Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

TV review: Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast

More 4

    Ottolenghi:
    Ottolenghi: "a British national treasure". Photo: Channel 4

    Yotam Ottolenghi is not the first celebrity chef to make a culinary journey to the Mediterranean. Keith Floyd, Rick Stein, James Martin — you name them, they have all been there.

    However, until the cook and food writer came along, Israel did not feature on the TV food map of the Med. Ottolenghi showed that those who ignored the land of his birth were missing a trick. This, after all, is a country made up of influences ranging from native Palestinian cuisine, Jewish food from around the globe and, superimposed on all of that, an innovative restaurant scene.

    But for many, Israeli cuisine boils down to one dish — hummus. It predates Israel by several centuries, but this chickpea dip has been elevated into a national obsession. And at the best places, like Abu Hassan in Tel Aviv, there is a scrum every lunchtime. It is worth it, decided Ottolenghi. “This is heaven,” he said.

    Meanwhile, across town, the man they call Dr Shakshuka was cooking his eponymous spicy stew of tomatoes and egg. Ottolenghi attempted his own, scattered with extras like pulped aubergine and preserved lemon. “Is this shakshuka?” he asked the doctor, who was looking on with some disdain. “If you want to call it shakshuka, you can,” he replied.

    This was a lightning quick exploration of a varied food culture. There was a market-trader making flatbread snacks, an Arab chef cooking seafood in Jaffa, and Ottlolenghi doing what he is famous for, scattering pomegranate seeds over his salad.

    It was a great climax to a quite brilliant series. No one speaks more eloquently about Mediterranean food than Ottolenghi. He observed the world’s thinnest pastry in Turkey, ate sheep’s brain in Morocco and cooked for a very severe-looking Jewish mother in Tunisia.

    This is an Israeli who is rapidly becoming one of Britain’s national treasures.

Features

Have you heard the one about the female rabbi?

Rosa Doherty

Have you heard the one about the female rabbi?
Features

'I always felt something was missing'

Charlotte Oliver

'I always felt something was missing'
Features

Making up her own YouTube success

Lianne Kolirin

Making up her own YouTube success
Features

I couldn't cope without Shabbat

Rachel Creeger

I couldn't cope without Shabbat
Features

Arts Agenda

Anonymous

Arts Agenda
Features

You didn't always have to be Jewish

Michael Freedland

You didn't always have to be Jewish
Features

Making art from an intimate ritual

Charlotte Oliver

Making art from an intimate ritual
Features

The man behind the masks

Charlotte Oliver

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The man behind the masks
Features

The power of humour and how to spot a Jew

Ashley Blaker

The power of humour and how to spot a Jew