New York is a melting pot. The variety of cultures that make up the big apple contribute to why this city is such a food enthusiast’s paradise. With cuisine options from all over the globe; even the most obscure, one will never go hungry. When it comes to choosing dinner, my suggestion would be to close your eyes, spin the globe, and trust where you land your finger.
If you want Indian, you got it. Italian, no problem. Dim Sum, definitely. Modern Israeli? Of course.
Not too long ago, a trio nicknamed the Israeli Dudes were creating buzz around the city with their Shuka Truck. Food trucks are nothing novel to the big apple, but the street food these dudes were serving – Shakshuka on the go made an impression. Shakshuka, meaning a mixture in the Maghrebi Arabic dialect, is a dish of poached eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, cumin, and other spices. “Israeli cuisine is a melting pot of cultures.” Explains Chef Gabriel Israel. “Most Mediterranean cuisines have a version of Shakshuka.”
At 25, Chef Israel is one dude who is creating buzz again. He grew up near Tel Aviv where time spent in his family’s restaurant provided him with insight and profound culinary passion. After taking a few classes at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Israel worked at Daniel Boulud’s Mediterranean restaurant Boulud Sud. While working the hotline at Boulud Sud, Chef Israel’s hometown roots, perfection in preparing Shakshuka – and its massive brunch popularity earned him the nickname Shuka. It also inspired his first enterprise. The Shakshuka Truck gave New Yorkers something not only delicious, but something different.
Once again New Yorkers have the privilege of savoring something different from Chef Gabriel Israel. He has created an a la carte menu that showcases the broad flavors of the Mediterranean. At Green Fig located in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, diners explore modern Israeli cuisine, which we learn is a blend of many familiar ingredients uniquely prepared with specific spices. As in a festive Riad, Green Fig is a gem that offers a lush, adjacent rooftop bar that beckons cocktails to be sipped before entering the dining room. Head bartender Adrian Grossman’s cocktails are bursting with flavors inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients. Try Memento Mori. Though strong, the anise flavored arak, with almond syrup and mint will offer a refreshing kick and will build your appetite.
Plates for the dining room at Green Fig are presented family style, and are presented in no particular order. Displayed as Mezze, this section of Green Fig’s menu will awaken the palate. Six small plates welcome you, and feature red peppers, hummus, tahini, and other dips accompanied by homemade laffa bread – the thicker, chewier, and not as easy to tare style of pita. The section of the menu titled Light is vegetable focused. It also includes a scrumptious Octopus Carpaccio which is garnished with juniper berries, black eggplant puree, cumin scented walnut cream, and carrot chips. However, the star of this section of the menu is the Carrot Steak. Served on a wooden board, Chef Israel prepares a whole carrot charred after marinating in a Moroccan blend of spices which he acquired from his mother. The charred crunch and smokiness in every bite is rustic, unique, and makes you forget you’re eating a carrot. The charred “steak” sits on a bed of carrot puree, homemade mozzarella, basil, and coriander.
Meat eaters will also be in paradise. Jaffa to Tijuana is a fusion of Chef Israel’s hometown flavors, and his strong preference to Mexican cuisine. Succulent pork belly cooked in pomegranate juice with cinnamon and coriander is served with Mexican style grilled corn- what’s not to love? If you’re not stuffed by the end of your meal, desserts are delightful, not too sweet, and worth exploring.
Green Fig offers a healthy feast that is fresh and heartwarming. My advice would be to gather friends and bask on the rooftop while the summer season lasts. With a group of food enthusiasts, it will be easy to devour the entire menu. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Green Fig @greenfignyc @chef_gabriel_israel
570 10th Ave. NYC