Meat your expectations

A seventh-generation sausage king recently took over a downtown Jerusalem restaurant, with scintillating results.

By NETANYA, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 29, 2012 17:51
3 minute read.
Hess sausages

Hess sausages 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Talmud states that what brings joy to men are wine and meat.

Wine-making is respected in Israel as an art, especially amid the Renaissance of wineries in Israel.

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But the recognition that meat-making is also an art has not yet gained necessary traction in the Jewish state.

That will change if the young new sausage king of Israel, 26- year-old Doron Hess, gets his way. Hess, who is the seventh-generation sausage king in his family going back to 1795, recently took over the downtown Jerusalem restaurant that bears his name, along with his sister Dahlia, from their father Marcel, who opened it a decade ago after making aliya from Switzerland.

“I hope that like the Israeli mentality of wine has risen in the last 10 years, people will learn to appreciate good sausage,” said Doron, who made his first sausage at age 12, and starts making sausages every morning at 4 a.m.

For our soup course, we had the traditional matza ball soup (NIS 37) and the Hungarian goulash soup (NIS 47). The matza balls, which tasted liked the ones grandma used to make, floated in a golden beef-chicken broth that was slow-cooked for 48 hours. The goulash soup was hearty and flavorful, but perhaps is not a wise choice for those intent on saving stomach space for main courses.

We were then served a platter of 11 quality cold-cuts, which Doron advised us to eat in order from least to most pungent in order to appreciate the particular flavor and texture of each.

We feasted on veal bologna (with and without chili pepper); pickled tongue; pickled corned beef; rare roast beef; pickled smoked pastrami; liver sausage on toast with fried onions; aged Polish and Italian salamis; air-dried smoked Swiss sausage; and finally smoked aged-lamb bacon.

Called the “royal choucroute garnie platte,” the platter comes with sauerkraut and potato salad and costs NIS 168. Served with crusty bread, this could have been an entire meal by itself.

We are not bacon connoisseurs, but Dahlia said the lamb bacon won a bacon contest in Europe from judges who did not even know it was kosher. The Italian salami should also win an award for packing so much taste into one thinly sliced piece of meat.

To add a younger clientele to the normal combination of tourists, well-off Israelis and ambassadors, Doron intends to host a sausage and beer festival in front of the restaurant this summer. The Swiss sausage especially tastes great with beer.

When it came time for the main course, Doron asked if we like duck. When we said that one of us does and the other prefers lamb, he declared – as only a king could: “Then I will bring you a duck and you a lamb.”

We were served a meaty half-duck that was cooked to perfection in a sweet forest berry sauce. The duck (NIS 190) was surprisingly juicy and lean. It was served alongside French fries that were fried in a mixture of seven herbs and spices, with a unique flavor we wish we could replicate at home.

The royal lamb platter (NIS 280) included a succulent lamb shoulder slow-cooked in its own juices; lamb sausage mixed with hickory-smoked pure beef; fried rice; cole-slaw; and a sweet, warm red-cabbage salad. Even for a life-long lamb-lover, this combination opened new horizons in flavor.

The restaurant is adorned with awards won by Marcel Hess and his forebears, and a large painting of his father cutting meat. Doron hopes to eventually redesign the interior and build it of wood like a cabin in the Alps “so it will look and feel like home.”

Although he has been offered to take the restaurant to New York and other places, Doron is committed to staying in Jerusalem, running the restaurant, and making the sausage himself until his future heir takes over.

“I like to stay small, because I make it slow,” he said. “I make it with love. And you can taste the quality.”

The writers were guests of the restaurant
Kosher
9 Heleni Hamalka Jerusalem (02) 6255515 Sunday-Thursday 12:30-11 p.m.


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