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August 27, 2010

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PAGE 20A HERITAGE FLORIDA ,JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 27, 2010 By Eric Herschthal is served unfinished and with New York Jewish Week a pestle,waiting to be mashed; falafel balls are drizzled with NEW YORK--Einat-Ad- green tahinisauce and served mony's new Nolita restaurant on a pick. could pass for any of the styl- "But there's also the whole ish new spots that dominate idea of the Mediterranean on the downtown dining scene: the menu:lighterandfresher," there is the rustic-chic wood Admony said, stressing that ceiling, the exposed glass her dishes are indebted to the kitchen, the linen-less tables flavors oftheentire region, not surroundedbyweU-appointed just Israel. book. shelves. Then there's And therein lies the ten- the clientele: trendy women sion between perception and in Grecian-strap sandals and reality, particularly outside funky summer dresses; guys of Israel, about what the with plaid shirts, skinny country's culinary scene jeans and thick I~lastic-frame is really about. The typical glasses. Israeli street food falafel, And, oh yes, there's the shwarma, shakshuka even food:friedoliveswithorganic ~ sophisticated New Yorkers labneh; honeydew and canta- still crave. ioupe gazpacho; shrimp kataif "Most Americans still want wrapped in phyllo dough and the stereotype of Israeli food." sprinkled with flying fish said Joan Nathan, the promi- roe. For an entrde, you can nent Jewish food writer and have ~Lamb Two Ways," one author of"The Foods of Israel braised, another pan-seared Today." and wrapped in spinach, both But "the modern Israeli served on a rectangular plate chefs," Nathan said, "are drizzledwithsunchokepuree, breaking out, and doing so at If you're not paying close a feverish pace." attention you might miss one In recent years. Israel's glaring fact: this restaurant ~ore innovative chefs have is Israeli, with a name, Bala- moved far beyond falafel, boosta, which means "perfect hummus and pita or at housewife" in Yiddish. And least creatively reinterpreted it is brought to you by the themmin the name of haute same chef-owner of Taim, the cuisine. The more prominent phenomenally popular falafel ones have even grabbeda foot- shop in the West Village. hold in the high-stakes game When asked why she de- of international fine dining. cided to open a full-fledged Earlier this year the Tel restaurant, one so self-con- Aviv-based Yonatan Roshfeld sciously hip, instead of stick- (his Herbert Samuel restau- ing with the tried-and-true rant is one of the city's most recipes of Taim--namely, popular) was named the top falafel and hummus--Admo- "rising star" on Food & Wine nysaid:"Itwasn'tchallenging Magazine's influential list forme.Ineededtoopenareal of promising chefs. In the restaurant." spring, Haim Cohen, Israel's "Of course." she added, first celebrity chef, wasinvited "there's still hummus and to cook a dinner at the James falafel"----oratleasthergentri- Beard Foundation in New fiedversionofit:thehummus York. too. , And now Israeli cooks are her husband, StefanNafziger, looking for a permanent perch a Bouley restaurant alum.And in the city. Cohen helped es- it has made her a culinary tablish a restaurant in Hell's star in her own right, with Kitchen, Taboon, a few years such notables as Sarah Jessica ago. Not long after, Rafael Parker and Chelsea Clinton Hasid opened his quietly so- having stopped by recently. phisticated neighborhood "Taim was a very simple spot, Miriam, in Park Slope, idea: to do really great street Brooklyn.Mimi Kitani started food," said Nafziger, "But after Mimi's Hummus the name wedidthat,"headded,"[Einat] is deceptive in Brooklyn's really needed to cook." Ditmas Park last year. And Though Admony is ex- Barbounia, anupscalerestau- tremely proud of Taim--she rant in Gramercy, brought in isevenworkingonanewfood- the Israeli chefEfraimNahon, truckversion to premierelater formerly of Taboon, in 2008. thisyear---shefeelsthatcook- "As you can see, we're al- ing only falafel and the like ready exporting some of this is ultimately selling herself cooking to you in New York," short. When she first got a job said Janna Gur, a prominent at Danube a decade ago, she food writer in Israel and au- remembersherbitterreaction thor of "The Book of New Is- to advice from her mother to raeli Food." Shesaidthatchefs open a falafel shop instead. "I like Cohen, Roshfeld and Eyal was insulted," Admony said, Shani were among the first "I was in fine dining and she to meld haute cuisine with wantedmetomakehummus." more plebian Israeli staples, But in a sense, her mother like lentil dish megadarra was right. Taim became a and the bulgur-based kube. spectacular success, and New But even these days, she said, Yorkers don't seem to tire of Is- modern Israeli cooking is still raelistreetfood: Hummus Place essentially new: "We're not opened its fifth location last really sure what Israeli food year; Nanoosh is another newly is,"she said."We're cons~ntly popular falafelshop.Thenthere creating it." are the Israeli chains Crisp Surely, the biggest Israeli- and Maoz, which continue to influenced spot to hit New expand around the city. York is Balaboosta, led by Even Mimi's Hummus, a the former Cohen acolyte, sophisticated neighborhood Einat Admony. In June and restaurant in Ditmas Park, July, Sam Sifton of The New Brooklyn, which serves en- York Times and Adam Platt of treesliketroutwith tomatora- NewYorkmagazine twoim- goutandcouscous.can'tseem portant tastemakers gave to escape its namesake dish. it very strong reviews. Both The name of the restaurant, cited Admony's impressive Kitaniadded,wouldonlyhelp pedigree as well: she's worked draw customers in. "People inpremier Manhattan restau- come and think they're going rants like Danube and Tabla, to get traditional Israeli food." giving her resume an added meaning hummus, she said. local boost. "But it's not what they think. But in 2005 she struck out We want to show what young on her own. opening the up- Israelis, at least from our scale falafel joint Taim. with experience, really eat." Which means that hum- ter; shrimp kadayif, wrapped mus and shakshukawan un- in crisp vermicelli dough and fancy tomato-based stew drizzled with tahini. are still on the menu. But "I call it'Middle-terranean a gussied-up babaghanouj Cuisine," said Ayala Hodak, Kitani calls "eggplant caviar," the co-owner of Taboon. withparsley, tahiniandhoney, "We're really combining all of is onthe menu, too. And the the elements of the Mediter- restaurant's design itself ranean together." Much like would make any sophisticated at Balaboosta, asmattering of restaurant goer feel at home: undeniably Israeli foods dots sepia-toned photographs line the menu. But there are even the walls; vintage glass bottles more flavors from the greater holdfresh-cutflowers;andJu- Mediterranean region. That liette Greco plays on an iPod~ varietyofinfluenceshasadded givingthe placeaP~risian feel. totheambivalence some own- Sophisticated restaura- ersfeelaboutcallingtheirfood teurs in the city say they "Israeli" in the first place. fight other battles beyond About Balaboosta's menu, misperceptionsofwhatIsraeli Admony said, "I don't see food is. Old political fights, for it as Israeli: There's a lot of instance.don'tgoaway: Rafael Israeli elements, I can't deny Hasid, the chef and owner that. But I also have a lot of of Miriam in Brooklyn, said Mediterranean influences. two Arab students recently too." But she said that some planted pamphlets on his posts on food biogs question- window mockingthe very idea ing her pride as an Israeliwere thathummusandfalafelwere entirely unfounded. "Some "Israeli." And a Jewish left- Jews got very upset when I wing activist called him not opened this place, like I had long ago asking whether his no pride." Israeli wines were grown on That was ridiculous, she Palestinianterritory.Buthe's added, noting her list of learned to temper his anger: Israeli wines and clearly "Idon'tfightanymore,"Hasid designated Israeli dishes. said. "I have a restaurant, I'm While she spoke, a partner not a politician." in the soon-to-be-finished Every owner interviewed Taim falafel truck stopped also cited another common by; "Taim," she mentioned, misperception: that their asanaside, means"delicious" restaurants are kosher. They in Hebrew, implying that if are'not. Almost all of the res- she was embarrassed about taurants mentioned at length her Israeli-ness she'd never here do not use foods that choose that name to begin Israelis have long avoided with. And about her new which is to say, pork. But that, restaurant Balaboosta. she the owners say, is mainly a added: "I feel that my food cultural holdover now; there here is much more eclectic is nothirfg religious about it. [than simply being 'Israeli']. None of their meat is kosher~ But you can feel the Israeli for instance, and at places like roots everywhere." Taboon.thereareplentyofun- Eric Herschthal is a staff kosher seafood dishes: sautded writerfortheNewYorkJewish calamariwith sage and garlic; Week from which this article sea scallops in kaffir lime but- was reprinted by permission. t By Louise Fiszer Jewish Exponent Eastern European Jewish cooks had the right idea when it came to beating the heat. They made cold concoctions ~ike Russian borscht. Polish schav and Hungarian ~our-cherry soup. Served in a glass as a cool prelude to a meal--or in a bowl accompanied by bread and cheese, and. perhaps, some diced potatoes--these refreshing, busy-day recipes can be prepared almost instantly with just a short stop at the stove. Simply put, they are the perfect choice for muggy August evenings. To hasten the chilling proce,ss, fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and seal well. Put the bag in the hot soup, and place in the fridge a half-hour or so before serving. A sweet fruit soup can easily be turned into an elegant des- sert. with or without a small scoop of vanilla ice cream plopped in the center. CLASSIC BORSCHT (Dairy) Ingredients: 11/2 lbs. beets (any color), peeled and cut into pieces 4 cups water or vegetable stock 1 small onion, chopped 2 Tbsps. red-wine vinegar 1 Tbsp. sugar 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 cup sour cream salt and pepper Preparation: In a mediumsaucepan, combine the beets, water or vegetable ~broth, and onion. Bring to a boil. and then cover and simmer until beets are very tender. Let cool. Pur~e the beet mixture, vinegar, sugar and olive oil in blender until smooth. (If the mixture is too thick, add more water.) Stir in the sour cream, if using, and taste for salt and pepper. Note: This dish is pareve if not using the sour cream. Serves 6. COOL CUCUMBER SOUP (Dairy) Ingredients: 6 scallions, trimmed 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs Borscht is just the answer for those hot, muggy summer nights. 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 2 cups vegetable stock 1 Tbsp. honey or sugar I cup heavy cream salt and pepper dill sprigs Preparation: Place the onions, cucumbers and dill in a food processor or blender. Process until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the dill sprigs, and process until smooth. Chill until very cold. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve g. arnished with dill sprigs. Serves 6. CHILLED HERB-AND-POTATO SOUP (Dairy) Ingredients: 2 Tbsps. butter or vegetable oil 2 shallots, minced 1/2 cup chopped chives 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/2 cup chopped fresh chervil 2 Tbsps. chopped fresh tarragon 2 Tbsps. chopped fresh dill 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest 4 cup vegetable stock I cup milk I lb. potatoes, peeled and cooked 1/2 cup watercress leaves salt and pepper mixed chopped'herbs for use as garnish Preparation: In a medium saucepan, heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, chives, parsley, chervil, tarragon, dill and lemon zest. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. In a blender or food processor, pur~e-the herb mixture with the milk, potatoes and watercress. Chill. Just before serving, taste for salt and pepper. -Garnish with the chopped herbs. Serves 6. COLD PLUM-CINNAMON SOUP (Pareve) Ingredients: 2 lbs. plums, quartered and pitted 3 Tbsps. brown sugar I tsp. ground cinnamon grated zest of 1/2 an orange grated zest of 1/2 a lemon 2 cups fresh orange juice 2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice I cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped 1-2 cups water Preparation: In a medium saucepan, combine the plums, brown sugar, cin- namon, orange and lemon zests, with just enough water to cover. Simmer. partly covered, until the plums break down, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. In a blender or food processor, puree the plum mixture with the orange juice, lemon juice, half the almonds, and 1 to 2 cups water, depending on the desired consistency. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Serve sprinkled with the remaining almonds. Serves 4 to 6. Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. This article was reprinted by permission from the (Philadelphia) Jewish Exponent.