Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Friday, 29 January 2016

5 Things



It's been a week of very high highs and very low lows. Little moments of joy are really what have saved me over the last five days:

1. A late birthday present from B
2. Breathing deeply in and out during a long yoga class
3. Running through the snowy park
4. A turn of events in the job department
5. Monday night pasta and Prosecco at Rucola

Happy weekend! I hope it's less of a blizzard than the one just gone by.

X

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Spice Cakes with Marzipan Cream Filling & Raspberries


Flicking through the Honey & Co Baking Book is like walking through a dream land filled with the prettiest sweet treats. Every recipe got marked with a little post-it, completely defeating the purpose of marking them. 


I started baking my way through the book based on what ingredients I had in my cupboard right that very second. Some of the most tempting recipes required more ingredients or baking tools than I had, so it was a happy, happy moment when on Christmas day I unwrapped a bundtlette (yes, that is a word) pan from B. It didn't take me long to set about baking these gorgeous little spice cakes that I had been gazing at fondly for a few weeks before.


They come together crazily easily and fell out the tin with no stress or stickiness. Piped full of marzipan cream these mountainous mini cakes just needed a couple of raspberries (yes, I know it's not the right season but they were a necessary decoration here, okay?) and a sprinkling of icing sugar snow, to make them Instagram-ready. Sitting down to eat my own beautiful bundtlette made me feel like a princess, being treated to the most magical cake in the world.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Happy Bones



We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a perfect cup of coffee in this city. To tell you the truth, it's rare that we venture past our reliably perfect and hyper-local Blue Bottle to pick up our daily dose of caffeine, but when we find ourselves on the other side of Brooklyn Bridge, overwhelmed by all the options, Happy Bones in Nolita is quickly becoming a favourite Manhattan hide-out.

Serving up ethically sourced Counter Culture coffee, donating a percentage of their profits to Free Arts NYC, selling a range of much-loved Dough Doughnuts, and giving you the prettiest paper cups in town, you'll leave with a much-needed energy boost and probably a glimmer of a smile on your face too. Even on a cold, testing January day.


Happy Bones, 394 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

Monday, 18 January 2016

Wilma Jean

As relative newbies to life in the USA, we still have many things to cross of our list until we can begin to consider ourselves to be fully initiated in this rather confusing country. We've managed to avoid experiencing a properly cold winter (touch wood) this year, so that will have to wait for several more months. I haven't made any attempt to understand American Football. I still don't drink beer. I say 'rubbish' rather than 'trash' and 'lorry' rather than 'truck'. However, I am growing more and more fond of big mugs of American coffee. I have taken up watching basketball (the perfect game with anyone with a short attention span when it involves sitting still and watching something you're not participating in - like me). I do consider doughnuts to be a perfectly suitable breakfast food. And now, after a trip to Wilma Jean, I have fallen head over heels for the perfect Southern fried chicken.

B has been off school for over a month now, and therefore has had much time to research and review his New York must-do, and most importantly must-eat, list. So after work last week I hopped off the subway and followed my nose and rumbling stomach, (oh the joys of working in the restaurant trade where lunch comes 2 hours after breakfast at 11.30am, making for the longest and hungriest of afternoons) down Smith Street to Wilma Jean.


We found a couple of seats at the one table without any children (our fault for trying to eat in Carroll Gardens at 6pm) and ordered a mason glass full of wine (please can 2016 be the year of the return of the wine glass) and a pint of beer (in a beer glass). 



A quick perusal of the menu, accompanied by some crispy and addictive fried pickles, and we'd settled upon which chicken options we'd like. The chicken thigh dinner for me: 2 boneless thighs, cheddar grits, collard and pecan salad. The chicken dinner for B: half chicken, tater tots, slaw and a roll. We shared - obviously. The grits were sweet and creamy and something I'd like to eat for breakfast and for dinner please. The greens and the slaw were fresh and the perfect antidote to all the fried-ness we'd surrounded ourselves with. Our initiation into the world of tater tots was a happy one: these fried little shredded potato nuggets will be featuring in my life much more often from now on. And the chicken was exactly as we'd hoped - juicy, delicately falling apart, with a light, salty, crisp batter. Wilma Jean, thank you for being our introduction to the comfort food classics of America. We'll be back very, very soon.


Wilma Jean, 345 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Sunday, 17 January 2016

On Top of the Rock


We rang in the New Year tucked up in bed, watching the hugely anti-climatic ball drop in Time Square on a computer screen 5 hours after admiring the ferocious fireworks that exploded all over London.



As a result of having such a relatively early night, we were up before the rest of the world the morning of January 1st 2016. After dipping into the sales on 5th Avenue before the crowds arrived, we rushed over to the Rockefeller to cast an eye over a new year in this city from our favourite view point.



Standing in the clouds, amongst the rooftops, windows, and skyscrapers of the Big Apple, I suddenly felt more in control and in love with this city we are now calling home. From this height, with these views, it seemed much easier to put life in perspective, to create those plans, and to inspire those dreams which we'll try and fulfill in the next 365 days and beyond.



It was a dark, grey day, but as the sun was setting it occasionally peeped its head through the clouds, dousing the city in a cold, winter light, and momentarily scaring away the showers.




Top of the Rock, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Barbuto

Towards the end of two weeks of non-stop eating, drinking, walking and raining that made up the Christmas period, we had one last dinner reservation left. Just as dusk arrived, we reached the end of the Highline, stopped off for a drink with a view, and then headed to Barbuto.

Fairy lights were strewn round the glass exterior of this stark garage-like room, which is almost utilitarian with its white-painted brick walls, open kitchen, long, tiled bar, and many, many simple chairs and tables squeezed into the airy space. 6pm on a Wednesday evening in the midst of the holidays, and it was already packed, the room echoing with happy, chatty voices.


With a cold, crisp Soave wine poured and glasses clinked, we fought over the polpetta farcita, and the classic New York starter of a kale salad. This insalata di cavolo was one of the best we've eaten in the city - lightly dressed with pecorino, breadcrumbs and anchovy, the shredded leaves were salty, light and crunchy.


We'd read the rave reviews about the chicken, so obviously a huge bowlful of juicy, butter roasted chicken and salsa verde followed. I can't resist gnocchi or squash (especially not when the two are combined) on any menu, so gnocchi with delicata squash and pumpkin seeds was mine all mine. The candied pumpkin seeds added sweetness and bite, the gnocchi were slightly crisp and fluffy, and slices of squash scattered in between made for a very pretty plate. The boys also devoured the braised goat, which I have on report was very, very rich (not that that stopped every last scrap being eaten), and a simple, but very beautiful plate of wild striped bass was another popular dish from our hungry party. 


Despite all this fabulous food, the highlight was the potatoes. Although, now I remember that the sprouts were wonderful too. But the potatoes really won: unbelievably crisp, doused in pecorino and rosemary, and piled high, high, high. I don't really want to eat another potato which isn't an exact replica of these, ever again.

Barbuto, 775 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Ovenly


A beautifully cold, crisp, clear January Monday morning free from work should be the happiest of days. Last Monday morning was one of those rare contented, calm times. Accompanied by B and A, we hopped on the G train all the way to Greenpoint, wrapped up well in thick coats, scarves, hats and anything else woollen that we own. After a blast of icy cold air and stunning views standing out on the pier in the East River overlooking Manhattan, we retreated to the heat and comfort of Ovenly.


Basking in the warm sunlight streaming through the vast front windows, we ordered coffees and a selection of cookies. Sipping on the simply served Stumptown coffee, nibbling on salted chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate truffle cookies, we discussed life and plans, and the rather less happy subject of work. If only every morning could start this way. 

Ovenly, 31 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Vinegar Hill House

My family had hardly, if ever (depending on which member we're talking about here), visited New York prior to their Christmas trip. B and I were determined to give them a rather alternative tourist trip. T did start saying he still hadn't seen any famous sights on day 4, so in a last minute mad rush through the rain (and one little glimmer of sunshine), we managed to whiz round MOMA, Central Park, over Brooklyn Bridge, a quick look at Lady Liberty, the World Trade Center, and a view of the Empire State Building (albeit from below). However, the majority of their trip was spent eating and walking all around Brooklyn.

Our favourite locals - Brucie, Rucola, Ample Hills, Bien Cuit and Blue Bottle - had been crossed off the list, so we went on an adventure to cobbled Vinegar Hill to dine at the cosy corner restaurant that is Vinegar Hill House.

We were greeted by a small elf. She seemed unable to speak and left us standing awkwardly in the entrance, gazing at us through her big round glasses as if we were aliens landed from outer space, before listening to what we were asking and then going off to find someone else who could show us which our table was. Apparently she couldn't figure out that the table reserved for 5 right next to her was probably for us. A few minutes later, we were seated at the table tucked away around the corner, a bottle of wine had been ordered, and the confusion caused by elf girl's lack of manners had subsided.




Starters were split between salads and pastas. A fennel salad with burnt onion creme, pear and sunflower seeds was crunchy and toasty; fall squash with walnut hummus was perfectly autumnal. But the highlight of the whole evening (sorry to put in a spoiler so early on), was the blue cornbread with spicy honey and butter which we genuinely fought over. Served in a searing hot cast iron dish, it had a chewy, almost charred crust, with honey and butter slowly melting and seeping into the cracks on top. The fluffy, sweet interior was as perfect as cornbread can be: we all agreed that this would be the best breakfast (maybe just add a slice or two of bacon?).



The pasta dishes - sweet potato ravioli and tagliatelle with pork ragu - were rich and comforting. Portion sizes were huge, and the boys were more than happy to help themselves to some of maman's porky plate and to some of my buttery, sage-scented potato parcels.



We were tempted to cancel our mains, and just order more cornbread, but we managed to resist. That may have been too much for little elf to cope with understanding anyway. Papa's cast iron chicken was as classic and juicy as we had been promised it would be. B's country chop with sweet corn grits was warming, cheesy, and suitably rich. T's steak was served very rare (I was very glad that that was his dish and not mine): a creamy caesar dressing was served over the top of it, which the huge, raw leaves of earthy red kale really needed. I'm not sure anyone could really chomp through quite so much raw kale. Not even a rabbit.



Sides of beets and Brussels sprouts with garlic and breadcrumbs vanished quickly. The sprouts were declared the best ever, until we went to Rucola where they served them with crispy exterior leaves, tonnato and sesame, successfully taking the lead in the Great Brooklyn Brussels Sprouts Off.

We declined dessert, full to the brim with grits, buttery pasta and raw kale: the chocolate guiness cake looked wonderful, but it was not what was required after several days of non-stop eating.

Vinegar Hill House, 72 Hudson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201
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