Just received an email announcing a special meal for the holiday of Tu BeyAv (the holiday of love) at HaMidbach Shel Rama (Rama's Kitchen). There are relatively few restaurants I recommend on a continuous basis but Rama's has won and continues to win my heart and stomach for a good many years now and goes on with my enthusiasm since it first opened in 1997.
Located in the village of Nataf, not far from Abu Ghosh in the Jerusalem Hills, I would recommend visiting "The Kitchen of Rama" even if this country restaurant had nothing more to offer than its exquisite panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, wadis and villages. Happily, the view, the adjoining gardens and nursery, the hawks swooping overhead, the chickens running around nearby and the friendly dogs that come by from time to time to say hello as one dines on the well shaded terrace are only part of the pleasures of this enchanting restaurant.
The philosophy of the house is crystal clear: fresh products, almost all of them local; vegetables that were picked the same morning, many from the restaurant's own gardens; and dishes prepared as lightly as possible, all coming together in a never pretentious and often fascinating blend between the Provencal cookery that owner-cook Rama Ben-Tzvi so adores and the Arabic cookery that is indigenous to the area. Relying heavily on a taboon oven that stands in full sight of the dining area for cooking, on flour that is ground by hand in a nearby village and on her own eggs, herbs and vegetables, Ben-Tzvi has put together a short but fascinating menu that fascinates the eye as much as her dishes will fascinate the palate.
The meal in question will take place on Saturday 13 and Sunday14 August. Opening courses to be served inclusive include tuna medallions wrapped in mustard and basil leaves, crispy grapes in arak liqueur and zucchini flowers with anchovy and buffalo mozzarella cheese. I know each of these courses – each a delight! I am also well familiar with Rama, one of the most delightful and charming restaurateurs in the country and with her overall charming waitstaff.
Main courses to be selected from include seviche of sea fish in shuska pepper with saffron; assado with root vegetables; , leg and thigh of lamb, with creamed carrot sauce; sea bass with a stew of fresh spinach; platters of goats' cheese with fruits; pastries of baladi (native grown) fillings done in the taboon oven. Among desserts – chocolate petites-fours , lemon and wild berry tarts.
The holiday meals will greet visitors on 13 and 14 August at 19:45, desserts will follow at about 21:30 and the cost will be NIS 290 per person. Reservations must be made in advance by phoning the restaurant at 02 5700954.
When reserving consider the possibility of exploring the usually good wine list but also consider bringing your own wines with you.