Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Honey & Co. Baking Book launch

So I went for something fantastic that I can't wait to tell you all about. 
After spending a really great week in Newcastle with Sulekha (who I am missing already :( ) I got back into the bubble yesterday just in time to freshen up and head to an event hosted by Toppings book shop on Bell street. 

Toppings has a whole host of events going on in conjunction with the Open, a massive golf tournament that's being held in St. Andrews right now. Last night, they were hosting Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich the power couple behind Honey & Co. a middle eastern inspired restaurant in London. Sarit and Itamar came up by train to hold a live cooking demo centered around their newly released cook book, 'Honey & Co. The Baking Book'

Chilled orange blossom and earl grey tea

Arriving just before the event was about to start, I was greeted at the door with a glass of chilled orange blossom and earl grey tea (which I would like to drink for the rest of my life thank you very much). The shop was already fairly full, and I would've had to take a seat at the back if one of the owners hadn't taken pity on my tiny Asian stature and ushered me up front. A massive tray filled with bites of buttered fruit tea loaf was already floating around the store, hinting at the many tidbits we were to be treated to that night. 

Sarit and Itamar were absolutely adorable. Clearly very much in love with their work, they showed us a few quick things they make in store; an herb frittata, sesame halva, and a fresh kanafeh. 
Cutie patooties Sarit and Itamar

Guys I got SO excited. This is a beautiful middle eastern dessert made by sandwiching a mix of cheeses (Sarit used feta, goats cheese and cream cheese) with two butter coated layers of a nest like phyllo dough called kadaif. You then soak the whole thing in orange blossom syrup and top it with pistachios and rose petals. It's an incredibly lush and fragrant dessert that presents so many wonderful tastes and textures to enjoy. Crispy, creamy, nutty, salty, sweet, perfumey...just AAAHHHH!!!!!! Having seen it being made I am now SO determined to whip it up myself at home.  Anyone know where I can get a hold of kadaif pastry in Scotland?

Clockwise from top right; herb frittata, chickpea shortbread, carrot walnut cake, knafe.

Throughout the night they kept bringing out trays of baked goodies that had been featured in the book. There was an incredibly moist carrot walnut cake, some really fudgy chocolate pistachio cookies, and my personal favourite a gluten free chickpea shortbread.

I bought the book the minute the cooking demo was over and got it signed by Sarit and Itamar. We had a little chat about what halva referred to in our respective cultures (When you say halva in Malaysia you're usually referring to a firm jelly-like sweet made with semolina, as opposed to the sesame fudge we were served last night). I know it sounds obvious, I mean they are chefs and all, but their love for good food was palpable and rolled off the couple in waves. This infectious enthusiasm glows from the pages of The Baking Book, with each recipe accompanied by it's own little anecdote.

When you leave home to start somewhere new, you very quickly identify pockets of familiarity to take refuge in when the 'newness' becomes too much to handle. While reading Sarit and Itamar's writing, I had the overwhelming feeling of being back in my grandmother's kitchen where she tried to teach me how to make my favourite vadai. This book, with it's bright yellow cover and beautiful photography beckons to you. It invites you to look inside, to thumb through the pages, to laugh at the stories and try the recipes within. I have never been anywhere in the middle east (YET) and I can't say I share the same cultural identity as Sarit and Itamar, but for some reason having this book feels like holding a part of home in my hands.

It won't be long before I have a crack at the recipes in this book, and I can't wait to visit Honey&Co. with my parents when we're down in London this year.

To see more about what Toppings bookstore has on, go to their events page here.

And while you're at it, you might as well check out Honey&Co. online ;)

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