Yotam Ottolenghi (pictured, right) turned his black-frame glasses toward the pale fava leaves he’d plucked from a row stretching across a narrow urban farm in San Francisco. He took a bite, then turned to Sami Tamimi (left). “I’ve never tasted this,” Ottolenghi said. “It’s like a hint of fava bean. Delicious.” Tamimi knew the flavor. “My mother used these,” he said. “Tossed them into a chicken dish at the last minute. She grew favas next to the house.”
That house, of course, was in East Jerusalem. Ottolenghi and Tamimi were in San Francisco to promote their latest book, Jerusalem: A Cookbook. The restaurant Bar Tartine was honoring the London-based chefs and authors with a dinner that night, but this morning: a trip to Little City Gardens, a scant acre of farmland wedged between houses in an SF neighborhood. Jerusalem is about nostalgia and connection, despite political and cultural barriers. Born in the same year, Ottolenghi grew up in the Jewish west of Jerusalem, Tamimi in the Arab east. Being in San Francisco meant tearing down a different kind of barrier. “In London we always feel so disconnected from the countryside,” Ottolenghi said, passing Tamimi a pink, sweet-fleshed turnip he’d just bitten into. “But in San Francisco it’s right here.” That night at Bar Tartine, Chef Nick Balla’s Jerusalem-inspired dishes drove that point home.
Photos by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com. Scroll down for captions.
From top to bottom, left to right: The scene at San Francisco urban farm Little City Gardens; Little City’s Caitlyn Galloway; Yotam Ottolenghi with Little City’s Brooke Budner; the harvest; kitchen notes for the Ottolenghi dinner at Bar Tartine; Sami Tamimi; slab bread baked by Tartine’s Chad Robertson; Ottolenghi and Robertson; little bowls of various salatim; Israeli salad with Ruby Streaks mustard; fish stew with harissa; citrus and almond-syrup cake; Tamimi and Ottolenghi.