The Purposeful Plate: Provençal Sunshine in Brooklyn

by Caroline Hatchett
Aliza Eliazarov
February 2015

Biography

Restaurant



"This dish takes me back to Provence. The endless selection of goat cheeses in the markets: the lavender fields and aromas, the hundreds of kinds of olives, the great artisanal sourdough from the amazing boulangeries. The honey that is so thick and rich that it is like butter. Instead of having the usual cheese plate with some bread and jam, I wanted to create a composed cheese dish that has a true place on our menu. The dish is appropriate at any time during the meal, fit for the lone bar diner with a glass of wine, or even pre-dessert or as dessert itself. The perfect bite is a piece of the compressed apple on the tapenade bread with a bit of the cheese and a drizzle of some of the sauce on top. Even the cold winter of Brooklyn cannot stop you from feeling some of the Provence sun!" 

— Chef Eldad Shem Tov of Glasserie

Israeli-born Chef Eldad Shem Tov first came to New York to pursue a career in photography and art. And though he strives to make food that’s “fresh and simple for the neighborhood” at Greenpoint’s Glasserie, he can’t help but slip in experiential, artful plates. Take his humbly named Apple and Goat Cheese, that’s arguably an $18 plane ride to Provence. Every element feels, smells, tastes like a Provençal farmers market. It’s more than a cheese plate. It’s a complete thought, rife with all the flavors and aromas we associate with the south of France (he even found a way to capture the sunshine).

COMPONENTS

Tapenade Sourdough
Shem Tov buys sourdough bread from Bien Cuit in Brooklyn, re-bakes it into a savory, olive-laden bread pudding, and deep fries it to add heft and texture to the plate.

Lavender Broth
Delicate lavender broth and sweet, crunchy bits of crystallized lavender situate this plate squarely in the south of France. You smell the dish before it hits the table.

Pickled Mustard Seeds
Shem Tov layers in more Provençal aromatics in his pickled mustard seeds with the addition of date honey, coriander, fennel seeds, and black pepper.

Compressed Apples
Shem Tov compresses languid sheets of Granny Smith apples in their own tart juices, ascorbic acid, and mint. They are the sunshine in this dish.

Chevre
He anchors the plate with a crotin of Vermont Creamery’s Bijou goat cheese that’s been aged for 30 days. It reads farmers market French, but it’s all American.

Provençal Flourishes
Shem Tov finishes the plate with a sprinkling of lemon thyme, rose geranium, rose petals, and bee pollen, along with a shimmer of mint oil and high-quality extra virgin olive oil.