Saturday, January 30, 2010


This is the second fortnightly Food for Thought meme the brainchild of the very talented Jain from Once in  Blue Moon and of Food With Style.

 The Road Home
**** and a half

Few things could be worse than losing a spouse to sickness and death, and when it happens and you have loved, it changes your life forever.

"Lev pressed a damp towel to his face and prayed that the heartache would pass, like a brief storm, like a nightmare from which it's possible to wake. But it wouldn't pass and so he stood there weeping....."

"When men cry it's never for nothing..."

It was the premature death of his wife, Mariana, that Lev wept for.

Lured by the opportunities of a capitalist country Lev had travelled to London from Auror, a deprived village in Eastern Europe, in search of a new life for his daughter and his mother back home.

Lev spends a year in London, with memories of Mariana tucked into his heart, sometimes reliving his past at will and at other times helplessly. 

It is a story of Lev, as an immigrant in London, his shift from one ideal to another, the loneliness he encounters, the displacement he feels, the despair of poverty, the friendships, the love affair, his foolishness and finally the discovery that he dared to dream.

This is a story that is profound, enchanting, painful and bittersweet. I loved it.

Because ..............

Tremain writes with such depth and intensity for every character. She makes them breathe and pulsate so I could touch them; each one fascinating and complete. Each precisely and expertly chiselled that it leaves you without a doubt to whom and what they are.

Tremain made me savour the book like a sweet not wanting to go too fast lest I lose its sweetness too soon.

Tremain made me tender and kind towards Lev's despair, his confusion, his rage and even his blunders because he was kind, gallant and genuine.

Tremain made me laugh thorugh Rudi, Lev's wild, impulsive and unpredictable friend.

Tremain made me cry.

It was woeful........It was wild...........It was beautiful.

Ruffled only by.................. 

An ending that was too predictable too soon before the end; it felt like a deja vu. If she had not let on a little too early and had ended the story with an optimistic hope rather than as a gift too neatly wrapped it would have been perfect. This was one of the three little brown spots in the apple. But I'm not going to make mountains out of molehills. I'm not going to nitpick.

It won the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.

This book proved perfect for Food For Thought because the story centred around Lev starting out as a dishwasher and later as a vegetable cutter at GK Ashe, a classy, high end restaurant, where he observed the chefs as they worked. So I had a vast uppity choice from paragraphs of detailed descriptions through Lev's eyes and mind.

I chose my favourite. A dessert named chocolate tart

It was also the dish on which Lev's mother, Ina, made her first comment, after a long and stubborn silence, marking her recognition and approval of Lev's dream.

She said, " I liked the taste of that. It reminded me of sleep."

The recipe...........ceated by Sydney's Aria pastry chef, Andrew Honeyset.......

This is a recipe I had extracted from a beautiful blog I had only recently discovered called Citrus and Candy. I had scrolled down innocently. And quite shockingly I found myself face to face with this gloriously evil tart. We glared at each other. I ~ stunned. It ~ proud. And I realised.......

That I had come. I had seen. And I had been conquered.


The recipe is as exactly as I had found it. I dared not fluster a speck... 

  Chocolate pastry :

320 gm plain flour
60 gm cocoa powder
160 gm sugar
pinch of salt
160 gm cold butter, diced 
2 eggs

Filling :

270 gm good quality chocolate, chopped
60 gm butter, diced
315 ml cream
3 eggs
2 egg yolks

Chocolate glacage :

300 gm dark chocolate, chopped
240 cream
300 ml chocolate sauce (recipe follows)

Chocolate sauce :

60 gm cocoa
200 ml water
120 gm sugar
25 gm butter, diced

Make chocolate pastry :

Place flour, cocoa, sugar,salt and butter in bowl of food processor and process till fine as breadcrumbs. Add eggs and process till it holds together. 

Turn onto a lightly floured boared and gently knead till just smooth.Shape into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge fro 10 mins to rest. 

Roll out pastry according to the tart pan or mould you're using. It's important that you use a tart tin with a removable bottom. You could roll out the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper. Let the pastry be about 3mm thickness. Line the tart tin. Place in fridge for 15 mins to rest. 

Line pastry with paper and fill with beans or rice and bake 10 mins, take out, remove, beans, and bake again for another 5 - 10 minutes or until firm. Keep aside.

Make filling :

Preheat oven 160 C.

Place butter and chocolate in a bowl. 

Place cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour hot cream over th ebutter and chosolate and stir until it all melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in eggs and stir until even and smooth again.

Pour the mixture into the tar shell up to about 3/4 full leaving enough room for the glacage.

Bake 25 minutes until the centre is just cooked and the top just set. Take tart out and allow to cool to room temperature before topping with the glacage.

Make chocolate sauce for the glacage :

Combine cocoa,water and sugar in a saucepan and stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, stir in butter till melted. Strain through sieve placed over a bowl and set aside.

Make Chocolate glacage :

Place chocolate in a large bowl. Place cream in saucepan and bring to a boil. Add in chocolate sauce. Stir to mix well and is smooth.

Assemble :

Pour the glacage over the cooled cooked tart up to the rim. Put in refrigerator to set and firm up. 


It was rich, deep and sonorously soothing  ~ like sleep.


Angie's Recipes said...

Don't know about the book.....but the chocolate tart looks sensational.
So is this ENTRY!

MaryMoh said...

Lovely summary of the book. Love the chocolate tart. It looks just right for Valentine's Day.....smooth, beautiful and delicious.

Quinn said...

The chocolate tart look so gorgeous I could almost taste it. Just look at the colour, dark, deep and bitter...Ahhhh, chocolates! I like your writing Zurin and you sure do read a lot. I've not heard of this book in fact. Sounds like a nice read, maybe I should go grab one. Thanks loads!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

This chocolate tart looks so good. And Thanks for sharing the summary of a nice book.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Love your ernest and soulful review. And that tart is just amazing! I am still moving through The Namesake at snail pace...:(... say, with this project of Jain's, do you find yourself consciously looking out for 'food words' when you read now? I do... so funny.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Decandent, goth, seductive, dangerous. How do you say no that something like that?!!! Beautiful review, Zurin. I felt it, through your words. I also loved the way you described how you chanced upon the tart at Citrus & Candy. You have a way with words. :)

pierre said...

hi zurin your tart is a ....killer !! chers from paris Pierre

Su-yin said...

That tart looks absolutely scrumptious, I especially like that close up shot. Oh my. Definitely something I will happily stuff myself with. Thanks for posting about this, I will have to make it soon! :)

Federica Simoni said...

questo post è meraviglioso!!! la torta è sublime!!! complimenti!

Rettabug said...

Oh my.....absolutely wonderful photos of some decadent dessert!
Thank you for sharing your take on this novel. I'll pass on reading it right now, though. Too close to home at the moment, me thinks.
However, I'd never pass up that chocoate tart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary said...

Your review is intriguing and your tart sooooo decadent and makes me want to dive right in to both!

La Table De Nana said...

Both are beguiling..both you have enticed me to try:) Ooh the tart is the best Last Chapter!
It sounds bad but a book that brings tears to my eyes..or a real smile to my lips.. is usually all I need..
Well done!Just divine.

Sarah said...

You've definitely enticed me to read this book. I'd follow a decadent chocolate tart anywhere. Your photos and text are sheer delight for me, and it's not even 8 AM. Oh, to wander into that beautiful chocolate first thing. Thanks for sharing this 5***** post!

KennyT said...

That chocolate tart is incredily gorgeous, I will weep with gratitude if you can save me 1 slice.^^

Lynne Daley said...

I'll have to add this book to my list. The pie looks amazing! On my list, too!

Maggie said...

Your description of the book, it made you laugh & cry ~ always a good thing, and the photographs ofthe chocolate tart have made me add this book to my wishlist at bookmooch.
Thanks for the recommendation.

Passionate About Baking said...

Hi Zurin,
You have a very beautiful blog-the bakes, the words and the pictures. Everything is just so wonderfully pieced together. Makes me want to stay and read more. The chocolate tart is so chocky and tarty! It's just, so tempting! Thanks for sharing the recipe. :)

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I love the rose petals....against the rich chocolate.....looks tunning!

a quiet life said...

i truly can barely breath... your visuals and words just mesmerize me... you are better the any book i read because you are the whole package, you take glorious images and you are a lyrical writer, the combo is perfection... when i do a book review i say nothing about the book, it is because i am the type that would say oh x murdered y and the key was in the vault with all the money and jewels and splat thats the story, i can't let little lyrical snippets out like you do, you truly are a gifted writer and artist~

that said i am adding this book and recipe... chocolate is my achilles heel, and seeing it thru you lens is a good as it gets!

i am soooooooooo impressed with your talents, frankly i need to just oil my jaw hinge, my mouth has been hanging open this entire post and i fear i will be drawing flies~ thank you SO much for sharing at food with thought, you are the epitome of my vision, ok well beyond even, because you truly excel at everything! beautiful beautiful beautiful, and tasty too!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What wonderful photos. You've tempted me to try that lovely tart. It would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

Pei-Lin said...

Looks absolutely decadent! Staring at them just blew me away!!

Deana Sidney said...

Ooh la la, what a wonderful cake and great book story.

pigpigscorner said...

Lovely review =) and the tart looks gorgeous! I think it's calling for me.

chow and chatter said...

wow what a talented baker you are Zurin this looks amazing!!!

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...

Oh my goodness~ Zurin, that tart looks outstanding. You never fail to impress with the gorgeous treasures from your kitchen.

I'm so happy you share your talents with us. So beautifully presented, too. Very, very nice! xo ~m

Linda said...

Zu this is a gorgeous post...
I loved every bit of it...
That tart...magnificent!
The book goes on my list...

2 Stews said...

At first I thought I'd read the book, and then with the predictable ending, maybe not. Then when I saw the tart in all it's glory and the description of a dish tasting like sleep....oh my!

I like the storyline and I'll add this book to my the tart...whoa! Just magnificent, Zurin...thanks for weaving the tale and bringing us to such a sweet ending!


Karen@Mignardise said...

Sooo much chocolate. So perfect!

Your photos are scrumptious and so is your review of the book. Great job!

Karen | Citrus and Candy said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and of course for trying the chocolate tart. Many have been wooed by this sinful treat and I'm sure you won't be the last. So glad you enjoyed it!

But as decadent as it is, forget the chocolate tart and let's talk about you. What a killer post Zurin! This is one heck of a book review you've just wrote and now I have one more to add on my list of books to read.

Love your work :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ahh that famous Aria chocolate tart! Amazing job and I'm going to seek out this book now. I really enjoy your book reviews and food pairings Zurin! :D

Melissa said...

Looks so decadent and delicious!

Cherine said...

This looks sensational. I'm drooling :)

Pam said...

Unbelievable! You had me at the first photo. The book sounds interesting but the tart is certainly the draw for me. Tastes like sleep? Hmmmm
I will certainly make this tart.
Beautifully done! Thanks Zurin,

Barbara said...

The book sounds wonderful, Zurin! I will read it ASAP.
Your chocolate tart is more than wonderful. It's dense, it's dark, it's chocolate!!!!
I could practically taste it. Your photos did it justice.

Rhondi said...

The book sounds good, but oh the chocolate looks wonderful....

Memória said...

OMG! I don't know if I could handle so much chocolate, but I could sure try!

terri@adailyobsession said...

the choc topping looks soooo silky. wow, i must make this!!

Cakebrain said...

what a gorgeous cross-section of the tart! I love how the surface sags a tad from its ooey gooey chocolateyness!

Hélène (Cannes) said...

I don't know the book but I do love chocolate tarts ! Yours is absolutely delightful with it's two creamy layers !
Just beautiful !

WendyinKK said...

The glossy top of the tart is so pretty.
May I know which brand of chocolate u used??

WendyinKK said...

Thanks for ur reply. I thought u used Lindt or some other branded imported chocs.

I do frequent that shop whenever I am in KL. I saw their chocs being sold in huge blocks, just divided into local and imported chunks (price more than double of local). I never notice anything smaller than 1kg unless it's their own chocolate, which is very inferior.
I'll try to see what they have, the next time I go there.

Nancy Jane said...

Oh my! I'm salivating over the cake and the marvelous review. This post was a very special treat at the end of a long day...

Divina Pe said...

That tempting chocolate is so rich and decadent. I like this series of food for thought with a matching recipe.

Sanjana said...

Dear me, that chocolate tart looks INCREDIBLE!

Julie said...

my my... they sure look delicious. Am itching to try this one out.

Nachiketa said...

Awww.... this is the most wonderful post inspired by a book, i've read in a while....

The pictures are fantastic... This is my attempt at one 'Haroun n the Sea of Stories Inspires Vibha's Hoopoe Lemon Cake'

The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

Anonymous said...

You have such a lovely blog!!
I love your recipes, If I make any of your recipes can I post them to my website and give you all the credit!!

Jojo P. said...

"The Road Home" is one of those books that succeeds in making you look at the world around you with new eyes.



Related Posts with Thumbnails