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Poise is one of the characteristics I admire most in people.  Not the poise of a Stepford wife, but the poise of someone imperfect living an imperfect life and yet able to deal with life’s events elegantly, the ability to rise to the occasion with limited capacity and humility.  This trait requires confidence or at least the confidence of an admission that you might not be up to the task, but that you’ll try your very best. I don’t always feel poised when I’m in the kitchen. It’s a place for messes and experiments, failure and success, reflective of life itself. Yet it seems like all of my messing about in my small space has lent that trait to my character in greater portions. Or if not, then it has enabled me to recognize it more in others.

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What does this have to do with a grape tart? Bear with me a moment. This grape tart was made from concord grapes that are dripping off the vines this time of year all over New York. I’ve been eating them like candy and wondering what else I could do with them. Savory? Sweet? Then I saw a recipe from Manger and I knew. I altered the measurements just a tad, but I was seduced by this dessert. An almond crust (a keeper-I think this will be the same crust I use for every dessert from here on in), a nutty almond-based custard and a bevy of tangy grapes to top it off. The custard is so good I took the spoon straight to the bowl and had to resist “testing” it, just one more time. It could be a dessert in its own right.

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This tart was destined for greater things. I even bought a spring form tart pan especially for this. Straight out of the oven, before I even let it cool, I told Darya that it was for her. You can check out my guest post and the recipe on her on her blog, Tortore, this week. Scroll down for the English, as she lives in France and writes in both languages. Her beautiful site is a product of someone who is steeped in the balancing act of life and manages to carry out cooking and eating with grace and generosity.

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The actual physical tart came straight out of the oven and into the apartment of my dear friend and pastry chef extraordinaire, Alicia. I was afraid to bring her my first tart attempt, but it was a gift to her for the birth of her babies! She is yet another woman who really has taught me something about adapting to life circumstances. This tart was a gift through and through, both physically and virtually and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to feed people’s appetites who feed mine in the same way. Go check out Darya’s spot and attempt this tart! Even if you’re a novice, a disaster in the kitchen, you may soon find that the attempt alone builds your character.

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