On our first night in Jerusalem, Y.'s cousins took us to Mahane Yehuda, a restaurant sharing both a name and a neighborhood with the shuk. I was introduced to many things that evening, not least of all Israeli negotiation and perseverance: The table our party of five was led to after waiting next to an empty one for 45 minutes was upstairs in a dark corner and set for four. H. was not impressed and she had no qualms about letting the maître d' know as much. She asked why we couldn't be seated at the table downstairs, which had been free since we got there and big enough for our party. The reply was that it was reserved for a party of six. M. and Y. backed H. up saying that the table the maître d' wanted us to sit at wasn't nearly big enough to accommodate us. The reply this time was that it certainly was big enough--they sometimes even sat parties of six at this table. Thus the maître d' sank her own ship and at H.'s suggestion we were led back downstairs to the empty table, which happened to have an excellent view of the open kitchen and the spontaneous speeches and singing and dancing to come, and left the four top to the as-yet-unseen party of six.
But the relevance of our night at Mahane Yehuda to this post is the grapefruit and arak cocktail that was served upon our arrival at the restaurant before the table debacle and well before the restauranteur from Tel Aviv began speechifying and the waiters commenced drinking and the chef put on his fez and started dancing and waving a dish towel over his head to a song whose lyrics loosely translate to, "I want to be out there in the jungle where there is no Rabbi Google." This refreshing citrus-anise cocktail appeared several times during our stay in Israel sometimes with a sprig of mint, sometimes blended with ice, always absolutely delicious. It is at Y.'s suggestion that I turned it into grapefruit arak, although I couldn't find any and had to use ouzo, sorbet, a perfect accompaniment to the unusually hot days we have had this spring and the many we are bound to encounter come summer.
Grapefruit Arak Sorbet
makes one quart
- 3 cups fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (about 9 grapefruit)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup arak (or ouzo or pernod), chilled
- Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water by dissolving the sugar in the water and cooking it on medium heat until clear. Add syrup to grapefruit juice and chill until very cold.
- Freeze grapefruit-syrup mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. After 10-15 minutes slowly add the arak/ouzo/pernod. Continue to freeze until mixture becomes slushy, another 10 minutes or so. Transfer to airtight containers and place in the freezer for several hours.