A Birthday Party with the High Commissioner of Palestine.
85 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).
Zamość 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:https://wine4soul.com/2012/05/27/utopia-the-wines-of-isole-e-olena/ ) . 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 http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/564 ).
My 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.
The 1st Viscount Herbert Samuel a British Diplomat and a Zionist Jew, was appointed to the position of High Commissioner of Palestine in 1920 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.”
Chef 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.
Jon (Yonatan) and I go a very long time together since his days
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:
For 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)
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:
Fresh 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.
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).
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 fresh 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:
Seafood (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 sauce.
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).
Potatoes 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 cep 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 “
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:
Meager 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
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 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 excellent 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.
2010 – Simon Bize Bourgogne Blanc Les Champlains, as it went with the BBQ see; https://wine4soul.com/2013/04/19/bbq-for-independence-day/ 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