Lunch @ Dinner by HB (Part II) – Main dishes

2_0מערות גידול יונים

 The origins and history of a meal – an Archeological excavation

IMG_0371We are sitting for lunch @ Dinner by Heston Blumenthal now already relaxed as we already had our starters, We ordered our champagne and wine for the meal, at the beginning, switching to the Hubert Lamy Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Frionnes 2009, after the “opening toast” took place, I like having 2 wines in 2 separate glasses on the table to “perform” my own personal pairing with the dishes served…  

The Saint-Aubin Les Frionnes 2009 is a very attractive and elegant wine from small lots Les Frionnes on the north side of Rue des Frionnes, just outside the St. Aubin village; (you can “travel” along the vineyard with Google maps street view search for: Rue des Frionnes‎ 21190 Saint-Aubin, France), it seems the grapes are soaking in the sun throughout the day facing the southern slopes. The Lamy family has been working in the vineyards around Saint Aubin since c.1640

The wine: Clean pale green colour. With notes of lemon zest and green apple peel, white flowers and traces of wet chalk. It has a light touch of wooden presence, it shows subtlety, delicacy and freshness as well as a nice aromatic persistence on the palate. An elegant wine, indeed with fine intensity and excellent freshness of citrus fruits on the long finish, very good balance, harmony and finesse, just right for our meal.

IMG_0421Udi “our” Vegetarian, opted for the – Braised Celery (c.1730) Parmesan, artichoke, walnuts & morels, was rich and tasty, it was perfectly laid down on the plate, I could not resist a tiny bite on the cucumber Jelly which was sublime.  (This dish was dug out from the book: The Complete Practical Cook;  A new system of the whole Art and Mastery of Cookery, by Charles Carter 1730practical cook book 1730, BTW it is misprinted on the menu as “Charly” Cook, yes C. Carter was a cook for the Duke of Argyle. The Earl of Pontefrac , and the Lord Cornwallis), the book has phrases like: “…and send it up, in its jelly…”,  as an instruction to the cook in the kitchen “Downstairs” serving food to the dining TABLE “Upstairs” (You can read another of Carters books free on

IMG_0415I seems that Daphne our Fish eater, was stuck in  (1830), the same year as her starter but… with a dish by a different cook: Maria Eliza Rundell, she ordered the Roast Turbot (c.1830), Leaf chicory & cockle Ketchup. (from the 1830: “A new system of Domestic cookery by M.E. Rundell (A Lady)”, an extremely popular cookbook of its time, mainly in the western colonies. (Later editions were edited and rewritten by Mrs. E Birch.)

M E RundelMushroom KetKetchup is a late 17th century (around 1690), Chinese mix of pickled fish and spices called : kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (Chinese for: “the brine of pickled fish or shellfish”), from there to Malaysia and by the Brits to the west with the 1830  Mushroom Ketchup by Geo Watkins. The secret of many cooks in VictorianHeinz ketchup_2 times. It tastes halfway between soy sauce and Worcestershire Sauce and with a light scent and flavour of mushrooms, all the way to Mr. H.J.Heinz very own American tomatoes Ketchup of 1876.

A fine dish with Turbot roasted exactly inside and out and Cichorium_intybuscockle in their brine, ((ketchup) and Cichorium intybus (chicory)steamed leaves, the cultivated chicory is better known as Belgian Endive (the endives we know are white because the cultivated plant is deprived completely from sunlight (grown in the dark  underground or indoors), the green leaves used in this dish are from the wild chicory plant and are more delicate in their bitter taste than the Belgian type and less flavorsome than the brown, ground, dried chicory root used as a coffee substitute during WW2.


Spike Ordered the Powdered Duck Breast (c.1670) Smoked confit fennel & umbles, a reconstruction of a recipe by Hannah Woolley from The Queene-like closet or rich cabinet queens like clioset1670-1672. The book was intended for Downstairs staff in stately homes, but does not really include any recipe even close to served dish, maybe the spirit of Ms. Woolley is there, and gave our team of chef  inspiration that should do:

  Ladies, I do here present you (yet), that which sure will well content

    A Queen-like Closet rich and brave, (Such) not many Ladies have:

    Or Cabinet, in which doth set, Jems richer than in Karkanet;

    (They) only Eies and Fancies please, these keep your Bodies in good ease;

    They please the Taste, also the Eye; would I might be a stander by:

    Yet rather I would wish to eat, since ’bout them I my Brains do beat:

    And ’tis but reason you may say, if that I come within your way;

    I sit here sad while you are merry, eating Dainties, drinking Perry;

    But I’m content you should so feed, so I may have to serve my deed.

Hannah Wolley. (1670)

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Yet again, unknowingly Lisa and I ordered the same dish: Spiced Pigeon (c.1780) Ale and Artichokes.

Neck of the woods (c.1555), Neck” had been used in English since around 1555 to describe a narrow strip of land, usually surrounded by water, based on its resemblance to the neck of an animal. But the Americans were the first to apply “neck” to a narrow stand of doveswoods, well in my neck of the woods pigeons are hard to get and I am a “sucker” for pigeons. Historically the practice of domesticating pigeon as livestock most likely came from the Middle East (my neck of the woods), squabs or pigeons have been consumed in the Middle East for centuries since around 350BC Hellenistic Period, in Ancient Egypt, Rome and then Medieval Europe. Doves are described as food in the Bible and were eaten by the Hebrews (that’s my guys…), still it iscolumbarium cave quite rare to find good size or tasty pigeons round here, even quails the very bird that kept our forefathers from starving in the desert during the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt to the promised Land of Israel is not available in shops anymore (The market forces of availability and demand brought the few farmers down…)   

ladysassistantfo00maso_0311Squab is a young domestic pigeon; it formerly applied to all dove and pigeon species, such as the Wood Pigeon, the Mourning Dove, and the now-extinct Passenger Pigeon (not by hunting practices may I add). More recently, squab meat comes almost entirely from domesticated pigeons.

This recipe presumably comes from The: Lady’s assistant, and complete lady's assistantsystem of cookery. By Charlotte Mason (c.1780). Read all about it online @ :

This lady (Mason), knows how to cook without a doubt and uses the finest of products to achieve her “creations” she relies upon French cooking tradition and uses the French definition when no English words are at her disposition. The pig looks and tastes so pinky, juicy and fresh due to a process they used initially at the Fat duck using an Enzyme Transglutaminase, this enzyme binds proteins together and shortens the cooking time required thus keeping our Pigeons breast all nice and juicy (in one word succulent). The reduction of Ale and pigeon stock is light and well seasoned (these tend to be slightly over salty most of the times BUT NOT HERE!!! There was a total consensus regarding the quality of the dish.

IMG_1308Now… the wines we had, you already read about. But I wanted to celebrate my 60th birthday with some “rare” wines I have collected through the years, to be opened on a special occasion, Like the Chateaux Mouton Rothchild 1970 (with the Mark Chagall Label), and a bottle of Anselme Selosse Substance Champagne, obviously I would not bring a wine to a restaurant without permission or a wine which is on their list of course, but when requesting that very permission at DINNER you get reply from the wrong people on the restaurant “Hierarchy”, these officials are bound by “restaurant policy” which would never in my mind get the chef’s or head sommelier approval they say NO (easy), I think that if the right people: HB or Ashley Palmer-Watts or the sommelier in charge they would say yes, after all as they write in their www site the idea of Dinner is: A formal meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.


Anyway (eat your heart out cause Lisa got me as a present form herself and Georgia (on my mind) a great wine bottle Chateaux Pavie 1970, somehow me paying a long debt on my side to Lisa was also “paid” in the shape of a Croft 1970 Port and I brought along (just in case the restaurant staff will show us the courtesy of good wishes and allow us to open Just one special bottle from my cellar Chateaux Mouton Rothchild also 1970 (3 great 1970’s on the table (well in a beg by the table on the floor), were left orphaned due to policy driven decisions, and me being too shy to ask), still if you ask me a bad decision but I am not the restaurant’s “policy maker” !!!!!!!! (I doubt if HB is even aware of the situation that even on special occasions with a wine which is NOT on the restaurant LIST which is a very nice and comprehensive wine list, (pity the internet version I was referred to is a short unsatisfactory list compared to the rich and diverse even easy to read list you get on the table), the restaurant stuff came out the losers as well because we always share good rare wine/s with other “understanding palates” (as this is our own personal joy). The wines we brought each other, the presents rouse our young sommelier’s envy, yet did not succumb to the “restaurant policy”…

We added Side dishes:  the amazing Mashed potatoes and the fresh Braised lettuce and peas again cooked to perfection JUST RIGHT!

ashley1Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, likes to cook and knows the A-Z of cooking and easily masters a kitchen of this quality but I was left with a feeling that he is “afraid” (maybe by choice), to cross the boundaries of tailored “Haute cuisine” cooking into the realm of FUN. I guess being a “hotel Restaurant” or “Restaurant in a Hotel” has an effect not only on the envelope but also on the content of the Restaurant as a whole itself. On paper the idea to excavate ancient recipes that go as far back as the 14th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, is not only a great idea but shows a sincere and deep interest in food which appeals to me. When one cooks a lot, he stops getting interested in the recipe as an instruction guide to and tries to get to the idea behind the recipes, the other aspects of food such as history, philosophy, sociology, and get into the realm of cookery as ART.IMG_0430

We sank in to the remaining morsels of food in each other’s plates watching the cavalry guard heading back to the stables enjoying each others company while waiting to our deserts on the next post.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
Phone: 0207.201.3833

(…To be concluded…)


Square Meal

Lunch @ Dinner by HB (Part I)


The word Dinner comes from 13th century French word for breakfast, but in Britain it has always been used for the main meal of the day. In medieval times, this meal occurred in the middle of the day and was followed by a much lighter supper before bedtime. Over the centuries, it has got later and later and now means the evening meal. Although in some parts of Britain it still means Lunch! (From the menu wrapper at Dinner)

celebrating 60celebrating 60 small

Well, those of you walking the streets of London, or the ones who visited by chance, my Facebook pages, have already noticed the amazing gesture the Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson, prepared for me. Banners Celebrating 60 : 1953-2013 have been spread all over town commemorating my 60th birthday which I celebrated a few days ago (on June 11th).I must admit, I was taken by surprise; the city of London “enlisted” all its resources for such a personal occasion (as big as it may be…). Still I can’t really complain and push this show of recognition aside. After all ,I have a few  minor contribution throughout the years for this great city of London with: endless paid parking tickets, direct and indirect taxes, reducing CO2 emission to name but a few), still I must admit it caught me by unprepared… Thank you, the Right Honourable Boris Johnson.

MK RAH                                red guitarMy daughter Daphne honoured me even more by getting us tickets for Mark Knopfler Gig (Privateering 2013 Tour) at the Royal Albert Hall on June 1st (The Hall was booked in advance for the 11th) and so, to make a complete celebration of the day I booked Lunch @ IMG_0457Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1), present were people I love friends and family, Daphne & Udi, Lisa & Spike and moi your humble WINEGUIDE.

Now… one of my most exciting and fun visits, to a restaurant in the last 2 years was without a doubt, my lunch with Spike at Heston Blumenthal’s the FAT DUCK (as written in my Post: ) so we came with some anticipation…

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My guests: Spike Denton apart from being amongst my best friends him and I have been going to Restaurants of sorts for ages now so he is an obvious guest,

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 my dear friend Lisa Galton one of the most acute tasters I know, a real connoisseur of wine and food, (with a wine collection at her dads house with gems of unsurpassed rarity) a lady of quality, a delight to sit to a meal with, in short my kind of lass.

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needless to say my daughter, Daphne and son in law, Udi and “meself“, after all it is my logo-w5brown celebration Innit???

We’re off to the Restaurant that is right there on the first page of The World’s 50 best Restaurants list for 2013, in fact at number seven of the lot… ( )

Conceived by Heston Blumenthal and his right-hand man Ashley Palmer-Watts, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal excavated ancient recipes that go as far back as the 14th century to the beginning of the 20th century and reintroduces them using contemporary cooking techniques. (we’ll talk about it later…) They say: “Dinner” is not about delicate combinations or table theatrics, but gutsy dishes that will remain at the forefront of your memory bank for years to come.”

IMG_0382         ambonnay in the glass    IMG_0369

As we sat down HRH the queen herself joined the birthday celebration gestures, by sening her cavalry to salute us, sitting at the window looking over the Royal park (Hyde )…

horses guards

raising our glass of Champagne, I chose the: Paul Dethune, Brut Grand Cru, Ambonnay, NV Champagne, a small grower’s champagne from the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay, we set down to order our starters:

Daphne the pescetarian round our table, goes for the Roast scallops (c.1830) Cucumber ketchup, roast cucumber, bergamot & borage. This roast scallop dish is deconstruction of the elements in the recipe published in the 1826 book The Cook and Housewife’s Manual Mistress by Meg Dodds. Now this is the second time this week cucumber stars as a suitable supporting act to a dish of sweet succulent scallops and it works fine (especiallyIMG_0404 here in England, where green veggies are so prominent (compared to coloured vegetables you can find in hotter countries) I 220px-Citrus_bergamia_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-184must admit it does work well and the green scent of cucumbers compliment the dish well. Add to that Bergamot or wild bergamot, which is of the mint family and Borage (Borago officinalis), also known as a starflower, with edible leaves this annual herb though a native to the Mediterranean region it has naturalized in many other parts of Europe, which grows well in gardens in the UK.

Udi the Vegetarian, had the Nettle Porridge (c.1660), smokedIMG_0405 beetroot garlic parsley & Fennel, a delightful dish even if just to look at…recipe from William Rabisha, The whole Body of Cookery Dissected (1682) . This book was written after the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. William Rabisha was ‘Master Cook’ to many honourable Families and left this important text, a remarkable statement of the art of Rabisha cookbookcookery as it was in the 1660, and was surprisingly influential over a very long period. The books full name says it all: The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, Taught, and Fully Manifested … Whereunto is Annexed a Second Part of Rare Receipts of Cookery … With a Book of Preserving, Conserving and Candying … by Will. Rabisha

Spike had the Meat Fruit (c.1550) Mandarin, chicken Liver & Foie gras parfait, grilled bread. A real treat to look at and a fine liver parfait filling in a casing of jellied mandarin colour and shape coat, including the fruit’s skin perforated outline and real leaves, they go into all the trouble of giving it the correct shape, cool it to set, freeze it to gel the mandarin peel coatings, so much trouble and than you miss on the mandarin flavour? (that’s smell and taste) isn’t that a pity, yet it is an alluring piece of prepped dish as you can see from the photos.

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220px-Palmeria_palmataIMG_0400Lisa and I went for the Frumentry (c.1390) Grilled octopus, smoked sea broth, pickeled dulse & Lovage.  Throughout the centuries Palmaria palmata called dulse, dillisk or dilsk, sea lettuce flakes a red algae that grows on the northern coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, and has always been an important source of fiber in the British Isles and northern Europe.

I love well prepared octopus in any form of cooking, either rock beaten and grilled over GREEC013charcoal on a Greek island beach, or my most memorable one at Osteria “LA RISACCA 6” in Milano, Via Marcona, 6 Tel. 02 55181658 – 02 5468041la risacca 6 (over 20 years ago), a simple but delicious perfect octopus cut to about 1 inch pieces, cold peeled tomatoes, exquisite olive oil and a touch of herbs– perfection! , so I went for the Octopus dish, as it turned out Lisa ordered octopus as well and we both did not realize this was the most ancient of recipes on our menu 1390 AD from the 220px-Forme_of_Cury_title_pageForme of Cury (methods of cooking) by The Master Cook of King Richard II, a most becoming dish for Lisa who was raised at Hampton Court Palace, Yes!!! She might not be Royalty but she is Regal a real queen. (Hampton Court Palace as you all know is the Palace of the Tudor Kings and queens, Built to House and feed the kings of England from around 1529-1760 including of course the Court of King Henry the 8th, who used to have up to 600 people forform of cury lunch, and not only once, poor kitchen stuff I’m not kidding Ya).

Lisa and I, both loved every moment of our octopus which was perfect to the book a real delight, it was succulent – tender, juicy, and tasty (oxford dictionary)., swimming in a lightly smoked broth with touches of red and green algae and the “leaves in fashion” – Lovage, Its flavor and smell is somewhat similar to celery and top chefs use it lately for all their sea fruit dishes. (too much???)

The Paul Dethune, Brut Grand Cru, Ambonnay, NV Champagne is a grower’s champagnedethune_blanc_de_blancs_label from the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay, Champagne, one of only 17 villages in Champagne with Grand Cru status. I love Ambonnay champagnes. The village’s vineyards are located in the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne, and are all classified as Grand Cru in the Champagne vineyard classification (A Clos-type vineyard in the village is the single vineyard source of Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay). For map: . This wine has 70% Pinot Noir and 30%, made by the Dethune family who own 7ha of vineyards in Ambonnay. Though boutique style and fairly unknown this is a wonderfully balanced and rich champagne of outstanding quality The Brut NV is mineral extremely rich yet fresh, with a fine mousse very good length and finesse with aromas of strawberry butter brioche. It has great length and elegance, just what I needed for this celebration.

145-Monarda-Fistulosa-var-Crimson-MonardaWe sank slowly into our private get together with great wine, wonderful view IMG_0378of the park and our very own company reunion, digging in and sampling each other’s dishes between seeps of this fine champagne. Are we having one of the best meals in the world? after all it is quantified and qualified as the 7th best in the world, and first courses are the best platform for a chef/kitchen to show off their ability and imagination, but we are here not to judge but to enjoy, and we are having fun from the company, wine, and the food and thus everything else re: minute details are secondary.

 Next post… our main dishes the wine we had, the wines we brought each other, the presents and the wine that rouse the sommelier’s envy yet did not succumb to “restaurant policy”…

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
Phone: 0207.201.3833

(to be continued…)



Square Meal

Restaurant: Story, London SE1- a tale of one meal


(press on photos to enlarge)

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”Vince Lombardi Jr. (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970)

tatoo CUChef Tom Sellers strongly believes in the inner truth and beauty of this quote of an NFL legendary 1960’s American football coach, to a point that he had these lines tattooed onto his right arm, and strives continuously in the kitchen and on the restaurant floor, to emerge “victorious” at the end of a day’s work. This is probably the Motto of his story…IMG_0223

A  Story or a narrative is any account that presents events which are directly or indirectly connected, and can be organized as a collection of anecdotes, sometimes legends or myths. It can be told as fiction, such as short stories or novels.

IMG_0225The word Narrative, derives from the Latin verb Narrare, “to tell”, and is related to the adjective gnarus, “knowing” or “skilled”. Narrative is found in all forms of human creativity and art, including writing, songs, film, photography, theater & visual arts amongst which I include a consumable art form: culinary art. They all describe literally or in an abstract form a sequence of events.(from wiki) The narrator always communicates directly to the reader in our case the diner, (the man who came to eat).

A meal with a “story” with a certain order (as in a tasting menu), recounts a sequence of events, or series of events, arranged in order, often with causality relationships among the items. A sequence of events can be presented in text, like our menu here. The description of the items or events may include glimpses into time with references to place or time, some information that describes a sequential path, childhood; professional experiences some by clues and some by association, as the STORY menu presents.

IMG_032326-year-old Chef Tom Sellers has an impressive CV that includes: Noma, Per Se Thomas Keller’s NY Restaurant (at the age of 18) and later Tom Aikens. Tom Sellers is an experienced young chef who have seen and worked with the best of the rest, has an interesting concept: let me tell you my culinary memories and experiences but you are free to add your own interpretations and tales to them: Our dream is to inspire people to take their own journeys – creating stories not just of food, but of everything that has played significance and holds a memory. We see food as our story books and want our guests to share this story, leaving their own stories with us along the way…

IMG_0220Restaurant Story resides in a sort of a modern “Traffic Island Pavilion” close to Tower Bridge. A “Pavilion” is basically a free-standing structure, whose architecture makes it an object of pleasure. Large or small, there is usually a connection between the structure and the idea of relaxation and pleasure in its intended use (from Wikipedia), Restaurant Story follows the above IMG_0257architectural definition to the letter, including the fact that a pavilion is built to take advantage of the surrounding view glazed all around with the Shard in the background. The interiors feel warm and inviting, the open plan kitchen compact yet specious enough for all concerned, around the walls with 2 separated center “Islands” which surprisingly allows enough work space from all sides.    

Sellers offers a choice of 2 tasting menus 6-course menu (£45) and inventive 10-course menu (£65) which tell a nostalgic story with amusing twists along the way, to read their story, a candle is lit in an old fashion bed side candle holder… and left to burn and drip and we suspect of nothing unusual…

IMG_0230We Ordered the house special Bloody Mary (we make it with yellow tomatoes says the sommelier cocktail master, triumphantly seeing the astonishment on spikes face at the sheer color of the drink, and after a sip announced he got what he described as the “best Bloody Mary ever!” IMG_0282In the meantime I ordered our wine: Jean Baptiste Ponsot, Rully Premier Cru Molesme 2010 (such a good vintage year in Bourgogne)

An array of stunningly beautiful and tasty amuse-bouche unfolded on our table, all exhibiting extremely high technical skills, good taste and pairing knowledge.

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Crispy Cod skin, cod Roe and carrot tips

Radish stuffed with seaweed butter

Nasturtium flowers stuffed with oyster emulation zabaglione style

Oreo biscuits of calamari ink

“Fish fingers” of diced Rabbit meat topped with 3 different coloured carrots

OreoThese are sort of personal reminiscences of childhood with references toIMG_0236 early “culinary” memories of home and school “delicacies” (only by shape and colour), like fish fingers, Oreo biscuits with a twist, cod and radishes all upgraded from their memory wonders to present time delicacies, the cod skin and touch of the melting Oreo biscuits to die for…

As the candle continues to melt down into the collecting dish at the base, the  Ponsot, Rully Premier Cru Molesme 2010 is poured and our first course is presented:IMG_0270

Bread and dripping. (Tom’s dad fav.)


Dripping was used for cooking in the inter war years, especially in British cuisine, in the Midlands and Northern England (Tom Sellers is a Nottingham boy), Dripping was popular among poor families hit by unemployment for bread spreading instead of butter, a proper use of food leftovers that includes the byproducts of any meat they were lucky enough afford.. Dripping could also be bought at the butchers, for spreading on bread. Old-fashioned chip shops used to fry their chips in beef dripping.

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Sumptuous Poppy seeds sourdough wholemeal bread accompanies a bowl of small cubes of veal tongue and celery bathing in a sour reduction of chicken consommé that balances the well seasoned fattiness of the collected drippings off the base of the candle. These will be left on the table for the entire meal as your butter substitute for spreading on your bread. I used to say that all you need is excellent bread and great butter, good quality well spiced dripping can be an equaled substitute.   

IMG_0249Burnt onion, apple gin and thyme(I love gin T.S)

This is a trio of onions: grilled / burnt, grilled / baked, on a base of confiture d’oignon, or sweet onion chutney, dresses with a Vinaigrette of apple gin thyme and olive oil with a nice spiced gin aftertaste and thyme aroma, simple, witty and quite delicious.

Scallops, cucumber and dill ashIMG_0253

This is spring on a plate, Carpaccio of scallops on a lightly dressing of lemony emulation, with ultra fresh cucumbers balls loaded with cucumber green scent and flavor, some rolled in dill ash for complexity and the spring signature of dwarf fiore de zucca (courgette flowers still attached to the tiny courgette) and Nasturtium (monks hat) leaves, so refreshing and green scented, light and beautiful.

IMG_0262Mackerel, salad root and strawberry

I’m not a great fan of oily mackerel, but I must admit the inner balance of the dish without the usual smoked mackerel smell was a delight with the cream fresh at the base and pale strawberries, even I can get used to mackerels after all…

Heritage potato, asparagus and barley green

There are not many dishes as comforting as well mashed potato with butter This mash is madeIMG_0273 to perfection Joël Robuchon style with the slightly nutty ratte potatoes, a 19th-century classic beloved by French chefs. This butter rich purée of heritage potato comes with asparagus curls and heads, fresh barley grass and inky-black ‘coal’ sauce. So simple yet so alluring for more, we finished the IMG_0279plate to the base the bit of coal sauce left on the plate allowed us to perform our very own “coffee reading” – Tasseography (for Chef Sellers) It is a fortune-telling method that interprets patterns at the base of a cup/dish of tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediments and left over coal sauce in this case… As you can very well see our young chef will burst triumphantly like a Volcano and slowly affect all at his lava flowing mountain sides…

Beetroot, raspberry and horseradishIMG_0289

Tucked in between two rich dishes (nothing is really too heavy about this pleasurable lunch) a refreshing combo of beet cubes, and sliced raspberries on a lightly sweet raspberry coulis with a strong horseradish powdered granita / sorbet. These are contrasting flavours that work so well together, NICE!

IMG_0293Pigeon, summer truffle and pine  

The pigeon breast is hidden underneath the foliage and Broccolini (a green vegetable similar to broccoli with small florets and long, thin stalks) blanched broccolini, baby leaves, and broccolini purée con=ver (at first) the well prepped breast tender and gamy with a light pigeon jus. The “summer truffles” are hardly felt if at all and thankfully do not overpower the dish. Also finishe to the very last crumb (I love pigeon)


A palate cleanser of lemon and lime in varying degrees of sourness and four different consistencies, a cruncy lemon meringue “biscuit” lemon sorbet, lemon crème patissière and lime and yuzu ユズ, tasting jus.  A perfect cleanser and palate refresher.

Our deserts

IMG_0310These are still part of the story with personal addition of Ms. Francesca Mossa the young pastry / desert chef.

Prune tea, Lovage and milkIMG_0308

Soaked Prunes, lovage infusion, and crepe of curdled boiled milk and a touch of salt flakes…

Three Bears Porridge

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The finale is an amusing Goldilocks and the three bears inspired desert presented both on a card with each bear holding a bowl either too salty, too sweet or just right porridge.. followed by three bowls of oats porridge, fresh shaved Kentish cobnut which taste accordingly, spiced in turn with salted caramel; comb honey, condensed milk , fruits and flowers, in a set of fairytale dishes and handmade oven clay spoons.IMG_0261

They say: “We have created a personal journey through food, which has been crafted and inspired by the journeys of others and ourselves. Our dream is for all guests to leave a book at Story, which will remain there to evoke the inspiration in others that we hope our food will evoke in you. We look forward to sharing our stories”

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 And we say: Thanks for the stories and the memories, thanks for trying and succeeding to please us (and the other guests). You told us a story using the art of narrative which is by definition a highly aesthetic enterprise, with identifiable beginning, middle and end. The narrative is not in the cooking or the food, but in the plot imagined and constructed by the diners. This notion applied to storytelling through food was attempted here at “Restaurant Story”. Personally I got what I expect nowadays from a meal at a restaurant, I want the restaurant to excite me almost as a child, cooking properly is just not enough anymore an excellent meal cooked even to perfection may not be sufficient, and I do not mean I expect fireworks and odd tricks or paraphernalia, just good food which is also witty and FUN.

IMG_0261The meal at Story has the edge of excitement which goes hand in hand with cooking techniques, presentation, Visual and taste aesthetic values. Inner balance of each dish, correct product pairing within each dish, and between the various dishes on the menu.  As their story unfolds into its climax, in the (only) dish that actually requires cooking skills (the pigeon), I was filled with the joy and satisfaction. You may say I was content, isn’t that what’s it all about?

The story of Tom Sellers of Nottingham and his “merry man” (a generic term for any follower or companion of an outlaw, knight, or leader/chef) is yet to be told, Tom Sellers still has a way to reach the NFL finals but he is certainly approaching a stand in the WCL (World culinary league) Playoffs, and this is a great start for an extremely talented chef as young as he is, he is a IMG_0329narrator – gnarus, has the knowhow and the skill required to head a successful kitchen Chapeau!

Restaurant Story:  201 Tooley Street, London SE1, 020-7183 2117.

 Tues-Sat, lunch noon-2pm, dinner 6.30-9pm

Book well in advance!



Square Meal

PIZZA with a twist, Bless the Dough

                                                    Homemade PIZZA and other stuff

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napoli-pizzaLegend attributes modern pizza to a baker from Naples Raffaele Esposito. In 1889, Esposito who owned a restaurant named: The Pizzeria di Pietro, baked what he called “pizza” especially for the visit of the Italian King Umberto I and his Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen margaritapreferred the pie with the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella).The legend continues that this kind of pizza was then italynamed after the Queen: Pizza Margherita. This legend as all legends go, is a nice story with no real references and remains a pretty Urban Tale.
Modern pizza originated in Italy as Neapolitan flatbread. Since most Neapolitans could only afford inexpensive food, flatbreads with various toppings: Pizza, became popular and was eaten for any meal and sold on every street corner. Early pizzas consumed by Naples’ poor, featured the tasty garnishes, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies garlic and local herbs mainly Oregano and Basil.
history-of-pizzaSome say the word pizza from the Latin verb Pìnsere, to press, or Greek in origin from the Greek pēktos, (meaning “solid” or “clotted”), The ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα, pita, meaning pie. The word has also spread to Romanian as pită, Turkish as pide, Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian called it pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittā.. (Wikipedia)
History of Pita, extends far into antiquity, all over the ancient world, flatbreads, leavened or not, are amongpitta stand1 the most ancient breads, requiring no oven or utensils to make. Pita or pita bread is as you know a round pocket bread widely consumed throughout the Middle Eastern countries, in Cyprus, even the Balkans, North Africa, the Levant, Iran, Armenia, Turkey, and parts of the India as chapatti or Naan. The “pocket” in pita bread is created by steam, which puffs up the dough. As the bread cools and flattens, a pocket is left in the middle. But flattened dough of varying thicknesses baked in ovens, Tandoors or tanoors with various toppings exist in most culinary cultures around the world.
lahmajoon_Armenian spicy meat pies called Lahmajoon and are made sold in all Armenian streets, the dough at the base is almost paper-thin (similar to a Mexican flour tortilla) and tender with crisp edges; rolled up in a piece of paper served fresh out of the oven, it is basically an Armenian “personal pizza” with very thin crust and a spiced ground lamb and pine kernels topping. Same as the Armenian LAHMAJOON are the Turkish LAHMACUN, or Arab Lahmajoon لحم بعجي, lahm bi’ajīn “meat with dough sold and eaten all over the middle east countries. It is again, a round, thin piece of baked dough topped with fried minced meat (most commonly lamb) and diced vegetables onions, tomatoes and parsley and herbs including, Lahm Bi’ajīn is often served sprinkled with roasted pine kernels.To name just a few non Italian still same part of the world / Mediterranean examples. Pizza like dishes were eaten by many peoples in the Mediterranean including the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. historyPizza is considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries. Still each person rich or poor has his own preferences and will visit regularly his “Local” favorite Pizza place which obviously serves “THE BEST PIZZA“. They will all agree that the most important features of Pizza are the touch of the baked dough, and the quality and taste of the
My preference for home baking is the Basic Pizza recipe by Antonio Carluccio from the book Complete Italian Food, what a wonderful cookbook, a version of which could be found in:

Makes 4 x 28cm (11 inch) pizzas (I make them thinner and slightly larger making 5-6 pizzas:
IMG_1003220 ml warm water
30g fresh yeast or the dried equivalent, (quantity of dried yeast: see the maker’s instructions per amount of flour)IMG_1004
1 tsp Sugar
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
500g  ’00’  flour (Doppio zero), plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp dried Oregano (Only if you want some oregano smell in the dough)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water to which you have added the sugar  Leave to froth, about 10 minutes. Pour the flour and salt into a mound on a clean work surface and make a hole in the centre of it (or use a mixer with the dough hook). Add the yeast mixture and olive oil drop by drop into the centre of the flour, mixing with your hands until all the liquid is absorbed, forming large lumps. Knead the dough with your hands until it has a smooth texture, then roll it into a ball. “A good pizza depends on the quality of the dough used” (Antonio Carluccio and me).st.-honoratus
Next, sprinkle some extra flour into a large bowl, and place the dough in it, spreading a little oil over the top to prevent a crust forming. Cover the bowl with a dry linen cloth and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place – not less than 20 C/ 68 F. (“It was at this stage that my grandmother used to ‘bless’ the dough by making the sign of the cross in order that it should turn out well” Antonio Carluccio) I guess she was giving thanks to St. Honoré, the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. After this time the dough should have increased in volume by about three times.
A homemade pizza should have it’s personal signature just like any professional Pizzeria or “favorite pizza place”, my Pizza sauce is this signature. I am sure you can find or concoct any good old tomato based pizza sauce mine has a twist enhancing the wonderfull fragrance of the sauce and not relaying solely on the quality of herbs (Oregano, Basil etc.)
Bell Peppers Pizza Sauce:
IMG_0740 This is an easy sauce to prepare. Use only Red, Orange and Yellow Bell peppers, the specific scent of Orange peppers is the key.
Olive oil to line a good size pot
2 Onions cut roughly (quarters)
6-8 large Red, Yellow, Orange bell peppers (cleaned and cut to 3-4 cm squares)
2 garlic clove, chopped
Half of red chilly (or less if too hot) IMG_0145
4 ripe plum tomatoes, skinned and halved, or half a can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped in the can, or polpa di pomodoro.
Half glass of wine (white or red)
6-8 stalks of fresh Thyme
10 stalks of fresh Oregano
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp dried quality oregano (I use dried Sicilian Oregano for best quality and strength of smell)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce, heat the oil in a pan, fry the Onions constantly stirring, until lightly browned, you want to get the sweetness out of the onions than add the Bell peppers increase the heat and try to lightly scorch (not burn) their skins, than add the garlic for just a few seconds and then add the tomatoes make sure you have enough but not too much liquid, (eventually after sieving the sauce, you want to achieve a thick sauce). Simmer the sauce, add the green herbs, season with salt and pepper (taste from time to time to adjust seasoning to your taste), keep stirring from time to time, for 15-20 minutes depending on the amount of liquid you need to “loose”
IMG_0896Once ready take off the heat and let it cool down, in the meantime you can dig out the green herbs by their stalks but this is up to you. I Blitz everything in a food processorIMG_0901 (solids first to achieve smooth paste than add remaining liquids to receive the sauce, strain well and hard in a fine sieve and a wooden ball a bit at a time and discard of all the “solids remains”. Collect the strained sauce in a bowl and keep aside. Prepare a “Mise en place” of all the ingredients you require to make youe pizza toppings


1. The sauce
2. 250 grms of low-moisture mozzarella
2-3 large balls of Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella) sliced260px-Mozzarella_cheese
Fresh and dried Herbs: Oregano Basil, Thyme
Very thin slices of ripe tomato
Thin slices of zucchini (sliced with a potato peeler)
Thinly sliced mushrooms (Portobello or brown button)
Zucchini Flowers if in season (Fiori di zucca)
Ultra thin slices of garlic and chilly
Any other topping of your choice
Making the Pizza
Preheat oven to 230-240º C Gas mark 8-9
Divide the dough into four and form into pizzas. Grease each pizza IMG_0937rolled dough with a brush dipped in oil, Place the dough circles on the round metal pizza mesh or on trays. and prebake the base for 1-2 minuts or intill light brown bubbles appear on the surface stay by the oven make sure they don’t burn! Take out of the oven (use gloves), spread on each circle of dough about two spoonfuls of the pizza sauce use the spoon/ladle to circles around to cover the dough. Sprinkle with grated low moisture mozzarella, than your toppings of choice. Spread around some discs of buffalo mozzarella (on top of each tomato slice, sprinkle over the fresh and dried herbs even some salt. Pour a sprinkle of olive oil over the top of each and place in the preheated oven for about 6-10 minutes depending on your oven, until you see the edges become a golden colour, and the buffalo mozzarella bubbling with brownish edges.
IMG_0926  IMG_0932     IMG_0935  IMG_0933

IMG_0936Cut pizza to 4-6 slices serve and make the next one while the first is consumed you can make 2 at a time but the bottom pizza will have to “move” to top oven shelve when the first one is ready
chamotte stoneYou can also use “Regular fireclay (Chamotte) brick for Pizza” This block of stone does not require the double baking method but good means to lay down the pizza on the fresh dough on the preheated block. Chamotte bricks for Pizza come in varying shapes for various temperatures, alternatively use the round pizza metal mesh (also in various sizes), both can be found in any cooking utensil shops.
Chamotte is not a natural stone it is an artificial stone made from various ceramic materials with high heat resistance, forming a heat resistance surface that is suitable for baking, even heat spread adding crunchiness to the Pizza crust.
The most popular cheeses to use on pizza are mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. Romano and Ricotta are often used as toppings mainly in white pizzas (no tomato/pepper sauce used)

IMG_0173My first excellent Pizza baked in a wood oven was Nuti in Firenze (Florence) in the early 1970’s, The owner has changed since but the Pizza oven (the main asset of the Pizzeria is still working well.

IMG_0262My Favorite Pizza is made in Pizzeria Da Baffetto in Via del Governo vecchio 114 Rome. The line of waiting locals and tourists alike speaks for itself and the Pizza is Perfect by all counts, until you have a chance to visit here are some photos to open your appetite. (press thumbnail to enlarge photos)

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IMG_0273    IMG_0272     IMG_0274

Regarding the notion of wine pairing for Pizza… you don’t have to stick to Italian wines if you prefer or have a different wine I am glad to say that Pizza goes with any wine red or white, just please after such an elaborated work do not drink plonk wine with OUR Pizza, (give it and yourself some proper respect)
As the Italians say: Buon Appetito

Square Meal

The sense of Touch in wine tasting

Oral sense of Touch… (and a bit of Hearing)



We’ve been through most of the important 5 senses taking part on wine tasting: Sight, Smell, Taste, including a light “touch” on the sense of Touch, since touch plays a key role in experiencing taste it “deserves” a separate chapter.
Oral touch sensations, include those generated by pressoreceptors, mechanoreceptors and thermoreceptors sensory cells of the oral cavity.
touch mudThe bodily sense of touch is the first sense to develop. It supplies, major means of information from the proximal environment. The human hand is one of the most important adaptations in our evolutionary history, mainly because we are the only primates able to perform opposition between our thumb and the fingers allowing us the ability to perform minute highly accurate digital manipulations.

The Oral somatosensation plays a crucial role in many aspects of our multisensory perception of food wine and flavour sensation. The tactile stimulation we receive in our mouth supplies informs of food and beverage from the temperature of a food through to its texture. Food texture has been defined by Bourne as: ‘the response of homunculus-of-primary-somatosensory-cortex-in-bluethe tactile senses to physical stimuli that result from contact between some part of the oral cavity and the food’. Other researchers included the contribution from other senses, like olfaction, vision, even hearing, and kinesthesia in their definitions, (Kinesthesia is the awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body using sensory organs). In terms of describing texture of food or wine, these may appear sticky, grainy, sandy, smooth, creamy, harsh, spicy hot or temperature changer (hotter or colder than our body temperature), all of these are felt in the mouth.
When it comes to the tactile experiences associated with the consumption of food and drink, they are obviously important. Oral-somatosensation is recognized as taking a major role in our overall experience of food and drink.
The multisensory aspects of texture
It is, however, not always so easy to ascertain exactly which sense is actually doing the work in terms of giving glass of champrise to specific aspects of our multisensory experience of food and drink. We assume that the experience of bursting bubbles of fizzy drinks in the mouth is due to the CO2 bubbles popping in the oral cavity, it turns out that sensation of carbonated or fizzy bubbles on our tongue is not solely tactile but rather a result of the stimulation of the sour taste receptors on the tongue. The perception of fattiness in a food or drink is sensed by tactile receptors, However these sensations do not solely come just from the ability of the oral-somatosensory receptors to sense texture of food or drink consistency, but an accumulation of perception from the olfactory and gustatory IMG_0165receptors. Wine astringency or phenols in fruits and vegetables like brewed tea leaves, squeezed pomegranate or tannins of young red wine, is actually a tactile sensation, although many think of it as part of the wine taste and flavour.
Oral touch sensation is also responsible for the sensation of what we call “mouth-feel”. A menthol candy may evoke a cool mouthfeel sensation, a bite on a hot chilly evokes a burning sensation, alcohol evokes heat sensation etc. Jowitt defined mouth-feel as: “the textural attributes of a food or beverage responsible for producing characteristic tactile sensations on the surfaces of the oral cavity.” (Jowitt, R., “The terminology of food texture”. Journal of Texture Studies, 5:351-358, 1974)
tongue2“The tactile stimulation of the oral cavity is also very important for another reason: it turns out that where we localize a tastant follows the location of the tactile stimulus drawn across the tongue and not the point where the taste stimulus itself happens to have been transduced on the receptor surface, the fact that people localize the flavor of food to their mouth, despite the fact that the majority of the information concerning flavour comes from their nose i.e. smell. So smell is likely to attribute in large part to the tactile stimulation that they experience in their oral cavity while eating”
There is also a connection between temperature and taste. Researchers found that simply by raising or lowering the temperature at various surface points on a person’s tongue, temperature changes elicit sensations of sweet, sour, salty and bitter – that is, the four main basic tastes.
Gray778_TrigeminalTouch sensation and information regarding food or liquid in the mouth are transferred to the brain by means of the Trigeminal nerve (trigeminal pathway), which projects directly to the primary somatic sensory cortex. This projection carries information concerning touch, texture (mouth-feel), temperature, and proprioception (not to mention nociception or oral pain, and chemical irritation) from the relevant receptors in the mouth. All appear to be represented in the Orbito frontal cortex as well as in several other brain areas.(from: Food Texture and Viscosity: Concept and Measurement M. C. Bourne 1981)
Tactile Sensations
The entire oral cavity has various degrees of the sense of touch, but the parts most sensitive to the “tactile impressions” of wine are the upper, centre part of the tongue and the soft areas of the palate, the inner upper lip, the pharynx, the larynx and the gums. The centre of the tongue contains the filiform papillae (singular: papilla) are one of the four types of lingual papillae (see: ), they are small prominences on the surface of the tongue.

FILIFORM COMPOSITEThe Filiform papillae are thin, long (upside-down) “V”-shaped cones that don’t contain taste buds but are the most numerous, covering most of the dorsum (upper surface). These papillae are mechanical and are not involved in taste sensation, but tactile sensation only. Swirling wine in the mouth is a second stage (after sniffing) which helps to pinpoint the sensations of wine texture, temperature, astringency, body alcohol content and the “touch” from carbon dioxide in sparkling wines.
IMG_5562Wine Body: is a tactile term which expresses the feeling of weight of a wine in the mouth. At times the impression of full-body is almost like that of a solid substance even thought we are concerned with a liquid. It is created mainly by alcohol sensation which may lean to the “heavy” side due to higher viscosity than the water constituent of wine the higher the alcohol content the “fuller bodied” the wine . Wine dissolved solids (sediments before settling) also contribute to the sensation of “body” in the mouth.
IMG_5531Wine Texture: this refers to the touch of a wine, how it feels in the mouth. It includes sensations such as smoothess, viscosity; watery or rich dessert wines and is with high combination of sugar, glycerin or the “touch of alcohol.
Wine Astringency: caused by high concentration of phenolic substances in young red wines, responsible for the “dry” sensation caused mainly by the tannins present in the wine at this stage. The ageing process reduces astringency due to oxidation, and will be less evident in mature or older wines.
Temperature: refers in this context to the sensation of warmth created by ethyl alcohol, which increases with the wine’s strength.
champs bubbles

Fizziness: a prickly sensation is caused by the presence of carbon dioxide bubbles.
Mechanical characteristics are subdivided into the primary parameters of hardness, cohesiveness, viscosity, elasticity, and adhesiveness, and into the secondary parameters of brittleness, chewiness, and gumminess. Since popular terms are used to describe texture they often point only to a degree of intensity of these characteristics rather than an objective description.

Studied showed that: The in-mouth “chalk-like” texture of wine was strongly associated with anthocyanin grapes2concentration and was negatively associated with alcohol level and acidity. The astringent sub qualities of “velvet-like” or “emery-like” roughing were mostly related to polyphenol levels. Wines that elicited a “puckery” sensation were characterized by relatively low anthocyanin levels, high acidity, and high pigmented polymer and tannin concentrations. So both acidity anthocyanin and alcohol concentrations affect tactile sensitivity and perception.  As currently defined, wine taste sensations fall into four, or possibly five categories: sweet, sour, salty, Phenolic compounds include several hundred chemical compounds that strongly influence taste, color, and mouthfeel. Tannins and anthocyanins pigments. Some of these are naturally present in the fruit and some are created during the winemaking and aging processes. Phenolic compounds such as Resveratrol have been linked to many of the health-beneficial properties of grapes and grape products.
In the case of wine or juice, mouthfeel combines sensations related to the product’s viscosity as well as sensations related to the product’s chemical properties, such as astringency
250px-Sulfur-sampleSulfites are sulfur-based compounds occur naturally during wine fermentation, but are also often added before, during, or after fermentation as sulphur dioxide (SO2), to protect wine from oxidation and the activity of undesirable microorganisms, particularly bacteria. Sulfites are added at higher levels to white and/or sweet wines to prevent browning and/or pepper
Methoxypyrazines are a class of chemical compounds that produces herbaceous odors (e.g,. green bell pepper, leafy, or vegetative). In white wine, the odors can be desirable. However, in red wines high levels of methoxypyrazines are very undesirable. Although this is an element of “flavour” it has an influence on our mouthfeel of wine touch…

Press play to hear music, music by Daphne Sarnat –

earTo include all 5 senses in the experience of wine drinking or wine tasting the sense of Hearing is added in the form of the hearing ringing sound of glasses touching at the raising of a glass, wine glasses toasting is a very closely observed part of drinking culture. In company, no one should drink a sip of alcohol before having toasted every other person at the table by touching each others glass with intention a look into each other’s eyes… the talk around the table about the wine being drunk or tasted, sound of a popping champagne bottle, wine being poured into a wine glass, and the sound of a wine glass or God forbid… a wine bottle shattering in the background. All thought the ear our hearing sense organ with it’s center and specialty sense receptors in the Middle ear connected to our brain via the Auditory nerve – Cranial nerve Number 8.
All of our 5 senses take part during wine drinking, appreciation, and wine tasting. All of these arise in the head area; they all have specialty sense organs which are connected to our brain via one or more of the 12 Cranial nerves sometimes simultaneously by several cranial nerves. What a wonder our body is, what a wonder wine is…it is indeed a symphony of senses (see: )
Drink, Sense, Enjoy.

A Birthday Party with the High Commissioner of Palestine.

Aviva shana tova85 years ago (20/4/1928) my mum Aviva Sarnat, was born in Tel-Aviv, Palestine, to my Grandparents Esther and Meir Zagel, fresh new immigrants from Zamość, Poland, who had the sense to leave Poland (1924 or 1927) long before WW2 started. They did not leave in fear they left following their beliefs, arriving to a desert land with mainly sand (some camels to a city evolving in the dunes), no country of their own (just a “homeland” as promised by Lord Balfour).

ZamoscZamość is a town in southeastern Poland in the south-western part of county Lublin. Zamość is a unique example of a Renaissance town in Central Europe, consistently designed and built in accordance with the Italian theories of the “ideal town” on the basis of a plan which was the result of perfect cooperation between the open-minded founder, Jan Zamoyski, and the outstanding architect, Bernardo Morando. The utopian concept of an Ideal City as described in Sir Thomas More book: Utopia, (as described in a previous post: ) . Indeed they say Zamość is an outstanding example of an innovative approach to town planning, combining the functions of an urban ensemble, a residence, and a fortress in accordance with a consistently implemented Renaissance concept. The result of this is a stylistically homogeneous urban composition with a high level of architectural and landscape values. A real asset of this great construction was its creative enhancement with local artistic architectural achievements.  (From ).

cooking with MumMy mum and I, we go along together for 60 years now, amongst other qualities, she is a great cook and most of what I know food/cooking wise is derived from her approach to food and cooking, though we have different styles. I know I have learned a lot from her, now…for her 80th birthday we printed a cookbook from her dishes favoured by each and every member of the family (endorded by Chef Yonathan Roshfeld from one great chef to a great cook, and today, Saturday April 20th is her 85th Birthday.

We marked the occasion at a family favorite restaurant and one of the BEST in Tel-Aviv Herbert Samuel. HS signH Samuel

The 1st Viscount Herbert Samuel a British Diplomat and a Zionist Jew, was appointed to the position of High Commissioner of Palestine in 1920One_Palestine_Complete and served until 1925. He received the post from Sir Louis Bols of the “Occupied Enemy Territory Administration”. Who handed over Palestine to the First Civil High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel. In return, Samuel signed a “receipt” stating he had received “one Palestine, complete.”

photos 022Chef Jonathan Roshfeld (Jon), cooked for us at our house several times once 9 years ago for my Father’s Arye Sarnat 80th Birthday, than about 6 years ago, just a few months before Herbert Samuel was opened with all the staff, chef, sous chef and all… eager to cook and no kitchen to cook in, they came to our house, (for Abi’s 22 Birthday but really, just a cause for celebration, we have a semi professional kitchen, and above average large ovens and powerful gas hobs, and they cooked the entire planned first menu of the restaurant, since than our family revisited the restaurant for special occasions and just ordinary everyday meal many a times, never disappointed may I add.

jOHN ANS MEJon (Yonatan) and I go a very long time together since his daysOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

as a very young sous-chef at the “Golden Apple” (In the 80’s the only proper, food worthy restaurant, in Tel-Aviv). Our family connection with Herbert Samuel restaurant is, you can say from the “womb” (the days even before the restaurant was born), I guess you should take part in the photographic highlights of that pre Herbert meal, it seems such a long long time ago:


ארוחה 074 ארוחה 054 ארוחה 018 ארוחה 017  ארוחה 016 ארוחה 015 ארוחה 091 ארוחה 009

photos 019For our present celebration, Jon surprised us all by actually coming on a Saturday to cook a special dish, not in the menu yet again, “JUST FOR US” (a touching gesture that did not pass by, unappreciated, by all present)Dana present

Everyone came fully prepared, some with some written words, some with wines: Moët & Chandon Rosé Champagne, Laurent Perrier Rosé Champagne and several bottles of my new find the 2010 – Simon Bize Bourgogne Blanc Les Champlains, we even had a present courtesy of my young sister Dana.

My I say that all dishes were prepared and presented to perfection, a right balance between traditional French taste and local products, For first course we had:

photos 017Fresh Beef Tartar (hand cut), Garlic cream and truffles.

A Perfect balance between the meat and the cream, without the garlic “raising its head “too strongly”, and a nice light chilly touch on the finish, roasted Artichoke hearts and shaved parmesan cheese on top refreshing “twist” on the traditional recipe.

Shrimps Taj Mahalphotos 014

Fresh shrimps a la plancha, lying on a base of ringed “Avocado salad”. soaked in light lassi cream (yoghurt lightly spiced with curry and chili powder, chillies and lemon grass sugar syrup), domed by juliennes of beetroot giving it a Raja feel and look, but mainly tasty and alluring (for the next bite).

photos 015Fresh fish crudo

Nice fresh chunks of Ultra fresh raw Tuna and another white flesh fish (maybe Intiass- greater amberjack) on a bed of thick base of ground roasted eggplants and well spiced “Labaneh” cheese, (a sour middle eastern thick yoghurt fresh white cheese).

And the legendary HS Tomatoes Salad (the one “all town is trying to imitate”), grilled and freshphotos 016 various types of tomatoes of all colours and types, Kalamata olives, green chillies, Basil and quality Tulum cheese, Very refreshing almost a mouth cleanser…

Needless to say all first course dishes were devoured by all present including as many extra helpings as requested and there were more than some exstras.

The menu main courses came before the main course specially prepared for the occasion, these were:

photos 035Seafood (shrimp and Calamari) fresh artichokes Lesbos Noodles , these noodles remind me more of Strangozzi or the hand rolled, hard, south Toscan Pici. Stringozzi is an Italian wheat pasta, from the border between the region of Umbria and Toscana, These are slightly harder in touch when cooked, they are as you see long, rectangular cross-section uneven, handmade noodles. The name of the pasta is drawn from its resemblance to shoelaces – stringhe in Italian, in a wonderfully perfumed sauce I wonder if some red and orange bell peppers were “thrown in” while making the sauce (that’s how I make it). Although according to the menu the noodles owe their “claim to fame” to the Island of Lesbos Greece this is a 100% Italian dish…

MILK VEAL Cannelloni, Chard, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, in creamy Veal thick 037

This is a perfect Cannelloni, in fact, my favorites. The dough is more like a crepe leaf, with a perfectly cooked milk veal hot pot diced adding some of the juices,mixed with Chard, to lighten the weight of the pot roast. Chard; (Beta vulgaris) is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. This rolled crepe (cannelloni) with the slightly (onion sweet brown sauce is a delight, (I ordered an extra helping, could not resist the temptation).

photos 036Potatoes Gnocchi, Truffle oil, King of the forest mushrooms and peas.

The King oyster mushroom is not the tastiest of mushrooms simply because it has little taste (looking almost like elongated מלך היערcep or porchini The Boletus edulis) and tasting or smelling none like them, but they are so absorbent they take any flavour you give them, which in many cases is an advantage when cooking…) This dish would not feel a stranger in any restaurant of Umbria or Toscana and would be admired even by the most experienced Roman connoisseur, Italians like home style cooking and this is a very “comforting dish”, a “reminiscence of childhood “

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Roasted Leg of Lamb root vegetables and tomatoes and green chillies, Roast Rata Potatoes.

The lunch’s “special” a personal  dish cooked ONLY for our table was unfortunately served only after we were beginning to fill up… with it cane the fish dish:

photos 047Meager or drum fish (Musar around our shores) in spiced tomatoes fish stock (Jungle curry) and white rice. The sauce was divine, fried fish fillets “swimming in this red tropical sea, freshened up with cucumber Juliennes.

Coffees and deserts

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Cheese Cake Luis 14th style

Chocolate Nemesis in seasalt caramel / toffee and Ice cream

The House of Pistachio (Fistook) with pistachio Kulfi

And we were so pleased and FULL!


Laurent-Perrier-Rose-ChampagneLaurent Perrier Rose Champagne is a salmon colored rosé Champagne crisp and fruity. with aromas of strawberries, raspberries, the Laurent Perrier Rosé Champagne is made using maceration technique, giving it richness without losing its elegance . A fresh, delightful rosé, excellent fit for the occasion.

 Moët & Chandon Rosé Champagne,This over 10 year old NV is a Moët & Chandon’s excellentmoet_chandon_brut_imperial_rose_ non-vintage pink champagne retained its fresh pink colour. It has all the usual approachable unsophisticated Moët touch yet it comes with a twist of emphasis on red berry scent with light red summer fruit flavours.

photos 0292010 – Simon Bize Bourgogne Blanc Les Champlains, as it went with the BBQ see;  everyone enjoyed the wine immensely, so much so that I miss calculated the number of bottles required, never mind sometimes less is more…

Thanks Jonathan Roshfeld for your special gesture, coming to cook for us on you free day, for arranging such a perfect Lunch, a lunch to remember and leave good memories of yet another special BIRTHDAY PARTY with Jon, and special thanks to all the restaurant stuff for the effort, the wonderful and caring service making us yet again feel at home. I know this is not our last family celebration with Yonathan and his highly able crew.

Herbert Samuel , 6 Koifman Street (Gaon House), Tel-Aviv Tel: 03-5166516


Taste of wine, Flavour (Part 2)

Taste Compounds, Chemistry, Anatomy & physiology of the sense of Taste in Wine continues..

Taste compounds- tastants, have smaller molecules than those of odors and, unlike odors, must be water-soluble (hydrophilic) to cause sensation. Fortunately wine is liquid and the taste components in it are already dissolved in the product. Our oral cavity senses taste and touch.

afp20000115p427-f3                                                          gustatory-pathway-cortex-in-insula-facial-and-glossopharyngeal-nerve-in-medulla-oblongata

Some interpretations of the sense of touch, like: Austerity of tannins, or burning of overpowering Alcohol, oiliness of glycerin etc. that have texture (affecting the touch sensation) and other physical features such as temperature, all related to the sense of touch are many times confused with the actual sense of taste. While there may be many aroma nuances within the wine Aromas categories, as arranged on the Aroma wheel, there are only four tastes considered in wine: salty, sour, sweet and bitter.
(The section below, aided by: Taste: Compiled by Tim Jacob, Cardiff University, UK : )
photos 009Salty tastes, very seldom are present in wine because most vine rootstocks are known to restrict the uptake of salt (maybe in Jerez and some western Australian wines). But minerality can sometimes be mistaken as salty. Salty is the most common of tastes, these come from sodium chloride (table salt), sodium nitrite, sodium bicarbonate (as in baked foods), and sodium benzoate (in various beverages). Salt (sodium chloride (Na+ Cl-). Affect the taste receptors by Na+ ions entering the receptor cells via Na-channels. The entry of Na+ causes cell depolarization, transmitter release occurs and results in increased firing in the primary afferent nerve, thus salty sensation is interpreted in the brain. But as mentioned there are very few wines that are salty or give rise to real salty sensation.

Sour tastes come from acids citric acids in citrus fruits, malic acid in apples peach or pears, tartaric acid in wine and lactic acid inlemons milk products.Sour taste is acid which are protons: (H+). Some new evidence suggests that there is an acid-sensing channel. This channel is from the transient receptor potential channel (TRP) family and is a non-selective channel. The activity is gated by pH (H+ ion concentration). Apart from wine, acids are found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and foods products such as baked, soft drinks, sweets, jams, jellies, milk products, processed meats and even oils.
Raw_cane_sugar_DemeraraSweet tastes comes from sugars, primarily sucrose and others like, glucose, fructose or lactose There are special proteins in the taste receptor membrane that bind glucose and other carbohydrates like sucrose and fructose that activate intracellular messengers, that transmit impulses through the primary afferent nerve to the brain, sweetness is sensedquinnine

Bitter tastes come from alkaloids, such as contained in coffee and quinine (tonic water). Bitter substances bind to T2R receptors activating the G-protein and causing activation of PLC. The elevated Ca2+ causes transmitter release and this sends electrical messages of bitterness to the brain.
Although taste buds were noted to be of different sizes and shapes, depending upon their location, subsequent investigation proved that all of them contain the same kinds of taste receptor cells (papillae) that supply the sensations of taste. The entire top surface of the tongue can sense all of the various tastes.

taste_receptors4Taste receptor cells do not have an axon. Information is relayed to terminals of sensory fibers by transmitter. These fibers arise from the ganglion cells of the cranial nerves Vll (facial) – a branch called the Chorda Tympani and cranial nerve lX (glossopharyngeal).
We already established that taste is mainly smell (a combination we describe as Flavour). Without smell we cannot tell the difference between food or drink products. After all orange is sweet and sour with orange smell and melon is also sweet and sour but with melon smell etc. same goes with red or white wines.taste buds anatomy
When a tasty product enters the mouth, its chemicals are dissolved by the saliva, and the free-floating molecules enter the taste bud through a pore in its center. If the molecule binds to the tip of a receptor cell, it will excite that cell into issuing a series of chemical and electrical signals. For example, sweet and some bitter taste stimuli activate a chemical messenger known as Gustducin, from the G-family of proteins. That send the data relayed to the brain (to the gustatory cortex) and a sensation of “sweet” is interpreted in the brain/mouth.
Salty and sour molecules do not require the receptor tips. Na Ions enter the taste cells directly through special channels in their walls.

But the “taste of wine” is not governed solely by the 4 basic taste, Minerals Tannins and Alcohol are also important factors in what we call: “the taste of wine”. Sweetness and alcohol are round in their “touch” while acidity and tannins are harsh or sharp cornered, rigorous to the touch (austere). When the rounded and sharp edge components balance each other to a “new” completion, a wine can be described as balanced.

brix meterin BarrelSweetness In wine most the sugars turn to alcohol during fermentation. Wines may have some residual sugar, and according to the amount of sugar in Grams per litter wines may vary from Brut (totalt dry) to dry up to 4 g/l, medium dry up to 12 g/l, medium sweet up to 45 g/l, to swee more than 45 g/l. In the wine industry sugar is measure either by portable brix meters in the vineyard or others at the winery .Degrees Brix (°Bx) is the sugar content of an aqueous solution. One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution. As the wine’s alcohol level depends on the sugar content (brix multiplied by 5.5= the future wine alcohol level). A measurement of the sugar content of grapes, must and wine, indicating the degree of the grapes’ ripeness (sugar level) at harvest. Most wine grapes are harvested at a level of between 22 and 25 Brix depending on the grape variety and winemaker preferences (apart from climate ripeness restrictions)
Acidity. Wines contain mainly tartaric acid (from the grapes); which gives the wine a fresh fruitwine phy touch on the palate and tongue, sort of a “crisp” feel, mainly felt on the sides of the tongue. Wines with insufficient acidity may taste dull or even jammy or “tired”. In white wines, which have less tannin than reds, acidity is important to the body and feel of the wine.
Bitterness in wine is elicited primarily by flavonoid phenols in red wines, which are bitter and astringent, and by ethanol. Monomeric flavonoid phenols are primarily bitter. The difference between red and white wine phenol monomers produces a significant difference in brain perception of bitterness. Ethanol enhances bitterness intensity and duration, whereas varying wine pH has little or no effect on the perceived bitterness. (from Bitterness in wine by Noble AC. Physiol Behav. 1994 Dec;56(6):1251-5)
grapeberry_diagram_and_flavorzonesTannins – bitterness in wine is mainly attributed to Tannins, are a family of natural organic compounds: flavonoid phenols that are found in grape skins, seeds, and stems. Aging wine in oak barrels transfers oak tannin into the juice which affects the touch and flavour. Tannins are also act as natural preservative to wine and introduce important antioxidants to our body. They take a major part in establishing wine structure and texture. The longer the grape skin contact with the fermenting wine, or in relation the crushing method of grapes, tannins concentration is affected especially in Red wine where it affects taste, touch sensation At times Tannins may feel a bit overpowering, that leaves our mouth dry. and the depth of colour. Tannic wines affect the touch sensation in the mouth and back of the throat. Tannins also contribute at times a bitter aftertaste.

Alcohol – Alcohol is another important component of the wine taste. It may contribute a burning sensation on the palate and throat when excessive, but It has a major role in achieving the overall balance of wine by softening the “edge” of over acidic or tannic wines. Alcohol affects the feel of “body” to wines. A wine with high alcoholic content will always feel full bodied.

fossil_in_handMinerals – Soil minerals travel into the grape with water. Grapes, must and wine contain dissolved non-organic salts. These salts are local soil minerals or metal elements, and occur naturally in grapes, minerals attach to berry surfaces as a result of vineyard treatment methods, and enter the wine during the wine making process. The concentration of potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium and calcium can range from 200 to 2,000 mg/l in grape juice. Potassium is an important factor in defining wine pH and tartrate stability. Its concentration in wine ranges from 200-2000 mg/L High level of potassium in wine has great nutritional values. (from Minerals are often felt stronger in white wines grown on chalky soil, described in French as: goût de fossile (the taste of Fossils), sensed in Chablis and Bourgogne whites.
Change of taste in aging wines
Oxidation is the most important part of wine maturation. These changes include the change in colour of red to brick brown red duringOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA aging, loss of primary flavour varietal character and the development of secondary and tertiary aromas. These changes appear in white and red wines, but they are more noticeable in white wine. The rate of oxidation depends on pH, temperature, concentration of dissolved oxygen, and the phenolic composition. Oxidation is faster in lower acidity and high temperature conditions, in the barrel and later in the bottle. Oxidation also depends on the phenolic composition of the wine.
Careful storage of aging wines, will help wines become smoother, rounder with well incorporated tannins, as through polymerization of phenolic compounds causing them to become less bitter and reduction in acidity which should not affect the fruitiness of the wine. Further polymerization of phenols, enlarges their molecular size causing them to precipitate and sink as sediments the bottle. This leads to a smoother wine with reduced astringency and a rounder taste. The rest is really down to your “taste” or “flavour” my tarte tatinvocabulary,coffe which in wine is governed by association: cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, saddle soap, vanilla, toasted bread, tarte Tatin etc. are all picked from past exposure and association.
All of these and some more… contribute to what is called the TASTE OF WINE, and if you got all the way to here, You do deserve a wine that tastes good whatever that means, after all taste is a personal preference.

BBQ for Independence Day


malta fireworks 1

No one really knows when or why a tradition of celebrating Independence day around charcoal grills started. If you ask me it is a “borrowing” of the American modern 4th of July tradition (also) of unknown origin.
BBQ was not invented in America and no one knows who invented the barbecue. The word ‘Barbecue’ might come from the Taino Indian word ‘barbacoa’ meaning meat-smoking apparatus. ‘Barbecue‘ could have also originated from the French word “Barbe a queue” which means “whiskers-to-tail.” When all parts of an animal where used for preparing meat dishes on fire or smoke. (wiki)

Ancient man song by Daphne Sarnat from:

We have to go way back to prehistoric times to dig out the origin of slow cooking on fire Barbecue. Fire’s general use, according to paleontological and archaeolgical records, began only about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. But after cooking, many undesirable substances present in plants and vegetables are deactivated and starch and other nutrients in the plants become absorbable by the digestive tract. All of the major domesticated plant foods, such as wheat, barley, rice, millet, rye, and potatoes, require cooking before they are suitable for human consumption.
From: Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 (p. 1571)
It is possible that men first ate meat that had been charred or cooked by virtue of being caught in a natural forest fire (a positive accident). They might have otherwise eaten raw meat, if necessary, but we can also imagine that our earliest digestive systems rebelled against eating raw meat.

photo(15)        carbobriq-incan   cowboycook
Nowadays, to barbecue means to slow-cook meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or charcoal. In America, barbecue (or BBQ) originated in the late 1800’s during Western cattle drives. The cowboys were not allowed “perfect cuts” of meat, mainly brisket that required many hours of cooking to tenderize. As they sat after sunset around wood fires, meat and other foods were prepared on charcoals.
indians_cooking_fishThere is a romantic notion regarding “Cowboys and Indians” the open plains and the wild prairie, an Indian tribe cooking meat over fire after the hunt (smoking and drying the rest for future use), town folks eating huge steaks at the local restaurant as portrayed in the John Ford 1962 movie The Man Who LibertyValance2Shot Liberty Valance, including a fight over meat, with Ranse (James Stewart) waiting table, Liberty (Lee Marvin) making trouble, and Tom (John Wayne) booting Strother Martin, in an outrageous confrontation over a steak. I was always amazed by the sheer size of the “wild west” huge steak cuts.

photos 021

My old Weber grill has long lost its legs but still performs miracles for BBQ grilling all you need is a good bunch of red hot charcoal wood or charcoal briquettes and your prepared or marinated meat, fish, seafood, vegetables etc.

We had :

photo(14)                            photo(16)

* pork spare ribs prepped in advance finished on the grill

photos 013  photos 022   photos 024
Indonesian Sate Beef  (sate marinate and sauce)

Tandoori Lamb chops Tandoori Lamb chops in tandoori paste marinade (everyone’s favorite, though not in a tandoor)      photos 031photos 015  photos 030
Mediterranean style Lamb chops (garlic, thyme, mint, rosemary)

some Basmati rice for the south Asian fare, and grill roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes with salad as side dishes
The wines
photos 0292010 – Simon Bize Bourgogne Blanc Les Champlains
The 2010 les Champlains turned to be a great bottle of wine worth every penny of its relatively low cost. The great nose soars from the glass in a blaze of green apples, with some peaches and citrus blossoms, with a floral note of acacia blossoms. On the palate the wine is substantial and elegant, pure and full of fruit, good length keeping fresh all the time. Wait 10 minutes for the wine to settle down than a gush of green apple peel on the Nose with apple, pear, some tropical fruit. This is not a great wine by definition or pedigree although it comes from a single lot above Savigny les Beaune in Côte de Beaune, Bourgogne. It is an (AOC) with slightly less than 15 per cent chardonnay grapes with no Grand Cru vineyards within the appellation. Great value for money.
Simon Bize is a terrific producer continueing a family tradition since 1880 and making wines in a more meticulous manner around 60 years (early 1970’s)

Dugat Py, Gevrey Chambertin, Coeur du Roi 2003dugat py 2003
Dugat Py claim for fame comes from the American wine import industry as a true modern day Burgundian superstar. I know this is not my favorite wine making style in the Burgundy area, too much effort on colour, fruit and tannin concentration, Usually I personally prefer the less purple more light reddish translucent traditional elegant wines with a “true” Bourgognian touch, we had the Dugat Py, Gevrey Chambertin Coeur du Roi 2006 a few weeks ago and the wine was still too firm even too tight and failed to open to its full potential even after a long time (the rest of the case will have to wait in my cellar for at least another 5 years I am patient), Yet Dugat Py wine complement juict fatty BBQ meats more than extremely delicate and elegant Gevrey, and so it was chosen; A Dugat Py, Gevrey Chambertin, Coeur du Roi 2003, now at its 10th year (an enigma that has to be solved I also have a case of these…) On the first sniff I was relieved, the wine had some other undertones of the soul and soil of Bourgogne that overcame the strength and power the wine was intended to reflect. Great smell of cherries more than strawberries with lovely wet soil and mushroom scent, on the palate flavour is luscious fruit with pleasant fresh compost/hay or cabbage (on the pleasant side) traces, seasoned with thyme and mint overtone evolving so well. Full to medium body with a full feel and a very long palate, tannins still not round enough for my taste but I was impressed and content with the choice.

photos 044 photos 036
We thought we would not celebrate this year with a BBQ, as it happened we did, in a company of three, a grilled holiday lunch, cooked on charcoal with the moon smiling at us up in the afternoon sky, great wines and company, and my very own tarte Tatin  to end the meal.

                         my tarte tatin


Drinking with friends – A sort of “WAKE”


First Shaul Evron, a great connoisseur of Champagnes and Bourgogne wines died (quite suddenly) and if that was not enough than in a most abrupt manner, in fact over night! From here to nowonly a few months after “we” all “promised” to keep the legacy going, Yoezer (Shauls restaurant) and my favorite local bistro closed down. A short notice that said it all appeared on the Yoezer Internet site: : We were, and now No More, apologies for the abrupt farewell. Thanking all who loved us for almost 18 years, but now we all must GO…” The Yoezer team. Feb. 20th 2013.

shaul-dana-meirzon-walla-sbYou may find it hard to believe (at least I did) that the dissolving Yoezer in its last few hours was rampaged and looted by evil forces of debtors who took anything in sight including of course private wines belonging to customers some of which substantial wines and most of which were privately owned and collected by Shaul throughout the years.

On the 30th day of the surprise closure of Yoezer 20th March 2013, (as is customary in the Jewish tradition) we arranged a meeting to commemorate our “loss” but unlike the somber Jewish tradition this was intended and indeed was, a celebration, a party rather than a mourning gather very much like an Irish “wake”.(a “wake” for the dead derives from the word “watch” or “guard” and is contrary to the thought that people at a wake are waiting in case the deceased should “wake up.”)

The popular 19th century song “The Night Paddy Murphy Died” by Newfoundlander balladeer Johnny Burke is a humorous send-up of the drinking associated with an Irish wake, Here the “Great Big Sea” version:[press play for song]

Oh the night that Paddy Murphy died, is a night I’ll never forget

Some of the boys got loaded drunk, and they ain’t got sober yet;

As long as a bottle was passed around every man was feelin’ gay

O’Leary came with the bagpipes, some music for to play


That’s how they showed their respect for Paddy Murphy

That’s how they showed their honour and their pride;

They said it was a sin and shame and they winked at one another

And every drink in the place was full the night Pat Murphy died

SAMSUNGSome might say this is a sad occasion how can you celebrate but we thought that it calls for a get together over some glasses of good in fact, excellent wines with friends Ben Tidhar , the legendary Yoezer’s chef, and Shlomit Herling , sommelier and Restaurant manager for almost all of it’ s days the “main pillars” of the bistro, Yair Varda and myself (of the restaurant’s devoted followers) at the Chamara bar of Raphael restaurant in Tel-Aviv, a most becoming venue for our needs: eat drink and smoke (legally).

selsse oisters

We started with a toast on the most delicious and rare Champagne Brut Jacques Selosse Rosé NV accompanied withJ Selosse rose gold in bot fresh oysters which complemented one another perfectly, Yair said: “a rare gem to announce a very promising night. Can’t be put better, and so I sipped on this complex 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. Oger Chardonnay blended with a small percentage of Ambonnay Pinot Noir, expressing in a simple yet hard to Anselmachieve manner Anselme Selosse’s unique style that sets what he does apart from all other champagne producers. What a joy! And the colour a golden peach blush in a bottle. Pitty the Chamara light is so dim but this is the way of most wine bars.  A highly appropriate offering from Yair’s collection.

Champagne Selosse Rosé NV Selosse Rose is not just great Champagne; it is a great wine by all counts. You dip into the very essence a great wine can lead you to. It is a sparkling Bourgogne great, revealing new aspects of complexity and freshness with every sip this is not a wine, it is an essence of Oger and Ambonnay soil the taste of the earth and it’s minerality…(this one is at least 10 years in storage) I guess It is beyond the need to verbally describe further, you’re either lucky to taste it or you can just envy me (I guess most of you are envious)

We left some of the Rose aside for our farewell toast and opened the next offering this is from the Yoezer salvaged collection:

auxy dur  auxy 2000             auxey lable

Domaine d’Auvenay Auxey Duresses Blanc Les Boutonniers  2000

A wine from the private Domain of Madam Lalou Bize Leroy, considered as one of the most elegant Bourgogne whites, with amazing complexity or as Yair summed it up: Ocean in a bottle! and how well it complemented the Oysters or vice versa. It also accompanied the “blue crab open ravioli” and the fresh shrimp pasta both of which was excellent.

For the Lamb chops and a bite of the Foie Gras we opened the:

Grivot nuitDomaine Jean Grivot , Nuits Saint Georges Les Roncieres, 2002

Thank god Parker Jr. started it out by giving it a relatively low score 88 (another miss scored wine) and that after stating it was: “fresh wine of outstanding depth… ” never mind all that after all wine is a matter of personal preferences at least in my case.

My offering for the “party” was a Shaul’s favorite Berthaut’s EPOISSES de Bourgogne.

We could not depart before the Rosé nectar laid yet again upon our tongue and palate, sending us home with it’s long finish, elated. good food, great company, Great wines, what else should we aspire to from a reunion? (I was content)

If Shaul would have participated in this gathering I assume the 3 above bottles consumed (by 5 of us) would prove insufficient in quantity but this is an example to the saying that less is more. Three perfect bottles are more than enough for one perfect get together.

happy gather

And as the Irish song goes: “That’s how we showed our respect for Shaul and Yoezer, That’s how we showed our honour and our pride”

There are still some salvaged bottles, about 15 such wine bottles which were saved by the devoted Shlomit and Ben, into an old Sassicaia wooden wine box that always laid (empty) on the bar top shelve. Those are left for now (with Ben) I guess Shaul would say they are resting in the right hands. I think I should propose to keep them in my cellar (better storage conditions) for future meetings, each and everyone a celebration of Shaul and Yoezer taste that lingers on in my memories.

 By the way, my Salvaged wines (the 2 bottles from the case that I claimed as mine… were brought to the occasion, both too young to drink and will improve immensely, in my humble cellar, with time, were:

salvaged  chapelle Ponsot 2004      krug 1996

Chapelle Chambertin  2004 Domaine Jean-Marie (Laurent) Ponsot, Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, France.

Krug Champagne Brut 1996

The Chapelle-Chambertin 2004 comes from a 0.7 hectares lot of 18 year-old vines, whose first bottling was in 1970. The vines are relatively young, and produce a wine of structure that needs some bottle age, by “order” of the domain and we will comply!

IMG_0207Krug Champagne Brut 1996 an almost perfect wine (I had it once before) and will not tempt to open it for quitw some time the seductive roasted almond and hazelnuts yeasty flavour with peach and apricot notes never leaning to the sweet side, remaining brut and fresh with multilayered aromas, engulf you after a 20 minutes breathing in the glass (use a large flute!) than you will be very close to perfection which is what this wine will achieve in due course.

I will leave you with the last verse of the wake song The Night Pat Murphy Died.

 Irish bagpipers

Oh the night that Paddy Murphy died, is a night I’ll never forget

Some of the boys got loaded drunk and they ain’t been sober yet;

As long as a bottle was passed around every man was feelin’ gay

O’Leary came with the bagpipes, some music for to play

Till next,

Sweet dreams…


A meal at Yauatcha Soho – A Birthday Party

Menu                         Yauatcha Downstairs Diningroom

One of my devoted “followers” is Daphne, and she has her birthday each year on 31st of March. (Yes I invite my regular “followers” to dine on their birthdays, it is a means to increase the volume of readers of my blog:, a PR stunt and it works) [press play to hear music].

Her choice was; dinner at Yauatcha Soho. Not for the first time may I add and the joy, as always is complete. YAUATCHA is basically a Dim Sum joint at the edge of Soho London. But… there’s dim sum and other “touches of hearts”. This is dim sum at its best with other Chinese nibbles on the side. See menu: It serves some of London’s best and most exciting Cantonese food.

IMG_0580         IMG_0575  IMAG0277
Dim sum 点心 (meaning in Chinese: touch the heart) is (as you all know) a style of Cantonese food prepared as bite-sized or tea at yauatcha1individual portions of food, served either steamed in small steamer baskets or fried, grilled, or baked bite size gems . Eating dim sum at a restaurant is usually known in Cantonese as going to “drink tea” (yum cha, 飲茶), as tea always was typically served with dim sum.
Dim sum has its roots in small establishments that serviced travelers on the ancient Cantonese traveling routes. Those small tea houses, served at first as stations for travelers needing a rest and have a cup o’ tea. Teahouses were established along the roadside. Travelers, merchants and farmers, would go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. No food was served as it was considered “inappropriate” to combine tea with food, for dietary reasons. While dim sum was originally not a main meal, only a sort of snack, meant to “touch the heart”, (very much like “Spanish Tapas” traditionally served with Sherry, rather than tea), it is now one of the pillars of Cantonese culinary culture.
The unique culinary art of dim sum was transformed from “yum cha” a relaxing tea break to an exciting dining experience. The traditional dim sum restaurant typically serves dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society it has become more common for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner time, Yauatcha follows this trend. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather and eat dim sum after morning Tai Chi exercises.
The characteristics of the elaborate cooking methods of Chinese imperial cuisine, of strict selection of material, which are often extremely expensive, rare, or complicated in preparation, visual presentation as a crucial aspect, and significance of color and shape of the dish arrangement were adopted by Dim sum “masters” who transformed the dishes into Art on a plate.
Dim sum by the way, should not automatically be assumed to be healthy as it contains fatty dishes and ingredients that should be balanced with lighter vegetable dishes.
At Yauatcha, as they testify themselves, “you can sample the delights that first made the restaurant famous when Alan Yau opened it in 2004: top-quality dim sum that’s served day and night. (Yau has long since released control of the business), but standards remain high. Yauatcha is a modern reinterpretation of the old Chinese teahouse. Designed by Christian Liaigre, the restaurant’s open-plan layout and visible kitchen energizes the entire space, engaging both the outside street scene and Yauatcha’s customers. Yauatcha received a michelin starMichelin star within a year of its opening and retained it to date”.
A limited number of restaurants are chosen for the MICHELIN Guides and all aspire to be nominated for entering their “star system” but earning a star is one of the highest honors in the industry. Although The only known criteria on which they judge a restaurant for a Michelin star are: Quality of the products, Mastery of flavour and cooking, techniques, The “personality” of Chef in his cuisine, Value for money, and Consistency between visits, which are vigorously kept at Yauatcha, it is usually more than just that… that enters the list of considerations and very few bustling, noisy, multi service packed restaurants are awarded the Honor of the restaurant industry, Yauatcha, is rightly awarded the aspired accolade. IMG_0595
One star indicates a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. (A good place to stop on your journey, as defined by the guide). It is worth a visit even out of your journey, I’ve been doing it since the day it was opened.
On this visit we had a selection of the following Dim Sum, and other dishes accompanied by 2010 L’oeuvre de Perraud,Domaine Perraud Mâcon-Villages not a great wine by any standard but perfect for the meal ahead, fresh multilayered with green apple and touches of tropical notes, a light and easy fun wine with no apparent faults.
We had:
IMG_0586Blue swimmer crab shui mai with pork was an interesting combination of white crab meat and minced pork.
Steamed vegetable dumpling – so well performed and presented the photo says it all
King crab dumpling – simply delicious
Prawn and bean-curd cheung fun an old favorite of mine and one of the ” spécialité de la maison”IMAG0280 the perfect balance of oral touch sensation the bite starts at the outer smooth jelly, followed by crispy lining of bean-curd that crunches between your teeth as you get to bite the springy fresh prawn exquisite!
Three style mushroom cheung fun another “house specialty” the gelatinous “flat rice noodle” wraps precisely spiced and deliciously scented mushroom filling.

Of course we could not resist the fried Spicy soft shell crab so we ordered 2 and could have devoured at least 2 more between the 4 of us. The chilly spiced roast almonds with fried and fresh curry leaves and a well fried soft shell crab “swimming” in a yellowish saffron colour, a delight with every bite.
Soft-shell crab is a term for crabs which have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft, most crabs molt their shell and are a delicacy at this precarious stage of their cycle.IMG_0578
IMG_0581Jasmine tea smoked ribs – so tender and well seasoned to “die for”
Crispy aromatic duck – this is almost a fetish of mine to sample crispy aromatic duck (a most common dish) in every chineese mealand this one tops them all all the fat turned to crunchy crisp deliciously spiced and scented, I like it here, I can skip the whole self wrapping part and just eat it on it’s own.
For vegetables Spicy aubergine, Sato bean, okra and French bean – the wide array of tastes enhanced by the Hedonistic peculiar IMG_0606taste of the Sato bean is sensually perfect.
sato beans Parkia speciosaSato Bean is a plant of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae. It has almonds shape, long, flat edible beans with bright green colour  which have a rather peculiar but Hedonistic smell, similar (but stronger) to the Shiitake or even rotting mushrooms. A popular culinary ingredient in most south Asian countries, mainly: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, southern Thailand, Burma, and northeastern India.
Egg white fried rice with dried scallop and asparagus – my favorite rice here
We finished with a well brewed cup of tea and a complete balance of body and mind was achieved yet again.
The service (as always), was kind supportive informative and efficient.IMG_0614
Yauatcha :15-17 Broadwick Street. Soho, London, W1F 0DL,
Tel:+44 (0) 20 7494 8888.

Happy Birthdat dear Daphne


Square Meal