Mark Simmons, the chef at Kiwiana, is obsessed with the idea of local ingredients.
For him, though, "local" signifies a sheep farm in the closest city to Antarctica, on the most southern tip of New Zealand, where he spent his childhood. And his favorite ingredients--horopito, manuka honey and Marmite--are a long way from Park Slope, folks.
The horopito--a New Zealand pepper shrub--is massaged into the skin of a buttermilk-fried chicken ($16) that puts Brooklyn's never-ending Southern-fried versions to shame. Deliciously astringent smoked and pickled Green Lip mussels ($8) come neatly packed in a Mason jar alongside sourdough bread and house-churned butter for slathering.
But it's the manuka honey-and-Marmite-braised baby back ribs ($17) that left us flabbergasted. We're not fans of smearing Marmite, the sticky, yeasty spread, on our morning toast, so we approached the ribs with a dose of skepticism.
It turns out that Marmite takes on new life when it's braised with dark, floral manuka honey and anise, ginger and cinnamon (click here for the recipe).
Add these ingredients to your shopping cart (Marmite and manuka honey are now widely available at Whole Foods, Zabar's, Kalustyan's and Fairway stores) and you'll be singing Marmite's transformative properties too.
Kiwiana, 847 Union St. (at Seventh Ave.), Brooklyn; 718-230-3682 or kiwiana-nyc.com