Chef's Seminar This Month Vol. 25 No. 11

Tarte De Mentone – Matthew Bowden, Executive Chef, Mentone, California

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Pissaladière is the traditional pizza of southern France around the Côte d’Azur consisting of a thick doughy crust topped with salted cream, cooked onions, anchovies, and olives. The origin of the word, pissaladière is pissalat – or peis salat – which means “salted fish.”

Indeed, what sets this dish apart from other “pizzas” is the salted fish purée, usually anchovy cream. The saltiness of the fish and olives combined with the sweetness of caramelized onions is a sublime combination. Add a salade chèvre chaud and a bottle of chilled Provence rosé, and you’re set for a meal that will transport you to St. Tropez.

Or, you can visit Mentone, the French-Italian Riviera-inspired casual restaurant owned by David Kinch, also owner and executive chef of Michelin three-star-rated Manresa in Los Gatos, California. Located nearby in Aptos Village, Mentone was inspired by Kinch’s travels through the Liguria Coast stretching from Genoa to Nice. Mentone is the Italian version for the French border town, Mentone. Mentone is open for dinners Wednesday through Sunday.

Upon entering Mentone, one is surrounded by photos of the Côte d’Azur and the celebrities who helped glamorize it; think Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni, and the Rolling Stones in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Kinch is such a Rolling Stones fan that Mentone’s large white pizza oven has the band’s hot lips logo emblazoned on it.

Mentone Pizza Oven with Rolling Stones “Hot Lips”

Tarte de Mentone Recipe

In this recipe. Matthew Bowden, Executive Chef at Mentone, explains how to prepare the restaurant’s Tarte de Mentone, starting with the house-made bread dough.

Mentone Executive Chef Matthew Bowden at the pizza oven

Tart Dough

7 grams instant yeast

210 grams water

90 grams extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

420 grams all-purpose flour

9 grams salt

Onions

8 white onions thinly sliced

1 garlic clove chopped

1 sprig marjoram

1 sprig thyme

100 grams EVOO

200 grams vermouth 

10 grams colatura (Italian fermented fish sauce) or other fish sauce 

Salt and white pepper to taste

Anchovies packed in oil 

Niçoise Olives

Prep the Tart Dough:

Mix the water, yeast, and olive oil in a small bowl, and let sit for 5 minutes.  Place the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the water/yeast/EVOO mix and knead by hand until smooth and elastic. 

Place in a clean bowl, cover, and let proof for one hour. 

After one hour, punch down the dough to deflate slightly.  Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll into 1/4-inch thin round. 

Cut to fit your 12-inch tin, then place the dough in tin, cover, and let proof for another 45 minutes.  (Note: if the dough shrinks after you cut it, don’t worry, the second proofing will relax the dough).

While the dough is proofing, prepare the onions.

Add olive oil and thinly sliced onions to a sauté pan on medium heat. 

Cook gently until onions are soft and translucent, then add marjoram and thyme.

Push onions to one side of the pan and add the vermouth.  Let vermouth reduce slightly for a minute, then stir into the onions. Season with white pepper and fish sauce to taste.

Preheat your oven to 410 degrees.

After the dough has proofed in the pan for 45 minutes, gently press the dough to push up against the edges of the tin. 

Layer the onions over the top of the dough, leaving a border around the rim of the pan. 

Place the tarte into your heated oven and cook at 410 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. 

After the tart has cooled slightly, top with whole anchovy fillets (about two per slice) and Niçoise olives.

Slice of Tarte de Mentone
Photo Credit: Melanie Young

What to drink?

Alyssa Papierneick, Mentone’s wine director, has assembled a list primarily focused on France and Italy and local producers from nearby Santa Cruz. Her recommendation is a dry rosé like Domaine de Sulauze Pomponette 2020, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.

Started in 2004 by a husband-wife duo, this winery is 100 percent biodynamic. This rosé is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah and Vermentino (known as Rolle in southern France). This is a refreshing, dry, and mineral-driven wine with delicate peach, wild strawberry, and spice notes.

Tarte de Mentone with Domaine de Sulauze Pomponette 2020, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
Photo Credit: David Ransom

An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. www.theconnectedtable.com www.melanieyoung.com Instagram @theconnectedtable

1 comment on “Tarte De Mentone – Matthew Bowden, Executive Chef, Mentone, California

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