A special trip to Tel Aviv, a spectacular food tasting with master chef Jonathan Roshfeld who offers us the opportunity to taste his culinary genius. I have cooked with many chefs, but Roshfeld is amongst my all time favorite chefs, and believe me he knows how to cook instinctively.
I remember the first time cooking with him, he arrived from Tel Aviv and we went directly from the airport grocery shopping. It’s not only his cooking, but his sense of humor is excellent and he’s mostly he’s positive and productive. Passionate, he knows what he wants and is the first to recognizes the talent of other peers. His devotion to the art of cooking is limitless, and this was an extraordinary dinner, which he made it look so easy.
Having spent so many years with in my own kitchen, I always question myself on the what makes such great taste. There are so many factors, yet the key is knowing what makes good taste, and knowing fundamentally the difference between a good and a bad idea. For example cooking with Coca-Cola, or trying to redefine taste using molecular techniques. Combine, construct and expand flavours, yes simplicity, spontaneity, or technique, and most important of all, respecting raw materials, tradition and avoiding taste confusion.
It’s not so much about the look of a dish, or a reinterpretation, every dish should respect its origin, and culture. It’s how we respect mother nature, and what it has to offer us. Roshfeld adds selected raw materials, balancing them perfectly, and this shows his raw passion and his thoughtfulness.
When we first started to discuss the menu, although I had little to nothing to do with it, he warned me fish at this season is not optimal. I knew it was true yet we ate fish and crab, raw fish.
This trip to Israel had a specific purpose otherwise I avoid Israel like a plague during the high humid summer months. The summer it is brutally hot, and obviously difficult to find the right balance under such conditions of 80% humidity.
It was 19h00 and I went into the small kitchen at the Norman to find Roshfeld in his t-shirt, he was sauntering in the kitchen. He was calm, and relaxed and even though he makes it look so easy, trust me it’s not.
The title of the dinner, “all you need is sun” could be considered to be a word play, or was it the fact that the sun in August is brutal, so just live with it.
The start of the diner is a table full of herbs, and the aroma of fresh wild herbs from the suffering desert heat is intense.
But each chef considers the very elements of mother nature when preparing any dinner, and I know myself as an amateur how difficult it is to cook in these conditions and maintain the interest of tasters during such a meal.
The cardamom and coffee were genius, incredible with particles of coffee floating in my mouth with one of my favorite spices, the quinoa and flavours were something I appreciated, and the wild mint added a zing.
I’m always astonished as an amateur cook as to how difficult it is to conceive the menu whether it be for four people are for 40 people it’s the same work, a labor of love to figure out how taste works what people enjoy.
This dish was created by Roshfeld after an evening where staff were served. It was one of those salads that looks simple, and it is. But the mixing of cheese, egg, and nervous onions gave it the rabbit pleasure any salad lovers desire.
Three weeks before opening Herbert Samuel the generator died, and so the managers stayed 6 hours to manage the mess and Roshfeld served them salad from what was salvaged and they said it must be on the menu, he thought they were joking, and it landed onto the menu.
The beets and cucumber, a hashi delight. I found this a nice intermezzo between the salad and the next course. Emulsion of beet and olive oil, together with white balsamic with horseradish root. The seeds are coriander sprouts. The vegetable on top is fresh coriander from his local supplier.
The blue crabs marvellously finished in the Josper, and the braised Jerusalem artichoke were cooked and finished on a Josper with anise stocks and oil. The swimming crab, matuta victor, in the Indian and Pacific oceans arrived in the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal and was first spotted five years ago.
Seabass deep-sea was roasted in the Josper to perfection and served with wild herbs.
Octopus soup of beans, burned eggplant the skin, and the stew was dill, parsley and tarragon that cooked the octopus, and the green on top is fresh Portuaca.
The fish carpaccio was made with wild borage flowers and the green, and tomatillo and fruits for acidity, balanced by coriander and jalapeno with lime.
The bone marrow roasted in the Josper and the fat added with raw meat and avocado and spring onions,served at the table, heated by red-hot coals and topped with a micro shavings of yoghurt stone, fermented by bedouins who carried this sacred stone to add as flavour.
The lamb was made with onion juice and white wine, braised at 150°C, and plenty of sage, anise and oregano.