Ricotta with honeycomb – fabulous and instant

“Though Miranda almost never prepares a traditional desert on Thursday nights, sometimes, when she’s set ewe’s-milk ricotta in a sieve to drain overnight, she’ll place a lush, creamy pat of it on a yellow plate, a big hunk of honeycomb and a pepper mill beside it, and everyone will take a tablespoon or so in a teacup, break a piece of the comb over the ricotta, and grind on pepper with a heavy hand.”

Marlena de Blasi, The Umbria Thursday Night Supper Club

Recently I was on a jaunt to Berlin. What an amazing city! Vibrant, entrepreneurial, creative…extraordinary melding of the old and the new. And all of those things from a culinary point of view too – for a good example of foodie entrepreneurial, see my post on Ilse Böge’s specialist liquorice shop, Kadó.

For an example of a melding of the old and the new I would choose this lovely combination of ricotta and honeycomb sampled at Mädchen Italiener (‘Italian Girls’) on the last day of the visit. It’s a classic traditional mix, but in this Berlin bistro they added blueberries, icing sugar, and figs. It was extraordinarily good. 

This is a combination of ancient foods which relies on the excellence of the two stars of its show for its success.

The ricotta must be same-day fresh; or homemade (it’s easy to make your own, post to come). It works quite well if you whip the ricotta to transform it into a light and fluffy whiteness. This isn’t a dish for anyone concerned about their weight, health etc, so for heaven’s sake don’t use low-fat or fat-free ricotta which has no flavour in any case.

You can buy very fresh ricotta made in the UK at High Weald Dairy, and Westcombe Dairy.

ricotta and honeycomb
The ricotta must be same-day fresh.

The honeycomb will be a marriage of opposites – gooey and a little bit crunchy at the same time. It’s widely available but try The London Honey Company.

It needs to be accompanied by super-fresh, spongy bread, otherwise the waxiness can be unpleasant. Alternatively, crispy toast, or crostini, provides a wonderful contrast of texture to the soft, snowy ricotta.

Variations on the ricotta and honeycomb theme

  • With pepper – as observed by Marlena di Blasi in the quote at the top of this post
  • With blueberries, icing sugar, and figs, as served at Mädchen Italiener
  • One crostini with some thyme leaves
  • As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall does, with toasted hazelnuts
  • As suggested by Kayla Howey, on toast with caramelised apple and fried sage
  • Or as Mark Hix suggests, with loganberries

However you serve it, it’s a treat to make, and a treat to eat!

ricotta with honeycomb
ricotta with honeycomb in Berlin
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