Saturday, August 13, 2016

Raves for Rama's Kitchen in Nataf hanging outside Jerusalem in the Judea Hills (8-12-16)

On our way from the airport to Jerusalem we specifically made plans for wine tasting and for lunch; this was my choice and I'm sorry to my family if they did not enjoy it.

It was a wonderful afternoon starting with a superb wine tasting at kibbutz Tzora where we really fell in love with their white Judean Hills blend,  you can be sure some will be in our luggage on the way home. They also make an amazing very high sugar content dessert wine from gewurztraminer that is called Or meaning light in Hebrew.

We proceeded to the town of Nataf which is a small community located right on the original Green Line what many people call the border with the West Bank and it had a gorgeous view with terraces overlooking vineyards and hills. The only thing located in this town of note is Rama's kitchen which gets amazing ratings and is jam-packed whenever they are open, which is not a lot.
The menu is varied and extensive using local ingredients many of which are grown in their own gardens right on the site. As we sat down Chef Tomer Niv was manning the Taboon, large Brick Oven that cooks local flatbread somewhat akin to a pizza oven. Unfortunately creator chef and owner Rama Ben Tzvi was nowhere to be seen.

Will and I started with the Raw wild fish Ceviche which had Sabra fruit also known as prickly pear and it was a spectacular bright exciting and light dish.
Samuel chose one of the flat breads with
G'ibna cheese sun-dried tomato and garlic confit which was delicious, but he said he had to pull off much of the cheese as it was salty like feta cheese and he expected mozzarella.
Will and I decided to split two of the flat breads. His choice was Siniya with ground lamb, green tahini, eggplant and yogurt sauce that was quite delicious, but I felt my choice of the duck confit, arugula and tomato chutney was a much better creation. What was fascinating about it was the small leaved, thick stalked arugula that was nowhere akin to what we have in Europe or the United States.
Samuel's main course was a grilled lamb chops with pine nut cream and vegetable freekeh that had a rack of lamb four ribs thick that he gobbled up in minutes. I did get to eat the meat between the rack bones and they were delicious, seasoning and sauce and all.
Our guide Amir who seems to be on a perennial diet had the fakus cucumber and grape leaves salad with goat cheese from the local Zeltzer Farm.

On the menu was a chicken liver pate with kadaif, chili jam, dried pears and raspberries that I could not resist. They were small balls of the softest chopped chicken liver that you ever had wrapped delicately in the shredded wheat like pasta kadaif, which were simply amazing when you dip them in the chili jam.
I also had a superb glass of red wine from Flam, just miles away, 2013 Classico, a blend of for grapes that was quite nice, and we'll have a beer that came from just miles away in the other direction on the West Bank.

It was a great experience and they made it even better in the heat by having multiple fans and spritzed water mist all around us; what a wonderful afternoon and wait to start our week in Jerusalem.