Sunday, June 23, 2013

Red, Gold & Bleu Beets Ala Root 174

From haute cuisine to comfort food and even to country fair food, if you seek out the best of the best wherever it is, you just may be a foodie. For good or bad, the term denotes (to me at least) one who appreciates well-prepared, well thought out and presented, deliciously interesting foods. 
Which leads me to Root174. THIS is foodie paradise. The best part (well, except for the food!) is there are no pretensions whatsoever, just damned fine food prepared by damned fine people in a casual, comfortable and intimate space. If you haven't had the opportunity to get there yet, MAKE the time. Go. You will be dazzled.

Lured back for the crispy Brussels sprouts (that Chef and owner, Keith Fuller, cannot take off the menu for fear of a customer uprising), Mark and I grazed our way through a delightful meal. The menu tempted in so many directions, that I finally settled on a meal comprised of appetizers alone.  Well...and dessert.

We shared the heaping bowl of Brussels sprouts - the kitchen accommodated my gluten issues by using corn flour instead of wheat flour - with bacon. I don't know what else is in there, but the crispy leaves are simultaneously sweet and salty, crispy and soft and simply wonderful.

When Mark's hangar steak came, my other appetizers came, too. First was the chilled, smooth asparagus soup with a scoop of savory creme fraiche ice cream in the middle and garnished with crushed pink peppercorns. The color was gorgeous! The taste divine. Sweet and creamy fresh asparagus with the tang of creme fraiche and crunch and heat of the peppercorns was a beautiful start. Remember what I said about presentation and taste? No worries here.

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream and Pink Peppercorns

Talk about presentation! The golden and red beet salad with honey cumin vinaigrette, bleu cheese crumbles and tiny watercress leaves was picture perfect and perfectly scrumptious. Although I'm not a vegetarian (bacon and I are BFF's), I could eat this as my main course any night of the week.

Beet Salad with Honey Cumin Dressing and Amish Bleu Cheese

Dessert? Yes, please. Although I looked at the flourless chocolate cake with beet ice cream longingly, I just couldn't tear myself away from the thought of an exotic sounding dessert with curry ice cream, coconut tapioca, roasted pineapple and crunchy cashews. That's exactly what I ordered because I knew I'd never have an opportunity to experience anything like it anywhere else. Am I ever glad I did! 

Curry Ice Cream, Coconut Tapioca, Roasted Pineapple and Cashews

Despite whatever you may be thinking, yes, curry most certainly DOES belong in ice cream! My tastebuds sang (and danced a bit, too, I'm sure) with the excitement of subtle, sweet spices and caramel-y sweet and tangy pineapple, smoothed by luscious coconut and made crunchy with cashews. If you see it on the menu, do not hesitate to order it...sublime.

I wish I could duplicate my dessert, but my skills are no match for the geniuses in the kitchen who came up with that one! However foolish, I did attempt to duplicate the beautiful beet salad. Here's the recipe for my version, but do yourself a foodie favor and get yourself over to Root 174 for the real thing. Oh! And don't miss one of Austin's awesome cocktails while you're at it!

 Red, Gold & Bleu Beets ala Root 174

  •  4 beets, 2 red, 2 golden - greens removed (saved for beet greens!), lightly oiled, wrapped in foil & baked at 400 degrees until a knife inserted slides in smoothly. Cool, remove skins, cut into medium dice
  • watercress, a few sprigs - tiny leaves removed for dish, larger pieces reserved for a salad
  • 2 tablespoons bleu cheese, my fave is buttermilk bleu cheese - use what you like, crumbled (if you're highly gluten-sensitive, you may want to use a different cheese)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/3 cup honey, I used organic orange blossom honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Arrange the beets decoratively on a plate. Sprinkle with watercress leaves and bleu cheese. Set aside.

Mix honey, cumin, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper with a whisk until well blended. Drizzle over salad. Serve.

NOTE: If you wish, feel free to just toss the ingredients together and forget the presentation.  It will taste just as wonderful!

NOTE 2: My apologies to Root 174 for the inferior photos of their beautiful food. The cellphone just didn't cut it. The first photo is of my version, caught with a real camera in good lighting. Print this post

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