I had wandered several blocks from our Philadelphia hotel. The December sky was already purple and my toes frozen numb when I found the tiny bakery and hobbled in. Enveloped by the smells of strong coffee and a dazzling array of freshly baked focaccia, I immediately felt that all was right with the world.
The focaccia I chose was an unusual interplay of exuberant Mediterranean tastes—rosemary, goat cheese, midnight blue-black grapes and walnuts—all held in delicate balance by a final drizzle of fragrant honey.
I was so intrigued by the combination of flavors, I wanted to repeat them in another dish. I was thinking of a noodle pudding, but since it was so close to Hanukkah, I decided to update a traditional noodle latke recipe.
Honey is used here as a seasoning, not merely a sweetener. For superior results, select a honey with complex, highly aromatic notes: an herbal one, like Greek thyme or rosemary or musky, slightly bitter chestnut honey.
Delicious and not at all difficult to prepare, the latkes do require a bit of special attention. Since heat can make cheese soft and runny, work quickly shaping and frying the latkes to ensure that the cheese does not ooze out in the pan. Or try shaping the latkes, then chilling them again before frying.
Excellent for brunch, lunch, or as part of a dairy meal, these latkes also make a fine conclusion to a light supper.
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.