Don’t ask me why I Googled “beet salad history.” Just know that Google offered me these four links as the most relevant sources on the World Wide Web for beet salad history:
- A piece by the New York Times about the history of beet and goat cheese salads.
- The history of the beet, courtesy PBS.
- “French in a Flash,” a beet salad with goat cheese recipe from Serious Eats.
- A beet salad recipe from ex-country superstar Trisha Yearwood.
My personal beet salad history dates back to late November, at an omakase dinner at Masu Sushi and Robata. The first recorded event was my consumption of a little salad centered by a whipped planet of goat cheese. Flakes of beet were scattered on top, and bits of yuzu were buried inside like jewels. On a night that also featured salmon sashimi crudo, maple-smoked pork belly, and lobster miso soup, this beet salad was the best dish of the night.
And that’s how I wound up within the polished, marbly environs of Salty Tart Bakery. A Google search of restaurants near my home revealed Salty Tart to be the closest restaurant with a beet salad (or something like it) on the menu. Since then, my relationship with beets has advanced from an appreciation to a low-key obsession.
Salty Tart Bakery is Michelle Gayer’s latest masterpiece. If you’ve eaten a pastry – I mean really eaten a pastry – you know who Michelle Gayer is. Gayer has racked up three James Beard Awards nominations since 2002, per the Salty Tart website, and was named best pastry chef by Bon Appetit in 2012. Here’s Andrew Zimmern calling her coconut macaroons the best in the world. According to this WCCO video at least, those macaroons have earned a pretty great nickname: Crack-a-roons.
The first Salty Tart location opened in 2008 at Minneapolis’ Midtown Global Market. Last year, Gayer and team expanded to St. Paul’s Market House Collaborative and moved their Minneapolis location to Harriet Ave. There’s also a stand in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Look for the little blue van in Terminal 1, Concourse E.
And of course they sell a salty tart (the technical name is “salted caramel tart” but still). Mine came in a white paper cover with TREAT YO SELF stamped on it. My dog hates when I eat these in front of him. The noises I make. The way I dance at the kitchen counter sometimes. And then I give him the same stupid dog treat I’d just given him a couple of hours previous. It doesn’t seem fair, because it isn’t.
Back to the beets. Salty Tart captured my attention with a big, bangin’ bowl of cucumbers, radishes, pea shoots, sunflower seeds, and mint yogurt sauce. It was delicious, and it was not eaten cleanly.
The art of eating pea shoots with a fork, as of this writing, is one I’ve not yet mastered. After numerous failed attempts, I abandoned my veneer of gentility and just snatched them out of the bowl by hand. When I was finished, only neon streaks and leftover quinoa seeds remained. It looked like its own little universe in there.
It only took me a week to return for another one. The bowl had changed slightly this time, with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts taking the cucumbers’ place. I took this one to go and ate it at home. How I ate those pea shoots is none of your business.
I’ve tried re-creating these bowls at home, to unmixed results. What I mean is, I bought an approximation of the ingredients at the grocery store but never quite put them together. I wound up roasting and eating the beets by themselves, and the other ingredients just drifted apart like old schoolmates. The fact I even got this far in my attempt, however, speaks to how in I am on beets right now.
Salty Tart has a pretty good roster of breakfast and lunch choices (no dinner service). I’ve tried the quiche, and really enjoyed it. You can try a cured salmon toast, avocado toast, salads, and soups. You can also try a buckwheat crepe with bruschetta, gruyere, arugula, and an egg. On the present menu, per the website, my pet beet bowl is titled “Quinoa Veggie Bowl.”
Under the “For the Table + Sides” section is something called “Toast Service.” When you order this, your squad is brought to a private booth out of the view of plebians and pre-loaded toasters are brought in for your enjoyment.
It costs $6. I’m talkin’ “Warm toast at the bakery” money.
They advertise an “arsenal of sweet and savory pastries, fresh breads, and cakes” on their website, and that description is accurate. I don’t think too hard about it, and I just always get the salted caramel tart; but if you see something in their bakery display and you think you’ll like it, I think you’ll like it.
More information can be found on saltytart.com and they stay current on their Facebook and Instagram pages. I’m obviously joking about what the toast service means.
A previous version of this article stated the Minneapolis location was in Midtown Global Market. That location closed September 30.