On the Island - The Bean Café

Recently, I had the pleasure to explore the San Juan Island in Washington. The island is not very big with only Friday Harbor on the south side and Roche Harbor on the north side as townlike areas. I stayed on a cute little house boat, explored Friday Harbor with its peaceful small town atmosphere and Roche Harbor with its fine dining options and pool area. And I was very lucky to be there for a week of full sunshine. I used the time to relax and enjoy the sun and island life. I even got to catch an outdoor Shakespeare play of Romeo and Juliet and got to experience the true island life by hanging out with some locals.

One of my favorite spots and rituals on the island was to get my everything bagel with cream cheese and unsweatend (and unlimited) iced tea at the Bean Café, one of the few island cafes in Friday Harbor. It is nestled in a side alley right of the harbor. I liked it as it had really nice comfy armchairs inside with a great music selection and also a cute little outdoor seating area. They have free wifi, even afterhours, which was nice as they close pretty early, at 5pm. Turned out that the staff running the cafe were really nice as well. I even had the chance to get to know some of them. They are mostly a group of young people that moved to the island after living a much louder life in a crowded city and kinda found their peace on the island.

My food highlights at the café were definitely the breakfast bagels and tea selection as well as the lunch options with sandwiches, paninis and a very tasty potato salad, especially combined with the nice atmosphere and company :)

Beet Carpaccio with Gratinated Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

I especially like salads that are a little more exciting, including non traditional ingredients such as watermelon, apple, beet roots... My brother grew for the first time beet roots in his garden, so I wanted to try them out. I do like marinated and cooked beet roots, especially with goat or feta cheese. So, I got inspired for this salad by two things, the fruits of my brother's garden and my visit to Prague a few months ago where I had a very similar beet root salad.


  • 2-3 beet roots (uncooked)
  • 1 l water
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • goat cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of each salt, pepper, herb de provence
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp oil
  • lettuce (e.g. baby spinach or arugula)

  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp apple vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper, herb de provence to taste


  1. Prepare the Beets: Bring water to a boil, add the garlic cloves, salt, vinegar and sugar and stir. Add the beet roots and cook for 40 min till soft. Use a fork to test. Take the beet roots out of the water and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put on some kitchen gloves, as the red juice of the beet root is very intense and can leave stains. Peel the beet roots and slice in very thin slices that are almost translucent. If you want to have perfect slices, use a mandoline slicer.
  2. Gratinate the Goat Cheese: Preheat oven to 190 degree Celcius. Slice the goat cheese in 4-6 slices of about 1 inch thickness. Lay out on a baking tray and sprinkle with the olive oil and spices. Bake for about 10 minutes, till it starts to bubble a little bit and get a slight golden colar.
  3. Toast the Walnuts: Preheat oven to 150 degree Celcius. Spread the walnuts out on a baking tray, sprinkle with the oil. Bake in the oven for 3-5 minutes, but check regularly as the can burn from one minute to the next.
  4. Dressing and Salad: Use a small mixing bowl for the dressing. First, add the vinegars, mustard, honey and lemon juice and mix everything. Then, add the oil and spices and mix again till everything is combined. In a seperat bowl, place the lettuce (e.g. baby spinach or arugula as these lettuce are a little nuttier in taste) and sprinkle with the dressing. Toss the salad till everything is mixed.
  5. Assemble the Carpaccio: Place the slices of beet root in a circular shape on a plate. The slices are so thin, that it should resemble a carpaccio. Top with the dressed lettuce. Add 2-3 sliced of gratinated goat cheese on top and sprinkle with walnuts.

  • Toasting vs. Roasting:  To toast something means to only brown the outside slighlty under dry heat either in a toaster or the oven. When roasting something, you expose it to dry heat and cook the inside through.
  • Carpaccio: Usually used when slicing raw beef very thinnly, almost translucent. As we use the same slicing technique for the beet roots, we call it a beet carpaccio. 

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