that time: a golden party

I’ve gone on and on, on how a culture’s cuisine reveals that people’s history and ethos. Israel, in particular, has been a major focus on my study- the foods which are found throughout the land represent the Jewish diaspora that has come home, religion, innovation and the land.

Traveling to eat is nothing new to my adventure agenda. The culinary aspects of travel are often, for me, some of the most enjoyable and those experiences, the times I get to really understand a society literally, from the belly up. This time, my search for a bite of culture kept me close to home, just two hours away in founding city Philadelphia.

Nestled inside history Society Hill, chef Michael Solomonov brings the flavors of his birthplace, Israel, to his adopted home. Solomonov’s restaurant Zahav is a bona fide trip to the Middle East. Zahav means gold and the name of the restaurant is in reference to Jerusalem and the city’s golden hills.  The flavors that dance their way across the various plates allow guests to sample the flavors of Eastern Europe, North Africa to Persia, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, exemplifying the cultural crossroads that Israel is today.

It seemed fitting that on President’s Day weekend, I would drag my friends to our nations founding city to enjoy the various flavors of my heritage. The menu at Zahav is designed for people to sample; to share a number of plates and taste the whole of new Israeli cuisine. Two tasting menus take the journey to another level. Clearly, we’d go the tasting menu route and choose the largest one on hand to boot.

Dubbed mesibah, which translated literally into “party”, we new from the start we were in for a gastronomic treat. And treated we were to a meal of a lifetime: a trip across the world in two hours and through multiple plates.

Zahav is a lively space and rightfully one of the more popular restaurants in Philly. Book reservations ahead of time to guarantee a seat.

Zahav is a lively space and rightfully one of the more popular restaurants in Philly; book reservations ahead of time to guarantee a seat.

salatim (salads) and hummus with laffa bread to start

salatim (salads) and hummus with house baked laffa bread to start

mezze: clockwise from top left: crispy haloumi with dates, mustard greens and almonds; branzino crudo with kumquat; brussel sprouts al ha'esh (on the fire) with whipped feta and ramadan bread; fried carrots with dressed greens; fried cauliflower with chive oil mint and garlic; braised lamb neck bastilla with pistachio and apricot

mezze: clockwise from top left: crispy haloumi with dates, mustard greens and almonds; branzino crudo with kumquat; brussel sprouts al ha’esh (on the fire) with whipped feta and ramadan bread; fried carrots with dressed greens; fried cauliflower with chive oil mint and garlic; braised lamb neck bastilla with pistachio and apricot

the main attraction: coal grilled, whole roasted lamb shoulder braised in pomegranate juice and chickpea served with Persian rice

the main attraction: coal grilled, whole roasted lamb shoulder braised in pomegranate juice and chickpea served with Persian rice

something sweet: peanut baklava, konafi and halva semifreddo cream

something sweet: peanut baklava, konafi and halva semifreddo cream

botz, needed to wake up from the lamb induced food coma (the word botz means mud and refers to the coffe grounds that sink to the bottom of this bold traditional coffee- fortune tellers often read the grounds similar to tea leafs)

Cafe Botz needed to wake up from the lamb induced food coma (the word botz means mud and refers to the coffe grounds that sink to the bottom of this bold traditional coffee- fortune tellers often read the grounds similar to tea leafs)

Randy and Nicole, my partners in culinary crime

Randy and Nicole, my partners in culinary crime

Zahav, 237 St. James Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 215 625 8800, Sun-Thurs 5-10PM, Fri & Sat 5-11 PM

Something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s