Zahav, as I’ve had the pleasure of writing here before, is a fantastic Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, presided over by the magical Michael Solomonov. It’s also the name of a cookbook that is so beloved in my house that, occasionally, my toddlers will urge me to “play Zahav,” which means that they get to open the book and select a few of its dishes, and then I have to cook them. It’s just the sort of joyful, sensuous, unfussy affair you want a cookbook to be—part memoir and part invitation to indulge in some of Israel’s finest dishes. It’s perfect.

The James Beard Foundation agrees.

Earlier this week, Zahav received the James Beard Award for cookbook of the year, the culinary world’s top honor. And Solomonov may still sweep the Beards altogether and take home the award for chef of the year—he’s a finalist—when the winners are announced on May 2.

Meanwhile, I’ll be cooking up a small Zahav feast tonight in honor of the maestro, and suggest you buy the book and do the same. It’s much cheaper than a trip to Israel, and, if you make those kababs just right, just as evocative.

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