Food

At a Brooklyn Brownstone, an Easter Dinner That Bucked Custom


It was not love at first sight when Fernando Aciar, a chef and artist, met Anna Polonsky, the founder and inventive director of the design and branding studio Polonsky & Friends. “I did not have a good impression of her,” Aciar recollects of their likelihood encounter at a piece occasion Polonsky had organized in 2012. “We certainly didn’t hit it off,” confirms Polonsky. About a 12 months later, although, they ran into each other once more at a goodbye occasion for a mutual good friend at a bar in Greenpoint. This time round, the 2 clicked. “It happened very fast,” says Aciar. “Anna was leaving the next day to go to Berlin for a wedding. When she got back, we went on a date to Estela. Four months later, we were engaged.”

Call it, then, love at second sight. By all accounts, the couple are completely suited to one another. Both share a deep ardour for meals and a eager eye for design. At the identical time, Aciar — his family and friends name him Fefo — could be a little extra creatively intuitive and hands-on, whereas Polonsky is extra methodical and more likely to stay targeted on the large image. The duo’s unfussy however elegant model is clear of their three-story 1899 Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone, which they bought in 2019 and spent two years meticulously renovating. From the custom-made curved bookshelf and built-in couch in the lounge to the hand-mixed paint the colour of earthenware (a mixture of Benjamin Moore’s Baked Terra Cotta and Salmon Stream) for the parlor-floor kitchen cupboards, no element was too small for them to obsess over. The result’s an exquisite house excellent for entertaining.

On a latest spring night, the pair invited buddies and neighbors over to take pleasure in an Easter meal that represented them each. Aciar is from Argentina and labored for six years with the famend chef Francis Mallmann earlier than spending time in California’s Bay Area at Zuni Café and Chez Panisse. Polonsky is a born and bred Parisian, whose seven years on the French restaurant and occasions information Le Fooding inform each the spirit of the Deligram, the bimonthly meals e-newsletter she produces with the photographer Teddy Wolff, and her personal artistic company. Aciar was additionally making ready for the opening of OCafe, which is able to function cooking from month-to-month chefs-in-residence (in addition to a wine bar, starting this May) adjoining to OStudio, a co-working house for artists, architects, glassblowers, illustrators and others that he opened in 2019 on the border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick. Since transferring in, the couple have hosted a number of lunches, dinners and small events of their inviting house. “It feels natural to us. We cook a lot,” Aciar says. “A lot. But we’re different. Anna does all the things that take longer, the bigger and more elaborate concoctions. I always cook in 20 minutes. It can’t take more time than that. Otherwise I get bored.”

Polonsky, pregnant with the couple’s first baby, threw on a floral-print Casa Velasquez apron over a Simone Rocha costume that she had picked up at a good friend’s charity clothes swap. Aciar, in cropped 1/8 Takamura pants and a Nimes jacket, began a hearth in a latticed iron hearth pit of their yard. A bit later, simply earlier than sundown, company together with the style stylist and store proprietor Beverly Nguyen, the chef Woldy Reyes, the designer and artist Sarah Nsikak, and Dior’s head of e-commerce, Zohar Benjelloun, started to reach. Afterward, Aciar and Polonsky shared suggestions for internet hosting a spring dinner with surprising touches.

The couple are good buddies with Franco Fubini, the founder and CEO of Natoora, a meals supply service that started in 2004 as a web-based farmer’s market. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Natoora shifted its enterprise mannequin, providing items akin to ramps, inexperienced almonds and contemporary spigarello via an app to house cooks and never simply skilled cooks and eating places. In this case, the service offered groceries that Polonsky and Aciar can’t usually get at their nook retailer. While company mingled within the yard, the couple served radishes that Polonsky positioned on a Sette platter together with a big pat of French butter and home made anchoïade (a traditional Provençal dip made with anchovies, salt and olive oil). To honor the essence of a French Easter dinner, Polonsky additionally made oeufs mimosa — French deviled eggs whose yolks are styled to resemble the golden blooms of a mimosa tree — garnished with arugula flowers. At the bar, completely ripe blood oranges, tangerines and kumquats occupied ceramic bowls made by Aciar.

“I grew up in the countryside,” Aciar says of his childhood in Argentina. “I mean, really country — no city at all. Every Easter weekend we would go to my grandma’s adobe house a half-hour away. On Thursday, we’d have fried fish and mashed potatoes; on Friday, chickpea soup; and then empanadas on Saturday.” For his personal gathering, he topped a easy chickpea soup with veal mind croquettes, sourcing the meat from the Bushwick butcher Foster Sundry, and ready the empanadas with Swiss chard. Aciar additionally made his personal tortillas a la brasa, an Andean flatbread, which he grilled as company loved their cocktails and rosca de Pascua, a candy, ring-shaped bread historically made in Argentina at Easter that he braided with chunks of chocolate. Before serving it to his company close to the top of the night time, Aciar shared that he was 14 when he first used a household good friend’s wooden brick oven in change for 2 roscas: He made a complete of 15, promoting the remainder to earn some additional money.

For the primary course, Polonsky went for a conventional French lamb shoulder (additionally from Foster Sundry), which was braised for hours with shallots and carrots and served with what Polonsky described as “the French green sauce,” comprising herbs, anchovies and olive oil. Braising can sound intimidating for novice house cooks, however in case you construct in sufficient time and regulate the warmth (too scorching and the meat dries out and turns into robust), it may be a simple and stress-free solution to assure a scrumptious meal. “I love to do one-pot dishes that you can cook the night before. I think it removes a lot of the stress on the actual day,” says Polonsky. To add an Argentine twist to the primary course, Aciar added as an accompaniment chicory and inexperienced beans, which have been grilled over an open flame. “Food represents your emotions,” says Aciar. “Right now, when the weather is beautiful, I push Anna to barbecue. And she’s like, ‘Oh, again, barbecue?’ But we love it. We always end up inviting a couple of friends to come and join us.”

In addition to being a educated chef, Aciar can be a practiced ceramist with Fefo Studio. His items performed a task in nearly each second of the meal — constituting every part from the fruit bowls and platters to varied serving trays and a number of other lamps that adorned the couple’s house. Best of all have been the sipping cups Aciar made particularly for serving mezcal and tequila. (He initially created the vessels for the Mexican restaurant Cosme.) Designed to be cradled within the palm of your hand, with a sliver of a gap simply massive sufficient to let you inhale the liquor earlier than taking a small sip, they elevated the night in an unpretentious manner.

Though the couple have been self-admitted perfectionists when it got here to designing their house — they’ll fortunately spend hours trawling vintage outlets in France and upstate New York for the proper linens and classic glassware — Polonsky shared that there have been advantages to their indecision. “We still haven’t found the perfect armchair,” she says of their front room space. “It’s been two years. Ultimately, we realized we love having pillows on the floor instead.” By dwelling in and utilizing the house themselves, the couple have been in a position to make clear what they actually wanted and the way the rooms labored. “I think it’s nice to be able to see how you live in a place,” says Polonsky.

“Maybe this is very French,” says Polonsky, “but typically, we have nest-shaped desserts for Easter.” In addition to Aciar’s rosca de Pascua, the couple made a Vacherin, or ice-cream meringue cake. Polonsky selected Cara Cara Creamsicle from Bad Habit, a Bushwick purveyor of ice cream run out of the residence of the couple Jesse Merchant Zuñiga and Javier Zuñiga whose flavors (akin to chocolate tahini and honeycomb) and additional dense creaminess imply its pints promote out nearly immediately on the choose New York City retailers the place they’re carried. During the dinner, Aciar topped the cake with freshly whipped Chantilly cream, whereas Polonsky sprinkled on crushed pistachios. Slices have been served with a dollop of kumquat jam. At the very finish of the night time, as everybody ready to depart, the couple handed out paper takeaway luggage. Inside every have been novelty-size chocolate Easter eggs brushed with edible gold, containing sea salt and mint truffles, made particularly for the night by Sol Cacao, a Bronx-based bean-to-bar chocolatier run by Dominic, Nicholas and Daniel Maloney, three brothers who grew up within the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago and whose great-grandparents have been cacao farmers.



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