Thursday, September 17, 2009

Walnut & Armagnac tart

Doorbells frighten me.

The shrill, penetrating racket of a doorbell makes my spine tingle. It might seem like a weird phobia to you, but to me a doorbell signals that someone is actually standing on my doorstep, most likely peering in through whatever crack they can in their efforts to spot a moving figure.

I was 14 years old when I discovered my phobia. 'Why so old?' you might ask. Well before that particular age, to even get to my front door you first had to be let in through the steel door on our 7ft tall solid concrete fence. The doorbell, which was connected to a video monitor that allowed you to see who exactly was on the street, ringing your bell, merely signified that I had to press a button, whilst still indoors, to unlock the street door. After that they had to walk up 10 large steps to get to our actual front door which I would then unlock and open. If someone I didn't know rang our doorbell, I would be able to see them, via monitor, without them seeing me at all, and I could easily ignore it and go on with what I was doing, happily knowing that there were TWO doors separating us. I felt safe and I was phobia free.

Then we ended up moving (which we did frequently during my teenage years) and we no longer had a fort-knox style house that kept people comfortably away. The first time I was home alone and the doorbell rang I almost gave myself a heart attack. I couldn't get to the door to see who it was, without the person at the door seeing me (there was an extremely large rectangular window beside the door which never got a blind *thank you mum and dad for mocking my phobia*). Thus I would try to crawl to another room (and yes I actually crawled) which allowed me to sneak a peak through a window to see who was there.

I still do this whenever the doorbell rings when I am not expecting anyone; I stealthily creep towards it like a cat to a mouse, and then try to catch a glimpse undetected before unlocking the door. Even when I am expecting someone, I will wait by the front window so that I can see them coming and open the door before they arrive. Doorbells = panic attacks.

I only realised today that with my husband at work all day, should the doorbell ring, I will have to answer it everytime. Maybe I will get used to the sharp, piercing sound and not feel like hiding under my blankets. And perhaps I will learn to not be as shy (which is where this phobia probably stems from), as it does hinder me somewhat socially.

As you know, I have been spoiling my husband this week, I tell him it is simply because I love him, but truthfully, I want him to realise how wonderful it is being around me 24/7 so that he won't want to stay back at work; being at home = yummy food (and awesome company :). Today I used some of the Armagnac that was purchased for yesterday's Chicken dish to make a simple tart to go with creamy vanilla ice cream.

ease: 4.5/5.

prep time:
1 hour & 40mins (to blind baking stage).
cooking time: 30mins.
total: 2 hours & 10mins.

taste: 3.5/5. The Armagnac really stars in this tart. The first taste you get is that deep, alcohol which eventually evaporates to the crunchy walnuts, plump raisins (substitute for muscatels) and slightly chocolate-y crust. You don't really taste the custard-like filling which is really weird .
I made one tart rather than 6 individual ones and I did not have enough filling, even when I added 40ml Armagnac to the filling mixture (which may have increased the Armagnac taste further).
I didn't make the ice cream to go with it, but I have a feeling it may have improved the overall taste of the tart. It does seem a little 'lacking' on its own.

would I make it again: No.

recipe: Walnut & Armagnac tart


  1. A wonderful tart! Great flavor combo!



  2. That is so funny about the doorbell fear!! You are the first Ive heard of such a thing :)

    This tart looks really good but after your review I think the icecream would maybe kick it up! It looks beautiful nevertheless!