The Mingei International Museum has long been one of my favorite arts institutions in San Diego because of it’s unique curatorial intent: to bridge folk art and craft of the world to modern art and design. My own family keeps the Ukrainian folk tradition of wax-resist painting on eggs, Psanky. For many years I flew back to the East Coast to learn the symbols and geometries to paint these magical story-telling eggs with my cousins, aunt, great-aunts and grandmother. There is something precious in these traditions, and every day I relate my work in food and desserts back to this detailed and focused craft.
The current exhibition, ISRAEL: 70 YEARS OF DESIGN & CRAFT is stunning. The textile, metal, glass, industrial design, and furniture work presented are no less than breathtaking. With due respect to this incredible exhibition, I wanted to present dishes inspired by the five books of Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, which I’ve studied from for many years. I also wanted to create a display rich with color, texture, and layers for the senses. We eventually settled on a menu of traditional spreads, prepared vegetables, grilled flatbreads, and colorful spices imported from the region. The menu was earthy, smoky, citrusy, bright, and distinctly Mediterranean.
COMPOSED PLATE: SQUASH & KOFTAH| Honey Roasted & Fire Finished Winter Squash, with Black Sesame Tahini & Harissa, Lamb Meatball, Herb Salad.
FLATBREADS FOR A CROWD| House-Leavened & Fire Finished Flatbreads, Brushed with Single Origin Olive Oil and Seasoned with Za’atar Imported from Israel.
LEBNEH & OLIVES| Tangy Arabic Yogurt Dip with Toasted, Aromatic Spices, Cured Olives, and Olive Oil.
CHARRED EGGPLANT| Our Smoky, Silky Eggplant Dip made from Chef Yottam Ottolenghi’s own method of charring eggplant in the traditional way. Meyer Lemon, Pomegranate Seeds, & Fresh Herbs.
TWO HUMMUS: CHICKPEA HUMMUS & GREMOLATA| with Fresh Tomato, Cucumber, Crispy Fried Shallots & Garlic Chips, Toasted Spices and Fresh Herbs.
RUSTIC CANNELLINI BEAN AND CONFIT GARLIC HUMMUS| With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.
HONEYED CARROT BOARD| Sweet Roasted Baby Carrots, with Aleppo Pepper, Lime Yogurt, and Herbs.
SPICED CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS| With Almonds, Raisins, Pomegranate Seeds & Fresh Herbs
FRESH ORANGES, SMOKED ALMONDS, DRIED FIGS
Special thanks to Barbara Smith for capturing images, Josh Pavlick of Helmuth Projects for table-top gallery pedestals, and Lera Boroditsky for loaning plates and objects from her collection.