Dining review: Affordable gourmet opportunities

Kosher and non-Kosher restaurants alike take part in the Chef Tochal festival.

tokopia dessert 88 (photo credit: )
tokopia dessert 88
(photo credit: )
The third Chef Tochal festival, during which choice restaurants offer an hors d'oeuvre, main course and dessert for only NIS 79, will be held from January 7 to 16 in the Sharon area and the Coastal Plain. The media was invited to a "tasting" of some of the special dishes prepared by six of the chefs from a selection of participating restaurants. The event was hosted by Nihoah Kafri on Moshav Bania, whose restaurant is itself well worth a visit.
Click for upcoming events calendar! One starter was a delicious crab and cream soup created by Ocean's chef Yaron Levy. It was so good that many of my colleagues had a second bowl. Then came a foccacio with pesto sauce and pomegranate seeds, and a pastry filled with mushrooms by Lechem Erez's chef Hanan Azran. They were both excellent. Kazanki chef Julie Mizrachi came up with two shrimp dishes, one with a mustard and cream sauce, the other a coconut curry sauce. Both sauces were perfect, innovative and complemented the seafood perfectly. The warm crusty bread was home baked by Nihoah Kafri, who also provided the fresh salad and an excellent fish filet with cream and pepper sauce. Gazpacho's chefs Guy Peretz and Miki Suissa served a delicious "pastia" - a Moroccon pastry filled with minced baby chicken and nuts, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. Chef Eldad Dahan from Oro came up with stuffed sardines on fresh salad and burghul. His other two dishes were tagines, one chicken and the other beef with chickpeas. I must admit I am not a connoisseur of Moroccan cuisine, but judging from the whole-hearted way in which my colleagues were enjoying these dishes, that's a situation I intend to rectify soon, perhaps at Oro's Friday brunch, served from 10 a.m. to an hour before Shabbat. Oded Shoval, chef at Odeon, offered a selection from the new winter menu: ofyon baby chicken with chesnuts and garlic served on a bed of root vegetables cooked in meat stock and port wine. It was such a tasty and unusual dish that it ignited a lively discussion as to the exact translation of "ofyon." Next came beef patties with green curry sauce served with corn bread. The beef patties were cooked to perfection, tender and wonderfully spiced. Pastry chef Gal Sela from Badolina Gadera delighted us with her creations for dessert. Chocolate fondue with fresh fruit, mascapone cream with banana and caramel, cinnamon buns with vanilla cream, and what looked like ordinary lollipops but were in fact various kinds of heavenly chocolate balls on sticks. The food was wonderful, and the chefs were having fun creating interesting and diverse dishes. I was assured that the participating restaurants are all up to the same standard. The festival is a great opportunity to try new foods at new places. Participating restaurants are: SHARON AREA RA'ANANA: Spaghettim (09) 771-4494; Edison (09) 774-3131 KFAR SABA: San Sen (09) 765-5331 HOD HASHARON: Arnon veTamar (09) 740-7545; Angelina (09) 744-1444; OM (09) 740-5853; HERZLIYA PITUAH: Okinawa (09) 951-3030; Odeon (057) 660-5124; Kazanki (09) 958-6688; Colombus (09) 958-9880; Ocean (09) 951-1219; Jacko (09) 951-6414/5); Derby Fish Bar (09) 950-8383; Bella Venezia KOSHER (09) 950-6562; Black Steer (09) 955-7464; Pat Qua (09) 954-7478; El Gaucho - also the Bat Yam branch (09) 553-6575); Hasilon (09) 957-0236; Tabuleh (09) 957-3818; Lechem Erez (09) 955-9892; Mifgash Hasteak (09) 951-1177; White Hall (09) 958-0402; Shuru (09) 972-5656; London (1-700-700-648); Cafe Metzada (09) 955-0555. HERZLYIA: Cafe Kaze (09) 951-4848 RAMAT HASHARON: Nooch (03) 540-3333 MOSHAV RISHPON: Gooperman (09) 955-0555 POLEG INTERCHANGE NETANYA: Mantina (09) 865-5111 COASTAL PLAIN RISHON LEZION: Hazedef (03) 962-7111; Gehalim (03) 951-0521; Agol (03) 950-7085; Loft (03) 956-3216 REHOVOT: Yam (08) 947-4445; Ido ve Suzanne (08) 946 3193 NESS ZIONA and environs: Oro (KOSHER) (08) 931-6617; Badulina (KOSHER) (08) 868-0463; Weizmann 22 (08) 930-1222; Tokopia (KOSHER) (08) 938-9333; Tokyo (08) 860-4058 ASHDOD: Balzac (08) 853-6336; Shangai (03) 553-6605 ASHKELON: Luna (08) 672-2220; Gazpacho (KOSHER) (08) 674-8886 OTHER AREAS Nihoah Kafri, Moshav Bania (08) 932-2143; Arabeska, PetahTikva, (03) 904-4242; Kramim, Moshav Segula (08) 850-5859 YAVNE: Tarin (08) 942-0974