Honey and
Ricotta
a food journal

Friday, 28 April 2017

Ba Xuyên


Ever since I visited Vietnam, and then worked round the corner from London's Kêu, I have been obsessed with bánh mì.  Something about that crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle baguette, the rich, roasted meat, the tangy, lightly-pickled veggies, and the hot, hot chili has me oooh-ing and aaaah-ing after every bite.

New York Sunday afternoons are best spent exploring a far-flung neighborhood, hunting out a niche meal. We've done this with baklava, whiskey, fried chicken, barbecue, and, of course, dumplings, to name a few. Bánh mì was next on the list.

A sunny day on the top of Sunset Park has the most magnificent views of Manhattan. Once you've climbed to the top, soaked up the blue skies, the seemingly endless sprawling city, and given your legs a break, it's high time for lunch. Stroll down the other side of the hill, into the residential streets of Sunset Park, and keep winding until you arrive at Ba Xuyên.

Pick a bánh mì from the pictures at the front, and in anywhere between five and 20 minutes you'll have a giant sandwich in your hands. Crisp, crumbling baguette crust spills all over your lap when you bite into it. It gives way to the soft white bread, and underneath that, you'll find roughly chopped, deeply flavored meat, sweet, lightly pickled julienned veggies, bunches of fresh cilantro, and the occasional spicy chili pepper. It's rich, satisfying, and immensely craveable. The combination ingredients, and crazy affordable price, makes it well worth trekking to Sunset Park for your Sunday lunch.

Friday, 14 April 2017

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Lunch at By Chloë. Twice.
2. Jazz night.
4. Breakfasts with T.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. If making my cocoa pops at home makes them acceptable breakfast material, I'm in.
2. A Brooklyn poem of many parts. As seen in our favorite ice cream spot. As gifted to me by T.
3. Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TEDx talk (if you haven't already) about feminism, and read the book. Or re-read the book drawn from it. It's worth reading. And re-reading.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Lucali


Naming the best pizza in New York will lead to an argument. It's inevitable. I think even I have named at least three pizza restaurants the best in the city, and now I'm back to add a fourth to that list.

Lucali is famous for its wait, the occasional visits from Beyoncé, the fact that the owner and chef had never actually been to Italy when he opened this place, and, of course, its pizza.

Deep in Carroll Gardens, this restaurant is packed full of locals, Manhattanites who've journeyed here for the (maybe) best pizza in NYC, and a couple of in-the-know tourists, every night of the week. Get there early, and be prepared to disappear for a while to wait. On our first visit the wait was around four hours (I'm not exaggerating). The second, it was closer to two. So make sure you have a pre-dinner drinks option planned before you go. We're fans of August Laura, which is only a couple of blocks away.

You could also use this time to go and select your wine to drink with dinner. Lucali is entirely BYO. If you forget, you'll be having Pepsi. So don't do that.

When you do get inside, it's obvious why everyone is happy to spend so long waiting to walk over the guarded threshold. Tables are spaced out through the front half of the room. The back half is taken up by an expansive kitchen space. The lights are dimmed to that perfect this-is-romantic-but-I-can-still-see-you level, wood furniture adds a hint of traditional Italian trattoria, and everyone is talking, whispering, laughing, sipping, and eating slice after slice of pizza.

There's not really a menu. Someone will recite the toppings to you as they open your wine, and the rest is up to you. Select the toppings and the size of pizza. As a general rule, one large pizza between two fairly hungry people is ideal. I'll let you pick your own toppings. Our favorite has to be simply as it comes, topped with all the basil and garlic the kitchen has on hand.

Start pouring the wine, and sip away until your crisp, thin, sizzling pizza arrives on its pedestal. Fold each slice and eat. I guarantee you'll declare this to be the best pizza you've ever had in the city. It's probably true.

Lucali, 575 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. T arriving safely in Brooklyn.
2. Calaca. Maybe the best restaurant in New York ever.
3. Sunny commute.
4. Early morning sprinting.
5. Happy hour cocktails.


3 things to read this weekend:

1. Is spring here yet? Hurry up sunshine, I need to make these pretty cookies.
2. If you're in London, get yourself to Wilton's. You need to discover this magical, mystical place.
3. Have you listened to S-Town yet? What did you think? 

Happy weekend y'all!

X

Monday, 3 April 2017

Freek's Mill


Freek's Mill isn't the kind of restaurant you stumble across on a Friday evening. While an evening stroll through Gowanus may not have been top of my parents to-do list on their most recent visit, eating at Freek's Mill with them was top of mine.

Pass the disused cars, parking lots, and empty warehouses, and you'll find a glowing haven, with a beautiful logo painted on the side, sitting on the corner of this cobbled Brooklyn road. Inside, tables line the walls, a counter wraps round the front windows, a bar glimmers, and the sounds of an open kitchen travel through from the next room.

This restaurant isn't for the selfish. The menu of sharing plates has to be split amongst you all: the rich, deep flavors of each dish make a few mouthfuls of each perfect, but eating the entire serving of it alone would be a challenge. An umami-party like this one requires good friends, plenty of funky wine, and a couple of hours to really take in the wide range of dishes presented to you.


Tuscan kale with honey crisp apples, Marcona almonds, and Beechers cheddar. Yet another competitor for top kale salad. How are there quite so many spectacular kale salads in this city? It's amazing.


Charred radicchio with straciatella and candied walnuts. Sweet enough to absorb the leaves' bitter flavor, with the creamy fresh cheese bringing rich comfort.


Montauk scallop crudo with pickled persimmon, cilantro, and crème fraîche. Refreshing, zingy, sweet, creamy: balancing magic.


Roasted beets with chickpeas, speck, and soft boiled egg. The prettiest comfort food.


Octopus with peewee potatoes and chorizo vinaigrette. No chewiness on this giant octopus tentacle. Smoky potatoes and paprika-heavy vinaigrette bought a hint of Spain to the table. And alongside that we devoured Brussels sprouts with apple-maple butter and bacon. All sprouts should be eaten like this forever and ever.

Pappardelle with rabbit ragu, guanciale, and wild nettles felt a little strange sitting amongst the other heavily flavored dishes, but in itself was an example of perfect pasta. If you needed proof that the Freek's Mill team can cook, this is is.


We were warned when we ordered roasted pork jowl with smashed cucumbers, cashews, and cilantro, that the joy of this dish was in the fat. This fatty meat was tender, and, drenched in Szechuan-inspired flavors, it was beautifully more-ish. But yes, the joy was in the fat.


We found dessert round the corner at Ample Hills (because you can't be that close to ice cream heaven and not visit). The perfect food-filled Friday night. In Gowanus. Sometimes Brooklyn really does seem magical.

Freek's Mill, 285 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
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