STEVEN ROTHFELD ANNOUNCES his mission at the start of his book, Israel Eats: “My quest as a photographer and traveller has been to find good food, interesting people, and alluring places… This is not an orthodox cookbook. I did not begin with a list of what I expected to find. I let it find me.”
On Israel’s food scene, he tells me: “It is one of the most exciting cuisines because of the high quality local products created by serious farmers, cheesemakers, and vintners, and the fusion of Palestinian, Eastern European, North African, Middle Eastern, and Asian influences.”
Among Rothfeld’s favourite restaurants are:
ZAKAIM (Tel Aviv) for its aubergine, fries with avocado aioli, and grilled mushrooms
GOATS WITH THE WIND (Goat farm in Yodfat) for its cheeses and hearty lunches
URI BURI (Akko) serves inventive seafood
SAVIDA IN AKKO for its fresh seafood and unique selection of salads
MAGDALENA (Migdal) serves great kubbeh, fried cauliflower, and desserts
MAJDA (in Arab village of Ein Rafa) serves fresh and flavoursome food
MACHNEYUDA (Jerusalem) for its food that pays homage to local traditions
NORTH ABRAXIS for its roasted cauliflower, beet carpaccio, fish and salads
ABU HASAN (Jaffa) for its hummus
Fresh Fig, Rocket, and Cheese Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing
The visual beauty of this salad, which is equal to its marvellous flavour, lies in the contrast between the hand-torn and sliced pieces of fig. Majda’s chef Jalil Jalil uses only the freshest, most pungent wild rocket to compete with the sweet figs and honey lemon dressing.
½ cup (120ml) honey
½ cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
8 fresh figs, sliced
8 fresh figs, hand-torn into four pieces
6 ounces (170g) rocket
½ pound (230g) feta cheese, crumbled
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place the honey and lemon juice in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let the dressing cool to room temperature.
Arrange two sliced figs and two quartered figs on each of four salad plates. Divide rocket among the plates and scatter over figs. Divide cheese among plates. Spoon dressing over salad to taste; you may have some left over. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over each plate. Season with sea salt and serve.
Claro’s Sour Cream Ice Cream
In a dairy shop in the Carmel Market, I counted over 15 metal containers of different varieties of soft white cheese. It appeared as if they were selling clouds. This ice cream from Claro restaurant uses billowy sour cream and does not require any cooking. Chef Ran Shmueli serves his oval nimbus with a fresh cherry crumble.
Ingredients – Ice cream
2 cups (475ml) half and half (blend of whole milk and light cream)
1¾ cups (450g) sour cream
1½ cups (300g) sugar
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 pounds (900g) cherries, pitted
1 cup (100g) sugar, divided 1 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (100g) almond flour
½ cup (115g) butter
ICE CREAM: Place all ingredients in a large metal bowl with an airtight lid and whisk until smooth and well combined. Cover and place in the freezer for one hour. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to another airtight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving.
CHERRY CRUMBLE: Combine cherries and ½ cup of sugar in a large bowl. Let stand at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Combine the remaining sugar, both flours, and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture comes together. Crumble it onto the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
To serve: Spoon cherries and liquid into shallow bowls. Top with ice cream and sprinkle with crumble.
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