For those of you who watch “Duet”-
There is one episode which was devised by the producers to cover-up a disastrous pilot, (nothing to do with me!!)
where I must introduce the episode by saying:
“This is an unusual Duet..because this time, it’s not my story..”
And so I will say this again.. but yet, in a way, it is my story, because it is the story of when Rima met Peter..
A chance meeting which, in fact, changed my life.
So, it began about a year ago, we were sitting around the house on Saturday, and the phone rang.
It was Yomi Levi (you remember, one of my best friends, who, along with his brother, owns and runs the best Turkish specialty shop in Tel-Aviv.. מעדניית יום טוב at 43 Levinsky..)
”Wake up!” he said, “We are going to Herzliya to eat at a great Turkish place! I’m picking you up in an hour!”
So what to do except get ready to go??
An hour later, Yomi arrived at our door, and with him was a drop-dead gorgeous man who looked like some sort of cinematic fantasy hybrid between, say, George Clooney, and a young Sean Connery..
Yomi introduced us, saying “This is Peter Norman- the famous Swedish chef everyone has been telling you that you must meet- he popped by, and decided to join us for lunch!”
Now, of course, I was overjoyed.
Because, actually, for months, I had been hearing “Chatter” (as they say in the C.I.A and Mossad when referring to receiving high-quality buzz about someone-) about the fabulous Peter Norman- a crazy chef and stylist of mythological talent, who for reasons unknown, had decided to leave his pastoral farm in Sweden and move to Israel..
And in fact, I had been scheduled several times to meet him and due to one arak thing or another, just never happened..
Well, never mind. He came into our house, a book in his hand, introduced himself..
And it was that old cliche you always hear..”I felt like I had known him my entire life”. But it was true.
The book he had brought to me was in fact a copy of his book, “the PINK Cookbook”
Now, as all of you know, I do not read, or own, any cookbooks. But this one was different.
Not so much a cookbook, this was the single most aesthetically beautiful piece of food art I had ever seen.
And what made it even more striking to me was, the same time as I had been travelling the world, to 13 locations, filming “Duet”- Peter had been travelling the world- to 13 locations- shooting on location each chapter of his book.
It was remarkable, and his book took my breath away- And it still does.
Within hours of meeting, (Well, the place in Herzliya was closed!) we were all sitting at a steak house in NeveTzedek- (Makom shel Basar, to be exact, and I actually happen to really like this place- site : http://makomshelbasar.rest-e.co.il/) Eating steaks, drinking countless bottles of wine, talking about travels, life, food, adventures, as if we were lifelong friends just reunited after a few months of travels apart, comparing stories..
That night (which in fact happened to be Peter’s birthday) ended up with us all over at Peter’s place-
(A beautiful, welcoming oasis of impeccable taste, refinement, and beauty, in the middle of Tel-Aviv)
drinking Swedish Aquavit, downing frozen vodka, eating caviar, dancing around the room to Brazilian remixes of 70’s disco classics, and generally having the time of our lives!!
And that was the start of our friendship.
From that day on, we trawled the markets of Tel-Aviv, ate countless dinners in his beautiful home, gossiped, planned menus, brainstormed ideas for all kinds of projects, cooked and ate beautiful meals, and of course, drank endless bottles of wine..
Peter, as is his nature, that is to say, he is a true citizen of the world, and follows his heart fearlessly, and purely, has moved away to Mexico City, just 2 weeks ago, with his partner, who we all fell in love with as he did..
And I will say this-
My life, and in fact, all of Israel, became a duller, and poorer place the day he left.
I have never met someone like Peter before- Full of charm, grace, laughter, wit, generosity, empathy, and blazing talent- Yet without one bit of the pretentious ego or narcissism that plague many in our field, with far lesser gifts than his..
I know I will visit him many times in beautiful Mexico, a country which is also one of my true loves..
Strangely, in another part of my life, I was sure I would move there to live one day.
And I know he will be back to Israel many times, too, as the dust of this strange land has gotten under his skin, and will never allow him to turn his back completely on this place..
Meeting Peter was one of the rare occurrences which even fleetingly, make me believe in a higher power-
One which brought us together in order to experience life all that much more fully.
Miss you Peter
20 large fresh shrimps, cleaned by cutting through the back of the shell with scissors, removing the sand vein, but leaving the head attached (if you simply insist on it, you can remove the heads, but they look and taste much better with them on..)
Carefully butterfly the shrimp tails (open them, but leave the shell whole from the back to hold the butter while roasting..)
2 sticks (200 grams) unsalted butter, softened,
3-4 cloves fresh garlic,
1 bunch fresh tarragon leaves,
about 1/4 cup fresh flatleaf parsley,
splash of Pastis, Pernod, or white wine,
zest from 1 lemon,
several turns fresh ground black pepper,
1/4 cup of shelled crushed pistachios,
big pinch sea salt-
Process all in food processor.
Spread each opened shrimp tail (look at photo) with a thick layer of the butter, and roast on top rack of oven, on hottest temp/”broil”, for about 4-5 minutes.
Serve immediately, with fresh lemon wedges (Meyer’s if available) nice sourdough bread, a frisee and lettuce salad, and a few bottles of crisp, dry white wine (like Sancerre, or good unoaked Sauvignon Blanc)