Una Grande Belleza – An Italian-Israeli Experience at Racines, Brussels

Two and two
makes four and Italy plus Israel makes one amazing lunch. No, I didn’t have a
glass of wine too much, but this is what is awaiting you at Racines in
just on 26 April for lunch or dinner. Celebrating two unique cuisines
that combine some incredible ingredients, chef Alaa Musa and Ugo Federico managed
to turn a dream marriage into reality.

Alaa Musa runs
two successful restaurants in Israel, one in Haifa and one in Akko, both making
use of traditional Israeli ingredients and cooking techniques while giving them
with some modern twists. Israeli cuisine is becoming something more and more
popular around the world, Akko says. I can sign this statement, as a proud
owner of three Ottolenghi cookbooks and having visited a bunch of Israeli
restaurant, the Palomar in London among others.
Israeli food is,
similar to Italian food, more of a culture and something that is being
celebrated. The food, the wine, the atmosphere, everything is a feast of
laughter and happy people enjoying the pleasures of great tastes.
If a well-known
Israeli cook is coming to town, what place could be better suited to host such
a unique experience, organised by the Israeli embassy, than Racines?! The
restaurant that sources all products themselves, makes use of seasonal and
regional vegetables only and pays big attention not to violate the textures and
tastes the different ingredients offer. Similar to the approach of Alaa,
Racines tries to follow the ideas of the Slow Food Movement, but read more
about that here
The food menu
that you’ll experience is absolutely epic. One dish is created by Ugo, one by
Alaa and the final one by both. Five courses are what you get, not more and not
less and believe me that’s more than enough. We started off with a Baba
Ghanoush with nuts and chives and a garlic clove that looked like a little leopard,
I guess Alaa grilled it, but I have no clue. I must say it was one of the best
Baba Ghanoush I ate so far. Ugo’s contribution to the first course was a
Mackerel in 3 different ways: scottato (burnt), sweet and sour and tonnato.
Different textures, different tastes – a firework for the tastebuds.
Course number
two was ceviche from sea bass, shanklish cheese, olives, pistachios and red
pepper along with a taboule with sea bream, mint and tahini by Alaa and an
artichoke a la Giudia with sumach and scarmorza, a Capri croquette with oregano
yoghurt and a bomba (fried piece of heaven) filled with ricotta with tomato and
This was
followed by spider crab Tortelli (filled pasta) in a fish bisque and chives:
The pasta absolutely tender and freshly made at the spot, the filling full of
taste and the bisque giving the dish the final touch and this taste that makes
you feel as if you sit right at the Italian coast. An incredible fish soup that
made me once more realise that it is all about the quality of the products,
promptly followed the Tortelli by Ugo. The shrimp was crisp, the clams
unbelievably tender and melted in my mouth like butter, the calamari on point
and all joined by a delicious broth of tomatoes and preserved lemons.
The absolute
highlight was the dish created by the both chefs though. Sea bass with a
perfect crispy skin, so tender you could eat it with a spoon, no need for
biting, just let it sit in your mouth and wait for it to slowly disappear,
bedded on a risotto from Freekeh (an Israeli grain that was handpicked 2 weeks
before it landed on my plate), spinach, green peas, carrots, tahina and lemon.
Hello sexy, this was a dish I won’t forget so quickly.
What’s for dessert
is a secret, go there and you’ll find out!! Service is great, the chefs
absolute sweethearts and the experience unique and one you shouldn’t miss. I’d
go a second time if I hadn’t plans already.
The 5 course menu costs 62€ and is only available on 26 April for lunch and
dinner, after the 26 the restaurant goes back to its normal menu, which is also recommended

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