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.
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Today, OpenTable revealed its Top 100 restaurants “fit for foodies” in America. The list was determined by OpenTable’s analysis of more than five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country. The list includes twelve restaurants from Philadelphia, the second most restaurants from one city, only Portland, Oregon had more.
The list includes a high concentration of restaurants from California, Oregon and Pennsylvania but not as many from traditional restaurant cities like Chicago (five restaurants), Los Angeles (five), New York (four) and San Francisco (one).
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Photograph by Michael Persico
Last July, Michael Solomonov sat down with Philly Mag’s John Marchese and revealed that he’d battled addiction problems:
[Solomonov] told a story of spiraling into alcohol and drug abuse and how people close to him pushed him into detox and rehab. He now has several years of recovery and sobriety behind him. Solomonov later agreed to talk publicly about his addiction, but only in general terms. “At some point in my life, I’ll be very upfront about it if I can find a way to make it helpful,” he told me. “Because of my responsibility to other people in recovery, I need to figure out how I’m going to be more specific and more detailed. But I’m not ready to do that right now.” In a world of graphic addiction memoirs written by teenagers, Solomonov’s reticence is refreshing.
Solomonov has obviously decided it’s now time to come clean about getting clean. In today’s New York Times, he tells columnist Frank Bruni that he was “living a double life” when he opened Zahav in May 2008: Read more »
Set an alarm, drop your calls, and mark your calendar because today at 1 p.m., tickets go on sale for the next Cage Match Dinner Battle at Alla Spina. And with only 26 spots open, attendees will be competing for spots as much as the chefs will be for the winning title.
The tasty matchup will happen Wednesday, July 16 between Michael Solomonov & Co. from Zahav and Marc Vetri & Co. from Vetri. Fun fact: Solomonov used to work under Vetri. Like every competition though, there can only be one winner. Will it be student or teacher? Insert dramatic sound effect here.
The ticket is $95 per person and a portion of the proceeds will go to Rooster Soup Company, a kickstarter put together by Federal Donuts and Broad Street Ministry.
To reserve your spot, call 215-600-0017.
Alla Spina [Foobooz]
Rooster Soup Company [Foobooz]
So the good folks over at Food Republic had an interesting idea: 5 editors, 5 world cuisines, 5 days, with each day’s focus being stories about (or inspired by) a single cuisine about which the editors wanted to learn more.
Yesterday, it was Japanese food. Today, it’s Israeli, with a bunch of stories all being done by Matt Rodbard. And one of those stories happens to be all (well, half) about Michael Solomonov, Zahav, and Solo’s two upcoming restaurants–which, of course, is why I noticed it in the first place.
Not just that Solomonov got a mention. It’s not like I’m stalking the guy or anything. But being a non-Philly writer writing about things Philadelphian, Rodbard got taken to task for a (slightly) clumsy line he included which some readers took as a slight against Philadelphia. It wasn’t, actually, but it did ruffle enough feathers that I–as the man who once went all kinds of apeshit over Matt Duckor characterizing Philadelphians as a bunch of jug-blowing knuckleheads and fatties who didn’t know enough to wear our good overalls out to a fancy dinner at the Olive Garden–was looped into the Twitter conversation.
Here’s what Rodbard actually said
Questlove of the Roots lists his ten favorite restaurants across the world for Vanity Fair. And the globe-trotting drummer gives a shoutout to his hometown and Zahav. It joins the likes of Chicago’s Next, Paris’s Le P’tit Bercy and Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro.
Questlove’s Top 10 Restaurants [Vanity Fair]
So if you missed American New Year and you missed Chinese New Year and are still feeling bad about it (or maybe just in need of a third chance to make some resolutions), Michael Solomonov is giving you one more chance.
Next month, Zahav will be celebrating Norooz, which is Persian New Year. And they’re doing it with a collaboration dinner on March 18 with Louisa Shafia, chef and author of The New Persian Kitchen.
For reservations and more details, check out the event page at Zahav.
If you follow Zahav owner and chef Michael Solomonov on Instagram you know he’s been eating his way around Israel recently. It’s all part of a two-hour documentary he’s filming, called The Search for Israeli Cuisine. The PBS documentary is being filmed by two-time Academy Award nominee and James Beard Award winning filmmaker Roger Sherman.
Above is the latest teaser from the project.
The Search for Israeli Cuisine [Florentine Films]
On Tuesday, January 14th at 7 p.m., Percy Street Barbecue is hosting a special dinner with chef/owner Erin O’Shea collaborating with Zahav’s Michael Solomonov and master spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte Epice in New York City. You’ve come across these spices at Zahav and in many of Federal Donuts’ donuts and fried chicken.
The three-course dinner will be served family-style and each course will be paired with a drink featuring beer from Brooklyn Brewery. The price is $60 per person, which includes the beverage pairing, tax and gratuity.
Among the highlights, biscuits with foie gras butter, pork and lobster machleb sausage and a smoked lamb shank.
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Zahav is once again hosting a very Jewish Christmas. On Monday, December 23rd, it will be Vietnamese food and a movie. And this year the food will serve as a menu preview of Tyler Akin’s upcoming restaurant, Stock, a Vietnamese restaurant that Akin (a sous chef at Zahav) is opening at 308 E. Girard Avenue in Fishtown.
The movies are a surprise, but will most likely be R-rated. Price is $55 per person and excludes beverages, tax and gratuity.
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