A Yemenite Meal in NYC With an Israeli Food Star

The meal on offer includes a traditional Yemenite beef soup called marak basar Teimani (top left), and kubaneh, a yeast-risen bread (on the square plate). Photographs by Adeena Sussman.

Gil Hovav, Israel’s biggest food celebrity and an unofficial ambassador of the country’s cuisine, will be in New York next week to host a series of Yemenite dinners with New York-based food writer, cookbook author and Israeli food expert Adeena Sussman. Hovav is half Yeminite and Sussman is an avid fan and student of the cuisine, having written about it for Gourmet and other publications.

“Gil and I have a shared love of this cuisine, and he’s eaten some of my interpretations and I’ve eaten his,” she said. “It’s really soul-satisfying, delicious, simple food, celebrating one of Israel’s many great ethnic cuisines.”

Sussman, who has written about food for the Forward, explained that she and Hovav threw a small EatWith dinner in her home back in December 2014, which sold out immediately. “So there was interest in us reprising this event,” she said.

Gil Hovav and Adeena Sussman.

The two will host next week’s meals at a small Upper West Side restaurant called Vino Levantino, taking over the kitchen to prepare specialties including kubaneh, a yeast-risen, long-cooking Yemenite bread studded with in-the-shell hard-boiled eggs; and a choice of idam, traditional, spice-laced Yemenite fish chowder, or marak basar Teimani (Yemenite beef soup), both laced with hawaaij, a Yeminite curry-like spice blend. Meals will end with ja’aleh, which are dried fruits and nuts served at the end of traditional Yemenite meals, along with fresh mint tea or ginger-and-cardamom-spiced Yemenite coffee.

The dinners are Wednesday at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. and Thursday at 9:30 p.m. There will also be a brunch on Saturday, March 21, at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. For the late-night dinners on Wednesday and Thursday, master spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz of New York’s La Boîte is crafting a custom cocktail.

The meals are being offered through EatWith, which organizes authentic, personalized meals, often in a home setting but occasionally, as with this series, in restaurants or other venues.

Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at schoenfein@forward.com.

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