Two's company

Jerusalemites are less enthusiastic about trying completely new twists in their foods. So, new ideas come here after they've been tried in TA.

In 1995 Michael Mann released the movie Heat. In it, two of the greatest actors of our times, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro appear together albeit for only a few scenes. Until, that is, the final show down in a huge scene on the streets of New York. Movie lovers anticipated this cinematic event with bated breath and, luckily enough, the movie stood up to the expectations - even though, in the end, it was Val Kilmer and Ashley Judd who stole the show. But the point is, when two giants meet, everyone is excited. For the upcoming Tu Be'av holiday of love, Yaron Vinkler, of Jerusalem's legendary Tmol Shilshom, and Einav Berman, of Tel Aviv's Assif, join forces. Together they aim to create a very special and romantic meal for couples at Assif, set to include five different products to be featured in five different courses. Each main ingredient gets two variations and the couple gets to try both. The event is being billed as culinary fusion between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Mahaneh Yehuda and Shuk Hacarmel, and male and female. The most important idea behind this meal, of course, is the summit between two great chefs from two great restaurants. Vinkler agrees. "The idea for the meal came from the PR people, but the chemistry between us is great. Our styles match up and from that connection we've created the different dishes," he says. Just as Pacino and De Niro do, Vinkler and Berman, as well as their restaurants, have quite a few points in common. Both establishments are bistros - small, quaint restaurants serving moderately priced simple meals in modest settings. Yet both of them take those simple meals and add a delicious twist to the theme. At both places an emphasis is placed on great atmosphere, in addition to the food. However, again like Pacino and De Niro, it is the subtle differences that make the connection that much more interesting. Vinkler comes from a city where the cooking is a little heavier. "Jerusalem is colder, so we have heavier dishes like stews and soups. Furthermore, since Jerusalem is located in the mountains, I bring more herbs such as thyme, vine leaves, wild hyssop and more. I'll also bring to the meal products I purchased at the Mahaneh Yehuda market, such as leg of lamb," he says. On the other hand, in Berman's Tel Aviv she experiments with fusion, much more than Vinkler does. "Jerusalemites are less enthusiastic about trying completely new twists in their foods. So, new ideas come here after they have been tried in Tel Aviv. Also, we have more trouble finding fresh seafood, so we've less expertise in that field," says Vinkler. Though he adds that this, "does not mean there's no experimentation going on in Jerusalem. A lot of great chefs come from here." It is important for Vinkler, he notes, that the differences don't define the meal. "Even though I bring Jerusalem to the meal, I don't see myself as a representative of Jerusalem food because I don't believe there is such a thing. There is Israeli food, which is made up of such connections between the different areas of the country," he says. Vinkler refuses to disclose the planned menu. But, having eaten at both their restaurants on separate occasions, it's fair to have faith in what will result. Plus, I'm pretty sure Ashley Judd won't steal the show this time - though it would be cool if she showed up. This highly anticipated event is set to take place at Tel Aviv's Assif (18 Lilenblum St., (03) 516-5198) on August 15 from 7:30 p.m. for NIS 180 per diner.