A memorable dining experience of ours was at a restaurant called Four Tables, in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Not because the food was particularly outstanding (though it was very good) or particularly terrible (it wasn’t), but simply because of the unmatched quirky nature of the place. Having had some nibbles, breads and dips before taking our seats, we were greeted with an enormous salad entrée (in addition to our starters). As for the menu of main dishes, it looked fairly standard until you gazed up at the ‘exotic’ meats offering on the specials blackboard: think animals like crocodile, camel and zebra. Portion sizes were huge, and that was before the totally eclectic mix of side dishes made their appearances. Roast potatoes, roasted baby aubergines and giant onion rings were just the beginning! Neither of us is accustomed to leaving food on the plate, but even we couldn’t make it through this marathon.
Our visit was in honour of Miranda’s birthday which meant that we were also offered another treat: a complimentary signed copy of the proprietor’s cookbook, Elaborate Cooking Uncovered. It is full of recipes from all around the world, but it is primarily our go-to book when we want to make hummus. As hummus is an element of today’s dish, and so are aubergines, we couldn’t help reminiscing about that dinner nearly 5 years ago, which is why we’ve described our visit as a precursor to our Israeli recipe.
This week, we’ve opted for a lunch dish instead of a dinner one. Apparently there is no real ‘national dish’ of Israel, as its cuisine is so influenced by neighbouring countries and Jewish immigrants, but the sandwich known as sabich seems to be accepted as unquestionably Israeli. This is no ordinary sandwich though: this is a substantial meal and shouldn’t be attempted if you’re also planning a large dinner! The recipes for most elements of the dish come from I Will Not Eat Oysters, with the exception of the hummus, which is courtesy of Four Tables’ Ali Javaheri as mentioned above. Apparently a key feature of the sabich is amba, a pickled mango sauce, but despite an hour or so spent traipsing around our local ethnic food shops, we couldn’t find any, so we substituted it with mango chutney… which seemed to work! Continue reading