A Whirlwind NYC Visit, My Capsule Kitchen Collection List & Smoothies Forever

Welcome to this week's instalment of everything I ate, saw, covet and made since we last met. I've packed it full with some NYC recs, my new Amazon list and my top smoothie recipes. Classes resume next week with only a few remaining spaces, so make sure you book in so you don't miss out. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on today's musings, so let's keep swapping tips and cooking together.

Last week I spent a whirlwind 3 days in NYC, a quick in and out visit primarily for a very special event with and for my good friend Rachel (more about this soon). It was a huge honour to be there and an absolute thrill to be part of her day alongside some truly fabulous culinary cohorts. As there wasn’t much time on either side, I didn’t really leave the neighbourhood (notice a theme in my recent US trips) but I did do some gastonomic damage in Chelsea and the West Village. Here’s where I ate and loved.  

I’ve tried and failed to get a reservation here on my last few visits. Heaving even at 5pm on a Monday, Shukette is worthy of every bit of hype and all the accolades. Perfectly seasoned, beautifully executed, and bustling with all the energy you want, you will shimmy out at the end of your meal with a party in your mouth and a spring in your step.  And that frena…..

Via Carota
If there is only time for one meal when I am in NYC, I’m always going to hot foot it here. Get there early, stand on line and eat your heart out.  I never miss the anchovy toast and the bitter leaf salad.  This time I also had the special pasta of the day with wild mushrooms and walnuts and it was dreamy.  The perfect interlude washed down with a smooth glass of Sicilian White. 

True farm to table in the middle of the City with fully seasonal menus and details of the farms and purveyors of all the ingredients in the dishes and specialty drinks made in their kitchens.  The perfect lunch stop (I’m coming back for the burger).

Kazu Nori
Known as the Original Hand Roll Bar, from the same team as Sugarfish, this is by far the best quality and best value lunch in the City. It’s a no frills in-and-out situation of hand rolls and sashimi, either a set menu or a la carte, simple, swift, fresh and just the pick me up you need for an afternoon walking around town without the hefty NYC price tag. But beware of the queue during the lunchtime rush. 

Variety Coffee
There isn’t actually a shortage of good coffee in this neck of the woods. I hold a special place in my heart for Breads Bakery (at one time the ONLY good coffee in my humble opinion). I stopped in on my first morning for the last day of their famous Hamantaschen and maybe a sneaky rugelach or two on my way to Union Square Greenmarket, but Varietygets a special mention, not only for their very good cortado and excellent branding, but for my best celebrity sighting of the trip. I don’t normally get excited about such things, but ordering coffee next to Matt Dillon left me positively weak at the knees (and showing my years). Side note, he’s ageing fabulously.

I couldn’t possibly miss a walk through Chelsea Market without a Seed + Mill Tahini Soft Serve and replenish the halva stash or without a stop at Alf Bakery for an almond croissant. I had to stop into Pearl River Mart for chili crunch condiment research purposes and immediately regretted my hand luggage only decision.

I also snuck into my fave Big Night to indulge my cocktail glass obsession and where I spent more time than I really had dedicated to my future home bar fit out. And I could not return home without a restock of Everything but the Bagel Seasoning and Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Pretzels from Trader Joes (IYKYK). My biggest surprise this trip was Eataly. I usually avoid it, because frankly, I find it completely overwhelming in choice and a little like an up market food court. But I was staying so close this trip I managed to time my visit well.  I was fully fed and caffeinated when I walked through the door, allowing me to appreciate the curation of goods in each department and a dazzling selection of fresh produce rather than deliberate my sustenance, only to leave hungry. It was definitely worth a twirl, but I’m glad I wasn’t looking for lunch. 

Other places that I would always recommend but didn’t get a chance to visit are  BalaboostaFrenchetteEstelaLibrae BakeryZabarsPopup BagelsBuvette and Konban is first on my list for my next visit.

My Capsule Kitchen Collection & Amazon List

When I re-launched my site in the Autumn of 2023, I added a page called my Capsule Kitchen Collection. A continual work in progress, this is collection/curation of some of my favourite multi use items that are my personal essentials and that I hope will help you cook more efficiently. The idea was originally born out of feedback from my classes, where many people regularly enquire about items and pieces I use for the dishes at hand and why I love them. After a little cajoling I have now set up an Amazon list, linked here, to go alongside my page on Building Feasts where you can find some of my suggestions to assist on your cooking adventures.  

Many of my serving pieces, crockery and oven to table items featured on my posts are ones that I have collected, scavenged or inherited over the years and I am still looking for a simple way to share them with you all in one place. Many are artisanal, vintage or not sold on Amazon so I am trying to collate another kind of list where you can procure similar available pieces (again another work in progress). Please do send over ideas or suggestions for this conundrum, as for those who know me, navigating this technical world is somewhat of a personal challenge. 

In the meantime, I would like to suggest reading the Capsule page so that my Amazon list makes sense as it gives a little explanation behind my selections. And I would love to know more about your favourite pieces of kitchen and cooking kit. This is, as ever, a conversation between us. I also can’t wait to hear your thoughts on theses suggestions, what you like, would never use of and what bit’s you can’t cook without.  I am aiming to regularly tweak the list so keep checking in every so often to see what’s new. Like all the best things, this is an ever evolving work in progress…….. 

It’s Finally Smoothie Season

April is here and I have officially turned off my heating and taken porridge off the breakfast menu. Welcome to smoothie season. These blended iced morning meal solutions have been a big part of my life for over 15 years now and I’m still excited every time I make one. They are the only unanimously agreed upon breakfast in the house and packed with everything (I think and hope) we need to set us off on the right footing for the day. 

Smoothies are a little bit of a choose your own adventure as you dovetail them in between eggs and toast on the morning roster. Alongside the recipe I’m including extras or substitutions depending on how virtuous you might feel on any given day or what you have stocked in your freezer.  

If you thought smoothies were a thing of the past, I hope you will consider reviving them for the warmer months – they really are a treat. And for all those still with me all these years after the craze first hit I am so glad we are in it for the long haul together.  Here are my go-to’s. 

Before I sign off for this week, I just want to remind you that classes resume next week after  a short break and there are still a few places left for some of the dates, so grab them before they go! I am so excited about this next series coming up and welcoming all those coming to the new lunchtime sessions.  Until next time…..