We had fun learning about each other. Some of us talked about whether we should only focus on one genre of food such as raw food, kosher, vegetarian or Middle Eastern/Kurdish, others talked about concentrating on the promotion of their food writing for professional gain, and some of us just enjoy writing and learning about cultures they are not familiar without thinking about whether it will turn into something like a cookbook or freelance articles. The most important thing we all agreed on was that we want to try and meet once a month at a different locations, and also arrange field trips to wineries, shuks, dairies, and other interesting food-related jaunts.
We met at the lovely Mazzarine Cafe on Montefiore 42 in Tel Aviv. When you walk into the cafe, you feel like you have just walked into a chic Parisian cafe. I love the way they designed the space, with several different rooms to choose from: the front of the cafe with a constant view of the beautiful pastries on offer; the main room with a lovely view to the garden room, which gives you a feeling of sitting in a botanical garden; and the private room, with a beautiful wooden table that reminded me of my cousin’s French farm table in Holland. We had reserved the private room.
The cafe was founded by Chef Pâtissier Alon Goldman who started his culinary career working at the legendary and sorely missed Keren restaurant owned by one of my favorite Israeli chefs, Haim Cohen. There he fine-tuned his pastry skills and after a year he decided to move to France to expand his professional knowledge. He studied at the famous Lenôtre Culinary and Pastry School in Paris. While in France he worked at several Michelin starred restaurants such as the beautiful Burgundian restaurant at the late chef Bernard Loiseau’s Relais Bernard Loiseau and at the famous Ladurée pâtisserie. He also studied Mediterranean pastry at the famous and mouthwatering Karaköy Güllüoğlu (some of the best baklava I have ever had!) in Istanbul, Turkey, and was head pastry chef at Taboon restaurant in New York before fulfilling his dream of opening his own cafe.
The staff at the Montefiore location were very nice and excited about the food bloggers visiting their cafe. They all understand the items that they are selling, which is very refreshing for an Israeli cafe. But, really, how could you not be enthusiastic about selling beautiful looking cakes and pastries.
The menu has an array of sandwiches, salads, pasta, and main dishes to choose from. Most of us ordered from the specials on offer:
I choose a delicious soup made from a mushroom and vegetable base with perfectly pink-centered salmon and pasta designed with flat-leaf parsley.
Yael chose a vegetable quiche and salad.
Sarah and Irène chose a grilled tuna with Chinese pancakes, jasmine rice and a soy reduction. The tuna was also medium rare as I like it. My only issue with it is that the soy reduction was a little too salty, but I would definitely order it.
I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of Liz’s Caesar salad and Miriam’s gnocchi with artichokes and roasted cherry tomatoes, but I did taste Miriam’s and the gnocchi were light as they should be and the sauce was very nice. Another dish I will have to order.
Mazzarine’s very charming chef, Sharon Artzi, who only joined the restaurant a week ago, came to greet us with one of his new and very interesting dishes, gnocchi stuffed with prunes and served with roasted eggplant and a tehina-portabello mushroom sauce.
I know that it sounds quite strange and maybe too many flavours, but it worked and I thought it was delicious. He explained that he is going to change the entire menu in the coming weeks. I think there is great promise from this chef and I look forward to dining there again.
Of course we couldn’t leave without trying some of Chef Alon’s lovely pastries:
Sarah and I chose Zen – a tart filled with chocolate crème brûlée and covered in dark chocolate, which is perfect for a chocolate lover.
Miriam chose the eclair with cream and strawberries.
Irène chose Ebony, which is topped with 70% chocolate mousse, filled with chocolate crème brûlée and covered in dark chocolate with an almond macaroon on the side.
The truth is that although the tarts and cakes were, or looked, wonderful, I would have liked to see more of them based on fruit, which is certainly not lacking in Israel during the winter. For that matter, I would have liked to see more Middle Eastern influence in the traditional French and Austrian pastries in the confectionery cabinet, which would have been a good marriage to the new chef’s main dishes. I highly recommend a visit to Mazzarine: where you will not be disappointed.
If anyone would like to come to our next event in March, please send me an email on my Contact page above and I will add you to the list.