This year, Oratorio, the flagship restaurant of the Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel in Zikhron Ya’akov, joined the enterprise as one of the few kosher establishments to host a “So French, So Food” chef. Resident Chef Gil Aviram welcomed Parisian Chef Julien Roucheteau into the Oratorio kitchen, where the two created a six-course tasting menu that was served for three evenings this month.
Roucheteau is the chef de cuisine of the restaurant La Scène Thélème, which holds not only a coveted Michelin star but also three toques (chef’s hats) awarded by Gault & Millau, France’s other internationally renowned guide to gastronomy.
The first course of the degustation menu was pickled salmon with young potatoes in oil infused with yuzu and herbs, alongside red and white grapefruit. The freshness of the raw fish was evident, and enhanced nicely by the citrus of the fresh fruit and in the oil.
Next was beetroot ravioli stuffed with a melange of beet, cilantro and assorted nuts, in chicken jus with lemongrass and ginger. The ravioli in this case was not a pasta pocket but rather layers of razor-thin slices of beet carpaccio, alternating with the excellent, complex filling.
The third course featured yellowtail tataki crusted with black and white sesame, accompanied by rice chips and black eggplant cream. The white sea fish was exceedingly fresh and flavorful, and complemented superbly by the dollops of mellow eggplant cream.
The cooked fish course was oven-roasted sea bream in Jerusalem artichoke cream, with slivered capers and Jerusalem artichoke fries. The perfectly cooked fish simply melted in the mouth, in a delicate cream that was sheer ambrosia, while the crunch of the artichoke chips and zesty capers elevated the dish to a sublime level.
The meat course was seared beef tenderloin with kumquat confiture, mashed and confit carrot, and citrus foam. The grilled medallions of prime beef were positively succulent, embellished by a unique sweet and tart fruit condiment—and carrot side dishes prepared in such a way that this common root vegetable yielded extraordinarily exceptional flavors.
The winery chosen to provide the wines for this special menu was nearby Netofa, of the lower Galilee. The winemaker himself was on hand to pair the food with one white and one red from his Tel Qasser vintages.
Dessert consisted of fresh strawberries marinated in vanilla and whiskey, with licorice jelly, white chocolate ganache with clementine, chocolate ganache with hazelnut praline, pistachio cream and dried strawberries. There was a lot going on in this delicious finale, which fortunately did not have to rely on milk substitutes in a rarely successful attempt to emulate dairy desserts.
Discerning diners from far and wide came to Oratorio to enjoy a kosher “So French, So Food” culinary adventure of the kind that observant Jews seldom get to experience.
Oratorio @ the Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel
Yair Street 1, Zikhron Ya’akov
Tel. (04) 630-0111