Is this the year you take the trip of a lifetime? If you’ve got an extra $7,829 lying around and a hankering for hummus, then block off June 26- July 5 for what has to be an unforgettable trip to Israel with Zahav chef Michael Solomonov.
The trip is equal parts sightseeing and culinary tour, with visits to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea interspersed with excursions to try cheese aged in 2,000 year old Israeli caves and sardines fresh from the sea in Akko.
Airfare is included in the price, and the flights leave from and return to Philly. You can also book your own flights and just pay for the land portion of the trip if you’d rather, which will cost $6,054 per person.
Today at noon, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2015 Restaurant and Chef Awards.
Abe Fisher and Townsend were Best New Restaurant nominees. Michael Solomonov and Marc Vetri got nods for Outstanding Chef and Ellen Yin’s new restaurant group received three nominations. Fork was nominated for Outstanding Restaurant and Alex Bois (High Street on Market) and Jon Nodler (a.kitchen) received rising stars nominations.
Zahav, Michael Solomonov’s flagship restaurant famous for its authentic Israeli cuisine, is becoming a “Lamb Shack” from February 6-28.
The lamb, which is “an entire bone-in Colorado shoulder braised with pomegranate juice and chickpeas into a melting mountain of meat like you’ve never experienced,” has become something of a cult favorite for Philly diners and critics, but has historically only been an option for parties of nine or more due to the several day preparation process it requires.
In response to the public demand for lamb, Solomonov has decided to offer only his famous pomegranate lamb for the month of February (and a vegetarian option for the less carnivorous.) The Lamb Shack menu is $36 per person, and includes hummus and tehina, house baked pita, salatim, and “whomping hunks” of pomegranate lamb.
Also, if getting to try some of the most sought after lamb in Philadelphia isn’t enough for you, Zahav is inviting guests to BYO for the entire month of February at no additional charge.
On the first evening of Rosh Hashanah this year, BuzzFeed posted a video called “The Jewish Food Taste Test.” In it, Gentiles sample iconic Ashkenazi dishes. Gefilte fish comes first. “It’s like a cold sausage with sour paste on the top,” one goy cringes. “I’m not quite sure what meat it is,” confesses a hoodie-clad Asian dude. A vaguely Nordic-looking hipster delivers the kicker: “It tastes like a grocery store smells.” Suffice it to say that these people were not eating the gefilte fish on offer at Abe Fisher.
Chef Yehuda Sichel, a longtime loyalist of Abe Fisher co-owner Michael Solomonov, stuffs rainbow trout with a delicately nutty forcemeat of striped bass, smoked trout, walnuts and matzo. After poaching the trout whole, he cuts them into what amount to three-inch-thick boneless steaks, crisps the skin, and glazes them with a sweet reduction of carrot juice and port wine. Smoked Hungarian pepper wafts from a slaw of carrot shreds and pickled raisins piled on one side. Underneath it all is a subtly mustardy puree of butter-roasted carrots, accented with horseradish—lest anyone complain that the “sour paste” is missing.
Marc Vetri and Michael Solomonov. Photograph by Dustin Fenstermacher
[Sitting in Vetri’s recently renovated upstairs private dining room]
Michael: Wow, look at this. I used to sleep on a cot in that corner.
Marc: Yeah, it used to be this crappy apartment.
PM: When Michael worked for you, Marc, did you notice his talent right away? Can you spot talent?
Marc: I used to think that I could really figure folks out when they walked into the kitchen. But after a certain amount of time — ya know, two months, three months — they can walk out and you never see them again. They leave their knife bag and everything. They are just gone. So I really don’t think I can say that anymore.
Michael: It’s a generational thing, because when you and I first met, there certainly wasn’t anything like that happening here. Read more »
Lunch rush at Dizengoff | Photo by Michael Persico
You’ve got to understand something about Israeli cuisine right from the start: It’s not something that existed in the American consciousness a few years ago.
Really, it’s not something that exists there now. Not in most places. You’ll find a few spots in and around New York where Israeli dishes get to shine. And there have always been delis where you could get your brisket and your matzo ball soup, but that’s more about Jewish cuisine than it is Israeli. Like the thing about thumbs and fingers, all Israeli restaurants are Jewish but not all Jewish restaurants are Israeli.