You may have heard me say this before: I love the final scene of Pixar’s “Ratatouille” when Ego, the food critic, is transported to his childhood by the smell and taste of the ratatouille that Remy, the rat, creates. Because the genius of Pixar is that they illustrated something we all feel.
Every once in awhile, you taste something that just transports you to another time and place.
As I tasted the sachlav pie created by pastry sous chef Chelsea Kantor for Mamaleh’s Delicatessen during the JArts Taste of Israel Restaurant Week, I felt like I was sitting on a bench in southern Tel Aviv. I was sipping rose-water-flavored sachlav, with bits of dried apricot and chopped nuts, laughing with Yael, my soul sister and Hillel “shlicha,” Israeli ambassador, whom I worked with right out of college. She was the person who introduced me to sachlav and who taught me what to mix in it and how to eat it.
Like ratatouille, this pie was the elevation and re-imagination of the most basic of comfort foods: sachlav, often called the hot chocolate of Israel.
I was so excited about this pie because it’s such a special flavor to me and not what usually comes to mind when you think of Israeli food. So I told Chelsea that the pie was a dream come true for me—one of my favorite Israeli treats in American pie form, and here’s what she had to say: “It was kind of a dream come true for me too! The idea popped into my head a while ago, and I was waiting for the perfect time to bring it to life. I love sachlav and have a very beautiful memory of drinking a warm cup of it on a chilly beach day in Tel Aviv. I also really love pie and combining flavors and textures in new ways. I wanted to make sachlav a little more accessible to people who aren’t familiar with the half-drink-half-pudding dessert/breakfast item.”
If you missed this delicious pie but you’re curious to try sachlav, here’s a simple recipe from Jaime Geller. And check out other delicious baked treats at Mamaleh’s Delicatessen—their takeout is fantastic!
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