Saturday, July 3, 2010

Festive fruit tart

Photograph by Lori Korleski Richardson

This fresh fruit tart, with a shortbread base and a key-lime spread, looks pretty any time of the year, but with its blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, it's especially festive and appropriate for Independence Day. Enjoy!

The crust:

1 1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a  12-inch tart pan.
Mix flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Pour crumb mixture into pan. Press firmly and evenly against bottom and side of pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until light brown.
Cool completely before proceeding.

The filling:

1 can nonfat sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces lowfat cream cheese, softened
1 cup key-lime juice

Blend thoroughly the milk and cheese, then add the lime juice slowly until well blended. Spread to about an inch from the edge of the shortbread crust. It may look a little runny, but it will firm up as it chills. You may have an extra custard cup of the filling left over. Chill while preparing the fruit in the next step.

Putting it all together:

1 pint blueberries
1 pint red sweet cherries
4 very ripe strawberries
1 pint raspberries
(You will probably have fruit left over)
1 can of whipped cream

Wash all the fruit. Stem and cut the cherries in half, removing the pits. Cut a cone around the top of the strawberries and remove the green tops. Slice the strawberries vertically almost to the tip, then fan them out and place tip to tip in the middle. Surround the strawberries with a circle of blueberries. Surround the blueberries with a circle of cherry halves, cut side down. Surround the cherries with another circle of blueberries. At the very edge of the shortbread, spray whip cream into rosettes and top each rosette with a raspberry, stem end down.

Serves 12

Friday, July 2, 2010

An oasis in Dulles Airport

After a long flight from Sacramento to D.C., we weren't so much famished as weary as we hit the corridors of Dulles. We passed bars with bar food, several sit-down restaurants with way too many fried entrees.

Then we spied Vino Volo near gate C4. Behind faux wooden shutters lay a quiet, well-lighted corner wine bar with relaxed seating for about 21 at tables and a half dozen at the bar. It had flights of white, red and rose, and extremely friendly waiters and waitresses who weren't too overbearing.

We ordered the salmon rolls, which featured rolls of smoked salmon atop a bruschetta of crab salad, perched on a bed of baby lettuces and sprinkled with caper berries, and a small salad, which had dried cranberries, feta and a nice vinaigrette. With the flight of roses - a Chateau Suau from Bordeaux, a cave from Conde de Subirats and Avondale from South Africa - it made for a light late lunch and really hit the spot for the two of us.

By the time we were leaving around 4, the place was totally crowded, we were sated and ready for our next leg - home to Charlottesville.

Photo of Vino Volo by Lori Korleski Richardson

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Floundering Fishwife

Anytime I've mentioned that we've been to Asilomar, someone always asks if we ate at the Fishwife, which is right across the street. "It's so good!" they exclaim.

Well, almost everyone. Our friend Al said ominously when we told him we would be spending a few days there this week: "You don't want to eat there. There are a lot of better restaurants in the area."

Did we listen? No. We wanted to walk to our dinner, so we threw caution to the winds and walked in.

I now understand the appeal. It's close. And the fish is good, at least my sole piccata was. And if you've spent several days eating the cafeteria food at Asilomar (most conferences include the meal plan to save time), the Fishwife must indeed be a treat.

But after the fish and the fresh sprig of broccoli, well, the rest of the meal tasted blah. The Belize Shrimp tasted surprisingly bland and looked amazingly like the ones out of the bag from Costco. "When I see Belize, I think Marie Sharps," said my dinner companion, referring to the popular habanero-carrot sauce from that Central American country. "This wasn't spicy at all." The black beans were creamy, but the rice? Converted.

As we were leaving, we think we saw what the problem was. See photo below. If you can't buy fresh in the Pacific Grove area, you really aren't trying.