By: Judith Goldstein
Last night we had the pleasure of attending Mezcal's (best Mexican restaurant in Tel Aviv) private tasting party for the upcoming expansion of Mezcal in Florentine. Owner's Ziv and Esther Erlich generously invited the members of TasteTLV to taste some of the new items on the menu, talk about what's to come and just enjoy some foodie company. The dinner was hosted by one of Mezcal's regulars, Ran, who graciously invited everyone to his home and recreated the Mezcal we know, love and miss. There was even the Frida Kahlo picture that was previously at Mezcal. The attendees including Mezcal's regulars, friends of Ziv and Esther and other food aficionados. We met the artist, Adi, who painted the Frida Kahlo painting with the parrots that adorned the Mezcal wall and she gave us the buzz on her new painting for the expanded Mezcal, we don't know much about it but we know that it will be a picture of Diego Rivera, I'm sure that it'll be as beautiful as the picture of his wife.
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by Ziv and Esther and the Mezcal staff; chef Kaley made the delicious dishes and right away they took our drinks orders: a choice of Mojito, Caipirinha, and Beer. Then we got to taste some of the dishes. We started with the tostada which was on the old menu and will remain on the new one, it was as delicious as ever. Then we tried a salad on the new menu; The salad was made with green leaf lettuce, bitter herbs, tomatoes, red onions, beets and pomelo and was topped with a chili-lime vinaigrette. It was full of flavors- sweet, bitter, citrus, and spicy and full of texture. The salad will be a light alternative to some of the more robust dishes on the menu. Then we had the new chile con carne and Mexican rice. The chili is a recreation of the old one, this one more hearty with added vegetables and chipotle peppers. And last but not least we had a reinvention of a favorite dessert, the banana and chocolate wrapped in tortilla, served with fresh ice-cream and caramel sauce. The variation is to bake the tortilla instead of frying it. We had mixed opinions on what was better but I have no doubt that either way it's going to be devoured like it was last night.
The best part of the evening was when we had the chance to sit with Ziv and Esther and really talk about the new menu. I can't even begin to describe how excited we are for what's to come, we are seriously waiting at the edge of our seats for Mezcal to re-open so we can savor these dishes. Now that Ziv and Kaley have a bigger kitchen to work with, some of the old classics will be remastered, such as the mole- made from scratch from A-Z and they will use dark and light chicken meat, which they will simmer for hours until it reaches the right texture and consistency- they are going to take it to another level. Ziv will also introduce some new exciting dishes, such as fried calamari with poblano pepper sauce. He's going to play with some new salsa recipes that he's been brainstorming. However, the thing that Ziv was most eager to talk about are the new dishes that are very authentically Mexican. With literally a sparkle in his eye, Ziv begins to tell us that they will begin to use different cow organs in dishes, such as the tongue and the brain, they will be introducing really simple tacos that come on fresh corn tortillas and are served (like in Mexico) with only a side of salsa, one of these include the tongue taco (which I'm the most excited for).
Ziv a true lover of Mexican food and culture and as a purist to the cuisine, feels very passionate about sharing with Israelis authentic Mexican food. Ziv is really a pioneer in this cuisine as far as Israel goes, but he's also a pioneer for any place in the world. There aren't many Mexican restaurants, even in the States, that will serve very authentic food, because they are trying to please the local palette. Ziv is bold and brave and clever. He's mixing it up on the new menu with some Mexican-Mediterranean dishes, some dishes that resemble Mexican cuisine and some nitty gritty authentic dishes, really giving everyone a choice to fulfill their pleasures. We are sure that whatever dreams may come, Ziv and his staff are going to continue to pave the way for Mexican cuisine in this country and will continue to be one of the best restaurants in the city- with passion and commitment to food like Ziv has- there is no other way it can be!