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Moro’s Minty Beetroot, Pomegranate & Almond Salad and some thoughts on London

I’ve started working at Wright’s Independent Food Emporium: a rustic, vintage styled café and food store nested within a former pub in Nantgaredig, West Wales. It’s run by food writer and restaurateur Simon Wright, it’s great and I love it: they serve tasty food, nice natural wines and craft beers and I get to learn things about food and to drink the best coffee ever.

hands at moritos

Decision making in Morito, super vibrant and bustling little tapas and mezze bar in Exmouth Market street, East London.

As if all this wasn’t enough already, just a week after I started my job there I was swept off to London on a staff trip. We ate some amazing tapas in Morito, tasted every possible coffee Workshop had to offer, drank the best ever craft beer in Kernel brewery and tasted some incredible natural wines in Terroirs, a busy little wine bar in the heart of London’s West End. I’m not going to review my experience of any of them in detail with this post, it would end up being a shabby counterpart of the full blog post they deserve each to do them justice. In the near future (when I visit them again hopefully), I’ll take some proper photographs and write a proper review post for them each.

It was strange to be back in London again, roughly four months after having left it with such a strong sense of repulsion towards it. It was refreshing, exciting, and not only that: it was the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had of it. I’m guessing this was partly owed to the fact that somebody else was leading the way around for a change so I could enjoy the sights, but also because I knew I was going to be back home, away from the hustle and bustle, lights and gas fumes, that same night. I love London, in small bouts of excited walking around, window shopping and food tasting – but I could never, ever live there again. I won’t be vapid and say that it’s too expensive for me, because although it actually is the most expensive city on the planet (I’ll take that wild guess), the cost of living in the home of bankers and corporations ironically extends far beyond money. London drained my heart, my body and my soul, forcing me to shrivel up into a tiny tight ball of silent rage and stress, but don’t get me wrong: by no means am I trying to say that this is a universal effect it has on its inhabitants, this is merely the effect it had on me. I know people who thrive in London, who are able to perfectly follow its unpredictable, unreliable rhythm of sounds, lights and people. I know people who could never live anywhere else, who spin, twirl and blossom in and around the opportunities it unpredictably offers and are able to time their moves and their decisions so well that the city seems to flow around them like a river.

Sadly (or not), I am not one of those people. I spent most of my time concentrating really hard on making the right decisions and getting upset about not being able to control what was going on around me, stumbled around for a bit trying to regain control of my life, ungraciously (metaphorically) fell flat on my face only to then be trampled by the traffic of London life. By the time my three years were up, I was mentally and emotionally drained, thirty-nine pounds lighter, ill, angry and bitter. Pretty messed up, I know. But here I am writing about how London is magical and exciting and how I had an amazing time there a few weeks ago, and I’ll add some more: I’m planning on going back there very soon and staying for a few days.

I’ve exorcised my fear of London by admitting to myself that I simply don’t fit into that lifestyle, embracing my inability to live in such a fast paced, highly pressured environment and understanding that I flourish in silence and large open spaces. I feel a lot better waking up in the morning to the sound of the odd sheep bleating, making my breakfast in a silent kitchen overlooking a garden, a field and a hill, and living in a little village with a pub, a church and a village hall: anything else you must drive for (if you don’t have a car, there’s a grand total of three buses a day to choose from). I like this. I find it a lot easier to function and think and do what I do best (don’t hold your breath on that one, I’m still trying to fully figure it out). For now I am happy working at Wright’s, enjoying the company of nice people and the nourishment of tasty food, alongside working on a business plan with Alberto for a home-based vegan food company what we reckon will be a great big deal in Wales when we reveal the secret.

A plant.Talking about food, I’ve actually had the time to practice my cooking skills and feel I nailed my most recent attempt at reproducing my staple staff lunch at Wright’s: a minty beetroot, pomegranate and almond salad with a dressing to die for. If you’re around Carmarthenshire you should definitely go try it because it’s heavenly. It’s bursting with flavours, colours, textures, both juicy and crunchy at the same time.. probably my new favourite way to have beetroot! I researched a few recipes and found the most satisfying result in Moro‘s cookbook (restaurant sister of Morito, the tapas&meze bar I had lunch at on the London trip).

Beetroot, mint, almond saladJust in case you wanted a closer look..

Minty Beetroot, Pomegranate and Almond Salad
adapted from Moro’s Cookbook, tried and tested at Wright’s Independent Food Emporium.

{ Ingredients (makes a plateful) }

For the salad:
180g raw beetroot, scrubbed clean or peeled
25g pomegranate seeds (a small handful)
10g raw almonds
a handful of fresh mint leaves
a splash of the pomegranate dressing

For the dressing:
150ml pomegranate juice
30ml red wine vinegar
40g pomegranate molasses
100g extra virgin olive oil, best if cold pressed and organic
salt, pepper, and a couple of pinches of unrefined brown sugar

{ Method }

  1. First of all prepare your dressing: just put all the ingredients in a sealable container of your choice (I used a washed jam jar), seal and shake it up until it’s all nicely combined (then try it and adjust the salt and pepper to your own taste). Set aside and let sit while you prepare the salad- for some reason I find salad dressings taste better after having sat around for a while. And don’t worry about it separating, it’s pretty normal.. just shake it up again when you’re ready to use it. These quantities will roughly make 350g, so store it in a little bottle, jar or spritzer and keep it for next time.
  2. Roughly chop your almonds and roast them. I dry pan-roasted mine, but you could pop them in the oven at about 180C until they’re goldeny-brown.
  3. While the almonds are roasting, roughly shred the mint leaves and, with a sharp knife or a mandolin chop up, spiralize, or grate your beetroot. I spiralized mine, but it’s really only a matter of personal preferences in consistency. Pop the beetroot and mint in a bowl, add the pomegranate seeds along with along with half the roasted almonds.
  4. Splash as much of the dressing on as you fancy (I used roughly two tablespoons) and use your hands to mix it all together, making sure it’s all nicely coated. If you’re worried about your hands turning red, you can improvise an alternative mixing method but I strongly suggest you do use your hands.. it just works better.
  5. Once it’s all nicely combined and coated in the dressing, transfer to a plate, sprinkle the remaining almonds and a couple of mint leaves on top et voilà. Enjoy the following thirty minutes of your life.
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