memories of big sur

Big Sur - home of rocky cliffs, beautiful blue ocean, eerie fog.....muse to Kerouac, Miller, and Thompson, to name a few.....and, one of the most amazing places I've ever been to.  It's like a wonderland that appears out of nowhere - seemingly innocent and plain, but once you get to speak to the locals and really see what it's all about, you can't get enough.

Read Kerouac's Big Sur.  It's brilliant - pure JK with no inhibitions, but almost terrifying in the sense that it's basically an autobiography, and you see him lose himself in the comfort of Big Sur. Beyond that though, it really gives you a feel of Big Sur. It's nothing - some people, a bridge, and some beauty down below the bridge on a nerve-wracking trail down below.

The point behind this post is important nonetheless.  One of my favorite snacks to eat is an adaptation of a recipe from Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I took a road trip up the PCH to San Francisco (a road trip I recommend everyone take once in their lifetime).  I stayed in a hole in the wall cabin that was serving some random meat (odd game?) burger - some other kind of hippie stuff - it was the most janky hotel/motel I've stayed in (I'm not being pretentious either, this is true). But it was amazing! You're out in nature, no pop static to distract you - and THEN you stumble upon one of the greatest restaurants in the country. In the middle of nowhere. Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant.  I took this trip with my mom, and I remember, after being concerned that we would not get anything halfway decent, that I say something interesting looking a bit down the road, and that it may have been a gas station (?).

Unbeknownst to me, some of the greatest chefs work here.  Let's say they were ex-pats of culinary greatness, working towards what they love as opposed to working towards strict business and monetary success...they love what they do. And you can TASTE it! Wood burning ovens, check. Delicious coffee and pastries in the morning, check. Fresh SPEARED fish? Check. Honey from .2 miles away? Check. I have no reason to go on.

But I do. Only for the reason of telling you about the most delicious beet recipe ever. If you claim you don't like beets, I dare you to try this, because it will make you love everything about it.  Fresh beets, beet greens, onions, chevre cheese, and tasty, crusty bread. Period.  And, this is the perfect time to get GREAT beets. Golden, Chioggia, White, Red, whatever. Get them! I bought some red and white beets at the market today, no Chioggia in sight!

Be sure to buy the beets with greens attached - these are almost the best part, especially in this recipe. And here it goes:

Sauteed Beet Green Crostini with Roasted Beets
Adapted from Big Sur Bakery

For the beets
2-4 Small/medium beets of various colors if you can 
Aluminum Foil

Preheat the oven to 400F - wrap each beet root in foil with a bit of water (tightly so it doesn't spill!) and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender. When they are ready, take them out, let them cool, then peel off the skin and let them hang out for a bit.

For the greens:
Approximately 2 cups beet greens, various - use stems as well.
1/2 to 3/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (mirepoix size)
Crushed Red Pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup or so vinegar - I use persimmon vinegar
Olive oil
Sea salt and Pepper

Coarsely chop the greens.  Heat up a large pan over medium heat with olive oil until it shimmers - cook the garlic, onions, stems, and crushed pepper for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and the stems are soft, being careful not to burn anything.  Throw in the beet greens, stirring occasionally until they have wilted down a bit.  Pour a tad bit of vinegar over top and stir together - taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Put this in another bowl and keep cool.

When everything is set and ready, all you need is some delicious crusty bread and goat cheese.  I am obsessed with Ardith Mae. I'll explain later.  Cut your bread/baguette on the bias, place a bit of the green mixture on top, and crumble some chevre/goat cheese on top.  Place this under the broiler until the cheese has browned a bit.  Add the crostini onto a plate along with the roasted these with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil, and ENJOY. This. will. blow. your. mind. Beet greens are the new love of my life.


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