“The first main dish to hit our elegantly laid out table was the beef stew with raisins, dried cranberries, pickled lemons and maple syrup. Chef Haszadi is a fan of sweet with savoury it seems (recall the mushrooms in a sweet balsamic reduction and shredded duck from last week’s appetizer recount…” Rachel Wagner navigates through the varied main dishes on her way to dessert at Canela in Jerusalem.
As this article left off last week us lucky members of the press were awaiting the main dishes after an impressive showing on the starters at Canela, a gourmet kosher restaurant in downtown Jerusalem.
The first main dish to hit our elegantly laid out table was the beef stew with raisins, dried cranberries, pickled lemons and maple syrup. Chef Lior Haszadi is a fan of sweet with savoury it seems (recall the mushrooms in a sweet balsamic reduction and shredded duck from last week’s appetizer recount). The dish was lovely – I especially liked the caramelized celery root. Sweet followed sweet with duck breast glazed in honey, oranges and roses. Upon first bite I found the duck too sweet and too chewy – but a second bite, this time of a centre slice, revealed a tender rare slice of duck with just the right hint of they honey citrus flavour.
With the next two dishes things finally took a turn for the savoury…well, almost. The sea fish fillet on diced Jerusalem artichoke with sweet white wine sauce was more balanced in flavour than it was sweet – the fresh, gorgeous and perfectly cooked fish was well accompanied by Jerusalem artichoke – a fitting ingredient (and seeming favourite of Chef Haszadi) for the restaurant’s location.
After two more meat dishes (lamb shoulder, root vegetable and sage stew – gluttonously rich and reduced to super flavour intensity just short of dryness, and pan fried beef fillet with roast Jerusalem artichoke in red wine) it was time for the vegetarian main: leek and tofu cream ravioli with roasted red beets. Tofu you repeat, with the raise of an eyebrow. Tofu indeed. And it was lovely, with a hint of lemon zest, tender pasta, a texture you’d swear was dairy and the intensely coloured and flavoured zing of the beets.
Finally it was time to put the skills of this kosher kitchen to the test: Can they create dairy free desserts as impressive as their starters and mains. The first to arrive remained my favourite to the end – dried fig tarte tatin with basil ice cream and vanilla sauce. The tarte itself was nice, with a cake rather than pastry crust and wine infused dried figs. But the star was the basil ice cream which not only went nicely with the cake, but rather than being just ‘interesting’ was downright delicious. The chocolate tower filled with nougat mousse and nuts in toffee sauce is worthy of mention due to the noticeably high quality of the chocolate walls, though the sum was somehow less impressive than its parts. My opinion remains that n selecting a mousse component a chef restricted to dairy free is really setting himself up for failure. The pistachio and orange dacquoise with pistachio cream and caramelized oranges was, on the other hand, a total success and by far the table’s favourite.
After a strong coffee to aid with digestion it was time to leave the chic confines of Canela and head out into the rainy streets we’d been admiring through the floor to ceiling picture windows.
Reflecting on my experience at Canela I felt sure that with 4 years behind them this little gem of a spot has got many more ahead of it.
Canela 8 Shlomtzion St, JerusalemPhone: 02-6222293