a few months ago, i took a little weekend trip to nashville with a dear friend of mine, to help her find a house. (kid-free, i might add. WOOT WOOT.) we viewed about 20 houses in two and a half days, and obviously worked up quite the appetite. being the good friend she is, she went along to all the foodie places i wanted to hit up while we were there. one of my favorite stops was marche artisan foods in historic east nashville. it’s this charming yet super cool spot to grab brunch or lunch, great coffee and pastries, and lovely atmosphere. my favorite thing we ordered was their tartine – a fancy toast – with ripe strawberries, sweet mascarpone cheese and a thick, tart balsamic reduction drizzled over the top. you can probably tell from the picture above how AHmazing it was. seriously, i could lick the screen.
when we got home, i set out to make it myself. and in may, for my little girl’s fifth birthday, i served this for brunch and was so happy with the reviews. people had fourths, i am pretty sure, because i ran out fast.
so if you get out to nashvegas, you must go to marche – you will love it. but if you can’t make it out there, this is the next best thing to their perfect strawberry toast.
oh, and cook’s note: don’t get too amorous while you are simmering your balsamic reduction. if you lean over the saucepan and dreamily inhale the steam, you’ll get a wicked burn all the way to the back of your nose. trust. (i speak from experience.)
strawberry + mascarpone tartine with balsamic reduction
1 loaf sourdough bread
2 16-oz containers fresh strawberries
2 8-oz containers mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp honey
1 cup balsamic vinegar
butter, to spread
1. make the reduction: put balsamic into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. bring to a boil (watch it – it will boil pretty quick) then reduce heat to medium. let simmer for about 10 minutes, until it has reduced to close to 1/3 cup (gently tilt the saucepan towards you to see how much.) remove from heat and let cool – it will thicken up as it cools. (you can store this in an airtight container and it will keep for a couple months. it will probably congeal, but that’s ok. just warm it up a bit with a teensy splash of water when you are ready to use it again.)
2. wash and rinse the strawberries, then slice off the tops and dice them up. put in a bowl and let macerate in their own juices for a bit.
3. put mascarpone cheese into a medium bowl. squeeze in honey and stir to combine completely.
4. when you are ready to serve, cut long sourdough slices in half and toast the bread. (i toast it pretty well so it really stands up to all the toppings.) spread with a light schmear of butter. now generously spread on the mascarpone – i like it really thick. top with diced strawberries and then drizzle with balsamic reduction. repeat for remaining slices of toast.
*leftover mascarpone with honey will keep for a week or two in the fridge.
**this recipe is enough for a decent sized brunch party – maybe 10-12 people. if it’s just a few people, or a small family – just use 8 oz mascarpone cheese and 1 tbsp honey, and one container of strawberries – instead of making the big batch.