleasingly flaky pastry shell, generous layers of exemplary lemon curd filling and meringue, and a pretty, hand-crafted appearance.
The $7 price is a bit out of my range, but the tart can sometimes be found for $6 at Toronto’s Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, and either price can be justified according to the make-one-serving-into-two rule. Provided you’ve got the iron will to exercise that rule, that is.
*By the way, Bobbette & Belle’s blueberry scone, served with butter, was very nice: