Sarit and Itamar, this is us: middle-aged couple, married plus three. Honey & Co, six years old, was our first-born, our tiny, happy Middle Eastern restaurant on Warren Street; Honey & Spice, three years old, is the little deli we opened across the road from the restaurant, truly the ‘sandwich’ middle kid, with a slightly split personality between a deli and a homeware heaven; and lastly our baby, Honey & Smoke, two years old, is a big, screaming, all-attention-seeking Middle Eastern grill on Great Portland Street, just five minutes down the road from its siblings.
We moved to London from Israel on Christmas Eve 2004. We knew almost nothing and no one, but we were head-over-heels in love with our new town and hungry for our new beginning. If we ever got lonely, we had each other; and if we got homesick, we headed to our kitchen to recreate some of our childhood flavours, Middle Eastern comfort food – it made us think of friends, family and a life we had left behind, and most of all it made us happy.
When we wanted to make new friends, it was our kitchen we turned to again. Cooking for the people who let us into their lives was an easy way for us to show ourselves, our little story: chopped salad and eggs, cumin and lemon, garlic, olive oil and lamb, and many more things you cannot say with words.
Over the years there have been many meals shared. There have been birthdays and weddings, births and deaths, silly and serious feuds, moments of great joy. And always there’s a table laid, people coming over and us in the kitchen, cooking through good and bad.
As we opened our restaurant, our kitchen at home got abandoned for a while. It was just us two, working all hours of the day. We took everything to work; not only every piece of kitchen kit that could be useful but also the actual dishes we cooked at home. The food that had brought us together was now bringing more and more people to our table: guests at the restaurant and then others, who also wanted to cook with us, or help us serve our food. As more people joined the team, we could gradually work a bit less, reclaim our home kitchen and really enjoy the precious time we got to spend there. We could cook with ease again, play a bit, and be reminded what it is all about – simple food made with care, solely for the pleasure of those you cook for.
Life is complex, but cooking is easy, and something good is guaranteed to happen if you just follow the recipe. Every home, every life, has its anchors and rituals, its own way to come together, its own recipes for happiness. In this book we offer the recipes that make up our home, our happiest place; the bright flavours we adore and prepare for the people we love most.
Find out more about At Home here.
Praise for their first book Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East:
‘The ingredient that is in every mouthful, that isn’t on the menu, is the huge dollop of home-made love…’ The Sunday Times
‘It’s the kind of stuff you’d love to dish up to your pals and bask in the resulting praise… It’s food you would always be happy to eat.’ Guardian
‘Here, the food is as much about creating an atmosphere as it is about any individual dish,
a new way of looking at Middle Eastern cuisine, subtler, more modern.’ Sunday Telegraph, Stella magazine
The Sunday Times ‘Food Book of the Year’ 2014
Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards ‘Cookery Book of the Year’ 2015
Guild of Food Writers Awards ‘Best First Food Book’ 2015