Tuesday, November 17, 2009


...Or more correctly, Mallard, is a wild duck which was the ancestor of most domestic ducks. It is less fatty, more meaty and less expensive than regular duck, making it a perfect option for preparing at home without spending too much. Today, I'll show you how to get a fantastic fancy looking meal for a fraction of what you would pay in a restaurant and the triple of what you would ever get. Each breast roughly weight between 300 and 400g and cost around 40 shekels each. One whole breast for each person makes a really large portion... but worry not, you won't hear any complaints... or see any leftovers. Only happy faces munching away.

So lets start with these two beautiful mallard breasts. They usually come frozen, so let them gently defrost in the fridge without removing from the plastic pouch.

Here they are, completely defrosted

With a sharp knife, slash the fat, just until reaching the meat. This will give the fat more surface to melt down and flavor the meat underneath.

Try not to reach the meat when slashing the fat!

Now, sprinkle the meat with coarse sea salt. Be generous, most of the salt will melt away with the fat and only a part of it will reach into the meat.
Here's our salted meat, nearly ready to be cooked!

Now, there are two ways to cook your mallard: On a heavy frying pan, skin down or under the oven grill, skin up. I prefer to do it in the oven, since the fat drips down and the skin crisps up far better than when frying in it's own fat.
Find yourself a griddle, like in the picture (this one is actually used for putting cookies and cakes to cool on). You can get one for around 30 shekels at any cooking store or improvise with the griddle from your barbecue. Put that griddle on top of any shallow pan (I usually line it with  foil to make cleaning easier). 
The main idea is to raise the meat so that the fat falls to the bottom and the meat stays out of the cooking juices.
Set your oven to around 250 degrees celcius (no need for turbo, just up and down heat).
Put your mallard breasts in the second top shelf of the oven and keep a close eye on the meat.

This is what it should look like after about 10 to 15 minutes later:

Don't worry about giving it another extra 5 minutes to have that super crispy skin . Any more than this, and your meat might start to overcook. You should aim for a slight tint of pink at the center of the meat. Practice makes perfect, so don't worry if you don't get it exactly right the first time. It will still be very tasty! If unsure, you can always use a meat thermometer.
And there we have it, oven roasted Mallard Breast:

A nice shade of pink on the inside

 Super crunchy salty skin...

More food porn...

Now, something like this is meant to be the star of the dinner, so you do not want to clutter your plate with too much things. This time, I decided to prepare a simple potato and apple medley  (I will write down the recipe at a later occasion) and serve the meat with a homemade berry sauce. You can always buy a good quality cherry or wild berry jam. Just try to pick something with a sour twist to it. Also, put it in a blender and add a little boiling water to give it a more sauce like texture.

So this is the time to keep you mallard breasts somewhere warm until ready to serve.
When your done with the side dishes of your choice, cut the breast into slices and make a pretty fan shape on the plate, add the side dishes and drizzle a bit of sauce over the meat. Leave on the table for anyone to add more. 

Here's my potato and apple spicy meddley:

And at last, but not the least, the berry sauce I made. Believe it or not, it was all gone at the end of the dinner!

Raspberry & blackcurrant sauce

Bon Appetit!

Afternoon Lunch at Nana's Resto Bar

Located in the beautiful rustic area of Neveh Tsedek, this restaurant might go by unnoticed, hidden away behind a lush vegetation. The inside is quite light and open aired and has that feel of old Tel Aviv, with black and white pictures and classic paintings all around. The center of the restaurant is dominated by a pretty patio, which brings yet more light to the entire place.
We were all quickly seated and our waitress tended to us very professionally.

On with the food!

Our starters:

Beef filet Carpaccio with a dressing of olive oil and balsamic with parmesan cheese and baby roquette
I love a good carpaccio and I wish this one could have lived to my expectations. Unfortunately, there were no surprises and a few disappointing notes about this no brainer of a dish.
The meat was completely unseasoned and not at it's prime condition, the roquette salad was so small I would rather describe it as a decoration and I could not understand why  I was served thick slabs of old parmesan on a side bowl. I was given another bowl with a tiny little bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, not early enough to season my bland carpaccio. We also ordered the bread, which was rather nice and crisp.  

Chicken Livers Pate with homemade jam
This was my partners starter. Though simple, it was quite tasty and the liver was done just right. The jam was a nice touch and complemented the tender livers.

Main Courses:
Baked Salmon Fillet on penne pasta in supreme sauce
A nice piece of well cooked salmon, nested in a bed of penne and covered in a cream and butter sauce. Here was an uncomplicated, delicious and well seasoned dish.  This was a very healthy and filling portion. Thumbs up!

Fillet of Mullard served with red wine sauce , mashed root-vegetables and asparagus
This dish was wrong in so many ways that I was starting to feel that someone hadn't put his ideas well together or was just experimenting as it went. The mullard was overcooked, but strangely enough, the skin on top, which should be golden, yummy and crispy, was white and mushy, which made it very unpleasant to eat. I would say that this was about 1/3 of a mullard's, so the portion was quite small (no more than a 100 g). On the other hand, the mashed root-vegetables took nearly the entire plate and didn't add anything good to the dish. The color was an unappetizing orange/green and the mass had already formed a thin dry film on top, like soup left on the stove. Two sad, cold and estranged spears of asparagus didn't make it any easier on the eye.  

Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream
We were presented with three pieces of fondant, milk chocolate, dark and white chocolate over a light vanilla custard and ice cream on the side. I'm not sure if eating squares of fondant counts as a true dessert, but it was nice ending to our meal.

Foodwise, there's a lot to be done. You can just feel that they are putting an effort, but it's just not there yet. The menu doesn't present anything new or particularly exciting and overall, it's quite expensive. Most dishes can easily be whisked up at home in 30 minutes at a fraction of the price and probably with better results (see my next post). Don't expect to come out of there for any less than 150 shekels per person.

Rating: 7/10