Honey and
a food journal

Monday, 26 June 2017

Tabor Bread

After a super early morning flight, we were greeted at the airport by mum and dad, large coffees, and spectacular muffins. The muffins were from, we were told, this amazing, amazing bakery just round the corner from where we would be staying. The sandwiches we devoured after a snowy hike (pictures to come, promise), were also from this magical bakery. So, obviously, for breakfast the next morning, we headed straight to said bakery.

Tabor Bread is a quiet, unassuming little spot. Wafts of freshly baked bread greet you as you approach, hinting at the wondrous treats inside. They mill their own flours, use local, organic grains, ferment everything for ages with wild yeast, and bake in wood-fired ovens. These kind of descriptors aren't unusual for Portland. Just one of many reasons why we fell in love with the city.

If we'd stayed for longer, I'd have spent a day at a baking class, but, with the four days we had, breakfast and plenty of snacks had to suffice. Rhubarb muffins, cinnamon sugar babka, coconut banana bread, and sweet scones are what mine and maman's dreams are made of. Dark, nutty flours, soft, moist crumbs, and a balance of sweetness from seasonal (obviously) fresh fruit or spiced sugars. The boys, meanwhile, dug into Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches, piled high with bacon, egg, cheddar, and garlic aioli.

We always said that when we move away from were we currently live, one thing we'll miss is Bien Cuit. However, Tabor Bread would be a more than satisfactory substitute.

Tabor Bread, 5051 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Voodoo Doughnut

In my previous job, I wrote an irritatingly long slideshow (irritating to write, publish, and read), naming the best doughnuts in every state. As a British person who'd only recently moved to New York, hadn't traveled much throughout the US, and only had half a day to pull together the list, I was in no position to be writing this piece. Sadly, this publication wasn't so bothered by that, so I wrote it anyway. 

As a consequence, whenever we now travel somewhere new, checking off the top doughnuts I told the country they absolutely had to eat has become a slightly nerve-wracking must-do. So, in Portland, we simply had to visit Voodoo Doughnuts.

I had previously described Voodoo Doughnuts (which, of course, I had never been to or heard of before writing this piece) as: "a quirky stand serving up some of the most off-the-wall creations the doughnut world has ever seen." Well, I wasn't too wrong. In fact, now, having visited, I wholeheartedly agree with myself. Phew. That was lucky. 

On a Monday morning there was, for once, no line outside. We walked straight in, stared at the mesmerizing doughnut carousel, and took a pick of two options of the far too many on offer. Were they the best in the state? I'm still not qualified to say, but they were pretty awesome. The Portland Cream was fluffy, exploding with silky custard, and covered in sickly sweet chocolate (and had adorable eyes on it). B's Dirt Doughnut was a perfect ring doughnut, covered in an amazing pile of smashed Oreos. Fancy schmancy doughnuts these are not. Fun, sweet, uber-American doughnuts these certainly are.

Voodoo Doughnuts, 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ava Gene's

We've found our new favorite neighborhood restaurant. Unfortunately it's not in our neighborhood. Or city. Or state. It's a five hour flight away, over in Portland. I'm still not sure what to do about this situation: if a move to Portland were possible, that would be best. Hey, Ava Gene's, fancy moving over to New York, and bringing the Portland lifestyle with you? And maybe some of those mountains too?

Of the four nights we spent in Portland, two were spent at Ava Gene's. This wasn't intentional. But it was a happy accident. By our second visit, we'd befriended the waiter and felt more like locals than we've managed to achieve anywhere other than Van Leeuwen in 2 years in Brooklyn.

When a restaurant tells you that "our story can be told through our pasta," the executive chef has just written a beautiful, uber-seasonal, vegetable-forward cookbook, and it's located in your dream Portland neighborhood, you can be pretty sure you're walking into a great meal. When Bon Appétit won't stop shouting about it, you can be pretty sure it's going to be wonderful. And after the first sip of a Negroni Sbagliato, we were head-over-heels in love.

On both visits we shared as many antipasti, giardini (veggie-centric salady things), and primi (pasta!) as we could manage. All the pasta is milled, rolled, and cut in house. This could lead to the claggiest, most indigestible pasta in the world. Obviously, it doesn't. It makes some of the best.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that we loved every single thing. Huge plates of greens, radishes with tonnato, pane with borlotti beans and rosemary, and bruschetta piled high with favas and English peas filled the table with color and bright flavors. Linguine with clams, Sunday's special sugo, agnolotti pillows which burst like magical candy, and charred spiced chicken combined the most spectacular pasta with the freshest Portland ingredients, and made for four very happy, greedy people.

We'd started dreaming of a future in Portland as soon as we arrived, and Ava Gene's made the return to this big, tough, sweaty East coast city 100% harder.

Ava Gene's, 3377 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Salt and Straw

We came home from a long weekend in Portland less than a month ago. After a few weeks back in NYC it feels like a lifetime ago. They were four very happy days.

Portland is beautifully different from New York: kids play in the street, adults leave work at five, stunning gardens spill onto the road, everyone smiles, people say hello, and you can breathe and laugh and not be looked at as if there's something wrong with you. 

However, it turns out we can't quite shake our New York spirit: we decided to spend a good 30 minutes of this mini break in a New York-style line for ice cream. However, the experience inside — both the ice cream and the service, made it totally worth it.

Salt and Straw has a few locations throughout the city (as well as in LA and SF), and on the hot, sunny weekend we were visiting, they all had a line out the door the entire time. A line of locals and tourists waited patiently, helping each other out to preempt what their order was going to be, and discussing the top flavor combination tips.

When you finally reach the front, an ice cream aficionado will talk you through all the options. We had a student from Johns Hopkins university who greeted us, talked to us about our background, family history, life, trip to Portland, and more, before insisting that we sample every flavor. Only then were we allowed to make a decision. I don't mean to sound negative. This was wonderful. We're simply not used to this obsession with making sure you're happy and getting what you want from a girl who I think could quite possibly be the next President. 

After a long tasting, we settled on different combinations. We found a shaded seat outside to perch on and enjoy the creamy chocolate gooey brownie, cinnamon snickerdoodle, honey and lavender, sea salt with caramel ribbons, and other fab combinations, all balanced in a freshly made waffle cone. And of course this was accompanied by a man and his guitar. This is Portland after all.

Salt and Straw, locations throughout Portland. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

East One

When a coffee shop opens with your old London post code as its name, nostalgia comes flooding back. Even before we'd tasted the coffee, we were unfairly biased towards loving this place.

While we're not short of coffee options in our Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill neighborhood, a beautifully designed new place, roasting its own beans and frothing creamy milk, is always welcome.

The imposing dark grey building is brightened up with huge windows, and a simple red London post code sign. The coffee roaster itself is displayed in a glass box: we can look, but not touch. There's no underestimating how much of a prized possession this magic machine is!

We stopped in for morning coffee and muffins: on a Saturday it's packed. On the weekdays, you can find a table to sit and work in an idyllic caffeine-fueled, airy space. In the back room, behind the bustling, Nordic-inspired café, you'll find an all-day restaurant. It's next on our list for a proper brunch — malted pancakes with berry compote, mascarpone, and maple syrup can't be ignored for much longer.

East One, 384 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231.

Friday, 2 June 2017

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Two sunny cycle rides.
3. Planning a trip back home.
4. B's cooking.
5. A present from maman.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. Molly's carrot cake looks amazing. Thanks to her for doing all the work to figure out the perfect recipe. And the in-depth info about how she got to her recipe is why I will never be a recipe writer!
2. Science shows that drinking coffee before a workout makes you run faster. Finally my coffee habit has some health-centric foundations!
3. Freya's photos of Senegal are breathtaking. Let's go and explore the world. 

Happy weekend friends!


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Spruceton Inn

When you reach six months of living in New York, the importance of escaping this city suddenly becomes clear. While many people have family or friends in the Hamptons, a house out in the countryside, or some connection to a nearby state, we really don't. We knew nobody in the city when we moved here, so befriending people who don't live just next door has not been a high priority. However, running away from the Big Apple on a regular basis has become a necessity.

So, with no ties to anywhere besides our Boerum Hill home, we're free to explore wherever we like, as long as it can be done in a weekend (time is not on our side). Last summer we headed out to Mattituck, during our first winter we spent a cold weekend in Hudson, every June we go for a run round Shelter Island, we skied and ate waffles in Vermont, and a couple of weeks ago, we retreated to the phone signal-free Catskills.

If you're in need of a NYC detox, aren't scared to temporarily lose connection with the outside world, and love sitting round a campfire, you need to book a trip to Spruceton Inn. Set five miles down a seven mile dead-end road, this ten-room 'motel' is simple, grounding, and, well, perfect. On a wet spring weekend, leafy green trees line the road, the lights glowing in the bar welcome you in after the three hour drive up from the city, and lying in bed listening to the rain sputter on the roof, the stream flow outside, and literally nothing else, is like walking into the biggest, warmest hug.

We spent our evenings cooking simple suppers on the stove in our kitchenette (sadly it was too wet to grill), hiding from the rain, celebrating with Champagne, reading, and wrapping up to head to the campfire to make s'mores. Because you can't spend a weekend in the American countryside and not make s'mores.

Mornings began slowly. Café Grumpy coffee and sprinkle-topped pop tarts can be found in Room One (the bar/reception/breakfast room/shop/chill out zone, where you'll find yourself spending a lot of time). Extra coffee should be taken back to your room to accompany your second breakfast of fresh eggs from the nearby farm and whatever else you bought with you (we recommend a Bien Cuit loaf). And then it's time to get outside.

Both Casey and Stephen, the owners of the inn (and the people whose lives I'd like to steal) will provide you with all the hiking tips, local information, and old Spruceton stories. By the time you've hiked up to the fire tower, you've probably already planned your future Catskills life. And you'll be ready to celebrate these plans with a glass of local cider and some freshly popped corn when you get back down.

Saying goodbye to Spruceton is hard. Despite the rain, the cold, and the lack of grilling, a weekend in this Catskills is peaceful, refreshing, and impossible not to love. If we return in the summer for more grilling and campfire time, I'm pretty sure I'll never leave.

Spruceton Inn, 2080 Spruceton Rd, West Kill, NY 12492.

Monday, 29 May 2017


With so many wonderful restaurants to choose from in this city, it’s rare to return somewhere multiple times. Rucola is top of our re-visit list (being only one block from our front door obviously helps!), but Calaca is quickly catching up. Seafood-focused Mexican food in Bed-Stuy may not sound like the description of a number 1 NYC restaurant, but I promise it is. And everyone who we've dragged there will attest to this.

We always try to arrive before 7pm. And no, this isn't because we've moved onto American dining times. Firstly, we need to get a seat. There's only space for about 20 people, and Calaca is, unsurprisingly, super popular with the Bed-Stuy locals. Secondly, the $5 happy hour margaritas should not be missed.

The margaritas are potent but refreshing. Made with small-batch Mexican tequila and fresh lime juice, you’ll be struggling to resist a third and fourth round. If you’re feeling fancy, try the Mezcalita, which is smoky and slightly spiced: the smoked paprika in the salted rim is genius.

The fresh fish-centric menu is based on the food of the Mexican state Sinaloa. The tuna tostada just might be the single best dish I’ve eaten in this city: a made-to-order flour tortilla is toasted and topped with chipotle mayo, finely sliced avocado, lightly marinated tuna, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The grilled elotes, cheesy quesadillas, and shrimp ceviche are all also magical. Everything is colorful and zingy. Even if it's a Monday night, you’ll end up ordering many more rounds of tacos and margaritas than you had planned for. It's okay: we do the same. Every time.

Calaca, 139 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

5ive Spice

A restaurant with a number in its name, which serves a fusion of Vietnamese and Mexican food, should be a disaster. Somehow, 5ive Spice has achieved an impossible feat, and defies all expectations its name and concept provide.

We honored our suspicious instinct on our first few visits, and ordered the truly Vietnamese options i.e. the pho. The broth is elegantly spiced, meaty but not fatty, and so fragrant. When you take a spoonful, you feel its healing and comforting powers. Slurp up the noodles, chew the extremely generous portions of meat, and sprinkle on as much cilantro, basil, lime, and chiles as your tastebuds desire. Every bowl is huge, but you'll finish every last drop. That broth is too good to leave behind.

When you do trust this place enough to venture further afield on the menu, you'll have a revelation that these two cuisines can indeed be successfully combined. Tacos filled with lightly pickled veg and lemongrass grilled chicken are terrifyingly addictive; and grilled corn, it turns out, makes a great accompaniment to a bright rice vermicelli salad (pictured above).

No alcohol is served, and the prices are incredibly reasonable. You'll be heading back for another bowl of healing pho as soon as the next rainy day arrives.

5ive Spice, 52 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Stuffed full of food after a Monday night with friends.
2. Reading.
3. Vitamix-ing breakfast.
4. Father John Misty blew my mind.
5. I signed up for a marathon. Does this make me happy? I'm not sure. Scared? Yes. Nervously excited? Also yes.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. James Comey. Donald Trump. This is a good article.
2. Needing quiet, blueberries, and granola chunks: Ashley is as wise and wonderful as ever.
3. A week in the endlessly fun and fascinating life of salad-loving Julia Sherman.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Should you spend the evening before a crazy fast 5k race drinking cocktails? Probably not. But Elsa had only just opened that Friday night, and we couldn't wait to go. So the race was allowed to fall down the priority list, as we made space in our lives for a couple of fantastic cocktails.

The original Alphabet City location of this bar closed in 2014. Those locals mourned it, but the locals of its newfound home are overjoyed with its re-opening. Sitting on Atlantic Avenue, half a block away from another top cocktail spot, The Long Island Bar, Elsa is already packed with thirsty locals at 6pm on a Friday.

A neon sign of an angry-looking woman sits in the window, and inside everything becomes rather glam. Crystal pendant lights, a polished brass bar, marble tables, flickering candles and beers poured through a vintage sewing machine. Quirky, cool, and the prettiest place to while away an evening.

The cocktail list is long, and demands some tough decisions. After faltering between an aged Negroni, a spiced tequila creation, or maybe even a gin & Pimm's summer sensation, we eventually settled on a Two French Sisters (vodka, St. Germain, lemon, orange bitters, Champagne) and a happy hour special Old Fashioned. And nuts. Obviously. We runners need snacks.

Do we need to tell you they were wonderful? It was hard to resist a second. But race-fueling beckoned, so the drinks had to wait for next time. And we're promised frozen rosé with watermelon in Elsa's patio in the summer months, so it won't be long before we return.

Elsa, 136 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

5 Things & 3 More


5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Lunches away from my desk.
2. Ticking off everything on my to-do list. I thought I wasn't going to make it, but I did.
3. Postcard from T.
4. Friday rosé.
5. Hilariously rainy morning runs.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. Take a peek into Devendra's home.
2. If you need me, I'll be seeking out New York's best cannoli.
3. Rhubarb passion margaritas? Count me in.

Happy weekend!


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


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!


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.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Monday. Skiing, skiing, skiing. And eating waffles.
3. B's banana bread.
4. Devendra's dancing.
5. Crumble.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. Concrete that looks like cashmere. Future home dreams.
2. Loved this article on The Class. Screaming is sometimes necessary.

Happy weekend! 


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Domenic's Pizzeria

Whether skiing burns the amount of calories I eat while in the mountains or not is irrelevant. When I spend the day out in -20°C, whizzing around the mountains for hours and hours, my daily diet is allowed to consist of bagels, hot chocolate, coffee, pasta, waffles, and pizza. 

These Vermont folk are hardier than us New Yorkers. Even in this Arctic weather they're out on the slopes, and are not complaining. Rather than spend their evenings hiding away in their homes by the fire, they're out at their favorite local restaurants. On a freezing cold Sunday evening, we stepped into Domenic's Pizzeria on Killington Road, and were told there was a twenty minute wait for a table. The best pizza in town is in high demand. 

We found two seats at the bar and thereby managed to skip the line. With a (large) glass of Mountain Merlot in hand, a maths test to decide whether two 12" pizza would be bigger than one 18" pizza done (the answer is one 18" by the way - it blew my mind too), the post-ski feasting began. 

A large Caesar salad came first - even skiers need to eat their greens - and the real skiing-fuel followed: an 18" pizza topped with ricotta (obviously), jalapeños, and pepperoni (B's choice). It was crisp, spicy, ginormous, messy, and honestly delicious. Two slices remained, and we were defeated. But don't worry: if you don't finish, there's no chance you're leaving it behind. Boxed up and handed to you, you'll be eating more pizza the next day, or maybe when you get home - we won't judge, moving around in this cold is hunger-inducing. 

If you do somehow have space for the S'mores Calzone after that pizza feast, I'm impressed. It looks amazing. Excessive, but amazing. But good luck trying to move from your seat after you've eaten that.

Domenic's Pizzeria, 2822 Killington Rd, Killington, VT 05751

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Julia's Raspberry Jam Breakfast Buns

Ever since B first made Julia Turshen's genius lasagna (which he discovered on Lottie + Doof), we knew we needed more of this woman's magic in our lives. Thankfully, since the end of January, Julia's cookbook, Small Victories, has been spending a lot of time in our kitchen.

My usual Saturday morning routine starts like this: wake up, drink tea, eat food, flick through cookbooks to decide what I need to bake and feast on this weekend. A couple of weeks ago, this process was cut short as I only had to get a few pages into Small Victories before I knew that raspberry jam buns with crème fraîche frosting were exactly what my Sunday morning would need.

This recipe isn't for the time short, but it is for everybody else. And if you're time short, try prioritizing raspberry buns over, say, sleep, and your day will be happier. Just a suggestion. Julia's beautiful and funny (so many bun puns) writing guides you through the process with ease and clarity: making yeasted, filled, swirling buns may seem complicated, but it's made oh so simple with her instructions and images.

Within 30 minutes of waking up on Sunday morning, sweet, almost caramelized, cushiony, freshly-baked buns were ours to devour. Runny crème fraîche frosting was thrown Jackson Pollock-style (Julia encourages you to embrace the mess here) on top, and then they were immediately torn into. One after another after another were eaten until we were so full that all we could do was lie down and drink coffee for the rest of the morning. A Sunday morning dream.

I can't encourage you enough to buy the book, but if you need buns faster than Amazon can deliver, you can find the recipe here.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

5 Things & 3 More

5 happy things from the last 5 days:

1. Crazy strong winds buffeting all New Yorkers around for a day.
2. Finally getting some frames and hanging up things on the wall.
3. Friday cocktails.
4. Running with many, many friends.
5. Pasta, pasta, pasta.

3 things to read this weekend:

1. Bourdain's life is endlessly fascinating.
3. Well, that's March sorted then.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Hambleton Hall

Writing this blog post has been on my to-do list for two months. I don't normally put things off, but this I have. My first excuse was that writing and thinking about this afternoon made me too homesick. It still does, but now to a more manageable level. My second was that I wasn't sure my words could do justice to this incredibly special, beautifully British, almost magical (at least it seems that way as I remember it from my basement apartment in Brooklyn) place. But the time has finally come to share the amazing meal we had at Hambleton Hall in late December to celebrate papa's birthday.

Fancy outfits were dug out from the back of the cupboard (or the bottom of the suitcase if you're me and B). Grey skies and heavy mists hung in the air. An eerie, mysterious British winter day. Stepping into the comforting, welcoming, country house-style interior of Hambleton Hall is like walking into a warm hug. A fireplace flickers in the corner, a Christmas tree towers above you, someone reaches for your jackets and scarves, and before you know it you've been swept through the corridors into the lounge, you've settled into the plush sofas with a view looking out over the gardens, and a glass of Champagne is in your hand.

A tray of gougères and tapioca and squid ink crisps topped with the the prettiest treats then come flying towards you. If I could preserve this moment and live it for the rest of my life, I would be wonderfully happy.

But soon, after you've chosen from the menu, it's time to move. But don't worry, you're not going far. Take your seat, and admire the many, many wine glasses laid out in front of you. A selection of bread will be offered, and you have to make a tricky decision: choose just one. Freshly whipped butter topped with seaweed and sea salt is slathered on top. Wine is poured and the food circus begins...

Root vegetable terrine, which looks like a piece of art to start. Shavings of truffles and artichoke ice cream share the plate for an explosion of textures and deep, savory tastes.

The table then split in two, between those who eat foie gras and those who don't. For the foie gras people there was a tower of the rich, creamy pâté, with cubes of green apple, perfectly sliced blackberries, and dabs of zingy lime green jelly. For the non-foie-gras amongst us there was a hamhock terrine topped with chutney, and a colorful salad of crunchy vegetables and bright piccalilli.

Sea bass with charred fennel, watermelon, barely smashed peas, samphire, and a rich, deep, dark, sticky glaze turned the elegant fish into a hearty, comforting dish.

Venison with chocolate tortellini, cauliflower purée and kale divided our opinions. I adored the mini chocolate pasta pockets, and others really didn't. But something we could all agree on was how perfectly the meat was cooked.

Finally it was time for the my sweet-toothed ecstasy. The most beautiful fluffy, light, airy, prune and Armagnac soufflé. Once we'd carved out a hole in the middle we dropped in the ice cream and watched it seep into the pudding.

As if we hadn't eaten enough, we then returned to the sofas for coffee, fresh mint tea, and petits fours— accompanied by a few card games — before we finally left this haven and headed home.

Hambleton Hall, Hambleton, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8TH
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