Moroccan feast at the new Authentic restaurant
" The traditional Moroccan meal is varied both in textures and visibility "
Maître Rôtisseur Yakir Masarati, Chef/Owner of the new “Authentic” restaurant generously hosted us for an authentic Moroccan feast showcasing outstanding talent.
The “Authentic” restaurant is located in Beersheba, in the north of the Negev desert, ninety minutes’ drive from Tel-Aviv.
Emerging out of the desert dust into the mall where the restaurant is located the atmosphere was instantly changed. As we entered the building another world was created by walls, tables and maps painted in elegant black and gold colours, emphasised by black plates, white napkins and golden cutlery. Twinkling lights gave the impression we were in a different space and time.
Rosetta and Arak's opening cocktail seasoned with “Ras el hanout” was decorated with hot red pepper, mint rose and cinnamon stick.
The dinner began with two types of comforting Moroccan bread, boiled olives and authentic, fantastic eggplant zaalouk.
Later, “Queen of Moroccan cuisine” was filo dough stuffed with chicken and dried fruit with Sherry jam. The salty and sweet flavours were precisely balanced with a proper spice mixture. Powdered sugar like a white blanket sat on top.
Hardly time to absorb it fully before “cigars” filled with extra-long beef and liver, fried, crispy and precisely seasoned arrived. Immediately followed by “mizusin” - two sardines filled with harissa and herbs on two aioli - pickled lemon and smoked paprika.
Chef Yakir emerged from the open kitchen to meet everyone. Smiling he said “eat and have fun but this is just the beginning. Leave room for the rest!” He shared with us that he really likes the Ras el hanout spice mix and in most dishes will combine it with additional spices.
The starters were accompanied a 2017 red wine from Barkan Wine Cellars - Israel’s largest winery. It was very suitable for spicy dishes, all of which were particularly tasty. They came warm and inviting to the centre of the table, with generosity. Eyes devoured. Tongues relished Moroccan flavours. We all know the standard flavours. However, we had upgraded versions due to the personal touch of Chef Yakir.
The traditional Moroccan meal is varied both in textures and visibility. Cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, anis, pepper, red pepper, sesame seeds, coriander and parsley are the spices that Chef Yakir juggled with an admirable art.
A line of waiters came to the table with authentic red-and-gold tajins. Each diner had a personal tajin with a generous serving of spicy brains, in a traditional sauce with peppers, chickpeas and coriander. One diner noted “no festive meal without brains!” A fresh Friday hala bread was served to temper the spiciness.
Following the brain dish an individual veal cheek dish was served in a fancy glass bowl. The meat, rich in flavours only developed by six hours of slow cooking, melted in the mouth.
Next an impressive lamb shoulder. Someone asked for a knife. “There's really no need” Chef Yakir said “the meat comes off the bone with a fork”. Indeed it did. The lamb shoulder, after five hours of cooking, was accompanied by bright garlic heads next to an ancient pink garlic cream that gave another wonderful touch. Sweet couscous with dried fruits was the accompaniment.
No Moroccan feast for the newcomers to Israel from Morocco can finish without mufleta [Ed. a sweet bread made on a pan] and cookies.
Around midnight a hot cup of tea completed the pleasure and off went into the night back to Tel-Aviv.
Tami Lancut Leibovitz