The nicest way I know of to spend Saturday morning is to linger over a slice of syrupy tarte tatin at Julienne. Seated at a tiny marble-topped table, listening to classical music and surrounded by accouterments that suggest an elegant French bistro of long ago, I'm in a world far from the weekday rush.
The tarte is classically simple. Sugar and butter melt into a glowing, deep-brown caramel sauce that forms a sticky crust at the edge of the pastry. The plump apple halves gleam like burnished mahogany under their caramel coating. And a fat spoonful of freshly whipped cream sets off the rich sweetness.
I'm very picky about apple pies because I grew up with the best, baked by my Iowa-born mother. Experience has taught me not to order them out because they never measure up. But I can't say that about Julienne's tarte tatin. It's wonderful.
Julienne, 26 4 9 Mission St., San Marino, (818) 441-2299 . JULIENNE'S APPLE TARTE TATIN
12 to 14 large Red or Golden Delicious apples
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
8 ounces puff pastry
Whipped cream, optional
Peel apples. Cut each in half lengthwise and remove core. Melt butter in 9x2 1/2-inch round saute pan with straight sides and oven-proof handle or heavy 9-inch cake pan. Stir in sugar.