When I settle down somewhere and start working, it seems like the time suddenly passes by very fast. The past two months in the working rhythm in Montréal have honestly flown by. It seems to be a contrast to the two months before, traveling around Canada without a fixed schedule and having so many new experiences every day. I think the unpredictability of those traveling days makes you experience the time in a different way, with a bit more awareness, than the structured working life. But having said that, I certainly enjoy living in Montréal and seeing what life is really like here. The area in which I live has an exciting combination of beautiful architecture, cool street art, and nice bars and restaurants. When the sun is out, everybody seems to be hanging around in the parks, making music or just having some drinks or a picnic with friends. And close to my room is Mont Royal, a hill with an amazing view over the city that is a very nice place to go for a walk or to go running and where, during summer, the Tam-Tams take place every Sunday. The Tam-Tam is basically an informal festival that is based around a jam session with drums. When you arrive at the location it is quite a funny sight. There is such a random mixture of people, from the curious tourists to complete hippies and everything in between. The drummers are gathered around an old monument and are also people from all walks of life, just coming together to make music and enjoy the vibes. In the grass around the drummers friends gather, the atmosphere is very relaxed and public drinking and even marijuana are tolerated. The perfect place to just enjoy life.
Surely, an important reason for me to be living in Montréal for a while is earning some money to continue my trip through Canada. But besides that, I am also trying to get a feel of real life in Canada and to get to know as much of the city of Montréal as possible. One of my favourite places to go to, besides Mont Royal and its Tam-Tams, is a large fresh food market in Little Italy. It is a partially covered, lively market space that is open all year long. There are so many market stalls with fresh fruits and vegetables, most of them grown regionally. The amount of colours and textures is overwhelming and inspiring. Many of the stalls have samples of their products. And a lot of the people working there whom I spoke with are happy to help you find the best produce and share some ideas about cooking. Around the markets there are other shops with good produce as well. This includes a good bakery, which you can´t always find in North America in my opinion. I really enjoy the inspiration this place gives me, and strolling over the market is a good way for me to calm down after a busy day at work.
Because of their beautiful colours, the golden beets and heirloom carrots were begging to be bought during the past few weeks. So I could not resist them, and paired them into this simple warm salad with the sweet and juicy clementines I found as well.
Golden beet and carrot salad
This salad can be eaten as a side dish or a lunch, but also as a full main dish if you just feel like some vegetables and good bread.
Ingredients (for 2)
- 8 small golden beets – or one of the really large ones
- 8 – 10 small carrots – preferably the heirloom carrots in different colours
- Black olives with stone – a good handful
- Garlic – 1 small clove
- 4 clementines
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- Salt and pepper
- Bread, for serving
Start by prepping the beets and carrots. Peel the beets and chop in quarters. Sometimes you can only find large beets. In this case, peel them and chop them in bite size pieces. When you have found very small carrots, just take the upper part off and wash them. In case the peel of the carrots doesn´t look good, scrape it off. Chop the carrots lengthwise in half, or in quarters for the larger ones. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and the beets to the boiling water and parboil them for five minutes.
Meanwhile, take the stones out of the olives and half them. The easiest way for me is just to squeeze them with the flat side of a knife, and use your hands to take out the stone. Of course, you can use the ones where the stone has been taken out already. But I prefer this little bit of work, since I think the olives that still have the stone usually taste better. Next, peel the garlic and slice into very thin slices.
Cut the clementines in half and press the juice out of them. Add the honey to the clementine juice and mix it through well before seasoning with a good pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.
When the vegetables are parboiled, take them off the stove and drain. Heat a frying pan over a medium fire and add a good knob of butter. Once the bubbles in the butter start to disappear, add the beets and carrots. Fry the vegetables until they are starting to turn golden brown and to soften up. Then, add the clementine juice mixture to the pan. Toss the vegetables through the sauce to coat evenly. Leave this over high heat, and keep stirring until the mandarin and honey mixture starts to thicken up and caramelize. When the sauce is almost thickened up, add the garlic slices and the black olives. Fry until the sauce has caramelized and the vegetables look shiny and are still firm but soft inside. Make sure to check the seasoning in the end, you will probably need an additional pinch of salt.
Serve the vegetables with some good bread, and enjoy!