I have a love-hate relationship with Beirut.
The noises, the traffic, the tall buildings, the UGLY architecture
The welcoming people, the easygoing life, the old beautiful buildings, the pubs and bars, the restaurants, the activities, the few cultural activities…
This is what keeps me visiting Beirut more often. Except for Downtown Beirut. The pretentious, once-the-heart-of-the-city, ghost town, with all it’s freakishly expensive cafes and restaurants and secluded Nejmeh square away from the reach of Lebanese. That’s not where I see myself. Except for one or two places.
One of the things that make me go to Downtown Beirut is the farmer’s market, Souk El Tayeb. An initiative open to farmers and small scale producers and artisans to exhibit and sell their goods. I’ve been going there for the past two weeks and meeting up with the people there. Sweet and simple folks who are willing to share whatever they have with you. This is probably the only glimpse at how Beirut, the throbbing heart, once was, as described by my mom and dad.
My main purpose for my recent visits was to get myself some asparagus while in season. There I met a petite lady who makes delicious savory pastries, aromatic syrups, and preserves all by herself. I met the soap maker. I met the old farmer who passionately grows and sells plants, whose features reveal the days of hard work under the sun, whose fingers have grown a protective layer of skin, and whose thick white beard fools you from guessing his real age. And the hippy farmer who left everything to turn his father’s land into an organic field producing good seasonal crops. I almost forgot I got there for the asparagus. I grabbed my tote bag and started filling it with good vegetables. By the end of the market, I got asparagus in my bag, swag! Beat that Beyoncé!
The day after, I got some fresh eggs from Tannourine and I decided to use them right away before they get old. Made this recipe late at night because first I was hungry, and I knew I had a full week of clown rehearsals and performances ahead and that was my only chance to use those fresh ingredients. I loved it so much I woke up very early the next day just to make it before heading to Beirut for rehearsals.
P.S. I am not a morning person
Asparagus and Kale Anytime Salad
- 6-7 spears fresh asparagus
- half a small bunch of kale
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 super fresh eggs, for poaching
- olive oil
- sea salt + pepper
- Prepare a pot with a steamer or colander that fits on top
- Wash the asparagus and kale. Snap the woody stems of the asparagus and you can peel it if you prefer. Roughly chop the kale discarding the thick stems. Half the tomatoes
- Boil salted water in the pot and place the steamer on top with the asparagus inside. Cover and steam until tender enough, around 5-7 minutes
- Remove and wash with cold water
- In the same boiling water, throw the kale for a minute or two until they’ve turned bright green. Drain and put in the serving plate. Whisk the lemon and oil and drizzle the kale with that plus some salt
- Arrange the asparagus spears on top, throw the tomatoes on them, and drizzle some more of the dressing
- Poach the egg, or soft boil it, and carefully place on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle some salt, poke the yolk for it to run and cover the salad and enjoy while its still warm
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