Yotam Ottolenghi travels the southern and eastern Mediterranean to introduce the cuisine of these far flung places into the UK's kitchens.
Jerusalem on a plate
Internationally-renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi returns to his home town of Jerusalem to discover the hidden treasures of its extraordinarily rich and diverse food culture. He meets and cooks with both Arabs and Jews in restaurants and at home who draw on hundreds of years of tradition to create the dishes that define the city, and explores the flavours and recipes that have influenced his palate. From the humble street foods of hummus and falafel to the cutting edge of Jerusalem cuisine, Yotam uncovers the essence of what makes the food of Jerusalem so great.
Yotam's journey starts in Morocco's most vibrant city, Marrakech, where he discovers the secrets of the tagine and explores the delicious street food. Yotam creates a succession of stunning recipes from the rooftop kitchen of his beautiful Riad: a barbecued leg of lamb with almonds and orange blossom sauce; herb infused cous cous with grilled cherry tomatoes; and sweet pastry 'cigars' with an almond and cinnamon filling. Yotam leaves Marrakech to visit the Atlas Mountains, where he meets and eats with the Berbers and learns their age-old method of making couscous. Yotam grills some beautifully fresh fish with a Moroccan twist, sea bass marinaded in chermoula and served with an herb and raisin salsa.
Yotam's journey continues in Turkey's most historical and cultural city, Istanbul. He tastes fish from the magnificent waters of the Bosphorus, is amazed by beautiful local vegetables and samples mouth-watering street food. Yotam makes a pizza topped with spicy beef, a casserole with prawns, squid, tomatoes and cheese, creamy artichokes, baklava, and cinnamon rice pudding with cherry compote.
In one of North Africa's most popular holiday destinations, Yotam dines on the freshest fish, discovers the national obsession with fiery harissa paste, and samples spicy merguez sausages. Yotam's journey begins with a trip to an unusual open-air restaurant - set in an idyllic cove and managed by a hermit. Yotam grills a red mullet platter accompanied by a lemon and celery salad and a seafood pasta dish using fresh mussels, squid and luscious prawns. He tries his hand at making brik - a fried pastry snack containing soft egg and tuna - and makes mackerel salad with olives, green beans and turmeric croutons. Then there's a colourful dessert of grilled peaches, juicy apricots and ripe figs, coated in scented yoghurt. Yotam also finds a Jewish restaurant that serves their twist on Tunisian dishes and where he prepares succulent chicken and sweet corn meatballs, served with a tangy lemon salsa.
Yotam's Mediterranean journey concludes in the country where he grew up - Israel. In Tel Aviv, he explores Israel's freshest produce, samples seafood with a twist and cooks alongside cutting-edge chefs. Yotam explores the national obsession with hummus and begins by making the popular Mediterranean dish shakshuka, where eggs are gently poached in a spicy sauce of tomatoes, onion and hot chili peppers. Tel Aviv enjoys an enviable coastal location, and a morning fish market provides the best catch for Yotam's next recipe, which is grilled fishcakes with a creamy beetroot and horseradish relish. Excited by Israel's abundance of fruit and vegetables, Yotam travels to a remote farm to pick one of his favourite ingredients - pomegranate. He uses the fruit's brightly coloured seeds to make a tomato and pomegranate salad with pomegranate molasses and a fragrant garlic dressing. Yotam also teams up with a chef to forage for ingredients in the hills of Jerusalem before returning to Tel Aviv to cook apple and sage pancakes and an Israeli-style pizza made with Jerusalem cheese, herbs and fresh tomatoes.
Yotam travels to the stunning French island of Corsica, where he discovers how the lush green landscape, called the maquis, flavours and infuses the food, from charcuterie and olive oil to cheese and honey. Yotam meets some of the island's most celebrated chefs and food producers and discovers what makes the food uniquely Corsican. He prepares a roasted fish with aromatic Corsican olive oil; Swiss chard and herb tart with local cheeses; honey and apricot trifle with walnuts and lavender; and chestnut cake, a classic island staple. And to celebrate Corsica's love affair with meat, Yotam makes a rich veal stew with olives, pancetta and a roasted pepper salsa.
Yotam searches for authentic local cuisine, discovering wonderful local ingredients including ruby red prawns - the star ingredient in his deconstructed paella. Yotam leaves the busy beaches behind as he heads inland discovering a wonderful larder of local ingredients, including roast suckling pig slow-cooked in a bread oven; tomatoes sweetened on the vine; and oranges ripened in the island sun. Yotam creates a Mediterranean feast of Spanish and Moorish origin: salt-crusted fish stuffed with aromatic fennel; a sweet and salty salad of caramelised oranges with goats cheese; and a deliciously rich dessert of apricots, almonds and raisins.
Yotam visits Crete and explores its rich and complex culinary history. In the ancient capital of Heraklion, Yotam makes a variation of the Cretan meze dakos, a marriage of tomatoes, crumbled feta, olives and oregano. In the fishing port of Agios Nikolaos, he marries octopus marinaded in wine with tender baby squid, stuffed with tomatoes and okra. On a trip inland, Yotam uses feta for a cheesecake with a ripe cherry compote. He also prepares a feast of spit-roasted pork souvlaki, served with his twist on tzatziki.
Yotam travels to Sardinia to explore the island's unique food traditions and flavours. In the beautiful fishing port of Bosa, he cooks one of the Mediterranean's greatest meals: freshly caught lobster roasted on an open fire. Leaving the coast behind, Yotam travels deep into Sardinia's rugged heartland, sharing a meal of spit-roasted lamb and a salad of figs and roasted radicchio, with three generations of shepherds. And on a mountain top at dawn he learns the secret of producing silky soft cheese for a dessert of ricotta fritters drizzled with golden honey and orange zest.