Here’s the thing about serving a beet salad as your first course at Thanksgiving: it’s nutritious enough (beets are healthy!) to justify all of the hedonism that’s to come AND you can serve it with good cheese which, when you think about it, rarely makes an appearance at Thanksgiving. Where else would you serve cheese? With the turkey? With the pecan pie? So starting with a beet salad makes good sense, especially if you buy a cheese like Humboldt Fog (like I did for this salad) or something even bolder like Roquefort.
In September, I shared with you a picture of the Avocado Sandwich I ate at Prune for lunch (link here.) The response was enthusiastic: “Ohmgosh that looks so beautiful,” wrote Shannon. “Oh, PRETTY!” wrote Hannah. “That sandwich is a work of art!” wrote Kathryn. Again, it was a very enthusiastic response.
Last week I took Molly Orangette to Prune for lunch (I felt it was a very Orangette-like selection) and the avocado sandwich had been replaced with a ratatouille sandwich. When it arrived I snapped the picture you see above; and when I took a bite, I knew I had to do a post about it.
My friend Clotilde Dusoulier, of the legendary food blog Chocolate & Zucchini and author of several notable food books (including her own cookbook, a guide to Paris and the book she recently translated, the French Joy of Cooking, “I Know How To Cook”) was coming to dinner.
I’ve spent lots of time with Clotilde, we’ve dined together several times in New York (at Babbo and the Corner Bistro and Dirt Candy) and in Paris (at Ze Kitchen Galerie) but we’d never cooked for each other. And considering that she grew up in France, where dining and food are such a deep part of the culture children aren’t just born with silver spoons in their mouths but an entire set of flatware, and I grew up on Long Island and in Boca Raton, Florida where fine dining is limited to the salad bar at the golf club, I knew I was in serious trouble. How could I impress Clotilde? What if she spit her food out into her napkin in disgust? How would I live this down? Would she ever want to see me again? This was the most terrifying dinner guest of all time.
[When my friend Jimmy Hilburn told me that he was attending an event called “Outstanding in the Field,” I asked him if he’d take pictures and do a guest post. As you can see below, Jimmy went above and beyond the call of duty. Here’s Jimmy with the story of an unforgettable dinner.]
Is it still considered “eating locally” if you have to travel over 1000 miles by car, plane, subway and jitney just to get to your “local” destination? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not. Environmentalists and socially conscious foodies would probably frown on what my mom and I did, but ours was never a very noble pursuit. We just wanted to have an amazing, unique dining experience. And we did!
Let’s play the Kevin Bacon game with beets and carrots.
Beets are in Borscht; Borscht comes from Russia; Russia was part of the original U.S.S.R.; “Back in the U.S.S.R.” is a song by The Beatles; The Beatles have a song called “Glass Onion”; onions are part of what the French call Mirepoix; carrots are in Mirepoix too.
Therefore: beets and carrots are separated by six degrees. You can bring them together with the logic above or use this Epicurious recipe from Suzanne Goin for Roasted Beets and Carrots with Cumin Vinagrette, Chickpea Puree, and Flatbread. (Diana and I skipped the chickpea puree and flatbread and instead bought sourdough and cheese from the farmer’s market where we also bought the carrots.) It’s a bright colorful preparation and a fun unexpected pairing. Like linking Kevin Bacon and Shirley MacLaine…
(Kevin Bacon was in “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson who was in “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley MacLaine. Guess that wasn’t so hard to link.)
(Note: the above photo was edited by James Felder of Snapshot Artifact. Thanks James!)