The Search for Israeli Cuisine

This is how it happens sometimes.

 A search for a new brisket recipe for Passover led me to discover an exciting upcoming documentary about Israeli cuisine.

 I found this short film by Roger Sherman on The Brisket Book when I was looking for the brisket recipe.

Roger, I then learned, is also an award-winning producer, director, cinematographer, photographer and author. His documentaries The Restaurateur, Medal of HonorAlexander Calder, and Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sounds have been honored with an Emmy, a Peabody, and two Academy Award nominations. In addition to making the short film about The Brisket Book, he was also the photographer. His latest book, Ready, Steady, Shoot: A Pro’s Guide to Smartphone Video was published in December 2014.

But it’s Roger’s most recent project, The Search for Israeli Cuisine, that I’m super excited about. It’s a documentary exploring the dozens of diverse cultures of Israel told through food.

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Roger was inspired to make this film about four years ago. Hummus and falafel were all he knew of Israeli cuisine before he visited Israel for the first time with Joan Nathan and other food press on a press trip. What he discovered was a vibrant restaurant scene in Tel Aviv that rivals New York City’s.

“What is remarkable,” Roger told me, “is how food traditions as diverse as Moroccan, Persian, and Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian can be found on the tables of the most cutting-edge restaurants.”

It was upon returning to the states and telling friends about Israeli Cuisine that he realized he had the makings of a great film. Roger said “People had no clue and were surprised and even reacted with disbelief.”

Roger met acclaimed chef Michael Solomonov two years later when Lior Lev Sercarz, the master spice blender at La Boite, in NYC, told him that if he wanted to eat the best Israeli food in America, he had to go to Zahav. He had a wonderfully delicious meal, met Mike and in 15 minutes knew he had found his chef/guide for the film.

The film follows Michael as he visits more than 100 locations all over Israel, talking to chefs, home cooks, winemakers, cheese makers and farmers about their cultures, their heritages and what they’re cooking. Here’s a sampling of some of the people he meets from the film.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Michael in journalist Ruthie Rousso’s home. Together, they prepare her grandmother’s Turkish eggplant.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Chef Meir Adoni, one of the most famous in Israel, loves to play with culinary traditions. He welcomes Michael into his restaurant, Mizlala, in Tel Aviv, where he serves his take on kubane—authentic Yemeni bread made for Shabbat and cooked for twelve hours. Normally, it’s crispy, close to burnt on the outside and chewy on the inside. But in his hands, kubane becomes rich and buttery, almost a brioche.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Michael at Levinksy Market, Tel Aviv

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Bread fresh from the oven of El Babour, Palestinian cuisine in Umm al-Fahm.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Master cheese maker Shay Seltzer. Earlier that day, Michael visited his 2,000-year-old cave, where he showed off his aged artisanal cheeses. Caves as old as the second temple can be expected from an ancient culture.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Hands of Tal Pelter, owner/winemaker of Pelter Vineyards on Syrian Border.

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Abigail Aharon and Michael at Abigail’s, Tiberias, Kosher

 

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Michael and Roger at Abigail’s

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Leah Nahimov, Naot Goat Farm, Negev

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

On a farm in the Negev desert, separated from Egypt only by a barbed wire fence, Roger and Michael interview farmer Anon Season. His cherry tomatoes grow for two years on vines 36 feet long. Eggplants and peppers are some of the other non-GMO produce grown this way.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine

Janna Gur, cookbook author and magazine editor interviewed at home in Tel Aviv.

The Search for Israeli Cuisine is now in the final editing process and will be premièring sometime this fall on PBS. They’ve reached their Kickstarter goal but would love to raise additional funds to offset the 8.5% that Kickstarter charges. For more information, check out the The Search for Israeli Cuisine Kickstarter page. I can’t wait to see the completed film!

And here’s the brisket recipe I’ll be making for Passover. (I’ll let you know how it turns out!)

Temple Emanu-El Brisket from The Brisket Book
by Stephanie Pierson, photographs by Roger Sherman

 Ingredients
1 4-5 pound beef brisket
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 l;arge onion, peeled and cut into eights
2 14 oz cans of jellied cranberry sauce, sliced

 

Directions
Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with the garlic powder, paprika and salt and pepper. Tightly cover the brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days.

 

When you are ready to finish the dish, preheat the oven to 500 F.

 

Unwrap the brisket, place it in a roasting pan, and roast for 20 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the temperature to 350 F. Place the onions under and around the brisket, then cover the top of the meat with the cranberry slices. Tightly cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and cook until fork tender, about 3 hours.

 

Remove the pan from the onion and allow the brisket to cool. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, trim the fat, then slice the meat against the grain to the desired thickness. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice, cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.

 

The next day, remove any of the congealed fat from the top of the sauce. Heat the brisket, covered, at 350F for 20 minutes, then, uncovered, for another 20 to 30 minutes until hot and the sauce has reduced a bit. Serve with the sauce.

 

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6 Comments on The Search for Israeli Cuisine

  1. David
    April 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm (4 years ago)

    Wow!!! How do you find all this amazing stuff?? Thank you….

    Reply
    • Julie Levine
      April 5, 2015 at 4:02 pm (4 years ago)

      You are welcome! Glad you like!

      Reply
  2. Lisa
    April 5, 2015 at 3:27 pm (4 years ago)

    Makes me want to book a flight tomorrow for Israel. Great article.

    Reply
    • Julie Levine
      April 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm (4 years ago)

      Me too!!

      Reply
  3. Rhoda
    June 15, 2015 at 3:42 am (3 years ago)

    To our Dear Julie—you just get better and better with each blog. I love it.

    Reply
    • Julie Levine
      June 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Rhoda!!! XO

      Reply

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