The story of the man who did not try to cheat the Angel of Death and finally succeeded
Vintners and winemakers of Bourgogne from Chablis in the north, all the way south to the Rhone, be ware, there will be a sharp fall in demand for your products. A great Bourgogne wine consumer, wine lover and expert have deceased.
We take our close friends for granted and when they go, a great void opens within us. Shaul is just gone and I already miss him. But memories are such a great consolation, they give us comfort at times of need and in times of grief and this is just one of these occasions.
For everyone in the small community of wine and food professionals in Israel He was the Grand Priest, a legend… the man, Shaul Evron, was a great culinary and wine sage, For me, he was a good friend, from whom I have learned and whose company I enjoyed since the early 1990’s.
His taste was so sharp that even the slightest of hint of sweetness in a wine was thumbs down for him, he shied when people used to commend his accuracy in tasting mainly because he knew his likes and dislikes, he could dislike a “great wine” just because it was not within his taste scope: “It’s a good wine but I do not like it”. He did not give a damn to label or pedigree beyond the cork. When his sharp taste detects a hint of corkiness, in a great bottle just opened he would rarely try to “taste it beyond the fault” and get to the bottom of what is “on paper” a great wine. At times after half an hour of breathing as the wine fault evaporated he would taste the wine again, a rare occasion!
He used to call me at times saying: “we just got this amazing Calf, if you pass by Yoezer we’ll have some stuff prepared for us from the best cuts plus some inner organs (brain, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys)” sometimes I would and at time I would regret missing the expression of joy from a good cut of meat in his eyes, if I could not make it. What a unique and enviable expressiopn.
Maybe the fact that he used to rinse his mouth (at the dentist’s – me), not with water god forbid, but with Perrier can shed a light on his peculiar but thoughtful actions . He used to bring a bottle with him, to the practice, each time he would come for an appointment. This may sharpen your understanding of his ways, which basically were Shaul’s way! S. Pellegrinno or Plain Water will JUST NOT DO!!!!!!!!
Being the owner of one of THE best restaurants “around”, Yoezer (my favorite Bistro in Israel https://wine4soul.com/2012/08/30/meat-of-lust-eating-in-yoezer-wine-bar ), he followed a dream to have his very own Bistro in 1995, (it is a cave in Old Jaffa) arranged to his very own taste, along the way and from day one his old friend from primary school days, Zipora decided to get on with him on a personal rollercoaster car, the most unlikely partnerships that worked for 17 years.
Yoezer Wine Bar offers a wide variety of wines, all chosen personally by Shaul and Shlomit (Sommelier, Maitre D. and personal care taker), with an emphasis on the wines of Bourgogne, Shauls Favorites.
Yes he was a conservative Pinot Noir / Chardonnay kind of guy; he loved wine-dungeons and bars, a lonely guy with hundreds of “friends”, he had no family but they were “all his sons”, a lone wolf at the head of a wine guzzling pack.
He loved French cheeses I think his favorite was Époisses de Bourgogne, from the village Époisses, in Côte-d’Or. Commonly referred to as Époisses, it is a pungent unpasteurized cows-milk cheese, washed daily in marc de Bourgogne until ripened.
He used to say that I am a “wine necrophiliac”, I like wine corps (too old) and I say he was a wine pedophile (He loves them young), I think he just could not resist his urge to taste a wine even when it is too young to enjoy (for me). But through the years we’ve managed to prove each other wrong on many occasions.
He liked to feel the harsh kick of wine, the storm of fresh tannins and took them in as if they were all rounded and smooth.
He was an excellent journalist and excelled in food writing, this short tale describes it all, in his very own words: “When I got to Paris once, I tried a 1983 Echezeaux at La tour D’argent it was harsh (trop dur as the French say) but beautiful, exactly the way I like them, so when I got a table for lunch at L’Ambroisie, the “grande dame” of Haute Cuisine, “discreetly situated” on the Place des Vosges (9 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris, Phone: 01 42 78 51 45), which was then freshly awarded its third Michelin star, I have ordered the 83 Echezeaux The house sommelier said as expected: “trop dur” (too harsh) I told him: “no I don’t care”. He said that he could give me the 1984 Grand Echezeaux, which is ready for drinking, for the same price or something like that. I said to him: “Don’t like 84” he said to me: “Try it, what do you care, if you won’t like it, we will replace the wine, he opened a bottle for me, I tasted, I didn’t like it, I gave it back, I took the-83 “, it was ‘hash’ but again, sublime. A Japanese couple sitting at the next table pointed at my bottle when they were asked to choose a wine he tried his “Trop dur” exercise on them as well to no avail “. Shaul always knew what he wanted, his choice was hard to sway (I am sure he enjoyed that bottle more than the Japanese couple…)
At Yoezer, the Bar and kitchen stuff hold his culinary and wine views and understanding in such reverence and respect, that it feels they cook to please him personally with each dish that comes out of the kitchen, and we the diners are benefited by getting almost always the best according to Shaul, what more can one expect from a meal?
Our memorable wines together are numerous, they all started in my garden whilst photographing a BBQ article I was co writing for the food Magazine CHEF (April 1994) with the late Cheni Farber (a food writer and talented chef) we prepared a FEAST for the article photo shoot, a huge meal just for the magazine photographer, but there was tons of great food and I invited a friend to help with the consumption of the fare, who brought a friend with him, SHAUL. We spent a lovely spring afternoon on the lawn eating and drinking, drinking and eating, having a wine cellar at home was a novelty those days but I was fairly fresh from 10 years in London and the cellar was full of gems and surprises rarely seen in Israel, but the bottle that opened the door to his heart and started our friendship was a perfect Champagne 1978 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose. With almost perfect score of 19.5 from my wine mentor and teacher, Jancis Robinson. Never mind the score that wine which would “melt” anyone’s heart, initiated a friendship that lasted 18 years (aren’t we getting old?), that was my first intimate meeting with Shaul and “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”
Other Champagnes that come to my mind:
1995 Bollinger Grande Annee , so open, expressive, and forceful in character that these qualities carry through onto the palate where there are notes of honey, brazil nuts and dried mushrooms, even hints of truffles and caramelized dried orange peel.
Many 1990 Bollinger Grande Annee (one of my Favorite years) with its mature aromas, of roasted almonds, toffee, even creamed coffee with burnt caramel or honey, than wet mushrooms (it’s the alluring “rotting” mushrooms aroma which is so compeling to both of us)
Many Bourgogne whites, he did not like Meursault and preferred Montrachet especially Chassagne-Montrachet, 1996 and 1990’s
Bourgogne reds – Aloxe Corton and Corton these Grand crus have to mature at least 10 years he would drink and enjoy them young (Trop dur), 1983 Echezeaux a year you could hardly get your hands on…Vougeot and Vougeot Premier Cru, The wine around Vosne Romanée with its grands crus such as Grands-Echezeaux and Richebourg which make of Vosne Romanée terroirs the best of Burgundy red wines. (he had an expensive taste, and was generous sharing with others.
Red Bordeaux – He did not like bordeaux’s as a general rule still I can recall several moments of success (a great challenge when you open a bottle of good Bordeaux for Shaul) not only it has to be excellent it must NOT have any traces of “sweetness” hint (even oaky vanilla touch would make a great wine too “sweet” for him), but a bottle Chateau La Mission Haut Brion (Graves) 1976 melted us both after opening 5 bottles of other great bordeaux’s one night between the two of us until I was successful in getting the satisfaction glitter in his eyes and the certain verbal expression concerning the wine to put me at ease regarding my guests satisfaction.
Without a doubt the most memorable and the very last bottle of the case was the near perfect 1982 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses Domaine G. Roumier. A reference 1982 great by any standard. I’m so happy we had that last bottle together just between the two of us, we squeezed the very last drop from that bottle with unsurpassed JOY.
Shaul had an enormous heart and even greater stomach capacity he could eat a bull for lunch and have a full dinner a few hours later, he would drink alcoholic drinks from spirits to his favorite wines from dawn to dawn (not dusk) without ever becoming obnoxious or behave as if under the influence, as a matter of fact he quit resented people around him who did…
He was an Olympiad of wine and food with no match (that I know of, and I know some serious drinkers), I guess he believed his body could take any such sort of abuse forever, he never had regrets or remorse regarding the accumulating effect of such abuse to his health and went on as if there is no tomorrow. But tomorrow came yesterday and left him defenseless, but I guess he “greeted” the angel of death as an old friend and equal not with fear or regrets. We had a “sort of” WAKE in his memory at Yoezer, after the funeral. A wake is a ceremony that takes place in the house of the deceased (and Yoezer was his home), it is often a social rite which highlights the idea that the loss is one of a group: friends or family and affects that group as a whole. All the chefs and restaurateurs of the land came to pay respect each with his own memories of Shaul, we all raised a glass maybe in his memory but mainly to console ourselves. We humans are such a selfish breed…I guess Shaul would have done the same. Farewell dear friend and thanks for the memories, they last forever.
Naama Abramovitz, Shaul’s ex wife and best friend to the very last day (she knew him best I think) said that everyone talks about Shaul in relation to wine and food but: “his greatness were words, (his expression ability to write or converse or convey), we all learned to write and speak in Shaul’s language which was extremely personal, most of us eat drink and speak in Shaul’s tongue”. I guess she’s right, what an excellent teacher we had!
Maoz Alonim owner of the BASTA (Bisrto in tel-Aviv main Fuit & Veg. market – Shuk HaCarmel said: “Shaul, in your way, you taught us to aspire for the better things, Thanks”
Shaul is gone the legacy goes on, Yoezer is open for business as usual with enough good people, Zipora, Shlomit and Ben to carry on his aspirations and vision. The bar is certainly orphaned without Shaul in his usual left corner spot but his spirit is there and will continue for the foreseeable future and beyond.
Yo’ezer Wine Bar / Bistro ( Yo’ezer Ish Habira 2 Jaffa) Tel: 03-683-9115
Sweet dreams my friend, missing you, Amir
Yo’ezer Wine Bar / Bistro, is without a doubt the Best wine bar / bistro in Israel. This is a posh little place, wine and food wise, But lately on Mondays ONLY they have a weekly occasion at the restaurant, they call it: Bloody Monday, when they serve amongst other Monday specials, a YBurger; Yoezer own version of the famous and infamous American Burger. It comes Yoezer style: chopped or roughly minced entrecote of beef with beef bone marrow (the marrow is scooped out of the bones, than frozen, cut into cubes and mixed in its frozen state, with the minced meat to make the basic Patties.
For those who like Great Burgers American style, this is as close as you can get to the best of the best (maybe better) no sauces BBQ or Worcestershire sauce are added to the meat mixture Just Meat, Marrow, salt and pepper (I think) and being a once a week novelty everyone is flocking to get a bite, so do I.
Entering the “cave” I see Shaul Evron the owner sitting on the left side of the Bar (his usual place) beside him, Chef Rafi Cohen (one of the 5 best chefs in Israel & owner of “Rafael” Restaurant in Tel-Aviv)…:”Hey what are you doing here? I’ve come for a Burger… imagine, so did I and 10 minutes later, Chef Jonathan Roshfeld (yet another top chef from the same top 5 list) tapping on my shoulder to say hallo he’s here also for the Burger… in fact the place is packed with diners and culinary personalities all here for the YBurger. Now most of these people have dined in the last 20-25 years with the best chefs of France some of them worked in 3 star Michelin Restaurants and they saw it all from High to Haute cuisine still they flock for THE YBURGER (isn’t that something?). So why are they flocking? What is the alluring magic that pulls people in magic strings to eat Hamburgers? I don’t know the answer there must be more than one… I’m sure you know how sometimes you just feel like a sandwich. Well not just A sandwich but one that has it all, and it tastes so delicious you start thinking, no wonder people around the globe of all different races like it so much (It comes in slightly different forms from place to place but basically it’s all the same). According to Author Linda Stradley who wrote: History and Legends of hamburgers, started ages ago during the times of – Temugin – Genghis Khan (1167-1227), http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HamburgerHistory.htm check it out it is quite fascinating.
Here at Yoezer you can have it Complete (egg bacon and cheese) or with whichever topping you prefer of course with great Dijon mustard and ketchup in separate dishes (spice it as you like) pickles and chips. The Y is a real Bliss, simply delightful! We wash it down with Givry 1er Cru Clos de la Servoisine Rouge 2002 Domaine Joblot, which was the proper wine for a super burger not a grand Bourgogne but had all the qualities of freshness and fruit to accompany our Munch. We moved on to the more serious Gevrey Chambartin cuvee’ vielles vignes 1999 Domaine Esmonin Sylvie, this is a more serious wine which started with all the expected earthy aromas of a good Côte de Nuits, rich fruit flavors with rounded but present tannins well balanced with the fruit Perfect.
Being one of THE best restaurants “around” and my favorite Bistro, Yoezer was a one man’s dream that came true, the man is Shaul Evron. He is a culinary sage and is considered by many as the Hight Priest of Israeli culinaria.
When Shaul opened his first restaurant in Nave Tzedek on the border between Tel-Aviv and Jaffa (1970’s) very few even knew what is a good juicy steak is and how to prepare it shame on us 45 years ago!!! I guess the problem was availability of ingredients, treatment of cattle and meat, and ill effects of religious beliefs and practices:
“Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh”. The Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 12, 20-23 and there goes your juicy “bloody” steak!
Between us this is quite a nice proposition if read on its own but in the next verse, Verse 21, reads : 21 “If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.”
This is where the debate on the idea of MEAT of LUST , starts: This is exactly the place and reason of the prohibition of the Torah. Nothing is totally forbidden in absolute terms, as there is nothing being allowed in absolute terms. The purpose of the prohibition is to keep us away from things in which we cannot “taste” the spiritual taste in our current state. Indeed when we ascend to a higher level of spirituality the Lord will allow us of the forbidden fruits. After all, there would no longer be any reason for the prohibition, and we praise the Lord for allowing the prohibitions.
I do not look at Shaul as a priest or an oracle but rather as a friend, with a great taste, A great taste in food, in fact a lover of good food, one of the few who can find a woman’s voluptuousness in food, he loves for instance oysters, He’s a great lover of both rustic and fine French cuisine, Bourgogne cuisine and wines in particular. For all of these he opened 17 years ago his “baby” Yoezer.
He’s a conservative Pinot Noir Chardonnay kind of guy, he loves wine dungeons and bars, he’s a lonely guy with thousands of friends, a lonely wolf at the head of a wine guzzling pack. He says that I am a wine necrophiliac and I say he, is a wine pedophile. He loves them young, or can’t resist his urge to taste a wine even when it is too young to enjoy (for me) and claims I like wine corps (too old). But through the years we’ve managed to prove each other wrong on many occasions…
The menu at Yoezer is Basically meat orientated, that’s the owner’s favorite food product it comes in all forms and excels in all:
Raw Meat: as in the Steak Tartar or Américain, both on the menu. Américain is the Belgium version of steak tartar served with fries. It is known as “filet américain” – American fillet with onions and more seasoning than a normal steak tartar. Trust me, it is much better here than anywhere in Belgium! I guess Shaul Likes it and the kitchen here cooks for him, his taste, his dreams… The kitchen stuff holds his culinary views and understanding in such reverence and anxiety NOT FEAR, that they cook to please him personally with each dish that comes out of the kitchen, and we the diners are benefited by getting almost always the best according to Shaul, what more can one expect from a meal? Did I forget the Carpaccio??? The name of a typical dish from the Alba region in Piedmont “La carne all’albese” it is named carpaccio after the 15th-century Italian painter Vittore Carpaccio and first served under this name in 1950 at Harry’s Bar Venice. Yoezer make the carpaccio from entrecote heart (rib-eye)
Smoked, Cured, Boiled and Stewed Meats: from smoked meats and poultry to the best Pastrami in town Corned Beef and Weissbraten cooked in clarified butter and injected with butter occasionally, to the French style luscious confit de canard, or Porchetta which is a fatty boneless pork roast (fat and skin rolled over) Italian Style. Porchetta is usually heavily salted in addition to being stuffed with herbs rosemary, garlic, thyme oregano etc. Smoked sausage with warm Sauerkraut “sour cabbage”, Jambon de Paris Comme il Faut!! And Bulls tail stew to name but a few on this section… They used to make here great homemade Boudin Noir (blood sausage) and Pied de Cochon these are off the menu due to lack in demand they are great but do not conform to the Israeli taste (unfortunately)…
Pasta and Pastry : the most distinguished dishes in this section are the “infamous” 40 egg yolks Homemade pasta cut in different styles as Fettuccine or pappardelle with a variety of meat based sauces or just truffles… and of course the double amazing truffle in puff pastry (yes one whole truffle), on the most delicious thickened almost toffee like beef stock with truffle’s oil Sublime!!!
Fried and Grilled meats: You have your basic Steaks from the best cuts available from the local beef, made to perfection around rare to medium rear depending on the cut. A giant côte de boeuf always served with lightly fried crispy greens and potatoes.
Now beef in Israel is not the best in the world… compared with Italy’s Bistecca alla fiorentina from the Toscana’s Chianina breed of cattle, France, or England/Scotland with such as Aberdeen-Angus, bred in Scotland, and often called doddies, Galloway, from Scotland, Shorthorn, an English breed of cattle. and Montana beef in the USA why Montana? I don’t know I just have this memory stuck in my mind as I exited the Billings, Montana airport heading toward Yellowstone Park a Huge Road sign Welcome to Montana EAT BEEF! Greeted me and got stuck in my mind…This is cowboy country and I Love Wild West cowboy’s myths and legends, and the way they make use of beef meat in the open fire rolling on a spit.
photo by Eliya Melinkov
From the present menu my favorite dish by far and in danger of extinction (again not enough people order it), is the Milk Calf’s Liver on a bed of fresh corn and dried Porcini mushrooms polenta topped with fried fresh porcinis (Ceps more likely) This dish is so well balanced with a slight sweetness that compliment the liver with the aroma of fresh porcini delicately flavoring the dish. PERFECT!! and the butter fried calf’s brain or sweetbreads served with an egg-yolk and rounded Pretzel buns . My Thanks to the young, innovative, shy and extremely talented chef BEN TIDHAR.
Yo’ezer Wine Bar / Bistro ( Yo’ezer Ish Habira 2 Jaffa) Tel: 03-683-9115
Oh the wines we had through the years while dining at yoezer are special and plentiful. There were downs as well as ups but the ups are on the winning side for me, for I can enjoy a near perfect wine if all around is perfect: food, company, spirit and atmosphere, Shaul is different if the wine is not totally amazing a new bottle has to be opened immediately, lately he is mellowing down this attitude to a more sensible approach still it is an admirable quality.
We had so many mainly Bourgogne’s and Champagnes but also some great Bordeaux’s. But the occasion is always more important than the list.
Our memorable wines together are numerous but some that come to mind are without a doubt from the “Necrophilia” to me the most memorable and the last bottle of the case is without a doubt the near perfect Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses Domaine G. Roumier 1982.
The other wine will be mentioned in the right context in the future