Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Brunch at Rucola


We don't often go to restaurants repeatedly, but Rucola is an exception. It does obviously help that it is situated approximately 60 seconds from our front door, but I'd like to thing we'd travel a few blocks further to this neighborhood haven if we weren't inhabiting an apartment in quite such close proximity.  Every time we walk through the front door and squeeze into a seat at one of the tiny tables, we order a drink and say "I really like it here". Every time.


After flying around his race on a cold Sunday morning, B was given free reign of where to go for brunch. He close Rucola. And that wasn't just because his legs were so tired that he couldn't stand the thought of going anywhere further away. We managed to beat the crowds by arriving two minutes after opening time, and ordered the first of many coffees. Maman and Papa arrived soon after and we got down to the serious business of who was eating what from the dribble-inducing menu.


Soon enough, icing sugar dusted brioche french toast, granola and greek yoghurt, smashed avocado toast, and a slow roasted pork sandwich (that one was for the hungry runner) were being placed on our table, alongside multiple coffees. Everything disappeared very soon. In order to sit in the warmth,  in our favorite room in Boerum Hill for a little longer, we treated ourselves to more coffee, and a selection of Bien Cuit croissants, before finally bracing ourselves for a return to the cold outdoors, regretting not having ordered more of that French toast.


Rucola, 190 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Lilia


Please excuse the dramatic silence around here. I am still alive and kicking, but we've been busy eating for the last week. Maman and Papa have just left after a week's trip which flew by in a blur of pasta, lack of sleep, coffee, and sunshine. This week's return to normality where we eat in every night and take in packed lunches of leftovers to work for lunch is set to be a bit of a reality check.


Our first night on their trip was spent carb loading at home before B's record-breaking half marathon at 7am on Sunday morning. When Sunday evening rolled around, it was time to celebrate their arrival and B's ability to run as fast as airplanes can fly, with dinner at Lilia. 



When Lilia opened with a flurry of mouth-watering Instagram photos of pasta in January, it has sat tip top of my list of 'I need to eat there as soon as we have some money in our bank account'. Weeks before M and P arrived on American soil, a table at Lilia had been booked, and the countdown had begun. The Instagram photos were no word of a lie: Lilia is our new favorite NYC restaurant. Although Rucola, we do love you too, and you are also our favorite: please don't make me pick one, I'm not very good at decisions.


Early on Sunday evening we were seated at our table in this bright, airy space with incredibly high ceilings, warehouse style windows, whitewashed brickwork walls, and concrete floors. Simple, but elegant, with more than a touch of a West Coast vibe about it. Aperol Spritz and Negroni were ordered, along with a salty, crisp bowlful of cacio e pepe fritelle and a burratino (not burrito, as spellcheck would like it to be) toast with mozzarella, lemon, and bottarga. A pretty fabulous way to start the evening. Can these fritelle please be a feature of every Sunday supper from now on?


Vegetables followed next: Bagna cauda with winter vegetables and an individual dipping sauce being warmed by a flickering candle was simple but perfect.


Cauliflower with spicy soppressata, Sicilian pesto, and marjoram was crunchy and, according to B (we didn't get to try this one!) 'good'. An economist's excellent use of adjectives.


The last of the winter's roasted squash, Parmigiano, pine nuts, allepo, and brown butter was spicy and sweet and nutty and exactly how vegetables should be on a blustery, snowy Sunday evening.


Fennel, marinated capers, and blood orange was so much more inventive and addictive than it sounds. The fennel had been lightly charred over their open, wood-burning grill, and had all the charcoal-y, smokey flavors of your favorite barbecue dish, encapsulated into fresh, crunch slices of fennel.

We had already fallen in love with Lilia by this point, and the stars of the evening hadn't even arrived. 

We sampled almost every single pasta dish on the menu. There was no way we were allowed to order two of the same: there were too many fabulous flavours and pasta shapes which needed to be tried.


I, of course, had to go for the Instagram perfect Mafaldini with pink peppercorns and Parmigiano. These curly, frizzy strands of pasta had the most dreamy bite to them, and were dressed so simply. This twist on the classic cacio e pepe landed itself a spot on my desert island dish list.


The prettiest dish was undoubtedly the ricotta gnocchi, with vibrant broccoli pesto, basil, and pistachios. A party of all the most beautiful green early spring ingredients adorned the soft little dumplings.


Agnolotti filled with sheeps' milk cheese, saffron, dried tomato, and honey was just the right side of being overwhelmed by saffron. One more strand and it would have been too much, but as it was it sat perfectly in the middle of savory, sweet, and rich.


The silkiest papardelle was served with a veal bolognese, porcini, and nutmeg. Earthy, rich bolognese, lightly coated the freshly made strips of pasta.

We turned down dessert: If we'd had any room left we would have ordered more pasta, not dessert. Bellies full, hearts happy, and bodies utterly exhausted, we reluctantly left this heavenly restaurant and skipped out into a flurry of snowflakes falling on Williamsburg.

Lilia, 567 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Sunday, 13 March 2016

5 Things


5 happy moments from the last working week:

1. Discovering Sweetgreen's app. Lunchtime lifesaver.
2. The most beautiful golden misty morning in Prospect Park. Kicking myself for not having my phone with me to take a photo. But there was something quite magical about having that moment for just the moment, and not being able to share it with anyone.
3. The West Wing. Top telly watching.
4. B finishing his exams. Finally. And bubbles to celebrate.
5. Charcoal crusted pizza with a long lost British friend.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

China Town Explorations


New York's China Town is ever expanding. Little Italy has been reduced to just one street as Chinese shops, markets, restaurants, banks, and homes gobble up the rest of its real estate. But its rapid growth, doesn't seem to ease its busyness, its chaotic movements, its endless noise, and the vast quantities of people filling its streets. The only time I've passed through China Town and it's been empty was at 7.30am on a Saturday when I was out running down an eerily deserted Canal street.



B has finally finished his exams, so we've regained our weekends. This means we can resume spending our Saturdays exploring this crazy city we not-so-recently moved to, but still really don't know nearly as well as we knew London by the time we left, despite our best efforts. I get stopped and asked for directions in the street a lot: I'm really not the right person to be asking. I'm about as clueless as every tourist glued to their over-sized map wearing their I HEART NY tops.



Anyway, enough rambling. What I'm trying to say is today we went to explore China Town. It was as crazy as we had guessed it might be on a Saturday afternoon. We weaved in and out of the locals, the bikes, the cars, the delivery trucks, as we dived in and out of food shops, gazed at the ducks hanging in restaurant windows, tried to pluck up the courage to get closer to that bucket full of frogs (I'm terrified of anything slimy, frogs included, so getting that photo took quite a lot of courage), and bought more steamed buns from the Golden Steamer than we will possibly be able to eat over the next few days. 



Next time I'll go back with a hungrier stomach, a bolder spring in my step, and maybe some improved Chinese-speaking skills (mine have all disappeared), so I can actually ask questions, find out what most of those ingredients are, and try to understand what on earth I'm meant to do with them.



Sunday, 6 March 2016

5 Things


5 happy moments from the last 5 working days:

1. Leaving work in time to make it to yoga.
2. Honey & Co tahini and white chocolate cookie sandwiches. On repeat.
3. Silently snow-dusted Propsect Park.
4. Too many episodes of New Girl.
5. Weeknight baking.

Happy weekend friends!

X

Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Doughnut Project


The Doughnut Project leapt into top place on all foodie New Yorker's hit list when it opened late last year. Serving up mind-blowing savory-sweet flavors such as beet and ricotta, olive oil and black pepper, and maple bacon, the line was infamously long, and they reportedly have been selling out every day since that first morning


We hadn't dared attempt to taste these masterpieces yet - we're not fans of long lines in New York winter. This miracle doughnut shop then launched the Everything Doughnut two weeks ago, and the whole New York food scene refused to discuss anything else for at least five days. Although I wasn't sure about eating a doughnut doused in garlic and onion seeds, when our greedy running club suggested a Sunday morning joy over Brooklyn Bridge to end at the Doughnut Project destination, we couldn't resist.


Early last Sunday morning 20 sweaty runners swamped the Doughnut Project, our hungry bodies desperate for lots of doughnuts and lots of coffee. It was only 9.30am, and so many flavors had already sold out, and were busy being freshly made and filled by the professionals.


So no beet and ricotta, or PB&J for me this time. Instead we settled on salted chocolate with buttered pretzel crumbs, and a maple bacon bar. The chocolate salted pretzel was chocolate heaven: I felt like a small child in a candy shop as I ended up with the sweet, sticky glaze all over my face and hands, grinning like a chipmunk as I reveled in eating fluffy doughnuts for breakfast. The maple bacon bar was so much better than I could ever have imagined: it was like the most perfect stack of pancakes piled high, doused in crispy bacon, and drizzled with plenty maple syrup, transformed into a doughnut. Amazing. 

I really wanted to steal this amazing doughnut award.
We'll be back soon. Earlier this time. Ready to dive straight into a breakfast of Everything Doughnuts and vivid Beet and Ricotta creations.


The Doughnut Project, 10 Morton Street, New York, NY 10014
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