Sunday, October 16, 2011

Akko and Elmoalem Restaurant: Israel

Date:  17 septembre 2011
Location:  Akko

One of my favorite sites in Israel so far.  Beautiful doesn't do this place justice.  On the Medi, and one of the most well preserved sites in all the world.

Take a walk through the underground Templars' Tunnel and see how advanced their modern day technology was for their times.  So incredible, walking down underneath there and feeling the wind of the Mediterranean flowing through.

Great falafel can be had at the Elmoalem Restaurant here at Akko.  Cheap too!

Catit: Tel Aviv, ISRAEL

Date:  mardi 27 septembre 2011
Location:  4 Hechal Ha Talmud Street
Tel Aviv, Israel
Telephone:  +972 3 5107001

First night eating grand in Israel after an entire months' stay.  Lucky girl.

Before carrying on, must share that I have been reprimanded by fellow international food blogging friends that despite my food travel journeys being amazing, that my pictures frankly - suck.  Admittedly so.  I have been avoiding the inevitable of better focus on my food pix for as long as I could now... blaming my constant travel, don't want to carry extra stuff, etc., etc., making do with my "MacGyver" Canon snapshot camera which has been around the world with me several times, somehow held together with scotch tape.  The usual "bla bla."

It was at Catit Restaurant in Tel Aviv, whilst fine dining in the company of a charming young man, in that pretty dining room that we had all to ourselves, when I realized I was commiting a social faux pas. Dining grand, bringing in my own hand-chosen 2007 1er Cru Puligny Montrachet wine, demanding top service, ordering tasting menus... and then taking out this ghetto, taped-together Canon handheld!  As convenient as it was, I had forgoed personal value for convenience.  Tsk tsk on me.  So, I decided that my next trip home to SF (next week!) will include a pick up of my retired Canon DSLR and a 50mm macro-photography lens perfect for low light conditions.

The photos below are lousy, though I'll replace with a better set during Israel Round 3 when I return late October.

Catit is located in a beautiful historical building in old Tel Aviv.  Sophisticated interior, simple and minimalist, yet still maintaining classic detailed touches.  There is original European floor tiling (reminded me of French Colonialism), expensive fabric lace wallpaper, white linen table cloths, soft lighting with contemporary touch of silver and crystal together.  It is a quiet environment (thankfully!) and music decibel just right - so you can speak in low tones and still fully enjoy one another's company.  You do indeed feel beautiful upon walking into this establishment.

Chef Meir Adoni combines the finest and freshest local ingredients to create intelligent, well formed dishes.  I would say his style is still taking the classic French approach combined with taking advantage of the beauty of Israel's local ingredients and veering on the creative side - yet not terribly avante garde.  This can be a good thing if you know what I mean.

Overall a lovely experience because Chef Meir is on top of his game.  Service needs a bit of improvement though.  We were literally interrupted a number of times "So sorry to interrupt you..." when we were in the middle of intense conversations.  If you are really so sorry for interrupting, then why do you keep doing it?  This is the kind of thing that costs restaurants Michelin Star points.  When it comes to fine dining, the customer expects service to be effortlessly perfect and precise without cutting into the energy of the dining table. 

Kir Royale.

Starter amuse bouche.  A soup!

Delicious breads and sweet butter.

Pretty salt and attention to detail.  

Wild mushroom ragout filled eggshell, foam on top.

Wild mushroom ragout filled eggshell, foam on top no longer.

Almond gazpacho.  This dish was savory and delicious, and had a great contrast of textures.

Yellowtail sashimi.

Scallop linguini.  Okay dish. Taste was nice but the pasta needed a lot more help on the al dente side... was bordering on ramen.  Suggest importing better pasta straight from Italy, which will truly make this dish just amazing with very little additional effort.

This dish truly surprised me, and I believe really shows what Chef Meir Adoni's talents are capable of.  Atlantic Bar (fish) baked in Moussaline.  Fabulous textures, brimming with exquisite individual flavors all which combined mellifluously to create the perfect bite.  Delicately presented, yet full of robust spirit.

Young Galilee Lamb.

Exotic Soup (cantaulope palate cleanser).

Earth.  Chocolate mushrooms (edible stems and tops!), cold white chocolate snow (wow!), two rocks (unedible!) to add texture to the presentation.  Small flowers and herbs from the earth.

Our beautiful 1er Cru Puligny-Montrachet 2007 that we brought in.  Far too young to open that night, however my patience had worn thin.  My signature grape, my Montrachet.  But only a 1er cru (Haifa wine shop didnt have Grands).  Intensely aromatic with flint and minerals, high acidity... extremely long and elegant last.  Heavy on the palate, yet structure waned after 3 hours' opening.  Still, an extremely hedonistic wine and I would buy another bottle if I could find one.