Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Sunday, 31 July 2016

5 Things & 3 More



5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Early morning outdoor swims.
2. Surviving a trip to the dentist.
3. Carrying iced coffee with me everywhere, thanks to my new hydroflask.
4. Lunch breaks in the sunshine.

3 things to read over the weekend:

1. An interview with two inspiring food writers about what it's like and what it means to be a food writer today.
2. The essential desserts to get you through burning hot New York summer.
3. Gossip Girl would not have had the same storyline if it had been written in 2016.

Happy weekend! We're off another American adventure - you can follow us around on Instagram.

X

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Zahav, Philadelphia


We booked B's birthday weekend away in Philly without checking the reservations at Zahav. Thankfully after a few panicked phone calls between the Zahav reservationist, me, and B, on  a weekday afternoon, we managed to grab the last table for 2 at 9.30pm. The next two weeks were spent dreaming (anticipatory dreaming) of the hummus we would eat by the bowlful on our late Saturday night in Philadelphia.

After a glass of bubbles at the wonderfully old-school The Olde Bar, we strolled around the corner, and joined the line of people hovering in the entrance to Zahav. Cocktails and beer were ordered and we were soon shown to our table. 


Zahav, in case you don't know, is the key to Philadelphia's food scene. Run by Michael Solomonov (yes, he of the same day's doughnuts, and also of Dizengoff, in both New York and Philadelphia), this elegant, always packed-out restaurant is well-known for  a reason: with its semi-open kitchen, and a searing wood-fired oven, where Middle Eastern chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and a long bar is always well-populated, Zahav is the real restaurant deal. The reason why it's hard to get a reservation is because the hummus is often referred to as life-changing. Even David Lebovitz, who wasn't sure it was possible, says so. (Make sure you read his review here!)



So obviously we started with hummus. A huge bowl of the tehina hummus, served with laffa bread, freshy baked in the wood-burning oven. Once B had got over the excitement of having a flatbread bigger than his face, we tore off strips of the warm, fluffy laffa, and dipped it through the creamy, rich, smooth, sleek hummus. It's true, this hummus is life changing. No other hummus will ever be the same again. I think I may have to buy Solomonov's cookbook to get the recipe, but I'm not sure anything I make in my kitchen will ever be as mind-blowing as this was.



After hummus came a few mezze: fried cauliflower with labneh, chives, dill, mint, and garlic; Valley Shepherd haloumi, kataifi, sour cherries, pistachio, and celery; fried kibbe made with bulgar wheat, lamb, beef, spring onion, and tahina. They were all beautiful, balanced, and exploding with flavor from fresh vegetables, dark meats, herbs, spices, and fruits. The haloumi looked so fancy, and was so much tastier than a dish that looks that pretty tends to be: The haloumi molten inside, not chewy or squeaky, and melding wonderfully with the cherries and crunchy pastry. The fried kibbe made any previous kibbe I've ever eaten seem like the most underwhelming disappointment. You just need to look at the cauliflower to know how fabulous that was.



Following that were the dishes simply referred to on the menu as 'Al Ha'esh: Grilled over coals', and served with buttery rice pilaf.  Due to their deeply charred smokiness, these dishes didn't exactly photograph well, but they tasted of campfire, of barbecue, of the meat and vegetables' own subtle flavors made so much more extreme having been cooked slowly and gently just a couple of meters behind us on those flickering flames. We had the sirloin shishlik, and the spiced eggplant with lentils, garlic tehina, harif, and crispy wheat. I am planning another trip to Philly just to eat more hummus and spiced eggplant in the very near future.


With our bill came tiny hazelnut biscuits with a dot of fruit jam on top. I sipped up the last of my Lemonnara cocktail (Jim Beam, muddled mint, fresh lemon, and verbena), and we set out into the warm Philly night, to stroll back to our enormous apartment, and sleep off one of the most perfect meals we've ever had.

Zahav, 237 St James Pl, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Federal Donuts, Philadelphia


Michael Solomonov (aka the Philly restaurateur - the equivalent of Andrew Tarlow in Brooklyn, or Danny Meyer in Manhattan) opened the first Federal Donuts location with his business partner, two local coffee shop owners, and a Philadelphia food expert in 2011. On their first day of opening, they sold out by 9.30am. Thankfully, 5 years later, the lines have calmed down, which means that, in need of a sugary snack on a hot Philly Saturday afternoon, we could dip into this red, white, and blue store for two fresh, made to order, cinnamon sugar-coated doughnuts.


They were all out of the specialty glazed doughnuts by the time we arrived. From our view at the counter seats it was clear that all the intelligent, hungry people in Philly had ordered their box of 12 fancy doughnuts ahead of time. This meant we were left to test out the simple, basic variety, which, in reality, should signify whether Solomonov has mastered doughnuts as well as he has mastered hummus. The answer - thankfully - is that he has. (I will give you a full low-down on the hummus soon). 


These cake-batter doughnuts are spiked with baharat spices, and are made fresh on-site, continuously, throughout the day. The batter is fluffy, light, and airy, with just enough substantial cake-iness to reassure you that this was made with proper ingredients. The doughnut-making robot pumps the dough out into a fryer, one ring at a time, and once cooked the doughnuts are flipped into the next section of hot oil, before they are finally removed from the oil, and the doughnut robot drains the excess fat off them. The last stage invovles a human coating them in your sugar or topping of choice. The doughnut robot has got doughnut cooking down to a fine art. And the team behind Federal doughnuts has got making the perfect batter sorted. 


We skipped the fried chicken as this wasn't the planned lunch stop of the day, but next time, we will definitely be lunching on chicken and doughnuts, as Philly intends its visitors and locals to do.


Federal Donuts, 701 N 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Friday, 22 July 2016

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from this working week:

1. B made caponata and it was amazing
2. Listening to all the podcasts
5. Evening swim at Red Hook pool

3 things to read over the weekend:

1. Just one example of Michelle Obama being totally awesome: this amazing Carpool Karaoke video.

Happy weekend tout le monde!

xx

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Café Lift, Philadelphia


For two permanently hungry people, we're not very good at planning in advance, carrying food with us, or thinking about the consequences of our easily-too-low energy levels (grumpiness, silence, and feet-dragging). So  after a super sunny run up the Rocky Steps and along boathouse row on a beautiful Saturday Philly morning, and a quick, ice cold shower at home, we headed for the nearest possible café offering breakfast. And that place, luckily for us, was not Starbucks, but Café Lift.


Just 45 minutes after opening we got one of the last tables in this packed out café in the middle of an uber quiet neighborhood. Our first cup of our unlimited coffee allowance was poured, and, at typical Philly pace (which takes some getting used to after being trapped in NYC, but when you do get used to it it's relaxing, and calming, and fabulous), our order was finally taken and, after yet another cup of coffee, huge plates of breakfast followed.


For two hungry runners, plates piled high with eggs and carbs being placed in front of us was like an angel descending from heaven. It seems that this local café, which simply serves brunch all day, every day, was so much better than we could have possibly hoped for. My avocado toast was enough to feed a small family: A huge slice of sourdough bread topped with ramp butter, smashed avocado, two over easy eggs, arugula, and Piment d'Espelette. With a pile of roasted potato squares on the side too, just in case that mountain of brunch wasn't enough. 

B ordered huevos rancheros - because the best breakfasts need cheese and chorizo. Toasted tortillas were topped with beans, chorizo,  roasted peppers, cheese, and two fried eggs. Eggs should always be served in twos. No more of this single egg serving nonsense which seems to be so common here please.

After just one more cup of coffee we skipped out the doors, ready for a day of exploring, walking, and more eating in beautiful Philadelphia.

Café Lift, 428 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Monday, 18 July 2016

CHeU Noodle Bar, Philadelphia


Given the terrible American laws (or lack thereof) on vacation days, a real, proper, holiday isn't on the cards this year. So you won't be getting any photos of me sipping margaritas and eating guacamole on a Mexican beach, which is where I would like to be right now, rather than in the midst of a New York, post-work thunderstorm. So to make up for this lack of restorative, life-affirming beach time, we are using our weekends to the max. Over the last four weeks we've spent two weekends on Long Island, one eating our way round New York with my parents, and the fourth in Philadelphia. And I'm feeling full, happy, and wanting to set off on another trip immediately just thinking about them. 


Last weekend was the Philly mini-break. I took one of my very few summer Fridays and we arrived in this beautiful city early on a Friday evening. After dropping our bags off at our totally dreamy, please can we never leave, I am actually obsessed with this place (see photos above and below to explain why), Airbnb, we went in search of a drink and dinner.


Cheu Noodle Bar's lack of pretentiousness is wonderfully reassuring and refreshing. As someone who is constantly being bombarded with press releases about the newest perfect, genius, niche food product, a website that reads "What do we, two dudes from Philly, know about "authentic" Asian cuisine? Nothing.", makes me breathe a sigh of relief. Even if this lack of pretention does mean that the hostess will carry on cleaning the glass front door while you wait in front of it, outside the door, for her to finish, and she then turns away without even opening it for you, I promise it's a good thing. Here's why.


Drinks. Let's start with drinks. On a list of totally amazing sounding cocktails, they have the option of having their fresh juice of the day spiked with a spirit of your choosing. The juice was fresh watermelon, cucumber, and basil, and with a shot of ice cold vodka splashed into it, it was exactly what I want to drink on every sweltering city summer evening. (Maman - you'd have loved it). B had beer. He says it was good.


B insisted we had the much-raved about black garlic chicken wings. It's good that he's skilled at insisting. And that I don't take much persuasion when it comes to ordering chicken wings. They were sticky but not cloying, spicy without burning my mouth off, herb-filled, and with a refreshing squeeze of lime spritzed over the top. I would have been happy to just eat more of these and have another glass of juice and be done with the evening. But more food beckoned...


... In the form of tuna bombs. Raw tuna sashimi, stuffed with puréed avocado, served on crispy sweet potatoes, and topped with chile and sesame. I mean, um, do I need to tell you that these were ohmygadIneedtoeattheseeverydayforever good?


Noodles followed. Huge bowls of steaming noodles. Coconut curry noodles with cucumber, peanut sambal, chickpeas, and plenty of fresh herbs were hearty and spicy, and coated my mouth with some of my all-time favorite flavors. B had the extremely fusion-ified brisket ramen with matzo ball, kimchi, all in a red chile broth. While his bowl was far from a thing of beauty, what it didn't win in Instagram likes in won in tastebud appreciation. 

We had come to Philly with (perhaps unfairly) high hopes of an exciting city, filled with spectacular food. CHeU Noodle Bar got us off on the right foot. If we lived here (maybe when we're done with NYC? I can dream...), I have a feeling CHeU would become a regular date night haunt.

CHeU Noodle Bar, 255 S 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Magic Fountain, Long Island


At first glance, Magic Fountain looks like a terrible road side ice cream stop, which will serve sickly sweet, overly processed ice cream. The next time you drive past you might read the sign and see that it lists flavors like avocado, vegan pomberri, and kulfi, and realize that this may not be your average, suburban ice cream parlor after all. The next next time you drive past, it's late, you've been out for a swanky dinner, you skipped dessert, and all of a sudden, there is nothing you want more in the world than a giant waffle cone piled high with peanut butter fudge and s'mores ice cream.  

So that's what we did. After a fancy dinner at North Fork Table & Inn, Papa missed the turning back to our Airbnb, and we rather fortunately ended up on Magic Fountain's front steps. Obviously, we make the most of the wrong turn and go inside to order our waffle cone filled with peanut butter fudge and s'mores ice cream. We were handed an ice cream as big as my head, and ate it sitting on the bench outside, in front of the hilarious ice cream wall painting, racing the summer heat to devour our sweet, salty, nutty, creamy dessert before it all melted onto the sidewalk. 

It turns out, thanks to some post-visit research, that Magic Fountain is considered to be the best ice cream on the North Fork, according to various not-always-trustworthy websites. I can vouch for its magical tastiness.

Magic Fountain, 9825 Main Road, Mattituck, NY 11952

Friday, 15 July 2016

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy moments from the last 5 days:

1. Celebrating B's birthday with homemade (by him) pasta, spritz, and cake.
2. Hunting down all the Pokémon. I'm obsessed.
3. Leftover birthday cake.
4. Sweetgreen lunchtime salads.
5. Sprinkle-filled cupcakes at my desk on a difficult day.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. Who are the Trump supporters, and why do they support him?
2. Hard to believe that parties like the one hosted by this hedge fund manager do really happen.
3. Buzzfeed's opinions on the ultimate NYC ice cream stops.  Happy to say I've crossed many of them off the list. Buzzfeed clearly understand ice cream.

Have a wonderful weekend! Time for a glass of wine and some sunshine.

xx

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

North Fork Food Truck, Long Island


Our lunch on Shelter Island had succeeded in getting all of us totally hooked on this upmarket food truck scene. So the next day, we hunted down North Fork Table & Inn's food truck, aptly named North Fork Food Truck.



I can't believe that there's a more perfect food truck to be found anywhere. Well, the setting could be improved (let's move it from a parking lot to the beach), and maybe it would be parked next to an ice cream truck serving me dessert, but apart from that, this food truck was totally wonderful.


As we were eating with my family, none of us were allowed to order the same thing (every meal counts as work, don't ya know), so we managed to sample a significant amount of the menu. All the rolls and sandwiches and fries on our table got some incredibly vigorous nods of approval, had to pose for many a photo (for work purposes, obvs), and led to a long discussion about how exactly you go about creating such a perfect lobster roll.


Between us we devoured a lobster roll (yes, I have expensive taste), pulled pork with jalapeño pickles, pork banh mì, a totally magical black bean burger that would have convinced all meat-eaters that being vegetarian can be delicious, and a side of fries with chipotle aioli. If we'd stayed longer, we'd have returned multiple times. After a breakfast of lemon and ricotta pancakes, of course. But alas, work beckoned (and American holiday allowance is truly disastrous), so the second opportunity to spend an hour devouring all the lobster rolls and black bean burgers possible will have to wait until our next trip to this dreamy, inspiring, and peaceful fork of Long Island.


North Fork Food Truck, 57225 Main Road, Southold, NY 11971

Saturday, 9 July 2016

North Fork Roasting Co, Long Island


North Fork is essentially a group of Brooklyn-ites, who drove out of the city, and sprawled themselves along one long road, weaving off on to side streets, and carried on living just as they did when they called Red Hook home. If you were to be taken, blindfolded, to North Fork Roasting Co in Southold, you would probably guess you were in south Brooklyn, and not by the ocean on Long Island. 

If you drink coffee, even only rarely, North Fork Roasting Co is a key pit-stop on your Long Island trip. This café disguises itself as a house sitting on the side of the main road running through Southold, with an eclectic collection of vintage furniture sprawled on the lawn, a sixties student-style coffee room inside, and an old-school coffee roasting machine in the back. There's no doubting how recently roasted the beans were for the cup of coffee you're about to enjoy: When the staff here aren't making your coffee or baking your muffins, they're taking care of transforming these coffee beans into something you really, really want to drink.

Go in the summer, make sure you opt-in to coffee ice cubes (why would you ever turn down coffee ice cubes), devour a cinnamon roll and a blueberry muffin, and stay awhile, perhaps with another coffee in hand, on the rickety furniture, in the eccentric garden by the road.

North Fork Roasting Co, 55795 Main Road, Southold, NY 11971

Friday, 8 July 2016

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 4 days (Monday was a holiday so obviously that was pure happiness):

1. Walking into an air-conned room
2. Strawberries for breakfast
3. Early morning post-run swim
4. Iced coffee
5. Packing to go away for another weekend

3 things to read over the weekend:

3. Something I wrote about eating ice cream for breakfast. An important life lesson.

Happy weekend y'all!

x

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Vine Street Café Food Truck, Shelter Island


A day trip to Shelter Island is an essential part of every Long Island holiday, whether you're staying in the North or South Fork. Hop on the ferry for the beautiful, and incredibly short ride over from Greenport to the Shelter Island Heights, and be prepared to be faced by the most stunning, doll-house dreamy, wood-clad, porch-fronted, white-shuttered houses. After showing maman and papa round the fairytale land that is Champagne row, otherwise known as Dering Harbor, and a stroll round the peaceful, verdant Mashomack Preserve, we retraced our steps to reach Vine Street Café's Food Truck.


Vine Street Café is a fancy seafood restaurant, which last year opened Shelter Island's first food truck. It sits in the lot outside the restaurant, with plenty of seats available round the back, serving up kimchi burgers, crispy clam rolls, shrimp guac dogs, avocado-filled California burgers, and barbecue pork rolls. Maman sillily selected a salad, and we recommend you don't copy her mistake. 


The bread the burgers and dogs is served in is made on site every day, and the results are heavenly. Light, fluffy, slightly sweet, shining buns and rolls, stuffed full of local seafood, meat, and fresh, crunchy, zingy vegetables. Between us we devoured a California burger, a shrimp guac dog, and a pulled pork roll, with a salty side off french fries with garlicky aioli. The perfect lunchtime pit stop on a blue skied, sunny day. Add it to your Long Island bucket list.

Vine Street Café Food Truck, 41 S Ferry Road, Shelter Island, NY 11964

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Orient Village



I genuinely jumped for joy when B, doing his research the day before we left for Long Island, told me there was a Four and Twenty Blackbirds outlet a few miles from our AirBnb on the North Fork. So after our morning run to Bailie beach, our lemon and ricotta pancakes, and a walk and sunbathe at the stunning Orient State Park, we set off on a hunt for a slice of pie.


Four and Twenty Blackbirds is one of our all time favorite New York locations, serving the most wonderful pies, and, as Coop would say, a "damn fine cup of coffee". Typically we eat our way through the perfect fruit pie at Gownus, but this Orient location really trumps Brooklyn when it comes to location. 



Orient Village is one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited. The white houses with carefully colored shutters line the silent streets and elegant coast line. A few shops selling baskets (which I obviously couldn't resist buying), art, gifts, aprons, and houses are dotted down the main street. The locals travel around on upright bicycles with baskets on the front, or, if not, they have a golf buggy for the same purpose parked in their drive. The only sounds are the gentle chatter if friendly neighbors and retired friends, waves crashing on the sore, and seagulls flying overhead. We looked into buying a house there and then, but, sadly, (and somewhat unsurprisingly), they're rather out of our budget. I'll try again in a few years time.


So this slice of pie was enjoyed not with a view of the pungent Gowanus canal, but gazing out at my dream home (obviously being set opposite Four and Twenty Blackbirds is a requirement for every dream home). Rhubarb crumble pie was tart, and just sweet enough, the coffee was iced and strong, and papa's salted caramel apple pie was as perfect as that particular pie always, always is. It took a lot of self-control and lobster rolls to resist stopping at the slightly-out-of-the-way pie shop every afternoon. 


Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Orient is only open during the summer months, so make sure you hurry to get there before the season's up.


Four and Twenty Blackbirds, 1010 Village Lane, Orient, NY 11957

Monday, 4 July 2016

Love Lane Kitchen, North Fork



Apologies for yet another ginormous silence. Things have been busy in these parts. A crazy week of work and work events ended with a long weekend (four days - probably known as a proper vacation in this country), with maman and papa out on the North Fork of Long Island. Then there were a couple of days back in the city, filled with ice cream and post-work drinks, and then maman and papa caught us up back in NYC and we've had another wonderful (and long) weekend of sun, blue skies, and so, so much food. Anyway, there's my excuse for the extended lack of words written on this little space of the internet, but fret not, I'm back.



We rented an adorable house on AirBnb for our stay on Long Island. It was tucked away in Mattituck, on a goose-filled inlet, and only a two mile jog/cycle ride/drive from the beach. And it was less than a mile to the best pancakes I've tasted since we moved to the U S of A. These said pancakes can be found at Love Lane Kitchen.

Before we arrived at North Fork we only had to do five minutes of research to discover that Love Lane Kitchen's lemon and ricotta pancakes were made of magical unicorn substances. So, after a slow jog to the beach and back, our main priority on our first North Fork morning was to get ourselves in front of a couple of plates of those pancakes.


Accompanied by iced coffees, fresh juices (from The Giving Room in Southold, just down the road), and limitless coffee, maman and I tucked into the fluffiest, lightest, zestiest, lemon and ricotta pancakes, covered in maple syrup, extra berries, and in my case (because I'm the greediest) a few knobs of butter. We obviously went back for more, later in the trip, and for some reason I didn't beg for the recipe. I fear that when I'm on my deathbed, this will be one of my biggest life regrets. 


While maman and I worked our way through all of our pancakes, papa limited himself to eggs with kale and avocado (too much raw kale for anybody's liking), and B went all out and had cheesecake stuffed French toast. I'm pretty sure I don't need to tell you that cheesecake-stuffed French toast is a wondrous meal which everyone should be treated to regularly, especially when on holiday/vacation.


If you ever stay anywhere on the North Fork don't drive by the pancakes. Your trip will be 100 times better if you stop for a serving (or four) of them.

Love Lane Kitchen, 240 Love Lane, Mattituck, NY 11952

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