I was so busy with the exquisite meal at hand and the wonderful champagne was such a suitable company, that I forgot all about our second white wine the Sauvignon Blanc (Morillon) – Zieregg – Manfred Tement Austria Manfred is considered to be amongst the best Sauvignon producers in the world. It is a powerful Sauvignon Blanc, a bit too muscular for my taste especially for the delicate meal we are enjoying , it has a strong yellow color, very long lasting on the palate, fully ripened now (a bit on the oxidized side). Haidu says Zieregg is the “baby” of the tireless Manfred Tement, who is never quite pleased with his wine and constantly in search for new challenges and better achievements in his vineyard and winery, on the hills above Berghausen (in the south east of Austria a few miles from the border with Slovenia).
we continue with our meal https://wine4soul.com/2012/11/24/a-meal-at-catit-restaurant/ , and now open the GRUAUD LAROSE 1970 (St. Julien Bordeaux) with a sense of enigmatic anticipation the wine is Just above shoulder in the bottle, a fairly low level that might have allowed extra oxidation to affect the wine. In the meantime as the Sauvignon Blanc (Morillon) – Zieregg is being consumed I stick with the lovely champagne.
We are sitting in Catit Tel-Aviv (since 2006), The restaurant resides in a beautiful period building built by the Jerusalemski family in 1911 and was known as The “Jerusalem’s House” Later it became the first Hotel in Tel-Aviv “The American Hotel” till the early 1950’s. It was restored to its glory to house the present restaurant, the exterior of the building complements the content of the indoors
In the Hebrew Midrash, (which is the interpretation of biblical stories beyond their semantic meaning). Catit is the first and second temples that stood = CAT in Hebrew Gematria= ‘כת’ years= 420, the 2nd temple, and IT =years ית= 410, the first temple, the exact number of years each of the 2 temples stood before their final destruction, Catit is also the Hebrew word for extra Virgin Oil which is a “crushing” of olives to produce oil Just as the Temples were Crushed… This culinary Temple is standing proud producing products of excellent quality like CATIT oil.
Our next dish was:
Smoked & Pickled Veal Tongue
Black smoked cream fresh, Bonito flakes, Lightly pickled Shimaji mushrooms, pickled mustard seeds and mustard stems, Asian aioli and crispy Buckwheat, reddish, beetroot vinaigrette and Quail’s egg yolk.
This dish is as beautiful upon serving as the dish remains upon clearing the black cream fresh and purple beet the yellow cream left artistic smears of colours reminiscent of a good and tasty abstract painting a Jackson Pollock on a dish…unintentionally the guest becomes an artist as well by the mere action of consuming this dish.
The tongue is light and tender and nicely supported by the pickles and steamed carrots. Bonito, the dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), is used as an Umami taste enhancer, and indeed increases the presence of the “umami” taste of the dish: from Japanese: umai (うまい) “delicious”, mi (味) “taste”, the meaty taste of beef broth which is complementary to this dish. The carrots and mushrooms are reminiscent of the “Pot au Feu” method of traditional Jewish Ashkenazi preparation of boiled tongue, as well as the Buckwheat, a traditional grain accompanying boiled meats in eastern European Jewish cookery.
Our GRUAUD LAROSE 1970, is in a great shape (a great sigh of relief) and is showing all its tertiary aromas and flavours of coffee, dried figs, bouquet of spice box and dried tobacco with ripe red currant jam touch and notes of green peppercorn. The soft tannins are fully integrated, with enough fruit and acidity to hold the wine throughout the rest of the meal.
Calf’s brain Sofrito
Cream of garlic, puffed crunchu Kinoa with herb seeds, grilled onions, lamb pancetta, onion cream, sugared onions, crispy Ratta potatoes, red wine and Juniper sauce
This is a real successful take off on a traditional Sephardic Jewish dish, with brain as the main ingredient as customary in Moroccan Jewish cuisine. (other recipes use Lamb, beef or chicken). It has all the Sofrito fragrant sauce, from my mother in law’s kitchen (she makes excellent Sofrito, and is a direct descendent of the Great Sepharadi Kabalist Rabi Abraham Ben Samuel Abulafia from Zaragoza, Spain, (1240-1291). Basicly Sofrito is a water based pot roast of meat onions, potatoes and carrots, which is exactly what we got, dissected to its separate ingredients, with each and every one of the products keeping the essence of its role and aroma of the original dish (very clever idea of culinary deconstruction). Deconstruction in cooking, also known as “destructured” cooking, was introduced to cooking in the early nineties by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, who produced his restaurant El Bulli dishes that were physically unlike the originals but with all their combined flavors preserved, and that’s exactly what we got here, I love and know real traditional Sofrito BRAVO!
Roasted Mediterranean Slipper Lobster
Tarragon butter, young Autumn Vegetables, morilles- mushrooms, black truffles, white butter sauce, pea cream tortellini and poppy seeds patissière.
Local slipper Lobsters called Seegals by local fisherman along the warm eastern Mediterranean shores. Slipper Lobster is an “ugly little fellla” with the best tasting meat of all known Lobsters in my mind. Despite being “called” lobsters, they are not true lobsters, but are more closely related to the clawless decapods: spiny lobsters and furry lobsters; they have NO front large claws like lobsters, (just ten legs).
The crunchy fresh vegetables, and the cream of green peas tortellini swimming in the butter sauce, pull the dish to the delicate, sweet side which goes very well with the morilles. I take the opportunity to sip on the last drops of the champagne, a perfect match for this dish.
We brought in along in case the 1970 Gruaud will be faulty, but on our 4th hour around the table and with our final “main” dish we could not resist opening the St. Joseph at hand. We opt to open our 100% Syrah (extra, spare bottle of red wine):
La Dame Brune 2001 Domaine George Vernay Saint Joseph. It turned to be an impressively intense, clean and pure wine with lots of intense raspberries aroma, a touch of pepper and a hint of tar and creosote finished by exotic candied violet touch. It was fresh and crisp and luckily did not lean towards the usual “sweet” finish, reminding more it’s neighboring Crozes Hermitage and Cote Rotie wines. The St. Joseph region gained its AOC only in 1956. It was a small appellation covering less than 100 hectares, nowadays the potential size of the appellation is around 3000 hectares.
Sirloin of Lamb
Dusted in onions ash, green Fava beans, crispy leaves of Malva, crispy crushed wheat, roulade of roast potato with Gruyère patissière thyme and sage, red wine sauce.
Malva leaves or Marsh mellow, from the Okra family are edible leaves used extensively by Bedouins and in Egyptian dishes. The meat is tender and juicy going well with our “dark haired lady” (La Dame Brune), the crispy leaves kept their shape to perfection following the dehydration and light frying process (reminded me of what the London Soho Chinese restaurant call “fried seaweed”) their light touch on the palate while crunching is appealing and the other ingredients (apart from the slightly heavy roulade) complement the main ingredient of the dish nicely.
To break down the intense flavours of the meat dish we are served a mouth cleanser with a twist:
Lime Sorbet, brioche croutons, rice crisps, frozen light yoghurt and lemon marshmallow.
A frozen dish that only when melted in your mouth reassembles to become a Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) with the croutons resembling crunchy light Biscotti, the lime sorbet and frozen yoghurt adds a much needed refreshing touch on the palate a perfect mouth cleanser.
Our two deserts arrived at the table together
Valrona Chocolate pastry,
Financier of wild AMARENA Cherries, mouse of nougat and hazelnuts, crumble of pumpkin and nuts, almond crisp tuile biscuits, caramel ice cream.
Crispy buckwheat, plain yoghurt mouse, fresh herbs, honey and sage ice-cream, pumpkin marmalade and sugared carrots.
Both where exquisite to look at and very light with each ingredient (there are lots!) rightly balanced and measured (even the chocolate mangery was melting into the mouth without the overpowering heaviness that can be associated with fondant style deserts)
The carrot puff was a pleasant surprise, (I do not like carrot based cakes usually) but the light feel and delicate touch of the carrot was impressive. Two great deserts to sum up a meal that equals and even surpasses some great meals I had at times in great restaurants around the world, the easy pace and wonderful service, the inside each dish and within the whole menu was impressive.
We sipped the last drops of wine with the restaurant stuff sampling all the wines we brought, our Joy was complete as we parted the restaurant almost five hours after we started, the pace of the dinner and the “touch of culinary genius” (YES), that came out of the kitchen onto our plates was heartwarming and most importantly perfectly measured (we were not stuffed to our necks).
Thanks to all at CATIT, we shall meet again soon.
Catit Restaurant : 4 Heichal Ha- Talmud St, Tel Aviv Phone 03 510-7001
A story of a DARE
It is not often that a GREAT chef DARES me to sample his new menu at his Restaurant. Well… one of the most talented chefs in Israel Meir Adoni of CATIT Restaurant in Tel-Aviv, did just that! He dared me to put his “cooking creations” to “contest” against any other meals I had with renowned chefs around the world. (2-3 Michelin star restaurants) and he knows the restaurants I visited lately.
For me it was a win win situation. The deal was give me 5 hours of your time and Just 60% of the cost of a GREAT meal abroad, (wines not included) for me and one or two other experienced diners of my choice. We bring the wines, (we’re good at that…), and come with open minds, allow ourselves to immerse unconditionally into his world. Between us I could not have been Happier
Now, I know this young, talented guy, Meir ADONI, (almost since he first opened his first restaurant outside Tel-Aviv in Kfar Ruth and later in the astonishing Allenby Farm House at Kibbutz Netzer Sireni, what a great venue! (unfortunately for him not at the center of things). That day I dined at his place with amazement he was an eager youngling, with lots of ideas circling in his culinary mind, at times overdoing content and dish size, but the talent and sparkle was there from day one, we all mature to excellence, the hard way…
The man who cooked at the house where the british headquarters and personal residence of General Edmund Henry Allenby, the British General and administrator, Alenby, who led the Egyptian Expeditionary Force during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in the British conquest of Palestine and Syria in 1917 and 1918, during the First World War, The man who “freed” Jerusalem from 400 years of Ottoman rule, a great friend and commander of T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia” one of my favorite characters). As Lawrence wrote in his book seven pillars of wisdom, an autobiographical account of his experiences of British soldier:
I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
And wrote my will across the sky and stars
To earn you freedom, the seven pillared worthy house,
That your eyes might be shining for me when I came
So does Meir Adoni who started cooking at General Alenby’s headquarters, preparing his tour de (culinary) force, his very own seven pillars of culinary wisdom, for me personally I must say I was flattered.
To sum it up we did get a virtuoso culinary experience on the day the first Palestinian Rockets fell on Tel-Aviv (9/11/12), a meal that allowed us to forget all the worldly follies of human deeds such as war, death and destruction and allowed us 5 hours of calm bliss with a rare combination of our 5 senses, mainly smell and taste, in balanced aroma’s, visually exquisite artistic presentation to touch the realm of all our senses in each and every dish from start to finish. It certainly was an impressive expression of Chef Adoni’s passion, to food and culinary excellence.
The wines we brought :
Pierre Gimonnet, Fleuron 1996 1er Cru Champagne
Sauvignon Blanc (Morillon) – Zieregg – Manfred Tement Austria
GRUAUD LAROSE St. Julien Bordeaux1970
La Dame Brune 2001 Domaine George Vernay Saint Joseph
The champagne Pierre Gimonnet, Fleuron 1996, was opened all dressed in a lovely straw yellow colour, leaning towards gold with nice stream of elegant delicate bubbles, this maturing excellent wine is full of notes of a mature champagne aromas of compote of apricots and golden apples, with a touch of roasted almonds and a nice tone of yeast bouquet (the alluring side of a great champagne), still refreshing with a good balance between fruit and acidity, it turned out to be a most suitable wine for the meal that lies ahead…
1. Gillardeau oyster.
Grean Apples, celery, cuecumbers, Tapioca pearles Jus of parsly and Youzo
One fresh oyster laid gently in a jus of parsley and Youzo with small cubes of green crunchy vegetables and fruit, the scent of greens balance by the acidity of the Youzo compliment the fresh oyster (with its juices) and a decoration of Tapioca pearls, a dish fit as a start to a regal meal.
Gillardeau oysters are a brand of edible oysters that are produced by the Gillardeau family founded in 1898 in Bourcefranc-le-Chapus near La Rochelle and the Île d’Oléron in western France
Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava. This species is native to Brazil. The term “tapioca” is used to represent the root of the cassava plant, rather than the starch
The pearls must be soaked well before cooking, to rehydrate them; they will easily absorb water equal to twice their volume, becoming leathery and swollen.
2. Triptych of seafood
An eggshell filled with Blue Crab flesh, spinach, white almonds, quails yolk and shrimp butter, “Cromesquis” of Langoustine Bisque, Toasted brioche with shrimp butter.
This is a triptych of delightful bites of seafood first the content of the eggshell delicate comes to life upon crunching on a bleached Almond every once in a while the combi of quails yolk and spinach is precisely balanced with the freshly steamed crab flesh, the Kormosky is a crunchy ball / truffle filled with creamy langoustine bisque that bursts through the “shell” as you bite on it, very clever and perfectly performed langouste doughnut, the toasted brioche (slightly scented with truffle oil) can be eaten on its own or used to dip into the eggshell to wipe off the remains of the dish excellent!
3. Sashimi of Amberjack
Amberjack (Intias) dusted in Nori seaweed, Ginger cream, Youzo aioli, a Jelly of honey and horseradish, yoghurt parfait, Horseradish Granita, and herbal vinaigrette.
The combination of the fresh sashimi and the perfect horseradish granite, is just right the other bits and bobs add to the presentation and the wider scope of flavours but is not essential.
Granita is a semi-frozen Sicilian rough sorbet of sorts, it is coarse, and has crystalline texture. It is made from water and fresh horseradish juice and grated flakes and maybe an added secret dairy ingredient, I guess…)
Amberjacks are voracious predators, which feed on squid, fish, and crustaceans in the mediterainian the smaller, lesser Amberjack (up to 5 Kg are more common than the Atlantic Greater Amberjack, one of the best fish for Sashimi in our waters.
4. Steak Tartar
Tartar of “skirt”/Onglet, Cognac, shallots radishes lightly cured Mediterranean anchovy Dashi cream and smoked egg yolk.
A delicate version of steak tartar from the diaphragm of the steer Though rough in texture, adding a nice sense of touch on the palate, it is smooth and precisely spiced with a nice balance between the elements (meat and fish), served with the smoked yolk in the “traditional tartar manner” with the Dashi opening the Umami touch on the tongue’s taste buds (nice touch).
Dashi is a simple broth or fish stock, shaved Katsuobushi and dried kelp – kombu – it forms the basis of many soups (such as miso) in Japanese cuisine. The element of umami, considered one of the five basic tastes is introduced into dashi from the use of katsuobushi, due to it’s especially high in sodium inosinate (MSG) content, the source of umami taste.
5. “Caprese sea”
Carpaccio of scallops, sliced “Tamar” Tomatoes, Basil leaves, on a bed of white eggplant cream, Kalamata Olive Tapenade, grilled crystal mediterainian shrimp, basil oil and fresh oregano
Caprese (salad in the style of the island of Capri) is a simple salad from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil.
Here the mozzarella is substituted very ingeniously with slices / Carpaccio of tender, sweet scallops, sandwiched between the traditional slices of fresh tomatoes and a basil leaf in a light green sauce reminding the parsley jus but without the Youzo , basil oil and fresh oregano add the Italian touch to the dish which is light and delicious in every bite, the eggplant cream is so delicate it adds mainly to the touch and dissolves in the final spicing which works well enough on its own. (Another thumbs up!)
6. “Sea and Citrus”
Lobster, Calamari, scallops and mussels steamed in olive oil, Fennel cream, on a bed of organic rice (risotto) in youso, Liquorish coulis, confit of mandarins, orange slices mandarin and saffron vinaigrette
All seafood ingredients are prepared to perfection, with meticulous cooking time, a real whiff of citrus smell is combined into the flavour of the dish that brings out the best of both ingredients with an admirable balance between the seafood and the citrus, there is no overpowering of any product over the other. The clear orangy colour of the mandarins oranges and saffron sauce is so alluring and the light touch of the prep and presentation is compelling (envy me! You should!)
The next 7 dishes offered to us on this occasion in the next post very soon, why not extend the joy we had a little longer…
This is becoming a wonderful experience to be added to the list of the best of the rest (Thank god I have more than a few).
Until next week with humble thanks to Yonathan Dannon and the entire Catit team.
Catit Restaurant : 4 Heichal Ha- Talmud St, Tel Aviv Phone 03 510-7001