Honey & Co.: a modern romance
I have a tendency to read cookbooks like novels: cover to cover, from start to end; getting caught up in the stories and narrative voice of the writers. I like getting to know the writer’s style of cooking, how each recipe evolved into what turns up on the page, where it fits into their narrative arc. But I can’t help experiencing reading Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer’s new cookbook, eponymous to their delightfully cozy little restaurant in Fitzrovia, like reading the couple’s love letters.
The book cleverly sets up this dialogue between them, changing the narrative voice between each half, as if looking ahead into the future you could imagine them recounting these stories and recipes to their grandkids. In their endearing double-act, there is a raw openness in what Honey & Co. means to them; how hard they have worked to get where they are, and how each of the dishes presented in the book has its own special place in their memory and their hearts. This book is not just an exchange of love letters to each other, but also to the food that they cook, to a home left behind, to a new home kindled, coaxed and occasionally wrenched into life on 25a Warren Street.
I particularly like that the cookbook has included some classic restaurant favourites (like their Tunisian meatballs with quince) but has also thought about the home cook and adapted them accordingly. There’s also some things which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t feature on their menu at the restaurant, and they talk a lot about the kind of food they cook at home for themselves.
We made the roast chicken with apricots and a preserved lemon and mint salsa; as they say ‘there are only two weeks out of the year where you can find good apricots in London, make this dish then’. This must be the lucky week. What I didn’t anticipate is that the apricots turned to jam and combined with the meat juices what you get is the most delicious chutney-like gravy. It was absolute genius and super easy to prepare. I’d never preserved lemons before but their quick 1 day recipe where you slice the lemons was really easy and the perfect foil for the richness of the chicken and apricots (there’s a similar recipe for a quick lemon pickle in Jerusalem).
We kept with the fruity theme and ate the chicken with a watermelon, tomato, black olive and feta salad (they do have a watermelon and feta recipe in their book but this is a summer staple in our household so I didn’t look at it).
For dessert I absolutely had to make the kadaif and feta cheesecakes. There’s certainly stiff competition but it’s my favourite dessert at the restaurant, and again was a really easy one to make, particularly because you can prepare all the component parts beforehand.
There are so many things I can’t wait to try out myself, but Sarit and Itamar don’t need to worry; drooling over their book means I also can’t wait for my next visit!