Shalom Levi and Lior Dori grew up in the same neighborhood in Rishon Lezion. Levi’s grandmother, who came to Israel from Thessaloniki, Greece, was a great cook.
“Her leek patties were served at the table accompanied by tunes that made us want to get up on the table and dance,” says Levi.
After traveling together, Levi and Dori embarked on a journey that followed their heart, fulfilling their dream of opening a restaurant. Albi, which in Arabic means “to my heart,” is not their first experience in the world of catering, but it is the first enterprise they own and is designed according to their vision.
Albi, located in the charming flea market in Jaffa, offers many authentic Greek delicacies and a selection of rare ouzos.
And on Fridays, you can enjoy music and Greece dancing.
Imagine sitting in a rustic taverna on one of Greece’s beautiful islands, sipping ouzo and listening to bouzouki music while sharing an alfresco dinner with good friends. Sounds like a perfect vacation, doesn’t it? Well, even though we cannot help you with the island or the taverna, we can offer you the recipes for some super-light Greek sharing dishes, courtesy of Shalom Levy, chef and owner of Albi Greek restaurant.
Shushka, used in most Balkan cuisines, is a longish red pepper that has a sweet, delicate flavor. For this dish, the peppers are roasted and then topped with an assortment of cheeses, to make a perfect appetizer for an alfresco summer supper.
✔ 4 red peppers, preferably shushka
✔ 4 cloves garlic
✔ 200 gr. Roquefort cheese, crumbled
✔ 200 gr. feta cheese, crumbled
✔ 200 gr. grated Parmesan cheese
✔ ½ cup wine vinegar
✔ ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
✔ ¼ cup olive oil
✔ Handful each fresh basil, fresh oregano
✔ Salt and pepper
Roast peppers under the grill or on an open flame until charred. Place in a plastic bag to let cool, and then peel. Cut the peppers into 4 and remove seeds and stems.
Peel the garlic and roast lightly in a skillet with a little oil and salt.
In a bowl, mix together vinegars, oil, salt and pepper. Add the roasted peppers, mix lightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Remove peppers from the bowl and sear on a skillet on both sides. Place peppers on a serving platter, sprinkle the cheeses on top and garnish with fresh basil and oregano.
Drizzle a little oil on top and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Saganaki is a fried cheese appetizer that is very popular in Greece.
✔ 200 gr. Kefalotyri or halloumi cheese
✔ ½ cup honey
✔ Zest of 1 lemon
✔ 1 Tbsp. black sesame
✔ 1 Tbsp. roasted sesame
Cut the cheese into 2-cm. strips.
Heat a skillet on high flame, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and fry the cheese for 2 minutes. Turn the pieces and continue frying until they melt a little. Do not turn the cheese more than once.
Transfer the fried cheese to a serving plate and drizzle honey on top. Sprinkle with sesame and lemon zest and serve.
✔ 3 medium-size eggplants
✔ 200 gr. good quality feta cheese
✔ 200 gr. labaneh cheese
✔ 1 bunch basil
✔ 1 cup flour
✔ Cooking oil
For the sauce:
✔ 4 ripe tomatoes, cut
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 4 cloves garlic
✔ Pinch Cajun pepper or chili pepper
✔ Pinch salt
✔ 1 tsp. sugar
✔ 1 Tbsp. flour
✔ Hawaij seasoning mix to taste
✔ Black pepper
✔ Olive oil
To prepare rolls: Place the flour in a shallow dish. Cut eggplant into 2-cm. thick slices, coat the slices in flour and fry in cooking oil until golden. Transfer to paper towel to absorb excess oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
Heat oven to 150°.
Peel the garlic cloves. Place whole in a baking dish and roast in the oven until golden.
Mix the cheeses in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
When the eggplant is cooled, place one slice on a plate, top with 1 Tbsp. of the cheese mixture and 1 basil leaf, and roll gently.
To prepare sauce: Sauté onions in a little olive oil until transparent. Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add seasoning and mix. Continue to cook until sauce is thickened.
Place sauce on a serving plate. Place the eggplant rolls and the baked garlic cloves on the sauce and serve.
LEEK PATTIES WITH GOAT YOGURT
✔ 1 kg. leeks
✔ 4 potatoes, peeled and cooked
✔ 1 onion, quartered
✔ 3 eggs
✔ Black pepper
✔ 2 tubs goat yogurt
✔ 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
✔ Zest of 1 lemon
✔ Fresh basil and oregano leaves, chopped
Cut the white part of the leeks into 5-cm. pieces, wash thoroughly and boil in salted water until softened, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the hot water and transfer immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process. Strain and squeeze as much water from the leeks as you can.
Grind the cooked leeks in a food processor with the onions and potatoes. Add eggs and seasoning and mix by hand until smooth.
Shape the patties by hand and dip in flour.
Fry the patties in oil until golden on all sides.
To serve: Spread yogurt on a plate and top with patties. Garnish with cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and fresh herbs.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Albi Greek Restaurant, 2 Rabbi Hanina Street, Jaffa. Tel: 077-441-7072. Not kosher. Open weekdays 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.