Our friend Laurie recently returned from an extended stay in Israel (see jelly doughnut post from December!). While there she sent beautiful emails describing some of her experiences, and she has allowed us to share some of her culinary ones with you. This post is dedicated to Laurie and her Israeli friends Zelig and Aviva. Zelig is a famous metal sculptor who now works in oils and paper or canvas; Aviva is a former writer for Gourmet magazine, chef, caterer, interior designer, and event planner; she is now in her early 70s but still cooking and working. Laurie describes Aviva as “having a very sophisticated but mischievous eye for placement,” and in this correspondence, we are transported to their apartment in Jerusalem to get a glimpse of their style.
“Zelig and Aviva had us over for Shabbat lunch yesterday and our visit lasted for hours. Aviva says ‘the eye is eating before the stomach’ — so she styles all of her food perfectly but very naturally, and it is so great to see. So now lunch:
Aviva steamed whole cauliflowers in parchment until they were golden and soft; she charred eggplant cut into quarters and doused them with olive oil and spices. On the lowest rack of the oven in a big roasting tray covered with rock salt, she placed an onion, some beets, a squash and a whole chicken stuffed with lemon and rosemary. And then she let it all cook slowly until it was a gorgeous still life. Beautiful colors. When she took the tray out of the oven, she opened the parchment so the steam came out but left the cauliflower in it, sliced the beets, added the eggplant, put it all on a huge serving board, poured olive oil over all the vegetables, carried it to the table and we all sat and ate from the board, putting whatever we wanted onto our plates. It was a feast! She also made sautéed baby red potatoes with crispy little onions and I think we ate about a kilo of these!