When I was in New York in August I met up with two friends I know from London. One has moved there for the first time, and one has moved back. And they both recommended ABC Kitchen to me. As I trust these friends, I made a reservation that day. For the same evening!
So off we went, Sinead, her friend Hazel from home, and I. After waiting only a few minutes at the bar our table was ready (which was good as it proved near impossible to get a drink at the bar). As we walked through the restaurant I noticed the lovely interior. Part Scandi chic with lots of clean lines and white, part romantic with a few rustic touches and pretty pastel flowers.
We ordered wine and some starters and really enjoyed our dishes. My crab toast with lemon aioli was lovely and fresh. And Sinead’s salad of roasted carrots, avocado, crunchy seeds and citrus was amazing! (I got a little food envy actually.)
Hazel’s heritage tomato toast was simple but nice. Good produce goes a long way.
For her main course Hazel had the lovely fettucine with peas, sweet onions and basil and pistachio pesto.
Sinead had the fried chicken with collard greens and a basil and hot sauce butter. A little spicy but really nice.
I decided to go all out with a whole baked lobster with oregano and a lemon and chilli vinaigrette. And mash on the side. Maybe not the most conventional choice but the kind waiter assured me plenty of people order lobster and mash. The lobster was seasoned very differently to what I’m used to but stunning! Can’t wait to come back here on my next New York trip.
ABC Kitchen, 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003
New York is the brunch capital of the world (at least in my opinion, I have no facts to back this up), and so of course Sinead and I booked a brunch in a new great place while we were there. My friend Marie-Louise recommended Upland and we were very happy with the suggestion.
I liked the place straight away. The decor was relaxed yet classy and had a definite New York vibe I can’t really describe in words, but I think you know what I mean.
The food was lovely too. I had an amazing frittata topped with roasted garlic mayonnaise, espalette and chives.
Sinead had two eggs any style (in this case poached) with bacon, fried potatoes and sourdough. It was definitely enough to sustain us shopping for the rest of the afternoon.
Upland, 345 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010
I can’t remember where of from whom I heard about Minetta Tavern the first time, but when I asked people for restaurant recommendations leading up to my holiday everyone told me come here. So of course I did.
This extremely cosy one Michelin-starred restaurant in Greenwich Village was just as nice as I had hoped it would be. It gives you the impression it’s from a different time with red sofas, lots of mirrors and soft lighting.
Considering the size of New York portions, we started our dinner with a drink (espresso Martini for Sinead and a glass of tatty for me) and then went straight for the main courses. Sinead had the roasted chicken with Swiss chard and fries. It was super simple but stunning!
A decent portion of fries, as you can see.
I decided on the steak frites, but substituted the fries for pommes Anna, and received one of the best steaks I have ever had! Just amazingly good!
Not a small portion of pommes Anna either… but very good!
We ate as slowly as we could to savour every bite but also to be able to eat as much as possible, so we were more than full when they cleared the table. But after some wine and a breather we decided to try the chocolate caramel tart with sea salt our waiter so highly recommended. And I’m so glad we did. It was pure perfection! I’m not even a pudding person but this was to die for. You simply must order it when you go.
Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal St., New York, NY 10012 (Betw. Bleecker & W. 3rd Street)
Not jet-lagged at all while in the US, we actually overslept breakfast at the hotel every single morning and had to find breakfast elsewhere. An easy feat in New York, but also a little bit tricky if a donut from Dunkin’s (they’re everywhere!) doesn’t constitute breakfast in your opinion. One day we just happened to walk past Balthazar and decided to try our luck. We got a table straight away. A small one in a corner. But still, we were hangry and breakfast was near so it was perfect!
I had my favourite egg dish; Eggs Benedict, and this was a great version. More rustic than The Wolseley’s but almost as nice. And in my ravenous state I loved the addition of the fried potatoes. Sinead had a lovely omelette, also served with fried potatoes, so we were both very happy with our menu choices. An hour and breakfast here put us in a good mood for the rest of the day. I would still like to try the breakfast at the hotel as it seemed great, but that’s for another trip.
Balthazar, 80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
When my friend Sinead and I arrived in New York, all we had booked was the flights and the first hotel. It was easily the most unplanned trip I’ve ever been on, but it was fun to try to travel like this (it was so last minute and we were so busy we didn’t have time to plan beforehand) and also strangely liberating.
Our first night in the city we had dinner quite late, without booking and just tried our luck at Emilio’s Ballato, an Italian restaurant food writer Diana Henry recommended in her New York special in The Telegraph.
The interior was charmingly dishevelled in a New York sort of way and we could tell the guests were enjoying themselves; drinking wine, sharing both stories and food. We shared a bottle of wine and dove straight into the starters as they arrived just a few minutes after the waiter had taken our order. Sinead had this huge portion of crispy, warm calamari and was almost too full for the next course.
My starter, baked clams with breadcrumbs, parsley, butter and a little garlic, was a lot smaller but just as nice.
We both chose pasta for the main course; Sinead had the excellent Pnne all’Arrabbiata…
…while I enjoyed spaghetti with a summery ‘raw’ tomato sauce. It was all really nice and well-cooked but not outstanding. But despite this, I really liked the place. It all comes together as one really nice experience; the food, the ambiance, the interior, the staff.
Emilio’s Ballato, 55 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012
This simple, yet quite sophisticated potato salad is one of Delia’s creations, and as I trust her ability I didn’t actually test this recipe before I made it for a dinner party; I just knew it would be nice. And of course it was. One can always trust Delia.
The only change I made was to cut down a bit on the shallots, as chopping onions really makes me cry. I think I gave up after having chopped eight shallots for double the amount of potatoes below.
Potato salad with vinaigrette, serves 8
Adapted from Delia Smith’s recipe.
900 g washed new potatoes
6 shallots, finely chopped
4 tbsp finely chopped (ot cut with scissors) chives
1 dessertspoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 dessertspoon mustard powder
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
150 ml olive oil
Steam or boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, for approx 20 minutes. Leave to cool a little and cut into smaller pieces if needed.
Meanwhile make the vinaigrette using a pestle and mortar: crush the salt coarsely, then add the garlic. Crush it, mixing it with the salt, creating a purée. Add the mustard powder and really work it in, after that add some black pepper.
Then add the vinegars and really work them in. Then add the oil, but switch to a small whisk and give everything a really good whisking.
Stir in the vinagrette while the potatoes are still warm and add the shallots. Add the chives just before serving. Can be served still warm or cold.
When I was little Hällåkra was a farm nearby our house, but the last twelve years or so the farm has been transformed into a vineyard. In the south of Sweden. It may sounds strange as some people imagine Sweden as an eternally cold country. But it’s not. Not in the south anyway. My mother has a fig tree, so the climate here is fairly mild. Very similar to Kent in England or even northern France, yet Swedish wine was unheard of until a few years ago.
Anyway, having a vineyard so close by I’ve been dying to go, but fitting it in on my trips to Sweden has been a little difficult, but this summer I persuaded my friends to come with me, so we went to the wine tasting in the afternoon and then walked back to my parents’ house for dinner in the evening.
My childhood friend Karl is now a sommelier working at the vineyard and was in charge of our wine tasting. He did a great job keeping it relaxed but informative and interesting at the same time. We asked lots of questions which Karl patiently answered, and despite the heavy (London-like) rain he also took us on a tour among the grapevines.So impressive! And a lovely walk in the sunshine.
We tried six wines, three whites and three reds, and it was very interesting to compare them.
Two of the whites were from their own production but different vintages, and it was very interesting comparing the two as they were very different. We tried the Solaris (that’s the grape) from 2015 and 2014, which were both really nice but my favourite was the 2014. Of the reds Hällåkra’s Rondo 2013 was lovely as was the Austrian Gut Oggau Josephine 2012.
In Sweden you (unfortunately) can’t buy wine straight from the vineyards, but they can be bought through the government-owned shop Systembolaget, using what the call private import as it’s not readily available in their shops. More information, here, in Swedish.
Hällåkra Vingård, Hällåkravägen 47, 231 72 Anderslöv, Sweden