Calabria is the southernmost part of Italy – the toe – and its cuisine is less
well known than that of Rome and the north. To introduce Israelis to the
gastronomy of the region, the Tel Aviv Hilton is holding a Calabrian month
during November in its prestigious King Solomon restaurant.
auspices of the Academia Italiana della Cucina, and with the blessing of the new
ambassador from Italy, Francesco Maria Talo, the hotel imported chef Luigi
Quintieri to create a Calabrian feast and invited food writers from Israel to
sample the offerings.
One of the aims of the promotion is to increase
tourism to the region, said Motti Verses, the genial public relations guru of
the Tel Aviv Hilton, as he introduced several speakers from the Italian Embassy
in Tel Aviv before the lunch.
“You are going to be served a six-course
meal,” he announced, “so take your time and enjoy every minute.”
first of the six courses was risotto with locus. This consisted of a mound of
long-grain rice in a creamy sauce, decorated with red pepper and green herbs. It
was tasty with overtones of garlic and saffron; and the pieces of fish, when one
could find one, were very fresh and flavorsome. As this was the first of six
courses, it was more than enough.
Next up was cavatello crotonese, which
was, we were told, pasta served with red tuna, olives, capers and tomatoes. The
sauce was delicious, but it was actually served on gnocchi, which to my mind are
just lumps of dough, so the dish was somewhat of a disappointment for
By the time the third course arrived, it had become clear that fish
was going to be the predominant item in the meal. This course consisted
of a piece of denis (sea bream) lightly sautéed and served with a puree of
potatoes and olive cream. It was aesthetically presented with a tomato rose held
in place with a bamboo stick and tasted wonderful.
However, by the time
the soup course was served, one had had quite enough of fish. But this turned
out to be fish soup – pieces of locus floating in a thin spicy sauce with black
olives and red pepper for garnish. Needless to say, the fish was very fresh and
tasty, but the dish was not particularly aesthetic.
After four fish-based
dishes, one was more than ready for the dessert. In fact, there were two,
and both were very good. The first was a pastry filled with a delicious orange
cream. We were told that this particular dough is a Calabrian speciality that is
used to prepare delicacies for festive occasions. While the fat content is
higher than usual for shortcrust, it was a fairly routine pie crust. The chef
had managed to make the dough and the orange cream taste pretty good, even
within the constraints of kashrut and keeping everything parve.
there was a round nut-encrusted chocolate dessert, which we were told contained
eggplant, though you could never guess from the taste. It was excellent, not
cloyingly sweet but just sweet enough to satisfy the need for something “dolce”
after the meal.
Calabria in Tel Aviv will run throughout November in the
King Solomon restaurant. The regular menu, presided over by veteran executive
chef Avigdor Brueh, will also be available.
The writer was a guest of the
King Solomon Kosher Hilton Tel Aviv 250 Hayarkon Street, Tel
Aviv Tel: (03) 520-2222
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