I’ve mentioned that my father is Jordanian, I probably haven’t said that half his family is originally Palestinian. My best friend in High School was an Israeli girl named Jo. He used to joke that he sent me to an International School and from all the many nationalities – I found an Israeli. To be fair to both of our parents, they never interfered in our friendship or tried to get political with us. Jo and I bonded over our love of illicit bacon, chewing gum anxiously after we had consumed the contraband meat – convinced that somehow our fathers would know.
After visiting Honey & Co (opened by an Israeli couple who both worked in the Ottolenghi group) I took Layla to the playground in Primrose Hill where there was a Hasidic jewish father with 5 children sporting curled payot. When they left, there was a couple sitting on a bench speaking in Hebrew. I dialled her number.
“Jo Joseph!” I exclaimed. “I’m surrounded by your country men and women here.”
“Suzan!” she laughed. Jo always laughs, it’s one of the reasons I love her so much. “How are you?”
“Oh my god. How could you let me get pregnant again? I blame you.”
“Don’t worry, it get’s better….in three years.” Another of Jo’s characteristics. She gives it to you straight, no garbage about the first 100 days. One thousand and twenty-eight days to go then…
Paulina told me about Honey & Co. Paulina has mastered professional baking and aspires to all things molecular (last time I had lunch with her she was telling me that she had contacted Simon Rogan to get some advice on how to use a contraption that captures the essence of ingredients) it’s rare for her to get excited about things she can do blind folded and laying down. But she gushed about this place and she worked with both chefs. So on her recommendation, I went.
Layla was being fractious, in 28 minutes I had a rainbow beetroot salad, stuffed vine leaves, orange blossom ice tea and a chocolate brioche. Running out of time, I ordered the cheese cake to go. Later, while freezing on a bench in Primrose Hill, I rewound the meal I had gobbled up in record time and played it back slowly. The beetroot salad was composed of spicy firm pickled beetroot and sweet yielding roast beetroot, interspersed with crunchy pomegranate seeds and roast walnuts. The vine leaves came with stewed grapes and ribbons of silky leeks – they made me think of my Arabic aunts sitting together and making thousands of them no bigger than my finger. The chocolate brioche looked stale and unappealing and then surprised me by being complex and wonderful to eat. The cheesecake was a base of kataifi dough with a dollop of spicy sweet cheese on top.
It was excellent and it made me despair that I couldn’t try everything on the menu. These are the flavours I grew up eating and the vibrant colours I remember seeing. There is care and pride in this food and the ingredients are outstanding. It’s a tiny shop and no doubt must be packed for lunch but when I went at 3 I had my pick of the tables. I urge you to get down there before word of this perfect little shop gets out!
Honey & Co
25a Warren Street