EatWith is a new(ish) and unique way of dining. Basically, you go to a stranger’s house to eat dinner prepared by said stranger, with other strangers who came to the stranger’s house. Sounds weird? Well, it is. But It’s also very fun! It provides a way to get a glimpse into other people’s life, listen (and tell) interesting stories as well as share your passion for food with other foodies. I’ve been subscribed to the EatWith newsletter for a while now, waiting patiently for a specific host’s event to be scheduled. As luck would have it, just a week ago, Summer Endevors by Urbano was announced.
On, the man behind Urbano, has been traveling and eating around the world for the past 7 years. During that time he managed to live in Jeju, South Korea, Kobe (Japan) and London, where he worked developing in Fat Duck’s lab. He speaks fluent Hebrew, German and English. Some of his meals are offered via EatWith and some independently.
His Florentin apartment/kitchen is speckled with an assortment of art from various independent Israeli artists. The apartment is currently in the process of being turned into an art gallery where all items are planned to be up for sale. Mirroring On’s open approach to food, his kitchen is large, spacious and open. This invites patrons to be involved and ask questions about the food and its preparation. The entire meal was cooked and served by On himself without additional staff or assistance. Despite this – he still remained a great host. He was warm and attentive and often entertained with stories about his journey, food science and the inspiration behind the different dishes.
For starters we received an Arak cocktail –
Falude Supreme – Arak, Yuzu, Rose water, Mint, Lime, angel pasta foam and pomegranate poppers
We’re not too big on strong Anise flavors, which left us polarized regarding the pallette. I guess it’s one of those love-it-or-leave it tastes.
The soda is prepared with etheric oil. To produce it, On uses a strong acid that dissolves the vitamin C in the oranges. According to him it takes 50 oranges to create a small vial of Etheric oil. The use of which, apparently, requires a special permit from the Tel Aviv municipality.
Amuzely – Steamed lime and yuzu cloud, citrus Labane, Kafir lime dust, curry paste and butter milk crunch. Served with shrimp misu biscuit
This Canape starter provided a light and refreshing start. This is the second time we encounter a deconstruction of a Muesli from Israeli molecular chefs. The first being in Raz Rahav’s OCD, where it actually served as a dessert. We never would have imagined a simple Muesli could be reconstructed in such different, creative ways! The best part of the dish was definitely the shrimp misu biscuit.
We continued with another take on another classic Israeli dish, This time a simple watermelon and Sirene cheese was transformed into Drunken watermelon – Drenched watermelon with port, lime, chilli and Zuta Levana, Feta cheese foam and summer blossom flowers dusted with Za’atar and Parisian Lemon. Served with sea bass ceviche.
To become a “drunken watermelon”, it goes through a sublimation procedure in which a vacuum chamber pulls the air out of the fruit and replaces it with port.
Under pressure – Pressed belly of pork glazed with soy sauce and aromatics, Lime infused apple cream, Spinach withered in French butter and sticky dark chicken juz
The main course was definitely the highlight of the meal, and the tastiest of the bunch. Compared to the other dishes, it might not look as wacky but what it lacks in looks it more than makes up for in flavor. We’ve ate quite a lot of pork belly during the last few years, and this one ranks up with the top of them.
The dark side awakens – Foie gras, white chocolate. Apples, truffles coffee bean and Tonka ice cream
The force is strong with this dish, or at least in its intention. Served on a dark plate (or perhaps a darth plate?), complete with a Vader mask foie gras and a gold powder death star. We’re not sure where the little chestnut mousse lego guy fits in the story, but spread on the brioche bread it definitely fit on our tongue. The black ice cream was excellent both in texture and in taste, and was definitely one of the more unique ones that we got to try.
As a palate cleanser between the savory and the sweet dessert we were in for a show. Using liquid nitrogen, On prepared basil and mint chips dipped in sour-sweet kaffir lime juice. We loved how this simple bit promotes more interaction between On and his patrons.
To end the meal we received Dani on Steroids – A take on a popular children’s pudding. On told us he devised it while on a visit to the Streuss factory. The chocolate mousse was upgraded with crushed coffee beans, tonka, salt, hazelnuts, blueberries, yoghurt powder and a butter biscuit.
During the three hours we spent at On’s apartment we had the pleasure of experiencing excellent food, with a great atmosphere. It definitely opened up our appetite to try more EatWith dinners in general, and On’s culinary in particular. If a date opens up to one of Urbano’s meals don’t hesitate and make sure to book it – it’s an experience worth having.
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