Over the past few years, cooking has become increasingly in-vogue with cooking show contestants and chefs the like being launched into celebrity status.
I’ve always been into cooking and have loved developing recipes, learning about food photography and blogging about it.
I am one to buy hard cover cookbooks as much for the beautiful photography as for the creative recipes.
Getting recipes online just doesn’t cut it for me, which is ironic, seeing as I post online recipes regularly, but I do hope to do a print version one day too.
Nothing beats peeling through the pages of a new cookbook, trying to decide what to make first.
I don’t even mind when the book gets messed up with splashes of oil or creased pages – it gives it character.
If you’re into your cooking, this won’t be the first time you’ve come across Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
What I like about it is that the authors have chosen to focus on the food from a specific city rather than country, which is a rather unique idea.
Cities do in fact, each have their own distinctive food culture which plays a role in defining and reflecting its personality. This cookbook succeeds in vividly capturing the food culture and heart of Jerusalem.
The author Yotam Ottolenghi grew up in the Jewish west of the city and Sami Tamimi grew up in the Muslim east, which leads to a broad perspective of recipes.
I will warn you though, many of the recipes have have long lists of ingredients, including obscure spices like za’atar & sumac – so if you’re looking for a 4 ingredient dinner, then this book probably isn’t for you.
Most of the recipes are largely based on meat, vegetables and grains – with the most popular ingredients including lamb, chickpeas, eggplant and eggs.
After Budapest, our next stop was London. And after 2 weeks on a river cruise, we were in dire need of some fresh vegetable dishes. Our friend recommended Nopi in Soho which I was delighted to find out was a restaurant owned by the chefs who set off this “Jerusalem fever”.
The decor is fresh and clean using white marble, golden brass and gorgeous pendant lights to set a relaxed atmosphere. As soon as you walk in you are greeted with platters full of vegetable dishes making it feel like you’re dining at a friends rather than a restaurant.
Side note: apologies for my grainy/slightly off coloured photos, of course it was the one day I decided to leave my DSLR at home.
We plonked ourselves down by the window and got to work on the wine menu.
Having just been in Hungary, and getting a taste for their delicious wine, we ordered a Hungarian red.
The cocktail menu looked heavenly too. I might need to pop past again one day to sample their unique cocktail combinations.
The food menu does change according to seasons but the signature dishes remain, and rightly so.
Expect a wide range of middle-eastern inspired dishes including loads of vegetarian options.
I loved that they dish up straight from the platters to your table.
To start we had bread with the most amazing infused olive oil.
Then we ordered the courgette and manouri fritters served with a delicious cardamon yoghurt. These were probably my favourite of the dishes.
The crushed beetroot with date molasses & dukkah was also perfect. Subtly sweet, rich and tangy.
For mains we shared the whole twice-cooked baby chicken with lemon myrtle salt & chilli sauce.
And the Persian love rice wrapped in vine with pickled kohlrabi & burnt butter courgette tzatziki.
Both were amazing.
And of course we couldn’t go past a side of the truffled polenta chips.
Oh.my.god. I could eat those all day long.
Every morcel was packed with interesting and unique flavour combinations and left us all feeling satisfied but in no way sluggish.
The food reminded me of my grandparents Iranian cooking, as a lot of the spices used, cinnamon, cardamon and sumac to name a few, are very similar.
I can’t wait to get home and work my way through every single recipe in not only Jerusalem: A Cookbook, but their second book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, based around the recipes from their restaurant, Ottolenghi.
I think this could be the 21st century’s version of Mastering The Art of French Cooking?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Jerusalem cookbooks? Pop your experience into the comments.
Anisa – The Macadames. xx