Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Perfect New York Saturday Morning

A perfect New York Saturday morning goes something like this: I wake up slightly before the alarm, as the sun is creeping in through the blinds, promising a day of warmth, bare legs, and blue skies. B and I then set off on a quick run around the park - it's sweaty, and warm, and we're up before the crowds so have the streets to ourselves. We sprint home, de-sweat, change into summer outfits, and rush off to meet friends for breakfast.

A feast of coffee, avocado toast, and poached eggs is ordered. This is definitely the most reliably fantastic breakfast. I need to move to the West coast for improved access to avocados (and sunshine). Santa Barbara, here I come.

Once we've wiped our plates clean, we pose outside in the sunshine for a quick photo to remember this happy morning, before going our separate ways.

A stroll through Washington Square Park, and up 5th Avenue leads me to my next destination: Union Square Greenmarket. It has been too long since I've roamed the stalls with no meal plans, nowhere else to be, and no raindrops falling on my head. There are spring greens, ramps, garlic, herbs, fresh cheese, and multiple flower stalls selling hyacinths, tulips, potted plants, cacti, peonies, buttercups, and lilacs.

I struggle to decide between which petals to buy, and eventually settle for the wild-looking lilacs: They seem more suitable for my weekend of directionless meandering. I fill the rest of my bag with green leaves, radishes, and fresh camomile, and rush home to sit out on our sunny patio and drink a pot of camomile tea, soaking in the last of the rays before the clouds come in.

Friday, 13 May 2016

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. A sun-drenched evening run.
2. Aperol spritz.
3. Falling asleep after the alarm has buzzed.
4. Endless deliveries of Prosecco to my desk.
5. Ottolenghi's grilled asparagus, zucchini, and manouri salad. It tastes and smells like home.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. Will humankind be able to run a marathon in under 2 hours in the next 5 years?
2. Melania Trump's story: She would be the least qualified first lady in history.
3. Heidi Swanson has managed to tempt me to finally try to make my own almond milk.

Happy weekend friends!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Via Carota

B and I have officially survived our first year of married life. To say that it had been a whirlwind would honestly be an understatement. We’re hoping that the next 365 days together will be slightly more stable and calm than the first 366. Let's try not to suddenly move across the world, get through 3 jobs, and build any Ikea furniture in the forthcoming year. To celebrate our marital achievement, we treated ourselves to dinner at Via Carota.
Via Carota made its way on to Pete Wells' list of the best restaurants of 2015. On this list he described it as where he sends people 'to get unfussy, delicious food in the West Village'. We'd also heard good things about the pasta and the Negroni. We needed no other reason to choose this is as our anniversary date spot. 

Early on a Tuesday evening, the majority of the tightly-packed tables in the windows are already taken. We take the remaining empty one, and sit bolt upright on the Welsh (yes, really, Welsh) chapel chairs, which conveniently have the menus tucked in to the back - where the bible would have been in their first life - for easy, and constant access.

The light pours in through the huge windows, severe light fittings hang from the ceiling,  and the plain wooden tables contrast with the smart marble bar, behind which sits endless bottles of amaro, and a blackboard listing several classic Italian cocktails. A classic Negroni and a Negroni Sbagliato (like the classic, but with  Prosecco where there would be gin) were ordered, and were sipped alongside chewy, airy sourdough, doused in zingy extra-virgin olive oil.

Burrata with dandelion greens, anchovies, and sundried tomatoes got those taste buds buzzing. It didn't look like much, but the burrata exploded with a creamy interior, which stood up powerfully to the salty mush of anchovies and the sweet tomatoes.

Vegetables feature heavily on Via Carota's menuWith no less than 15 different vegetable-focused options, we tried not let ourselves get overwhelmed by all the choice. We settled on kale doused in crunchy croutons of lardo, which took only seconds to devour: If you want to feel like you're eating your greens, but actually just want to eat salami, this is the way to enjoy them. A more delicate grilled polenta with ramps and bacon arrived at the same time, and we vowed to cook and eat more polenta in the upcoming months. This could well be the best ramps dish of the year so far. And that's a competitive award to win.

We then shared mushroom tortelli and coniglio fritto, aka fried rabbit. The tortelli were wonderfully simple. The lack of focus on presentation was authentically Italian - no garnishes, no extra colors, no smears of purée to be found here. Instead all the attention and care has gone into perfecting the pasta. This is the most comforting, heart-warming dish . Exactly what everyone needs on a rainy weekday. The rabbit was served similarly simply, on top of a fried piece of bread. A crispy, crunchy exterior revealed juicy, intensely flavored rabbit meat inside. My younger self would not have been happy that I had opted to celebrate my anniversary by eating Thumper, but my older, greedier self, was pleased with this  tasty decision.
We finished our glass of Chianti and eventually sacrificed our table to the ever-growing line of hungry people in desperate need of a creamy bowl of mushroom tortelli.
Via Carota, 51 Grove Street, New York, NY 10014