On Labor Day weekend back in 2005, I tagged along with Cassandra when she went to NYC for work. We stayed in a beautiful garden suite in Chelsea for a few days of sightseeing, then transferred to the Muse in Times Square for her business portion of the trip. That's when the vendors Cass was working with took us out to dinner.
In a sign of impending economic meltdown, these vendors apologized for their thriftiness and took us to the Lower East Side via subway (instead of town cars or cabs) and we ate at Schiller's Liquor Bar. Our hosts told us that neighborhood was "up and coming" with the cool people and would soon be THE place to be in NYC. I remember the run down and deserted streets as we got out of the subway. But Schiller's shone like a beacon on Rivington Street with the thrown open windows, white walls, and mirrors everywhere.
Little did we know, in only 3 years time Cassandra would move into the penthouse apartment a block down the street! And yes, the LES is now trendy hipster heaven and a highly desirable location with hoards of people on every street corner all night long.
Anyways, that night at Schiller's, they had a happy hour menu with $3 small plates (I remember so many things about this trip so clearly, it was one of my favorite trips ever!). One of the small plates was a beet salad. Weird, I know, for happy hour. Cass and I ordered one to share anyways.
This beet salad was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen on a plate. It came with some toast or bread, I think. The flavors were crunchy, sweet, acidic, fresh, and it was one of the best things I'd ever eaten. We ordered a second plate to share. We analyzed each ingredient so that we could make it again at home - and I've done so several times each summer since! Sadly, Schiller's no longer has this salad on their menu so I can never test my memory to see if I've got it right. But it doesn't really matter because I am very happy with the recipe this way.
Schiller's Beet Salad
3 cups beets, diced finely (Roasted or boiled and skins removed. I've even used canned.)
1 1/2 cups sweet corn, cut from fresh cob (again, I've used frozen or canned)
1/2 cup red onion, diced
A big handful cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together. Serve chilled with grilled bread or toast. It's prettiest on the first day before the beets stain the corn, feta, and cilantro red, but still tastes good up to a few days later.
ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Tomato Sauce or Soup