Mon 29 Apr 2013
Even on the sunniest of days, when the sky and the ocean simultaneously reflect the most radiant shades of blue and the birds chirp away in the full, lush trees and everyone’s showing off their stems in rarely-worn shorts and exposing their bashful big toes in sandals; even on those rare, beautiful Spring days in Dublin, there’s something missing.
It was one of those days yesterday, and while Mountaineering Man toiled away at the office I decided to head out into town and get some much-needed Vitamin D, plus a few other things I’ve been meaning to purchase. My first stop was Fallon & Byrne, a place that has become almost a sacred place for me. Some people have churches; I have gourmet food shops and farmers’ markets. Even if I only need one item, I amble down every aisle and rest my eyes for at least a few seconds on every single item on every single shelf. From smoked salted almonds and squid ink lasagna sheets to sweet-smelling star fruit and whole wild rabbits, the selection is comprised of the most wonderful, mysterious things that never fail to inspire.
I then poked my head into the Secret Book and Record Store, to check on the new Bowie CD – MM s request. After spotting a few copies I went straight to the books section, eyeing the used cookery books before selecting one called Food & Wine of France for a closer look. It was only €1, but a quick thumb-through revealed its contents were outdated and blandly written. It wasn’t an entirely unsuccessful visit. The creaky floors and musty smell always give me fond memories of my early dates with MM, when we’d duck into this hole-in-the-wall shop looking for buried treasure on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Next it was a quick jaunt up three flights on the escalators at Brown Thomas for my Nespresso capsules, which are sold in the kitchen and home décor floor – my favourite area of the store. Gleaming copper soufflé pots, wobbly silicon whisks and delicate wine goblets sit beautifully arranged on white display counters…all things I hope one day will have a permanent home in my dream kitchen. On the way down I spy an exquisite dress on the 2nd floor and a few stunning handbags at ground level. Oh what fun it is to be a girl, I think. If only my sister was here to share this day with me.
And that’s the hardest part of all this…the part where my sister and my best girlfriends are all still in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Too far to swing over for a day in the Dublin sun, too far to pop by for a coffee and a chat and too far to share in these little, every-day things that are part of my life here. As much as I love Ireland the fact that my family and closest friends aren’t here is – and will always be – the rub.
Days when I feel the distance more than usual are difficult. But the positive side is that it drives me to realise our dream of splitting time between two places, or of having a more flexible work schedule so we can spend a chunk of time over there…or over here if we decide to move away. I haven’t quite landed on how we’d do this, but for now the thought provides me with some much-needed cheering up on days like yesterday.
Beet Greens Tart
My sister is as obsessed with food and wine as I am; we can spend hours talking about chefs, restaurants, farmers’ markets and recipes. She made a tart similar to this some time ago, and I bookmarked the recipe for future use. Instead of using turnip tops, which the original recipe calls for, I used beet root tops – something that many people just throw away. It’s full of nutrients and can be cooked just like kale or spinach. Just cut out the thick part of the stems, wash and cook with a touch of olive oil and garlic for a great side dish. Or, make this tart.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1 spelt & olive oil crust (recipe here) – no need to blind bake, filling goes into raw crust
1/4 lb. / 4 oz beet root tops, or spinach greens, de-stemmed
1 small clove of garlic
2 large eggs + 1 yolk
3/4 cup veg. broth
1/4 cup greek style natural (plain) yogurt
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt (more if broth unsalted)
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons herbs de Provence (opt.)
A bit of crushed red chilli flakes, for topping
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Put the washed and dried beet tops and garlic into the food processor and pulse into finely minced. You can also do this with a very sharp knife on chopping board if you don’t have a food processor. Add in the eggs and yolk, and pulse. Then add in the vegetable broth and yogurt, salt, mustard and herbs and pulse until mixed. Fill the tart shell and bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with red chilli flakes (if using) – this way they will stick to the hot tart. Let cool for 5 minutes, and then serve.