Archives for posts with tag: Blue Hill

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This weekend I finally found myself visiting Bageriet, a small Swedish bakery on Rose Street, Covent Garden which is run by a pastry chef that I previously worked with and a place that has been on my list for over two years now!

Daniel Karlsson was born in Sweden and won many accolades during his training and early years before coming to London and starting his career with the team at Ottolenghi. After some time there he joined my current employer, Melrose and Morgan and really expanded their range with his skill and expertise. Daniel is that rare thing in the food world…. a beautiful, calm, talented and industrious pastry chef. Now you would think this is not such a rare thing but believe me, as someone who is trying to find just such a person to be in that role at the moment. The lesser spotted pastry chef who wants to work the crazy hours, retain that sense of calm and beauty as well as creativity is hard to come by.

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I remember my early years at Melrose and Morgan, turning up one Sunday to get ahead with a Christmas project thinking that there was no one around to disturb me. I arrived to the sounds of classical music soaring through the air and was immediately offered breakfast from Daniel: a bowl of hot porridge and caramelised apples with the perfect balance of spices to bring out the flavour and sweetness. I left him to his Christmas baking and some 7 hours later, he quietly ascended the stairs to the office armed with a small tray bearing a simple slice of salted caramel chocolate tart because Daniel knew that this was a favourite flavour of mine, so he knocked it up after he had finished the Christmas cakes and brought it up with a cup of tea. What more need I say?

When he left to do his own thing, I wanted to help as much as possible just because people like him should be nurtured. I supported him in getting his stunning giant gingerbread houses into the department stores managing to use my contacts to get him in front of Harrods with no agenda other than to support this fabulous chef but sadly the management there couldn’t see beyond the meeting to understand just how valuable Daniel was and his seasonal creations did not make it to their shop floor. It was a big mistake in my opinion as they would have sold loads…. and differentiated their offer from all the other department stores in London. But it was not to be…more, I fear, because of my presence than Daniel himself.

Background pics from Bageriet website

Background pics from Bageriet website

Daniel subsequently asked me to write some copy for his website which I gladly did. I asked him where it all started and he said it was with his Grandma back in Sweden, and all those memories of being a child in the kitchen, as these pictures from his website show.

I was reminded of this conversation whilst I watched Chef’s Table – a Netflix series that L&B recommended and worth looking up if you are interested in chefs and their inspiration. The series covers 6 chefs and their story. Each is different but there is no doubt that their drive and passion for food generally comes from their upbringing and either their mother’s or grandmother’s influence (no pressure all you parents out there!). Massimo Bottura remembers running away from his siblings and hiding under the kitchen table where Nonna was making pasta, giving him a unique perspective above his head of that process which must have driven him to look at food from a different angle and create what is now the best food in the world (his restaurant is currently number 2 in the San Pelligrino world’s top restaurant list). Ben Shewry was inspired by both parents who lived off the land killing their own meat and growing their own produce. Niki Nakayama was compelled to prove herself to her Mum as an equally deserving child in a more traditional world where the son is seen as the rightful heir to the family business of food and parental backing.

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Dan Barber’s mother died when he was four so it was his father’s interest in good food that rubbed off on him, but it was his Grandmother’s farm that really stuck and now that farm is not only the name of his multi award winning restaurant but the farm itself also supplies and inspires his whole food ethos. It was these latter two in the series that we particularly enjoyed.

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I was lucky enough to enjoy a meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns with the aforementioned L&B some years ago and it didn’t disappoint. In fact for me, Dan Barber is challenging all the right issues and was before his time in understanding the source to plate story. His team are there with him too – from the concierge who took us round the farm to the waiting staff who talked us through the meal, it was an all round experience that I would recommend.

I have been to a wedding this weekend, in New York! It seems a little bit indulgent popping over to the big apple for a wedding but honestly I just knew it would be worth it.

The set of cards for the wedding

The set of cards for the wedding

From the very first save-the-date card the style was set and this young dynamic, charming pair did it wonderfully. We had three days of events to attend and each one was perfect. Whilst the happy couple are a different generation to me, they share in my interest in food, so have always been there when I needed New York recommendations and of course, joined us when we went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for one of the best meals I have certainly ever had.

The goodie bag

The goodie bag

True to form, the food took as central a stage to the whole weekend as the stylish design. Saturday night was a ‘rehearsal dinner’ although really a chance to meet up with those who travelled into New York for the event. Food wise, it was a celebration of all their favourite eateries. Their first date was at Mile End deli so we had to of course have deli style sandwiches and pickles. Also adorning the table were a variety of Motorino pizzas to eat as the yanks do by the slice – no knives and forks here! Dessert was from the well known and somewhat iconic Zabars: black & white cookies, Babkas and Rugelach. All great reminders of Grandma’s cooking and so in keeping with the tone of the evening. And did I mention the cocktails? Designed and named by the happy couple and delicious. The evening closed with a goodie bag filled with a perfect kit of items to support any trip to NYC: a bottle of water (it is over 90 degrees after all at the mo), advil for the headache, pretzels, a momofuku cookie and a map of the subway. Great touch.

The event was held in the most wonderful building at Bryant Park where WeWork operates. This is the groom’s workplace and indicative of his unique abilities and style. It is a clever and fast growing business that is quickly expanding in London too. They pride themselves on finding great spaces to deliver unique workplaces for small businesses. Very simple and very clever.

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Waking up on Sunday I wondered just what the evening would hold based on that starting point. The event took place at The Foundry in Queens which set the tone before we started. The copper chairs and unique Chuppah adorned with Palm Springs-esque foliage set the tone for this LA born bride.

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We walked in to Champagne, funky music and these hankies which had been made from fabrics the bride had chosen on a buying trip to India. From the moment each person came down the aisle, the hankies were in full use. The wedding was short, unique, with intimate and emotional ‘vows’ and a husband and wife rabbi singing and speaking an edited but poignant service. As the groom broke the glass, we all knew it was the beginning for them of a wonderful life together.

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The food of course took centre stage after that as we moved next door and grabbed another cocktail from a newly designed menu. Canapes were classics that these guys have taught me about over the years: fried chicken on waffles, lobster rolls, bacon wrapped dates (a reminder of AOC), an oyster station and of course that devilled egg bar! And this was all before we sat down for dinner. The table placings were arranged on this board that the bride designed and created herself…yet another example of her style and taste and capability. No wonder she is flourishing at her job.

Dinner was outside under a canopy of foliage strung simply over lights and on long trestles; the style was of course sharing and the food sublime. I am told the caterer was Fig & Pig from Brooklyn but the food was all FranksnBens. Platters of heirloom tomatoes studded with mozzarella were partnered with a roasted summer fruits and burrata salad. Colourful, seasonal, delicious. Then mains were sharing again with platters of sliced steaks simply charred, vege lasagne and my favourite: creole style shrimp on grits.

Speeches followed with lots of tears, toasts and laughter and the dancing began. I don’t think the bride left the dance floor for the rest of the evening but there was one last food coup to unveil….dessert. This inimitable duo had dessert catered by the one, the only, Dominique Ansel.

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If ever there was an iconic New York pastry chef then this man is it. The queues for his bakery have been round the block since the very first cronut was announced. You still can’t get your hands on one very easily and here we were knee deep in cronut towers along with a selection of his other showstopping stars: cookie shots, meringue topped chocolate cakes, chocolate and caramel pastries, banana and hibiscus cakes….you name it he did it. Thankfully we managed to share a bite each of these delights just to try our way through it and we all agreed the cronut was still the favourite with this month’s flavour combo: earl grey tea and bergamot providing a citrussy kick to stand up to the sugary buttery pastry.

I am told the bride, groom and their ushers and bridesmaids finished the evening with tequila shots and cocktails in their penthouse room at The Wythe hotel bouncing on the bed, dancing on the concrete floor and admiring the views from the window overlooking this wonderful city. We left before that and grabbed an Uber back over to Manhattan, resplendent and full of food, frolics and fabulousness. Thanks #FranksnBens. You are the best.

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