Between kids and work I hadn’t seen Jen in a while. So, we agreed to meet at Café Caramel in Ramat Hasharon just as soon as I finished the parent-teacher conference at my daughter’s school. It was set for an unspecified hour and is a process that could take anywhere between thirty minutes and two hours. Much like at the Doctor’s office, it all depends on who arrived ahead of you, and also like the Doctor’s one leaves the conference with a diagnosis as hazy as the appointment time and a whole bunch of new things to worry about.
In the end, I managed to get to Café Caramel at a reasonable evening hour, giving us more than enough time for a proper meal. We settle ourselves comfortably at a wood corner table and ponder the menu. Because Jen is a vegetarian, we immediately eliminate meat dishes from contention, even those that look interesting, like the siniya in tehina and pine nuts or the Indonesian rice stir-fry with chicken and vegetables in coconut curry sauce. But we weren’t about to settle for just a sandwich or wrap, so we choose the dishes that seem especially exciting: goat cheese salad with roasted vegetables, nuts and crotons, onion and leek quiche with white wine and cheese, and a healthy rice stir-fry with root vegetables and herbs.
In the spirit of the parent-teacher conference night I deem the salad as trying very hard, but could be more successful. It contains everything promised on the menu in generous proportions: lettuce, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, nuts and croutons, but despite this, it just didn’t come together. Maybe if there had been a little less cheese or fewer black olives (whose dominant flavour took over the entire salad and didn’t allow the other ingredients to express themselves) the grade could have gone up. The quiche received a solid good grade – crisp pastry topped with a smooth filling of onion and leeks, which had been sautéed in white wine and mixed with a delicately flavoured cheese. But the spot at the very top of class was held by the healthy rice dish – whole grain rice stir-fried with strips of onion, carrot, celery leaf, leeks and garlic with herbs, along with a scattering of toasted pine nuts. This was a large and rich vegetarian dish, with a lovely appetizing colour.
After dishes like that, a single dessert was more than enough for both of us. The Klick Cake was the class sweetheart: a chocolate base topped with chocolate crème brulee then covered in a chocolate ganache coating with crunchy bits of the Klick crunchy chocolate candy. There is no doubt – Café Caramel passed the final exam with flying colours.
5 Yitzchak Elchanan St., Ramat Hasharon