Thursday, 11 April 2013

Lunch at Honey & Co - sugar and spice and all things nice

Middle Eastern lunch at Honey&Co

Am I the only one who's obsessed with Middle Eastern cuisine right now?

Perhaps it's Ottolenghi's beautiful Jerusalem calling out to me from my kitchen bookcase. Perhaps it's this neverending freezing weather making me nostalgic for the humidity of the Moroccan souk (can you believe it's still snowing in April?!). Perhaps it's simply that the classically Arabic combination of sweetness, spice and aromatic scenting appeals to my palate.

Whatever the reason, it's a craving I'm more than willing to satisfy. So a lunch date with fellow food-bloggers Yummychooeats and Mondomulia, plus bona fide journalist Felicity Spector, sounded like the ideal opportunity to scratch my itch with a visit to Honey & Co.

Feta cheese at Honey & Co

I'd seen numerous glowing reviews of this intimate cafe, where former NOPI Executive Head Chef Sarit Packer and her husband Itamar Srulovich serve up a taste of their home-cooked Middle Eastern heritage. But nothing could truly prepare me for the full sensory teleportation you experience at Honey & Co - from the smoky scent of grilling meat that fills the air right down to the tiled garden courtyard housing the restrooms, which is so reminiscent of a riad.

As ever when I feel that my words won't do justice to the chef's culinary skill, I'll let my photos do most of the talking. Just looking back on these snapshots makes my mouth water with the memory of these flavourful dishes, and leaves me hungry for more...

Jerusalem falafel at Honey & Co

When we arrived my eye was drawn to the mezze platters being demolished at neighbouring tables, but the main courses sounded so tempting that we agreed the need to restrain ourselves.

To whet our appetites we ordered a side of feta cheese, sprinkled with olive oil and sweet paprika to balance its saltiness and smooth enough to spread inside the accompanying soft pitta pockets. We also gobbled up a portion of chunky Jerusalem-style falafels, heavily scented with cinnamon and sesame seeds which cut through the nutty tahini dipping sauce.

Siniya cauliflower at Honey & Co

Normally I would only pick cauliflower from a menu when coated in a punchy cheese sauce, but I'm so glad that we followed Felicity's advice and ordered this beautiful skillet of siniya. Juicy roasted tomatoes and creamy tahini contrasted perfectly with the charred florets, and occasionally you'd get a surprising burst of sweetness from a pomegranate seed or sudden crunch from a pistachio nut.

A cracked wheat salad with pistachios and barberries was light and refreshing, topped with a chicken skewer which was unbelievably tender thanks to its pomegranate molasses marinade. We all feigned nonchalance at splitting up the final few juicy morsels of meat, whilst in reality all desperate to delve our forks in once more for another bite!

I had a hunch that Honey & Co's hummus would be worth trying, and we definitely weren't disappointed; rich and velvety, this blended chickpea dip was totally irresistible paired with spicy lamb mince. Thankfully a pile of pitta breads had also sensibly been provided to ensure we could wipe the deep bowl clean!

It would have been foolish to leave without sampling the desserts, especially when Felicity had given us advance warning about their impressive range of cakes and pastries.

There was a unanimous verdict that we should split a slice of the chocolate Krantz cake, a fluffy yeasted loaf packed with bitter melted dark chocolate and caramelised pecans. We tore at the sweet folds of this delicious dessert, so moreish that I secretly wished we had ordered another piece. I couldn't believe it when I heard that Guilia recreated this complex braided cake in her own home last weekend - didn't she do an amazing job?!

Choosing our other pudding was a much trickier decision, but we eventually settled on the warm marzipan cake. Moist and dense with a crumbly texture thanks to the ground almonds, this sponge was presented on a bed of sharp creme fraiche and crowned with tart and syrupy forced rhubarb; amalgamating sharp and sweet flavours in every spoonful.

The menu at Honey & Co changes regularly, and their unique take on the classic cheesecake was recently voted in the Observer Food Monthly's "50 top foodie picks" . Surely that's all the excuse I need for a return trip to feed my addiction to Middle Eastern cooking?!

6 comments:

  1. Ooh I'm thinking of going there in a couple of weeks - looks seriously yummy!

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    1. Everything was utterly delicious, I only wish I could have tried the rest of the menu! Have a wonderful time, please let me know what you think!

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  2. I want to go back!!!!! There is so much more I want to try! :)

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    1. Well let me know if you need a +1...you know I'd gladly return!

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  3. Hi,

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  4. I really want to try this! but Yes I can vouch for MondoMulia .. her version was amazing!

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