Wildfires Claim Rama's Kitchen In Jerusalem Hills | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Wildfires Claim Rama's Kitchen In Jerusalem Hills

Wildfires Claim Rama's Kitchen In Jerusalem Hills

Despite efforts to save it, fires claimed the popular farm-to-table restaurant in Jersualem. Courtesy

A Farewell to the Popular Farm-to-Table Restaurant

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The full extent of the devastation from the fires that swept over Israel last week is still not fully known but it has been confirmed that Rama's Kitchen, a highly regarded farm-to-table restaurant in Nataf in the Jerusalem Hills, has burned down

The restaurant, which was established 20 years ago, was a popular culinary destination and party venue. Located a short drive from Jerusalem in a forest clearing, the restaurant espoused a philosophy of locally sourced cuisine, with vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients grown on the premises, and recipes inspired by traditional Arab dishes. This food philosophy of connectedness to the land and its location in the Jerusalem Hills meant that its location in the forest and use of rustic wooden architecture made it vulnerable to the fire that ultimately consumed it. The restaurant, its menu, and its construction, was a true life's labor of love by proprietors Rama Ben Zvi and her husband Uzi as well as chef Tomer Nir. Even the wooden dining tables were made by hand by Uzi. 

A trip to Rama's Kitchen was a pilgrimage of sorts, requiring a certain amount of deliberateness to drive the winding road up to Nataf, taking in the pine-scented air along the way. 

The menu was divided into four categories: Earth, Taboon, Sea, and Beef and Poultry. Breads freshly baked in the taboon oven were topped with cheese or meat, freshly picked vegetables were arranged in refreshing salads, heartier main dishes were enlivened with local vegetables. 

To us here in New York, used to restaurants opening and closing all the time and locations changing hands with often nothing changing but the name, there is something especially sad about losing a 20-year-old restaurant so connected to its location, to a wildfire. 

The loss of Rama's Kitchen makes one reflect on what is lost in a fire: not only a loss of property, but a loss of place.

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