[Los Angeles] Chapter 3 : The Ocean / Lemon Tart by Pitchoun

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At midday, during the hottest hours, we make a pit stop on the Californian beach to lay down right where the water kisses the shore. Lying there on the edge of this land, we have the strange feeling of having been abandoned by the rest of the world. Our feet are warmed up by the fine sand in which they dig deeper and deeper, waves lick our skin as they gradually rise up our legs, finally covering us entirely with their foam, as the rays of sunlight descending from above pierce through our skin. All at once the current strengthens, we feel the power of the ocean which could snatch us from this world at any moment. Soaking wet, tongue dry, we are suddenly gripped by an imperious craving for something fresh. We need something sharp, acidic, which shakes us from head to toe, such as a good lemon tart which one bites into voraciously, eyes closed. Will the one proposed by the Pitchoun pastry shop hit the spot?

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This classically composed lemon tart is made of a sweet short crust pastry spread with lemon cream, and topped with an Italian meringue – which has been browned with a kitchen blowtorch.

The Lemon Tart by Pitchoun has a diameter of 75 mm and a heights of 35 mm. The specimen we purchased weights 87 grams and costs $4.50.

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Before we even start tasting it, we pick up the expected aromas of lemon and butter rising from the tart. The very sweet Italian meringue is unctuous and smooth. Its crests have been delicately browned with a kitchen blow torch, thus emphasizing its coiled appearance.

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The lemon cream, unctuous and homogenous, is nicely acidic but without having that slightly prickly tinge which we sometimes find in tarts in Paris. This cream is more consensual, respecting the classic codes of this dessert. It is made strictly by the book, carefully avoiding any residual taste of egg or other jarring element.

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As for the short crust pastry, it is baked just enough to brown lightly, while still conserving a uniform color throughout. Despite how lightly it is baked, it is desirably crisp and shows no sign of sogginess anywhere. We detect, spread over the bottom of the crust, an ingredient which isolates it from the lemon cream – possibly a very fine layer of marzipan, though we can’t say for sure.

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VERDICT

Neither daring nor ingenious, the Lemon Tart by Pitchoun in L.A. is faithful to the lemon tarts we know and cherish back in France. The Italian meringue, lemon cream and short crust pastry are all well executed and, together, form a highly appreciable composition. True, those looking for true innovation will leave unsatisfied – but to us, this Lemon Tart is a faithful ambassador of French pastry savoir-faire.

Score: 3.5/5

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Address:

545 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA
Open on Monday from 7am to 5pm, from Tuesday to Friday from 7am to 7pm, on Saturday from 8am to 7pm, and on Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
Tel: +1 213 689 3240
www.pitchounbakery.com

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