Blenheim, A Story Retold

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Set wrapped around the cobblestone corner of little west twelfth street lives Blenheim Restaurant, a gorgeous farm-to-table neighborhood gem. Lord knows, I can’t resist a great farm-to-table restaurant! Especially one whose roots began with the farm which then, in turn, extended itself to this city based plentiful restaurant outlet.

With the design centric combination of modern seating, farm tools used as wall art, earth pigment self leveling cement tabletops that Morten made with his own two hands, cow hoof mini bowls, specific differing plates for each individual dish—some black with hints of blue, others stark white with a handcrafted feel, another antique with a red rooster graphic—we were dressed perfectly for the not so traditionally rustic farm-to-table styled Blenheim Restaurant.

Blenheim Hills Farm, an active farm from the late 1700s to 1970s, where it then sat unused until husband and wife team Morten Sohlberg and Min Ye took it over in 2010 with the dream of opening this restaurant. Four years later, they did.

“It’s a fantastic estate. It’s a beautiful property with the barns and everything intact from that time. The farm was not in operation for the past seventy or eighty years. It was actually in almost complete ruin with all of the structures gone at one point. And then they restored it into at the least a working site. And, then we turned it into a farm in 2010 with all of the necessary infrastructure—the water, the livestock quarters, the greenhouse, the maple syrup” – Morten Sohlberg

With the design centric combination of modern seating, farm tools used as wall art, earth pigment self leveling cement tabletops that Morten made with his own two hands, cow hoof mini bowls, specific differing plates for each individual dish—some black with hints of blue, others stark white with a handcrafted feel, another antique with a red rooster graphic—we were dressed perfectly for the not so traditionally rustic farm-to-table styled Blenheim Restaurant.

Off to experience this dinner with a blogger girl friend of mine, Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef for our NYC Summer Weekend Guide (coming out June 10th)! Alyssa and I happily video chatted the night before our dinner to consult and coordinate what I should wear with my gorgeous BaubleBar Fishhook Choker. glam BaubleBar Pearl Orbit Ring and my awesomely edgy Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack With Fringe—you must check out her feature Blenheim Style on Runway Chef all about our looks! You’ll love it!

We went into Blenheim Restaurant with a plan to ask owner Morten Sohlberg a few questions and then enjoy some menu items. Upon meeting him, that plan quickly evolved into a three and a half hour dinner where his wife and business partner Min Ye walked into the restaurant at the end of her work day, sat and dined right along with us. What an incredible experience! Really, what a truly awesome day it was with this dinner and a lunch earlier with the owners of the beloved cafe Two Hands.

With the design centric combination of modern seating, farm tools used as wall art, earth pigment self leveling cement tabletops that Morten made with his own two hands, cow hoof mini bowls, specific differing plates for each individual dish—some black with hints of blue, others stark white with a handcrafted feel, another antique with a red rooster graphic—we were dressed perfectly for the not so traditionally rustic farm-to-table styled Blenheim Restaurant.

With the design centric combination of modern seating, farm tools repurposed as wall art, earth pigment self leveling cement tabletops that Morten made with his own two hands, cow hoof mini bowls, specifically selected differing plates for each individual menu item—some black with hints of blue, others stark white with a handcrafted feel, another antique with a black and red rooster graphic—we were dressed perfectly for the not so traditionally homey and rustic farm-to-table styled Blenheim Restaurant.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

“All of these chairs. Now, the base furniture isn’t my design but I did the pairing of all of the fabrics. There are seven different fabric colors and then the silver. So I worked with the people from Italy. They were shipped in from Italy” – Morten Sohlberg

With the design centric combination of modern seating, farm tools used as wall art, earth pigment self leveling cement tabletops that Morten made with his own two hands, cow hoof mini bowls, specific differing plates for each individual dish—some black with hints of blue, others stark white with a handcrafted feel, another antique with a red rooster graphic—we were dressed perfectly for the not so traditionally rustic farm-to-table styled Blenheim Restaurant.

If the decor wasn’t enough, when the conversation began with the process and timing of sheep shearing, I knew I was dealing with an entirely different kind of of farm-to-table restaurant.

“I spend almost more time up there than I do down here” – Morten Sohlberg

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Blenheim isn’t only about using farm fresh ingredients on demand, it’s about the farm, the unexplored hidden nooks where truffles grow, the extensive black currants that blanket a great portion of the area, the hungry pigs, the birth, the slaughter, the livestock manager, the greenhouse manager—it all. It’s finding the balance between using what the farm has available and requesting special ingredients or style of ingredients to best compliment the menu. It’s what they have coined as “grown to order”.

“We actually plan what is going to be on these plates six months ahead of time” — Morten Sohlberg

Perhaps the ramp leaves need to be grown to a larger size to better compliment Executive Chef Mazen Mustafa’s ideal plating.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Nature’s Bounty | vegetables and herbs from our farm

With a menu that changes as often as daily due to the availability of produce from the farm, I had to know a bit more about the idea of having dishes that the clientele mentally note as their “favorite” and make their way back for.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Blenheim Pork Trio | green apple, tokyo turnip, hen of the woods mushrooms

“There are somethings where an iteration will always remain. For example, we will always have the Blenheim Pork Trio. Sometimes it’s loin and belly and something else. And another day it’ll be another part of the pig. We have to go through the whole animal so we never specify which three parts of the pig will be on it” — Morten Sohlberg

Blenheim, A Story Retold

The plating, in a truly artistic way, mimics the farming experience that Morten and Min descrbed. Each dish has it’s own deconstructed appeal often with a hidden perfectly formed dollop of sauce that pairs best with the ingredient placed next to it. They are dishes meant to explore and experience.

Open for nearly a year, now, Blenheim had quite the rocky start. After reading a couple really negative reviews, my focus was pulled to noting whether or not any of famed New York Times critic Pete Wells’ words had been taken to heart and acted upon. For that, the story is best heard from Morten.

“Specifically, Pete Well’s one was very harsh. There was a number of things that he spoke highly of and the things that were very off, were true. I mean we were not ready at all. We had some big problems with the chef at the time. He was very creative but consistency was impossible. The chef would essentially show an intern how to make a dish once, a critical dish, and then he wouldn’t be here for three days—he couldn’t care less what that intern did, and that drove us crazy. That was a problem coupled with the manager we had  that was drunk with an alcohol problem. We were here trying to juggle all this. I don’t think people ever reviewed a place after two months. I mean usually people give six months, you give someone to sort of straighten out.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

It’s never been easy to open a restaurant. There are so many things that can go wrong and it usually takes a while before, never mind, finding your meaning but finding your calling. Not even that you know in the beginning.

There’s a few different factors that played into why we weren’t ready and why it took a while to become ready. One was that, obviously, the manager was drunk. That was a problem. We also had a great PR firm that loved us and they were very successful in broadcasting this as ‘a place’. We became very well covered very early on.

What I had done previously, was that I went into the market with an opening that nobody knew about so we were empty for a long time when I opened a new restaurant and that’s how we liked it. We wanted to be slow. We didn’t want anyone to know about us. A very soft opening. Then this PR firm talked us into retaining them, and ‘this is an important restaurant that everyone needs to know about’ and ‘you’ll be busy from day one’. I went along with that when I shouldn’t have because we didn’t need all of that fame, we needed all of that time instead.”

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Heirloom Beets | black currant, yogurt, almond

Me: If you could say one thing directly to Pete Wells, what would you say?

“Oh I have been in contact with him via email. I’ve spoken with him. I reached out to him because of the review. He’s a really nice guy. I just explained a little bit of the background just to set the pace for where we’re heading what we’re doing. And I explained some of the things that had happened and what we were struggling with and it was also very funny email back to him. He responded and he was very gracious with his response. I don’t remember exactly what we were saying but I wanted to have that there.”

Me: Do you think he will come back and give you a new review?

“Not yet, I hope. We’re still not ready”

Me: What kinks are you still looking to iron out?

“Right now, we want to be around for a while doing what we’re doing in peace and quiet the way we wanted to do it all along. I don’t need the attention from a big paper like New York Times right now. Or the Michelin. But if they do come, they come.”

I will note that, now that Blenheim Restaurant has been open for nearly a year, I had a fantastic dining experience. Our server, Elizabeth, was incredible on so many levels. Her professionalism was, for lack of a more professional terminology, on point. She knew all of the details of not only every dish, but she had an answer for every question about every single farm ingredient.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Charred Shishito Peppers | orange, sea salt

Even when dining with the owners, she made certain to regulate the pace of our meal by offering to bring out a Charred Shishito Peppers snack to start when she saw us chatting.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Grilled Octopus | garbanzo bean, kimchi aioli, grapefruit

When I ordered the Grilled Octopus, Elizabeth told me how wonderful a choice it was and explained the fourteen hour process of how the octopus is prepared.

“It’s cooked for fourteen hours. It’s sous vide so it’s boiled at a lowish temperature for fourteen hours so it doesn’t dry out and get rubbery. A lot of people are very amazed. Usually, when you cook octopus, it gets tough very quickly. But, you still want that crunch on the outside especially on the tentacles. So, they cook it long enough so it gets as tender as octopus is going to get and then they quickly flash fry it so you get that crunch” — Elizabeth T Carian

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Hay-Smoked Chicken | wilted baby greens, lemon confit

I’m told the chicken was prepared in a similar fashion and it was incredible!

Knowledgeability is only the beginning of the skill set that she exhibited. Many of the entrées are plated and placed on the table to then have a paired jus poured over them. Sometimes, it’s a simple pour, other times, Elizabeth created an artistic shape around a satellite ingredient typically reserved for the swift hands of a skilled chef. Masterful. We all felt notably and very taken care of.

From the farm, to the transportation, to the minds of the executive chef and owners, through the hands of the kitchen, through the servers, on the table and into the mouths and stomachs of the Blenheim Restaurant clientele, every dish and bite that we encountered tasted thoughtfully crafted, flavorful and extremely delicious.

Blenheim, A Story Retold

Grapefruit Martini | tito’s vodka, fresh grapefruit, vanilla infused sugar

I would love to go back for the amazing cocktails—Grapefruit Martini’s all summer long, who can hate that?—but that’s a whole other story to be told.

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THE Dirty Iced Mocha Chai You MUST Savor!

If you haven’t noticed from my behind the scenes moments on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) I am always juggling a lot of different amazing experiences. So, often, I like to take a moment to treat my future self by prepping “happy snacks” that will make those experiences even better! No-brainer, coffee is always an immediate win! Taking two minutes to pour my delicious International Delight mocha flavored coffee into ice cube trays so that my future self can happily sip away during a meeting makes those meetings feel like super fun coffee dates—well, Dirty Iced Mocha Chai dates! 

Oh, this isn’t a theory, it’s a completely and often implemented obsession—and now with the easy already-mixed-for-me mocha flavored International Delight coffee, it’s completely effortless! It made my recent video consultation with my blogger friend Alyssa of Runway Chef and BaubleBar into a super fun video conference coffee date! The longer we sat, the more the mocha melted into our almond chai! Now, that’s a drink to savor! Oh, we had such a blast—though with delish coffee and glam baubles, I can’t imagine a way not to.

Down & Dirty Iced Mocha Chai

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 2 Minutes
Freeze Time: 4 Hours
Total Time: 4 Hours & 2 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

International Delight Mocha Iced Coffee (2 cups)
Chai Concentrate (1 cup)
Silk Almond Milk (3 cups)

Down & Dirty Iced Mocha Chai

KITCHEN ITEMS

Square Cubed Ice Cube Tray
Measuring Cup
Pitcher
Long Spoon
Awesome Straw (so not optional!)

Down & Dirty Iced Mocha Chai

1. MOCHA CUBES (aka no more watery iced dirty chai)fill your measuring cup with your mocha iced coffee.

Use your mocha filled measuring cup to to fill your ice cube tray.

You’ll need to refill your measuring cup with more mocha iced coffee to fill your entire ice tray.

Put your ice cube tray in the freezer till you have completely frozen cubes—about 4 hours.

Move onto step #2 once your ice has frozen.

2. CHAI: fill your pitcher with your almond milk.

Add in your chai concentrate.

Use your spoon to thoroughly mix them together until you have one even color.

Down & Dirty Iced Mocha Chai

3. WHEN TWO BECOME ONE: put 4-5 mocha ice cubes in each glass you plan to serve it from (I like to overfill my glass so that one cube sits above the chai—why?—because it has a dramatic and beautiful feel).

Pour your almond chai directly over your ice.

Stick in your awesome straws, and enjoy whatever moment you’re currently living at least ten times more! Cheers!

InternationalDelight_sponsoredBy

This conversation is sponsored by International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

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The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

I recently teamed up with a blogger girl friend of mine, Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef to create the perfectly styled What To Do in an NYC Summer Weekend guide (coming out June 10th). When I brought up Two Handsone of my very favorite cafes in the city—and found out that she hadn’t been—?!@#*—I knew that I had to introduce it to her! Two birds, one stone! What a perfect fit for our guide and her—and for so many reasons!

Between the super delicious food and truly above par incredible coffee, the beautiful clean environment that they’ve created, a huge fan base giving them lots of love daily on their super fun Instagram and the outrageously nice owners (their Aussie accents certainly don’t hurt), what’s not to love?!

Back to those delightful Aussie accents. We sat down with owners Giles Russell and Henry Roberts for lunch at their cafe, Two Hands, and then moved outside for a more formal interview (which immediately turned into super fun chatting and lots o’ laughter)! We were truly living enjoying their cafe in the ways they had envisioned it.

“It’s not just a coffee shop, it’s a community”.

Of course, we had to get dolled up in our best cafe chic attire. Such fun! Definitely, check out all about our looks in Alyssa’s fashion article Two Hands Style on Runway Chef!

Many thanks to our incredible sponsors featured in this article! Cheers to you, Rebecca Minkoff, BaubleBar and Audrey and Daniella of Cutler Salon.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Photo Credit Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef

When I think about the name “Two Hands”, immediately, I think of two hands one that is holding coffee and the other holding great food or the work going into it using two hands. I hear you two chose it based off of the Heath Ledger movie. How did that come about?

Henry: It wasn’t like we were watching the movie and were like “oooh, Two Hands”.

Giles: The movie’s really weird.

Henry: It’s really good though.

Giles:  It’s about bank robberies.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Henry: It just kind of popped into my head while I was at work and then it related to the film. One that is an Australian reference that wouldn’t be like Crocodile Dundee or something.

Giles: It’s subtle.

Henry: Like you said, it does have all of those kinds of meanings as well. That’s why it fit well for the cafe and being the name of the cafe. And, it’s interesting because to be honest, you go through so many names, like anything, and that one stuck. It wasn’t too out there. It wasn’t trying to be too creative or too smart.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Everybody asks about the name and I don’t really understand it. “Two Hands”, it’s not that crazy. I mean, when you interview other restaurant owners, do you always ask why they call it that?

Me: When the name is of interest. In your case, it’s a simple name. So, in reading previous interviews you had done when doing my research I read about the Heath Ledger movie and because so many other reasons made sense to me, I wanted to ask again to see if, over time, now that the cafe has been open for nearly a year, does it feel as though it’s taken on more meaning for you?

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Giles: [now, I thought this could be fun! Hear the next excerpt/paragraph from our interview or simply continue to read on!]

 

It had that meaning before we opened, I think. As soon as Henry called me up and was like “I think I’ve come up with a good name” and he said “Two Hands”, initially, was we both knew the movie, it’s set in Sydney where we both grew up, it features Heath Ledger. As a young Australian, everyone looked up to him. He was an amazing actor and he was a cool dude and he lived in New York back before he passed away and he has his own restaurant in Brooklyn called Five Leaves—we both love Five Leaves. It’s the first restaurant I went to in New York. He inspired me to do something in New York that had that feeling, that uniquely Australian feeling.

After we thought about that, it was like, ok what else does it mean—we know we built this place with our two hands, yeah, we make coffee with two hands, we make food with two hands, we shake hands, you high five, you know, hug, everything—it’s a mean whateva you want it to mean kind of name. I think that’s great because this cafe should be whateva you want it to be for every individual that walks in.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Dirty Almond Chais // Featured: Backpack from Rebecca Minkoff // Pearl Ring from BaubleBar

With such a design driven cafe, what was the driving force behind the handwritten logo? Is it meant to be a signature, your signatures?

Henry: We wanted it to be handwritten, for sure, to have that essence of homeyness just being natural and hands on—and that represents the cafe, as well, it’s not a sort of corporate structured place that’s clean cut.

Giles: There are so many logos coming out in the past couple years that were just simple minimalistic fonts—design agencies, clothes brands—and they’d choose between four fonts. So, we wanted to be a little bit different. We wanted a logo that no on else had, that no one else could copy. We are very lucky to have a close friend who is a graphic designer and illustrator and we showed her a few different logos of different restaurants and told her ‘we envision it to be somewhat like this’ and she came back, showed us that and we knew it was amazing.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Photo Credit Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef

We wanted to start with a strong logo but we wanted to grow it outside of one logo. There’s so much you can do with a name and a logo. We wanted people to know the name “Two Hands” and not just the logo. So we’re starting to work with different designers on different logos, so depending on the medium or the store or city that you’re in, you’ll get a different logo.

Henry: If you look at these teeshirts [noting the shirt they are both wearing], this is the flagship store so it has the flag.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Caught in the Act // Runway Chef Instagraming Action Shot

Sticking in this artistic vein, in a cafe so loved and extremely highly photographed by food lovers and bloggers, alike, on Instagram have you begun to see the food as a form of art?

Giles: It is but it’s also so simple. It was a surprise that people gravitated towards taking these pictures—and it’s great. It’s great for us and that people are interested in food, and what’s on their plate, the different colors. It just kind of grew. I didn’t expect it at all.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Are you saying that you didn’t expect to have such a big impact on Instagram?

Giles: We didn’t even know that Instagram functioned in that way. I wasn’t really on Instagram and neither was Henry. So, we started one.

Henry: It’s just one other thing we do.

Giles: We were like “oh, yeah, we have to get Instagram” so we took a bunch of photos of us hanging out in trucks and what not.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Avo Toast + Egg (Sunny Side Up)

Because our food is simple and it’s designed to be simple, because we feel that that tastes the best. We don’t feel like we have to do too much. If you have good produce then it should taste good. You don’t have to turn it into a foam or shave truffles all over it—that food’s great, I’m not dissing it, I enjoy that as much as as anyone else. We want our cafe to be accessible to anyone. Anyone who walked in. That’s why the menu is small, and that’s why the ingredients are few but they all taste really nicely together. Part of that is the food being really attractive.

When we’re at home, neither Henry or I are trained chefs but we’re both very very avid home cooks. You know, you go to a restaurant and you see this delicious meal at whateva restaurant it is in New York—and there are so many amazing ones—then you come home, and you’re like ‘I’m going to cook something’ and you try to mimic that—oh, they had the au jus like that and they have sprinkles of this on that [lots o’ hand gestures]—when they reach the table it’s a visual feast not just a food feast. We definitely strove to do that because we knew our food was simple in essence but we wanted it to be exciting when it arrived to your table. We never thought our food would translate to Instagram but it obviously has because that’s what people are looking for.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Açai Bowl

They’re looking for colorful food in exciting new ways—like our açai bowl we decided to do it like that because we hadn’t really seen it that way before we’d like to do something different. It’s really cool because you see people come in every day and take photos and you know that’s the new way they’re telling people that they really love something.   

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Me // Necklace & Pearl Ring from BaubleBar // Hair Color & Cut from Cutler Salon // Photo Credit Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef

A few months ago, I sat, sipped a coffee and did some recognizance work in your shop. I noted you, Henry, sitting by the window doing work on your computer. Before leaving, it seemed like every person would stand up and introduce themselves to you. Each conversation lasted a good five minutes! And with the patience—of clearly a not native New Yorker (like myself)—you spoke to them as if they were the only ones to ever approach you. For me, it was seeing THAT that made it clear that being a part of the shop day to day is extremely important for you. What do you find is the most important part about the Two Hands experience? The people? The coffee? The food?

Henry: If you come in and have an average kind of coffee [not that there is anything average about their coffee] but have a beautiful experience with the people you interact with in that space then you’re not going to not come back because of that and you’re more likely to return.

We are really lucky with this street because we have such a mix of neighborhood people, the Nolita crowd, big shoppers from SoHo, Little Italy tourists, Chinatown—it’s just been great to meet everyone from day one and every day coming to work and meeting all different  people. And, you never know who you’re going to strike up a conversation with, who can help you out, or who knows someone who knows someone, or a graphic designer. That’s kind of like our motto is to be nice to everyone and you never know.

Giles: Why are we not on this earth but to connect with people. Those relationships are what makes us happy.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

How do you guys know each other?

Henry: We knew each other from back home. We weren’t like close close friends. We lived on the other sides of the harbor—I don’t know if you know Sydney—he lived on the Eastern suburbs and I lived on the North Shore.

Giles: Like Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Henry: [a brilliant description of how it’s kiiinda like Brookyn and Manhattan—THIS you must hear!]

 

But like less ‘street’ sounding I’m from Brooklyn.

That sounds so silly.

[insert Aussie X Brooklyn accent—oh, wait, I can!] I’m from Brooklyn he was from…

When we saw each other socially we would always get along and connect well. So, then when he came to New York, as soon as we had an opportunity we got together. It was kind of business from then on—friendship and business.

When you come up with an idea with a friend and you’re both still working hard on it two years later, then you know it’s something real.

[insert a three minute interruption from a really lovely regular passing by that both answered my question “do you have regulars that you get to know” and acted as the perfect segue into my next question. Thanks, Linsey (aka. the regular)! ]

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

I’m surprised the Corn Fritters are my favorite. I expected it to be the Avo Toast since everyone raves about it.

Henry: We had a little celebrity chef in from Australia come in yesterday. His name’s Dan Churchill, he is an Aussie, and he’s kind of like the good kind of bloke-y kind of guy. He’s just come up with a cookbook called Dude Food and he’s here, then he’s going back, then he’s moving over for good to set up his own spot. The most lovely guy you’ve ever met. Like, incredible.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Corn Fritters

Any way, he gave us some tips on the fritters and so we changed the recipe yesterday, so it’s kind of like the new and improved. Now, there’s a little be of lemon zest in there just to pull the flavor out. He just kind of offered to come in at seven and he gave us advice on how to organize the kitchen better.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

What can we expect for the future of the Two Hands menu? Are there seasonal dishes coming?

Henry: There’s a few things. It’s all dependent on the space we have to work with. Not to sound boring or anything.

Giles and I did it ourselves. We have the ability and some kind of practice with food, but we aren’t trained chefs so we didn’t try to do anything outside of our realm and our capabilities. But, yeah we have a new menu coming out hopefully next week. And, also, we have some new beverages that are going to be on there. At the moment we don’t have kind of bottled beverages—and we’re never going to have coke or anything like that—but we’ll have an Australian soda company, we’ll have some Kampuchea and some coconut water and then we’ll mix up our juice menu a little bit.

Then, obviously, when we expand into a dinner service, that will be an interesting time, as well. And, we might be working with some talented Australian chefs on kind of sprucing that up for us. We have another girl who’s going to come on board and take the reins and take us to a new level.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Can I get a name? Or is that still secret?

Henry: I don’t know, is it?

Giles: Her name’s Frankie.

Henry: She’s worked here for the last two years.

Giles: In New York.

Henry: At a few really nice restaurants and a few nice ones in Melbourne, too. She was in here every day when we first opened so we got to know her very well. She really understands what we’re going for and so when we were thinking of hiring someone who was able to take our menu from where it is now where we have, where what we love and  like and what people really enjoy, to something that has expanded in options just a tiny little bit but also just refined in the things that we’re already doing.

There’ll be some really cool things a lot of the stuff that we don’t even really know what’s going to happen when she comes on board.

The discussions on food are preliminary but we’ll know a bit more in the upcoming months.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Photo Credit Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef

Henry, a question for you. As your avid Instagram followers have seen, you are newly engaged. If your fiancé were here right now, what do you think she would say about your success with Two Hands?

Henry: Well, funny story. She was the first employee here. She’s really good friends with Gile’s wife and so, when we opened, she offered to help out for free just on the till, while, you know, when we up and got started. We didn’t have any staffers—just Giles and I, and we kind of just did coffee and pastries and whateva. And, she worked here for two weeks for free, and I knew her beforehand, but that’s when I asked her out for our first date which were  whirlwind. I was so tired. And, we’d go out after work. And, I’d be kind of smelly. And, I’d go home and have to wake up really early, kind of tired and really excited and happy. And, she’s been a support ever since and throughout it. She’s seen it grow from day one and being behind the scenes and all of that little stuff that was happening—I mean, I’m really glad she was there for all of that. It was kind of special that she was there for all of that.

I think she’s really proud of the both of us.

What does she do now?

She’s a writer. Her first novel comes out in September. She’s published by Disney and she writes books for twelve to fourteen year olds—like Harry Potter style books. It’s called Eden’s Wish [by Tara Crowl]

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

Photo Credit Alyssa Levine of Runway Chef

Not to get too bromantic here, but what would you say to each other about what you’ve done here with Two Hands?

Giles: I think I’d just say ‘thank you’. I’m very thankful to have Henry as a business partner and as a friend. And, I’m thankful for this cafe. None of this we “deserved”. We worked hard. But this cafe wasn’t made by us. It was made by the people who come into it and the community around us and so many other factors that are out of our control.

The Hands of Two Hands, An Interview with Owners Giles Russell & Henry Roberts

That’s the cool thing about whateva generation we’re in right now. You can hopefully do whateva you want and it’s not like you have to work fifty years and then you retire. You can be an astronaut and a cafe owner in the same lifetime.

Henry: Drop the mic and get out of here.

We’ll talk to Richard Branson about opening the first Two Hands in outer space.

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May 19th | Eataly Is Where To Get TODAY’S Coffee

In an effort to help the victims of the recent earthquakes in Nepal, Eataly has launched the initiative “Coffee for Nepal.” 

Coffee for Nepal

Today, May 19th,  100% of the proceeds from every single coffee ordered in every single Eataly around the world will be donated to aid the people devastated by the earthquakes in Nepal  through AGIRE (Italian Agency for Emergency Response).

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Sooo, grab your coffee at your local Eataly today and help to better the lives of so many!

Eataly NYC

Address: 200 Fifth Avenue (24th Street), NYC
Phone: (212) 229-2560

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Egg Topped Atlantic Cod with White Asparagus for Two

Going into summer, I like cooking some lighter and healthier options (helloooo, bathing suit weather, do you blame me?!). Well, this recent delish one I simply had to share with you! Enjoy!

Egg Topped Atlantic Cod with White Asparagus for Two

INGREDIENTS

Atlantic Cod (8 oz, or more or less if you’d like)
White Asparagus (12 spears, peeled)
Garlic (2 cloves, finely chopped)
Italian Parsley (10 leaves, finely chopped)
Meyer Lemon (1 tbsp of the juice + a slice) for plating)
Eggs (2, fried sunnyside up with salt and red pepper)
Sea Salt
Red Pepper
Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Water

KITCHEN ITEMS

Oven Safe 12 Inch Frying Pan
10 Inch Frying Pan with Lid
Spatula
Peeler
Cutting Board
Chef’s Knife
Measuring Cup
Meat Thermometer
Round Cookie Cutter

Egg Topped Atlantic Cod with White Asparagus for Two

1. ASPARAGUS: lay your asparagus flat against the bottom of your frying pan.

Fill the pan with water that comes up to half of the width of the asparagus.

Sprinkle your sea salt liberally over your asparagus.

Put the lid on making sure to tilt it slightly to let a little air out.

Turn your heat to high and let cook till the water evaporates—about 7 minutes.

Once ready, cut each spear in half and line them width wise next to each other.

Egg Topped Atlantic Cod with White Asparagus for Two

2. COD: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Coat your oven safe frying pan with olive oil.
Pat down your cod with paper towel to make sure it’s completely dry.

Season your cod with salt and pepper.

Once it’s hot, put your pieces of cod top side down onto it allowing it to sear.

To test if your oil is hot, step back and carefully flick a tiny amount of water onto it. If it sizzles and pops hot oil up (hence cautiously), it’s ready.

Sear for 2 minutes on each side.

Then, put your frying pan in the oven for 4 minutes–or till your fish reaches 145 degrees.

Use your spatula to transfer your fish from the pan and onto your bed of asparagus.

Egg Topped Atlantic Cod with White Asparagus for Two

3. FINAL TOUCHES: lay a slice of your Meyer lemon on top of your cod.

Sprinkle your parsley evenly over your entire dish.

Use your round cookie cutter to cut your fried egg into a smaller perfect circle.

Place your egg on top.

And, serve!

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