As a self-professed foodie, I am on a constant hunt for memorable food experiences and flavours. The same adrenaline rush a climber gets from a successful ascent on yet another peak, that’s the same feeling I get when I cross paths with an utterly life-changing meal. To most, this sounds like a mighty exaggeration. Perhaps if you know me, and the fact that I live for food and what it stands for, you won’t be surprised.
The year I turned 30; a milestone marker for most, where we reflect and ask ourselves what have we achieved and done, I decided to take life by its horns and book myself a ticket to New York. Known to be a buzzing mecca of culinary delights and legends, New York had been calling out to me and this time I decided to jump out of my comfort zone and eat up New York.
Travelling alone is actually rather intimidating but when you’re at the cusp of 30 (I was 29 when I arrived and 30 when I left New York!), the world really seems like one big fat amusement park. You go on the most exciting rides, even that big rollercoaster you’d usually avoid.
The highlight of my New York birthday present to myself was my visit to Eleven Madison Park. Having placed a reservation months before my arrival, I was gearing up to having a meal to remember. At that time, Eleven Madison Park was ranked 4th by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and that was a big deal (and a huge splurge) and arguably the highlight of my trip.
The meal itself was very theatrical – just imagine yourself watching a culinary Cirque Du Soleil, where the servers and chefs are both storytellers and ‘acrobats’, manoeuvring their way around the kitchen and even the diner’s tables, serving up food that spoke volumes, in texture, flavour and beyond.
One of the things you left the restaurant with, other than an incredibly filled tummy and happy tastebuds, is a bag of treats – a chocolate bar and a whole mason jar of their iconic granola. Yes granola, and it’s nothing high brow. It’s really just homely hearty granola. But there was something about this granola. It was both sweet and tart and savoury, all at the same time. Super tasty and incredibly addictive. I finished it within days.
Since then, I have yet to savour a granola as good as theirs. I’ve always wondered what made their granola so special. I only found out years later – thanks to NYT Cooking. Sam Sifton, New York Times food editor posted the much coveted recipe to Eleven Madison Granola a few years ago and because of that, I was able to relive my New York trip and at the same time, share the joy with my family. Daryl agrees that this granola is pretty bad-a**. He doesn’t usually like granola (especially commercial ones) because they’re just too damn sweet. I’ve also made several minor adjustments, which can be found at the recipe below.
The pistachios can be substituted with pecans if you wish. I know not everyone is a fan of pistachios.
- 2 ¾ cups rolled oats (I used 3 cups)
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I used 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt)
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup dried sour cherries (I get mine from iHerb – The Montmorency Tart cherries by Eden Organics is perfect)
- Preheat oven to 150°C. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkinseeds and salt.
- In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.
- Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container. Makes about 6 cups.