I spent a week in New York over the St Patricks’ Day festival. Even though the primary reason was to do events and interviews to promote Ireland and my latest book, Darina Allen, Simply Delicious: The Classic Collection, (quite a mouthful!), so it was also a brilliant opportunity to check out the New York and Brooklyn food scene. I am regularly asked to share my New York list so here are some of my favourite spots and new finds.
Brooklyn, just over the bridge from Manhattan has many tempting options, one could spend ones entire week checking out different exciting spots. I love Roman’s, Marlow & Sons, The Diner, Hometown Bar B Que and I also hear good things about Ugly Baby but we chose Chez Ma Tante this time, and had a super delicious Sunday brunch, in fact so good that I and wished I’d been able to get back for dinner. We particularly loved the oysters with parsley oil and yuyu, a 3 inch high kale quiche with a bitter leaf salad, chips with aioli, stracciatella with toasted almonds, raisins, preserved lemons and marjoram with sourdough toast, but the stand out dish was their craggy meltingly rich corn pancakes with maple butter. There are pancakes and there are pancakes but these were by far the best I ever tasted, sweet, salty, crisp and buttery on the outside, soft melting and irresistibly gritty inside. Definitely one of the highlights of the week with pure Vermont maple butter melting over the top.
Chez Ma Tante, 90 Calyer Street, Brooklyn.
Tiny, Japanese panelled restaurant called Hall is another little gem in the Flatiron. The juicy Washu (not wagyu) beef burger served deliciously pink on a brioche bun was particularly delectable and only $5.99.
You also need to know about Superiority Burger, a tiny cult café on 430 East 9th Street, in the East Village. It’s a veggie burger spot and to quote the forthright chef owner Brooks Headley “occasionally vegan by accident”! In this kitchen the produce is superb, don’t miss the must-get Superiority burger. Different specialities every day including homemade gelato and sorbet. There’s very little seating and often a queue but worth it. Unquestionably one of the best restaurants in lower Manhattan and surprisingly cheap for the quality.
I Sodi and Via Carota in the West Village are two of my enduring favourites. I love the simple rustic but always edgy food that much loved chefs, Rita Sodi and Jody Williams offer. Their version of cacio e pepe, the creamy peppery Roman pasta dish, is the best in New York and here’s the spot to also enjoy a homey plate of braised tripe. No reservations at Via Carota, it’s open till midnight so is particularly worth remembering for late night dining.
King on King’s Street is wowing New Yorkers with their seasonal Italian menu – home style cooking with a daily changing menu. The light is particularly wonderful at lunch time in the chic but cosy dining room with the bonus of beautiful art on the walls.
La Mercerie Café and Roman and William’s Guild is a café on 53 Howard Street in Soho and a luxury design store, super chic, expensive but worth checking out.
I also returned to both Café Altro Paradiso and Cervo’s, another favourite with lots of small plates, great salads and cocktails. I particularly loved the tortilla with butter beans and chorizo.
Daily Provisions on East 19th is my all-time favourite breakfast or brunch spot, certainly the very best house-cured bacon and egg sandwich in New York. They serve it in a brioche bun, both the texture and flavour are totally delicious. Don’t miss the gougère filled with mushrooms or spinach scrambled eggs. The lively little Parisian style café, Buvette, on 42 Grove Street is also top of my list. Super coffee, viennoiserie and little plates and then there’s Maialino for many good things but if you haven’t already had their cacio et pepe scrambled eggs with sourdough toast put it on your bucket list.
This time I sat at the counter and had a few little snacks, loved the grilled organic chicken hearts on rosemary skewers and the white bean puree with sage pesto, espelette pepper and carta musica. www.maialinonyc.com
La Mercerie Café, 53, Howard Street, in Soho.
There’s lots more but all of the above are favourites of mine….For upcoming courses and events at Ballymaloe Cookery School check out…
Cacio e Pepe Scrambled Eggs
Inspired by the delicious cacio e pepe scrambled eggs at Maialino.
15g (1/2oz) butter
8-10 organic eggs
50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) milk and cream, mixed
50g (2oz/1/2 cup) Pecorino, grated
1 tablespoon (1 1/4 American tablespoons) freshly cracked best quality black pepper
chargrilled sourdough bread or toast
Whisk the eggs with the milk/cream and salt.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Pour in the egg and cook over a medium hear stirring continually with a straight ended wooden spoon. As soon as it begins to scramble, add the cracked pepper and grated Pecorino.
Continue to cook for another couple of minutes until cooked to a soft loose scrabble. Taste, adjust the seasoning.
Turn out onto warm plates, sprinkle with a little more Pecorino and serve with grilled bread or toast.
Stracciatella with Raisins, Toasted Almonds, Preserved Lemons and Marjoram
Stracciatella is soft creamy cheese made from Buffalo milk in Bergamot near Puglia. It has a similar texture to the centre of Burrata.*
110g (4oz) toasted almonds, coarsely and unevenly chopped
110g (4oz) plump raisins
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
35-50g (1 1/2 – 2oz) preserved lemon, coarsely diced (see recipe)
Espelette or Aleppo pepper
225g (8oz) stracciatella
flaky sea salt
fresh annual marjoram leaves
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6.
Blanch and peel the almonds, spread out on a baking tray and toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. (You can also do this in a frying pan on a medium heat.) Set aside to cool, then chop coarsely and unevenly.
Put the raisins into a little bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to plump up for 10 – 15 minutes.
Drain and dry the raisins, put into a bowl with the toasted almonds and diced preserved lemon. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, toss gently.
To serve, put a couple of tablespoons of stracciatella onto a serving plate, spoon some of the raisin, almond and preserved lemon mixture on top. Scatter with annual marjoram leaves. Sprinkle with a little pinch of Espelette or Aleppo pepper and flaky sea salt. Serve with a few pieces of sourdough toast. Repeat with the other plates.
*Note: If stracciatella is difficult to source, buy the best mozzarella you can find, coarsely chop and cover with 2-3 tablespoons of rich cream. Marinade for an hour or so.
Makes 8 – 10 patties
200g (7oz) of red quinoa
110g (4oz) onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground toasted fennel seeds
1 teaspoon chilli powder
200g of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
150g (5oz) diced carrots
25g (1oz) coarse breadcrumbs
75g (3oz) walnuts, toasted and crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon hot chilli sauce
2 tablespoons non-modified potato starch
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying patties
Toasted Buns, shredded lettuce, roasted tomatoes, pickles, Muenster cheese (if you like sauces honey, mustard, or a sauce of your choice.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F)
Cook the quinoa in 300mls (10floz) of salted water until fluffy, about 45 minutes, cool and reserve.
In a separate pan, sauté the onion until translucent and browned, and season with salt and pepper, the fennel seeds and chilli powder.
Add the chickpeas and keep on the heat for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Deglaze the hot pan with the white wine vinegar and scrape everything stuck to the bottom of the pan back into the mix.
Using a potato masher, roughly smash the onion-chickpea mixture. Mix the chickpea mash by hand with the cooled quinoa.
Roast the carrots in the oven until dark around the edges and soft, about 25 minutes.
Add the carrots to the chickpea-quinoa mixture. Add the breadcrumbs, walnuts, lemon, parsley, and chilli sauce and season again with salt and pepper, until it tastes sharp.
Mix the potato starch with 1 tablespoon of water to create a cloudy, thick slurry. Fold the slurry into the burger mix as the binding agent.
Form the mixture into 8 to 10 patties and sear in oil in a hot frying pan or cast iron skillet until fully browned, about 3 minutes on each side.
To serve, place each patty on a toasted bun with shredded iceberg lettuce, Roasted Red Tomatoes, 2 pickle slices, Muenster cheese (if you like), and sauces such as honey mustard or of your choice.
Taken from Superiority Burger Cookbook by Brooks Headley
Thrice Cooked Chips with Aioli
Almost everyone who ate at Chez ma Tante in Brooklyn ordered these chips, they come piled high on a plate, piping hot and crisp with a bowl of garlic aioli for dipping on the side.
4 -6 large potatoes (Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks)
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until almost fully cooked. Peel, cut into chips to desired size.
Heat dripping or good quality oil to 160ºC/320°F.
Cook the chips in batches until golden, drain well.
Note: (do not overload the basket, otherwise the temperature of the oil will be lowered, consequently the chips will be greasy rather than crisp. Shake the pan once or twice, to separate the chips while cooking).
Heat the oil to 190ºC/375ºF and fry once more until crisp and a deep golden colour. Shake the basket, drain well, toss onto kitchen paper, sprinkle with a little salt, pile high on a serving plate and serve with a bowl of aioli on the side for delicious dipping.
Cook the chips in dripping rather than oil.
Note: make sure the deep-fry has plenty of dripping.
Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
1-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard
1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
8 fl ozs (225ml/1 cup) oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 6 fl ozs (175ml/3/4 cup) arachide oil and 2 fl ozs (50ml/1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1
2 teaspoons of freshly chopped parsley (optional)
Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.
Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, garlic salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Add the chopped parsley. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.
If the aioli curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled aioli, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.