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Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feasts

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Yotam Ottolenghi has revolutionised Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern food in the UK – and made the flavours of the region more accessible and desirable than ever before. Brought up in Jerusalem at the crossroads of conflicting food cultures, he embraces different culinary traditions with a passion and creative restlessness unmatched by any other chef around.

In this series, Yotam will take us on a culinary journey through the sun-soaked Lavant, from the spice markets of Morocco to the exotic eateries of Istanbul – a part of the world that has captured his imagination since childhood.

Episode – 1: Morocco

Moroccan food is underpinned by its diversity and celebration of spices. Marrakech is known for its luxury but Yotam wants to investigate its street food scene, taking dinner on the Djemma el Fna. From delicious kebabs to a tasty sheep’s head – mouth watering, we learn, when you eat it the Moroccan way – Yotam shows how to haggle for the best fast food in town.

Episode – 2: Turkey

Turkish cuisine channels cultural currents from every direction, resulting in the delicious chaos that is Istanbul. Turks, Greeks, Arabs, Persians and countless others have passed through here, leaving an indelible stamp on the cuisine. Historians speak of the “layered” nature of the city, foodies describe Istanbul as a “stew.”

Episode – 3: Tunisia

Algeria is an enigma – with some of the most beautiful coastline on Earth, a luminous hinterland of mountains vast and deserts idle alongside a stunning capital city.

Episode – 4:  Israel

Tel Aviv’s history goes back little more than a century. There is no “Israeli” cuisine, but influences from all over the Middle East. It is the city Tel Aviv swallowed up, Jaffa, where real history is found – it has been a port for 4,000 years and is also the centre of Tel Aviv’s push for foodie recognition.

Episode – 5: French island of Corsica

Yotam travels to the stunning French island of Corsica, where he discovers how the lush green landscape, called the maquis, flavours and infuses the food, from charcuterie and olive oil to cheese and honey.
Yotam meets some of the island’s most celebrated chefs and food producers and discovers what makes the food uniquely Corsican.
He prepares a roasted fish with aromatic Corsican olive oil; Swiss chard and herb tart with local cheeses; honey and apricot trifle with walnuts and lavender; and chestnut cake, a classic island staple.
And to celebrate Corsica’s love affair with meat, Yotam makes a rich veal stew with olives, pancetta and a roasted pepper salsa.

Episode – 6: Mallorca

Yotam searches for authentic local cuisine, discovering wonderful local ingredients including ruby red prawns – the star ingredient in his deconstructed paella. Yotam leaves the busy beaches behind as he heads inland discovering a wonderful larder of local ingredients, including roast suckling pig slow-cooked in a bread oven; tomatoes sweetened on the vine; and oranges ripened in the island sun. Yotam creates a Mediterranean feast of Spanish and Moorish origin: salt-crusted fish stuffed with aromatic fennel; a sweet and salty salad of caramelised oranges with goats cheese; and a deliciously rich dessert of apricots, almonds and raisins.

Episode – 7: Crete

Yotam visits Crete and explores its rich and complex culinary history. In the ancient capital of Heraklion, Yotam makes a variation of the Cretan meze dakos, a marriage of tomatoes, crumbled feta, olives and oregano. In the fishing port of Agios Nikolaos, he marries octopus marinaded in wine with tender baby squid, stuffed with tomatoes and okra. On a trip inland, Yotam uses feta for a cheesecake with a ripe cherry compote. He also prepares a feast of spit-roasted pork souvlaki, served with his twist on tzatziki.

Episode – 8: Sardinia

Yotam travels to Sardinia to explore the island’s unique food traditions and flavours. In the beautiful fishing port of Bosa, he cooks one of the Mediterranean’s greatest meals: freshly caught lobster roasted on an open fire. Leaving the coast behind, Yotam travels deep into Sardinia’s rugged heartland, sharing a meal of spit-roasted lamb and a salad of figs and roasted radicchio, with three generations of shepherds. And on a mountain top at dawn he learns the secret of producing silky soft cheese for a dessert of ricotta fritters drizzled with golden honey and orange zest.