I have this unexplainable weakness for Spanish things in general, for Spanish food specifically. I left my heart in Barcelona a long time ago (somewhere between Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter). Therefore, it's understandable that I hopped into the car and drove straight down to Ashdod not long after it was brought to my attention that a very special tapas bar opened there, whose menu is full of the flavors of Spain.
We got to Match Box on an especially rainy day. The seating arrangements there change depending on the weather, so that night the outdoor seating gave way to the warmer and more intimate interior and the bar. We started the evening off with a couple of unique cocktails, fruits of the staff's power of invention, who create under the leadership of Chef Dudu Karditor. We then made some time to browse the menu, which includes Spanish food, touches of Southern France and a dash of Mediterranean, all of which is made on site.
To start off we ordered a number of tapas: delicately flavored baby spinach salad with feta and two types of peas, a generous portion of house cured salmon served with crème fraiche, and a portion of house bread that included 3 rolls of white and whole flour, baked on site and served hot with olives, olive oil-balsamic, an amazing guacamole and homemade bright pink ikra with onion. My partner, it turns out, is a card carrying member of the "Ikra Lovers Club", something which made him utterly shameless and turned me a bit red when he requested another refill and then scooped up a big blob of it as though it were hummus.
While gorging ourselves and listening to some nice Spanish music (which sometimes changed to oldie alternative hits) a clever and amazing dish lands on the table – a tortilla pizza scattered with baby shrimps, salmon, mozzarella and heart of palm. The combination of toppings was harmonious, even perfect, and the plate is then thoroughly and professionally cleaned with the generous help of my 'ikra lover'.
For mains we went for a Spanish classic - seafood paella with all the good bits, like shrimp, calamari, mussels, half a crab and, of course, the rice. The paella is brought to the table steaming and giving off an intoxicating aroma. The freshness of the seafood is felt, and went excellently with the perfectly cooked rice, along with the fantastic sauce. The result is no less than a party in your mouth. Along with the paella, we ordered a filet of beef medallions, which were served in a tower. Between each medallion, a slice of goose breast and green leaves was layered. The filet was so tender it melted, the goose combination was different and refreshing, and all this goodness was only improved by the accompanying potatoes. Both dishes were polished off completely, and flowed down to our stomachs with the aid of imported beer and tropical fruit based cocktails.
For dessert we listened to our hearts and ordered the petit fours, which proved themselves big time. The menu describes a dish of sweet tastings, which varies according to the chef's mood. To our delight, our chef, Dudu, was in a great mood, and wowed us with crème Catalan, alfajores cookies, and chocolates filled with passion fruit, coffee cream, white chocolate and more. Sweet little sins whose delightful taste was further improved with a little shot of homemade passion fruit liqueur, served in a colorful frozen glass.
By the time we left the restaurant, the rain had taken a little break, and we filled our lungs with the clear fresh air. As we settled into the car we looked at one another and agreed that from now on we have another good reason to come to Ashdod, in the form of an authentic and young tapas bar!
11 Tashah Street, Ashdod.