Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Long Island Bar


"How come it took you over a year to visit one of the best, most highly-praised, most talked about bars in the city, which is only 5 blocks from your apartment?", is a question I'll never have a good answer to. "We never had the right occasion." Not true. "We didn't have any money." True, but that didn't stop us going out for a drink every now and again. "It never felt like the right time." Probably the closest. But in reality, there is no good answer. Sometimes, things just slip further and further down the must-do list until days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years. But finally, with the excuse of celebrating the final day at what was a less-than-happy job, we stepped foot inside The Long Island bar for the first time.

At 6pm on a Friday, we were (stupidly, in hindsight) concerned we may be the only people there. But it was already packed, so we grabbed one of the last booths and snuggled up in the warm, buzzing, welcoming, retro bar, packed with happy weekend-ing locals. 

We stuck with the classics (or twists on them), and spent the evening sipping on two totally perfect, wonderful examples of how fantastic cocktails can be (without being colorful, pretentious, or ridiculously over-priced). A white Negroni sbagliato for me and a whiskey soda with a shiso leaf  for B. They were both serious, but not too intimidatingly so, both balanced, both strong, and both capable of convincing us that we need to spend more time drinking fancy cocktails, especially on a Friday night at the Long Island Bar.

The Long Island Bar, 110 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Friday, 21 October 2016

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. B's butternut squash risotto.
2. The changing leaves on the trees in Prospect Park.
3. Ginger and turmeric tea.
4. A weekday negroni.
5. Marzipan biscotti with my coffee.

3 things to read over the weekend:

1. Trying to understand just how much the Great British Bake Off has changed the way the UK bakes.
2. Maybe it's not so disastrous that I've already had 5 jobs since leaving university... In defense of of being a job hopper.
3. Discussing politics with friends is always tricky, is it best to fight it out, or abstain from the topic completely?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Storm King Art Center


Taking a break from the endless eating and baking today, to share a few photos from our trip to Storm King Art Center. Last Sunday we caught a bus which drove us upstate (to the part on the far side of the Hudson), where the leaves are currently at their most stunning, the skies are blue, the air is clean, and there's so much space to breathe. This outdoor sculpture center is one of the most spectacular art galleries I have ever visited. Especially when the artworks blend and contrast with the rusting trees. And even more so when, just before we hopped on the coach to return to the city, golden hour strikes.



























Storm King Art Center, 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY 12553





Monday, 17 October 2016

al di la Trattoria


After many, many job applications, long periods of deep, dark silence, a handful of responses, some inspiring networking and meetings, challenging interviews, and finally an offer from the loveliest people working at a soup-er (sorry) wonderful company, we had some relieved 'I found a new job!' celebrating to do. Our initial idea was to follow our normal celebratory routine and head down the block to Rucola, but this excuse for fancier-than-normal meal out seemed too good to not pay a visit to al di la Trattoria, which has been sitting on my list of restaurants to visit for quite a while.


We walked up through Park Slope, planning, discussing, and jumping with excitement about my future life, until we reached the warm, cozy, vaguely disheveled (in a beautiful, European, curated way) restaurant. The specials were recited to us by our quietly charming waiter while we sipped on satisfyingly sizable glasses of Prosecco.

al di la was filled with a refreshing mixture of people. From local Park Slope families, to a very small birthday celebration, to one man sitting alone, quickly slurping through his giant plate of spaghetti, to couples young and old, to joyful groups of friends, everyone from all over the neighborhood was here with the joint mission of seek out some comforting Italian food, perhaps a glass (or two) of wine, and a couple of hours away from home.


We began with a grilled sardine (B is currently obsessed thanks to this tinned sardine experience in the summer) served on some fresh arugula, and a citrusy cavolo nero salad filled with giant croutons, huge shavings of Parmigiano, and a salty anchovy vinaigrette.


After being told we were over-ordering when we initially asked for two pastas, we reeled our pasta-obsession in to have only the tortelli di zucca. I love tortelli di zucca. If I could just eat one dinner for the whole of autumn, it would be this. Delicate parcels of pasta had been filled with sweet pumpkin and creamy mascarpone, and topped with crispy sage and grated parmesan. Pasta is the best.


But we weren't done yet. Next was the day's special which was genuinely all of B's favorite things on one plate. Creamy polenta formed the base, a glazed pork chop sat on top, and buttery Brussels sprouts, more Parmigiano, and a sprinkling of parsley were scattered over the whole plate. It was rich, fatty, salty, crispy here, super soft there, and a perfect example of how polenta really can be wonderful if it's made with enough butter and cheese.

We skipped on dessert (there was still funfetti cake at home), finished off the last few sips of Primitivo, and meandered home through the friendly streets of Park Slope.

al di la Trattoria, 248 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Friday, 14 October 2016

5 Things & 3 More



5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Signing a new job contract — change is coming!
2. A sporadic dinner party.
3. Spending Monday far, far away from the office.
4. Cream cheese bagels.
5. Super special celebratory dinner at al di la Trattoria.

3 things to read over the weekend:

1. Take a seat (and maybe pour yourself a glass of wine) before you begin to read these words which confront the horrific truth about what Donald Trump's words really mean, especially to this one amazing (and totally inspiring) woman.
2. A huge bowl of grown-up SpaghettiOs is on the menu for the weekend.
3. Ruth Reichl's selection of essential New York restaurants makes for a wonderfully eclectic list.

Happy weekend wonderful internet friends! 

X

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Mansoura


A trip to Mansoura sat on my list of things do for the entire summer. It's not that we didn't think about going every weekend, but they're not open on Saturdays, and they're closed every Sunday in July and August, so for us working folk, with terrible amounts of vacation time (nope, I still haven't got used to that!), we weren't going to make it until summer was over. And now that summer really is over, we finally hopped on our bikes, and cycled down Ocean Parkway to Gravesend.

If you didn't know what you were looking for, you could all to easily walk past the storefront which sits on traffic-filled Kings Highway. But when you step inside, and see the lines, rows, boxes, fridges, and sheets filled with baklava, chocolates, candied fruits, and praline, you know you've found something special. The friendly brothers who run the store will likely be working behind the counter, you'll be able to peak into the kitchens to discover they really do make all that they sell in this one space, and when you ask what they recommend you get one simple response: 'Everything'.


As you go round the shop, peering into boxes of chocolate-coated candied fruit and trays of freshly made, super sticky baklava, looking to see what jeweled pistachio treats are hiding away on the back of the counter, and not-so-gradually filling up your chosen (inevitably too small) size of box, you'll pick up snippets of information from either Jack or David. These two young brothers run the store, and bake everything they sell, having taken over from their parents a few years ago. They'll proudly  explain that they've been selling pastries in this exact spot for over 60 years (at least double their lifetime), and that the almond roll baklava is particularly good, and that I should make sure to tag them in my Instagram photos


Having now eaten my way through almost everything we bought, I can confirm that, unsurprisingly, as we were told, everything is the best. All the sweets are made with honey rather than glucose, it's all made by the brothers themselves, and they follow recipes and make the same sweets that their family started making 200 years ago, when they first opened a pastry shop in Aleppo. Since that time  the family have gradually moved across the world, baking all the way, until they arrived in Gravesend in 1961. Lucky for us, they've stayed. And if you live in New York, you should definitely go and visit. The stunning food culture in this city, the hidden gems which you need to seek out, will never cease to inspire and amaze me.

Mansoura, 515 Kings Highway, Brooklyn NY 11223


Monday, 10 October 2016

Molly Yeh's Funfetti Cake


Molly Yeh's new book has been born. I've been dreaming of this book for years, long before Molly even started writing it, and it lives up to every hope, dream, and expectation. It's an honest, funny, beautiful, whimsical, lifestyle-jealousy-inducing, totally inspiring creation, and the best new addition to my ever-expanding cookbook shelves. Since I got the book in my hands last Tuesday, I've read it from cover to cover in every free batch of non-occupied five minutes I managed to sneak into a hectic week. It didn't take much deliberation to figure out where to start: at the end, with the three-layer, buttercream-coated, crazily colorful, funfetti cake.


As per every recipe of Molly's that I've ever made, the cake is perfect. An unbelievable amount of work, experimentation, creativity, and trialling, has gone into creating this cake recipe, and the result is a sweet, bright white cake, dotted with the most stunningly artificial colors. Each layer is strong enough to support the next one, but not so strong that it's a dense and heavy sponge. Instead, it's fluffy, super sugary, packed full of rainbow happiness, and layered up with the fluffiest, airiest buttercream.


If you grew up in a household were funfetti cake was an annual birthday tradition, I'm certain this cake will bring back wonderfully nostalgic memories. I grew up in an organic-obsessed home, so no boxed funfetti cake ever appeared at our birthday parties. But I'm definitely not complaining: instead we had homemade chocolate sponge cakes (shaped into rabbits or whatever the current obsession happened to be), a baked alaska that was transformed into the millennium dome (I was a demanding child), and a cake topped with the three handmade marzipan bears, for my (you guessed it) third birthday. So yes, I was spoiled rotten with my birthday cakes, but funfetti wasn't a feature. However I have now made up for anything I feel I may have missed out on by eating at least half of this cake in just three days: Any absence of dyed sprinkles in my childhood has been compensated for in one brief weekend. 




Saturday, 8 October 2016

Emily


When there are friends visiting from out of town another country, we always do our best, as resident Brooklyners, to give them a glimpse into our lives, and show them the places where we love to eat, see, play, and drink. As much as we love a fancy, white tablecloth dinner every now and again, that's not really how we live week-to-week: A night out eating pizza and ice cream is much more typical of our totally healthy, nutritious lifestyle.

For some reason we thought that the line at Emily on a Friday night wouldn't be as bad as the line at Roberta's. I have no idea how we came to this conclusion, but we did. Thankfully, we probably turned out to be right, but not because the line was shorter (there was a 2 hour wait when we arrived), but because some less dedicated pizza addicts cancelled their spot, and we snagged their table.

We gathered everyone together, rushed back from a suddenly cut-short drink at Hot Bird, and were led through the packed tables of this cozy restaurant to a hidden table which was essential in the kitchen aka the best spot in the house. And when I say in the kitchen, I'm not exaggerating: We were so close to that pizza oven that the lovely hostess had to give us a mini spiel (like the one you get when you're sitting in the emergency exit seats on an airplane), about being careful when we stand up, watching out for the handle of the pizza peel which would be jolting back and forth in our direction for the entire evening. If it had been the height of summer, this table may have proved to be a sweaty struggle, but on a crisp October night, this table was the best in the house, especially for four inquisitive, ever hungry cooks and eaters like us. 


Chicken wings and red wine kicked everything off to the tastiest start. The wings were coated in gochujang, served with the thinnest slices of radish, and a mini container of ranch. Extra paper napkins (I'm assuming a hint that we should pretty please not wipe our stained sticky fingers all over the linen ones) and hand wipes were set down too – a sign that these wings were going to be as spicy, sweet, and moreish as we had hoped.


Between us, we ate our way through several pizzas, sharing slices, comparing tasting notes, and declaring each of them amazing. Emily's pizza crusts are wonderfully different from what you'll find in a classic New York 'pie'. They're thin, charred from the wood oven, crisp bottomed, and only slightly puffed, which I think in my heart of hearts I may actually prefer to the doughy, thick Neapolitan style. And not just because it means I can fit more slices into my tummy before I reach explosion point. The Green Esquelto (mozzarella, cotija, zucchini, charred corn, and pepita mayo) was a combination of all the Mexican flavors you can hope for from the freshest, best tacos, but transformed into a spicy, crispy pizza. The daily special (mozzarella, tillage, figs, honey, basil, chile sauce) was sweet, fruity, intensely cheesy, and with a tiny little kick. The Modern (double sauce, double pecorino, herbs, garlic, basil, onion, Szechuan oil, plus pepperoni, because S knows how to order) was perhaps, if we had to choose, the best of the bunch: Everything you crave from a pizza, by which we mean sweet tomato sauce, plenty of melty cheese, a tiny bit of spice, and some perfect, crisp meatiness from the all-star pepperoni. And last but not least was the Luca (sauce, burrata, basil). It sounds so simple, and it was, but it was also a perfect example of a classic: Yes please to dollops of burrata splattered on every pizza I eat from hereon out. Thank you Emily. We'll be back. And we're happy to wait however many hours it takes to eat anything that comes out your pizza oven.


We were all groaning with full pizza bellies, but, being me, I suggested a late night ice cream dessert. And with Ample Hills only a five-minute walk away, and visitors to entertain, you won't be surprised to know that that's where we ended up spending the rest of the night.

Emily, 919 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11238
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