A seasonal approach to food

Herzliya's Lehem Erez offers a three-course winter gourmet meal for NIS 79.

lehem erez 88 (photo credit: )
lehem erez 88
(photo credit: )
I am not a winter person, but if there is a positive side to the season, it's definitely the food. Few things beat a hearty winter meal followed by a good glass of red wine in front of the fireplace. Long slow braises, flavorful casseroles and comfort cooking - from root vegetable soup to roast lamb - are most welcome at this time of year. While traditional comfort foods are usually synonymous with fattening, if you swap a few ingredients and learn a culinary trick or two, you can enjoy rich, hearty meals without wreaking nutritional havoc. By focusing on the best ingredients of the season, chef Hanan Azran at Lehem Erez restaurant in Herzliya has created an interesting menu that's not heavy on the calories. We went for the three-course meal which, for only NIS 79, presented a combination of food so excellent that we savored its memory the entire weekend. Lehem Erez is pleasant and informal. A pretty patio, country decor and an open kitchen with a large taboon as a centerpiece make for a cozy setting to showcase the advantages of cooking with fresh local ingredients. No need to be a food expert to appreciate the quality of even a simple salad when the lettuce is crisp and drizzled with fine citrus vinaigrette made of freshly squeezed oranges and ginger. For a starter, order the salad of organic goat cheese and chestnuts. The flavor combination conjures up a double sensation of enjoying a picnic in the heart of a meadow and walking in a chestnut grove at the same time. The delicate lettuce leaves are the "urban" element in this harmonious salad. Another admirable appetizer is the shredded kohlrabi salad sprinkled with sumac and a generous amount of lemon juice. If you have never tried kohlrabi, you are in for a treat. A member of the cabbage family, kohlrabi has a swollen, turnip shape and grows on top of the soil. The edible portion can be white, purple or green and has a nutty flavor that is both refreshing and filling. For the main course, the veal sirloin is a good choice. Flavored with ginger and lemongrass, it is served atop sweet potato puree and beet salsa. The main course of veal and eggplant moussaka baked inside Greek bread is equally good and a wonderful way to complete the meal on a Mediterranean note. Desserts are inventive, exceptional, and beautifully presented: candied quince in yogurt sauce; mascarpone cream in guava soup; and malabi in pomegranate sauce garnished with roasted pistachios. The winter meal at Lehem Erez cost NIS 79 and is served from 5 p.m on weekdays, and from 1 p.m. on weekends. 3 Rehov Bareket, Herzliya. Tel: (09) 955-9892. Not kosher.