On a beautiful almost fall day like today in Boston my goal was to complete my wine project before leaving town. This meant walking the cobble streets in search of wine store with knowledgeable employees who would want to spout off their stores connection with French wines. Much to my dismay I walked into one too many “wine” stores devoted to all kinds of spirits with employees who didn’t know much more then myself about the wine they carried or the customers who came into their store and who were not very willing to answer the questions I needed to ask for my research. This left me totally exhausted and with little useful information that I could use.
Walking into a whole in the wall wine shop in the North End was like a fresh breathe of air. Not only was the store devoted completely to wine, but the basement floor was even decorated and felt like all the damp wine cellars I have been to in the wine country in California. On top of that, the cute guy working behind the counter could not stop rambling about French wine and was one of the most friendly wine conniosseurs I have encountered in awhile. It was exactly what I needed: finally some information to put in my paper!!! And not only was it a really cute wine shop, but totally up my alley: all of the wine they bring in is natural and made from biodynamic processes. Many of the wine growers and producers are also from small farms in France and use the process of carbonic maceration, a more hands off approach to wine making. The mission of this store was to connect people with small organic farmers instead of the big chateaus of well-known regions and conglomerates whose production has moved further away from quality in order to try and please an international market (while keeping their prices still through the roof). This place was made for Gastronomes like me interested in wine and food policy, sustainability, and the little guys.
But besides from the wine shop itself, walking into the North End was a relief in itself. This is one region of the city I do not regularly go to. To be honest I have probably only made it over there a couple of times in the year that I have lived here. Maybe this is because with a nickname like “Little Italy” it comes with a connotation that it is a tourist destination for the many foreigns that frequent Boston. But that was far from the vibe I got today; I felt as if I had been taken back to the streets of Rome. Yes Boston may have less ancient architecture and less old buildings but we still have brick streets and beautiful churches that give way to the same feel. Many of the side streets too also looked as if they could have been replicas of some of the streets in Italy, with the small balconies overlooking the street and the small apartments and stores lining the block. Many of the restaurants also have the big open windows and tables that are set up just like the small cafes in Italy. Additionally, the murals on the walls, the gelato, and small coffee shops all brought to the streets the feeling and smells I associate with my time traveling throughout Italy. I have decided I need to frequent this area more often and indulge in the authentic Italian food hubs that fill the area.
Leaving the area, I stumbled upon a small six stand farmers market next to the T at Government Center. Deciding that I was a little hungry from the walking through the city and an early morning yoga class, buying some in season produce from the local farmers market stands would be a perfect way to finish my day. Me connecting with food and my kitchen equals solitude and bliss. I came across the most beautiful round beets I had seen in a long time, which left me craving a roasted beets salad. So without further adieu it was decided that beets were what’s for dinner. Now I only wish I had splurged for a nice bottle of organic French wine to accompany my meal.
The best part about beets to me is the intoxicating color they have and the sweet yet rustic earthy smell they give off while being cooked; the worst part about beets though is that they will dye your hands that beautiful color, as well as most of your kitchen (will make for an interesting conversation on my date tonight). At least the finished taste and product is so worth it. This recipe i created catered perfectly to the sweet tooth inside me that needed some love without having to eat an unhealthy meal.
4 medium fresh beets
1 medium figi apple
A handful of sliced almonds
Add almonds first to toast the outsides, and then add the apples and saute to your own perfection. Then add cinnamon and some pepper to your liking. The sweetness in the apple slices and the beets will create a perfect opposition to the toasty flavor of the almonds and the strong flavor of the cinnamon. The olive oil is used in a small amount only to keep the food from burning and sticking to the pan, as well as to soften the beets. Don’t be afraid when it all comes out purplish pink…thats the beauty of the beets. With all of these flavors combined it is a perfect fall salad or accompaniment to any dish. Enjoy!