John Taylor, Julie Anne, and Nick Rhodes

Even when I was married to a pop star, I never received the kind of rock star treatment I received at the Ivy this week. Okay, I admit I’ve missed being able to turn up to the hottest, hippest restaurant in any town, last minute, without a reservation, and still be confident they will still seat us. Fame has it’s perks, and no one has more of that clout than Mick Jagger. We spontaneously turned up to one of those packed “in” restaurants in Paris one evening. The maitre d’ actually asked a table of diners mid-meal to move so that we could all be seated. It happened so quickly we couldn’t even protest. In utter disbelief and somewhat embarrassed, Mick mentioned “we had better hope Jackie O doesn’t turn up next!”

This time we did have a reservation, but the restaurant has a strict policy that they do not seat people until their entire party has arrived. I completely understand the policy… restaurants need to turn as many tables as they can, and there were scores of people standing outside already waiting to be seated.

Maybe chefs are the new rock stars, we were wearing the shades
Of course my fashionably late English friends were completely unaware we would be kept waiting, standing in the hot sun outside. Nor did they realize how long it would take in LA traffic to travel the relatively short distance from their hotel. I knew fashionably late would soon turn into just plain late. Hoping the restaurant might make an exception to the rule, I pushed my way back through the throngs to plead my circumstances, and we were politely directed to the home furnishings shop next door to sit and wait.
Miranda and Jan… friends well worth waiting for
Once Lynn, the wonderfully gracious owner of both the shop and the restaurant, heard I’d recently undergone open heart surgery, she immediately called the restaurant to bring over a table and chairs for us to sit at comfortably in the shade. Then she insisted we order anything we’d like to drink compliments of the house while we waited.
I had to stifle a giggle while remembering the hefty bill from an evening years ago. Yasmin LeBon and I ordered bottle after bottle of Cristal Rose champagne while entertaining friends at the Ivy, then promptly charged the bill to our unsuspecting husbands who were away on tour. I jokingly suggested “how about Cristal Rose?”… Lynn didn’t even bat an eyelash or miss a beat when she repeated “anything you like, anything at all.” We ordered iced tea.
I could get used to this!
The waiters brought the table and chairs with such finesse it attracted the attention of everyone waiting outside and a passing Hollywood tours bus. Lynn stayed, introduced us to her beautiful daughter, and chatted with us until the iced tea and water arrived along with fresh, still warm- from-the-oven molasses bread and butter to nibble on.
Our special table
Just as we were getting used to the star treatment our friends arrived, and we were ushered directly past the waiting crowd to our table for a fabulous meal, and wickedly delicious desserts. I have yet to sample a tarte tartin that can come close to the Ivy’s, not even in France. The flaky pastry, buttery, juicy chunks of slightly tart apple impregnated with caramelized sugar… a gooey piece of bliss that sends me into sheer ecstasy every time.
Julie Anne, Karla, Miranda, and Jan
Thank you Miranda for a yummy meal and endless deep belly laughs. And thank you Lynn for making it so special. THAT is rock star treatment done right (even if we are a couple personal chefs minus the rock stars). It may not be quite as good as the Ivy, but I’ve made the recipe below to rave reviews…
Tarte Tartin

recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine, March 2001
Servings: 8

Ingredients:
  • frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 7 to 9 Gala apples (3 to 4 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored

    • * Special equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet

     

Directions:

1).Preheat oven to 425°F.

2). Roll pastry sheet into a 101/2-inch square on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. Brush off excess flour and cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer round to a baking sheet and chill.


3). Spread butter thickly on bottom and side of skillet and pour sugar evenly over bottom. Arrange as many apples as will fit vertically on sugar, packing them tightly in concentric circles. Apples will stick up above rim of skillet.


4). Cook apples over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until juices are deep golden and bubbling, 18 to 25 minutes. (Don’t worry if juices color unevenly.)


5). Put skillet in middle of oven over a piece of foil to catch any drips. Bake 20 minutes (apples will settle slightly), then remove from oven and lay pastry round over apples.

Bake tart until pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool at least 10 minutes.


6). Just before serving, invert a platter with lip over skillet and, using potholders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto platter. Replace any apples that stick to skillet. (Don’t worry if there are black spots; they won’t affect the flavor of the tart.) Brush any excess caramel from skillet over apples. Serve immediately.


Notes: Tart can cool in skillet up to 30 minutes. It can also stand, uncovered, up to 5 hours, then be heated over moderately low heat 1 to 2 minutes to loosen caramel. Shake skillet gently to loosen tart before inverting.


Serving Suggestions: Traditionally served with a dollop of creme frais, whipped cream, or vanilla bean ice cream.
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