On a recent trip to Argentina, I had the good fortune to visit Mishiguene. The restaurant’s philosophy is based on the fact that Jews have established roots all over the world and had to adapt ancestral recipes to locally available ingredients. The menu of Mishiguene reflects that tradition, offering dishes ranging from Russian borscht and Moroccan lamb tagine to New York deli and Roman artichokes.
Located in the trendy Palermo neighborhood, Mishiguene is the brainchild of Executive Chef Tomas Kalika and CEO Javier Ickowicz. Kalika hails from Jerusalem while Ickowicz is a Buenos Aires native. Together, they have created what they call “the first avant garde Jewish restaurant.”
We were greeted warmly with the soundtrack of klezmer music. Our server spoke excellent English and made a great recommendation for a Mendozan malbec. Then the “Jewish bread selection” arrived: a bagel, a slice of challah and a pita, accompanied by a jar of pickles, a puree of oniony schmaltz and a bottle of locally pressed olive oil.
For starters, we chose the boreka, a savory pastry filled with goat cheese and topped with sesame seeds, greens and a poached egg. We also ordered the baba ghanoush, which was a deconstructed version of the Middle Eastern dip; charred eggplants formed a bed for a puree of well-seasoned eggplant, tahini, fresh parsley, dill and olive.
For our main, we split the “pastron,” a brick-sized slab of pastrami, served on a latke and topped with an egg. The preparation of the pastron, if my translation is correct, involved a sous vide — a vacuum seal of the food, which is then cooked in a precisely controlled water bath.
The good news was the resulting tender, well-flavored uniform hunk of pastrami. For purists, however, the results were a bit too tender; pastrami should bring a bit of welcome meaty chewiness. Mishiguene’s version was so soft that it had a hint of the texture of pate. The latke, however, was perfect.
For dessert, we tried the baklava, which arrived as cigarette rolls of pastry, nuts and honey atop a bed of sweetened cream cheese and garnished with vanilla ice cream. The “huerta de Katy” offered a mélange of seasonal, local fruits on a bed of chocolate, with a scoop of raspberry ice cream, leaves of pastry and a few mint leaves. JN
This article originally appeared in the Jewish Exponent, a Jewish News-affiliated publication.