Is it just me, or is it way too easy to come home from vacation straight up exhausted? Brett and I spent this past weekend up north, traveling a few days in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard. It was my first time to the area, and I’m excited to report that both were equally charming in their own unique way. Per custom, I have a new recipe to share with you this week as well as the run down on everything we ate, drank, and saw during our time in the northeast. Stay tuned for the brown butter pear tart and read on about our trip!
Where We Stayed:
What started as a trip to Martha’s Vineyard turned into a two part vacay: phase one spent enjoying the big city historical scene of Boston and phase two spent relaxing in the off-season quiet of Martha’s Vineyard. After a few recommendations from friends, we opted for a spunky modern hotel option in Boston, The Envoy, and a quaint bed and breakfast on the vineyard, the Hob Knob. Both were well suited to their respective locations and felt right for our time there. I’d definitely recommend both if you’re looking for a sure thing on your next visit!
What We Ate:
What DIDN’T we eat might be the more appropriate question. This was a non-stop parade of food, fine restaurants, and pastries. I was excited to find many delicious lunch and dinner options in Boston, but found the bakery scene proved to be rather lackluster. There was, however, no shortage of amazing cocktails and pubs. We also loved checking out the food truck scene at Rose Kennedy Greenway.
We arrived in Martha’s Vineyard in what we were told was the last big week before the island shut down for the season. Luckily, we still found many of the places recommended by friends to be open! Our palates were equally happy to learn that the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival was taking place while we were there. Brett and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to the main tasting on Saturday afternoon. Dozens of wine purveyors and chefs from the Northeast flocked to the island to serve up their goods, and it was a ball. There’s nothing like day drinking and bite-sized appetizers to help you make friends in a new place. If you’re ever in the region during the festival, I highly recommend giving it a try! See below for the full list of local restaurants we visited during our time away.
Fox and the Knife
An enoteca and restaurant by James Beard Award-winning chef Karen Akunowicz. We enjoyed delicious handmade pastas and Italian liquors there.
The Longfellow Bar
A neighborhood bar and restaurant in Cambridge offering shared plates with exciting flavors.
Modern Asian cuisine in the heart of Boston’s Chinatown.
New American bites in a modernized trattoria setting.
With a number of locations across Boston, Tatte offers a variety of delicious baked goods, coffees, and lunch options in a seriously aesthetic atmosphere.
Middle Eastern inspired baked goods. Check out their online schedule for baking classes!
The Food Trucks at Rose Kennedy Greenway
Martha’s Vineyard Recommendations:
Creative New American fare in a classic dining room setting.
The Port Hunter
A raw bar and approachable new American food are offered in this casual setting.
Back Door Donuts
Delicious donuts and baked goods in a carry-out setting.
New American cuisine in a cozy tavern setting.
Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
What We Did:
Although there’s loads to do in both Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, both areas are spread out in such a way that they weren’t entirely walkable. Luckily, Uber and Lyft were both readily available, and we found it was simple to catch a ride to wherever we wanted to be. Boston is brimming with loads of historical sites and museums, so we spent a good bit of time checking those out. Brett was eager to grab a beer at the Beantown Pub, a bar across the street from Samuel Adams’ gravesite, so that he could “drink a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams.”( I’ll pause for eye rolling.)
Per recommendation from friends, we took a day trip to Cambridge to get a glimpse of Harvard University. The school is spread out all over the city, but it was intriguing just to poke around and eavesdrop on random conversations. At one point, two gentlemen sitting beside me at lunch were having an in depth conversation about hydrogen atoms. Clearly this Dorothy wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
Although the landscape of Martha’s Vineyard is primarily suited for summertime activities, I found the chilly, autumnal version of the island peaceful and charming. We spent most of our time nosing through Mom and Pop stores in downtown Edgartown and taking in the coastal views. If you’re at all interested in fishing or water sports, I’d highly recommend checking out boat rentals as that would be a great way to spend a weekend there.
Brown Butter Pear Tart
Let me start by saying that I adore this tart. Months ago, I ran across a photo of a beautiful layered pear pie. It had, what appeared to be, a phyllo crust filled with thin slices of pears overlapping on one another in a concentric fashion. The crust was browned and flaked and the filling was speckled with fresh pomegranate seeds. Although I wasn’t able to find a recipe for the creation, I decided I needed to make a dessert with a similar look. The brainstorming began.
Here’s what I ended up with: a brown butter pear tart. A simple, press-in sweet pastry dough is filled with a thin layer of brown butter custard and a mountain of fresh sliced red Anjou pears. Upon baking, the pears release their juice and soften, the flavors from the fruit quietly melting into the custard underneath it. The pastry crust, albeit simple, is the perfect vehicle for the subtle flavors; it offers texture and sweetness while still allowing the filling to sing.
A Few Notes on This Tart
This brown butter pear tart features Kerrygold unsalted butter in two fashions. First, cold chunks of butter are cut into the dry ingredients to create a tender and mildly buttery shell. The dough for the tart crust is so ridiculously delicious; I found myself eating almost as much as I pressed into the pan. Kerrygold butter is also found throughout the brown butter custard. If you need a few pointers on browning butter, please check out my how-to post here.
This brown butter pear tart is without a doubt one of the most unassuming and delightful holiday desserts I’ve made in a long time. Although we’re still a couple of days away from the holiday season, it’s never too early to get planning, and I really think you need to consider this tart in the lineup of Thanksgiving and Christmas treats. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Many thanks to Kerrygold for sponsoring this post, and thanks to you all for supporting brands that make Wood & Spoon possible. Happy baking!
Brown Butter Pear Tart
This brown butter peat tart has a sweet pastry crust, a brown butter custard, and a layered pear filling.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 9
- Category: Dessert
For the pastry dough:
- 1–1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of ice water, plus more as needed
For the filling:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2–3 large red pears, halved, cored, and sliced in 1/8” slices
- Pomegranate seeds, about ½ cup
- Toasted walnuts, if desired
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse in the butter until it resembles pea-sized crumbs. Don’t over-process. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolkd and vanilla. Pulse the egg yolk mixture into the flour just until combined. Add the water and pulse to combine. Don’t process it to the point of it coming together into a dough. The mixture should still be shaggy but should clump together when you squeeze a bit of the mixture together in between your fingers. If it’s still dry add another teaspoon or so of ice water and then pulse to combine. Dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface and bring the dough together into a ball. Flatten it out into a disk, wrap it is plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but preferably 2 hours.
- When ready to prepare your pie, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to fit into a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom. The dough should be about 2” larger than the pan on all sides. Roll the dough onto your lightly floured rolling pin and gently unroll it into your tart pan. Gently fit the dough into the edges of your pan and use a paring knife or kitchen scissors to trim any dough that extends over 1” the lip of the pan. Press the dough gently into the sides of the pan and use any leftover dough to reinforce the sides where needed. Put the pan in the freezer to set up for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- When ready to bake, prick the bottom of the tart dough with a fork a few times. Use a sheet of parchment to line the pastry dough inside the pan and f ill the tart pan with pie weights (you can also use dried beans or dried rice). Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes then remove the parchment and weights from the tart pan. Gently brush the crust with a thin layer of the egg white and bake for 5 more minutes. In the meantime, prep your filling.
- Cube the butter and add to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan to being browning it. Place the pan on medium heat and stir gently with a whisk regularly to allow the butter to melt evenly. Once melted, keep stirring regularly to allow the butter to cook, sizzle, and foam evenly. You’ll begin to notice golden flecks appearing at the bottom of the pan and the butter will become fragrant. When there are amber-colored flecks throughout the butter mixture your butter is browned! Don’t let it burn! Immediately remove it from the heat and pour into a heat-safe mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract and then fold in the flour. Pour the mixture into the par-baked pastry shell and spread to even it out. Cover the filling in a layer of fanned pear slices. Keep the slices in tight on one another to prevent the filling from baking up over on top of them too much. Bake in the preheated oven for an additional 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling it cooked underneath. The pears shouldn’t jiggle on top of the pie when the pie is done. Allow to cool serve with a sprinkle pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts. Enjoy!