One of my favorite places to visit in Israel in the 1970s was Caesarea, the ancient town built by King Herod. As a newcomer to Israel at the time, I’d drive down from Jerusalem on weekends to ride horseback on the beach, or daydream by the ancient Roman aqueduct. On Saturday afternoons, I’d eat at one of the few restaurants by the port, overlooking the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
On a recent trip to Israel, I went back to Caesarea and had a wild sea luncheon at Restaurant Helena, named after Helena, empress of ancient Rome—mother of Constantine the Great—who came to visit Caesarea in the fourth century CE. Amos Sion, one of the great Israeli chefs today, planned this menu with a sea-foraging friend, using sea greens, algae, local salt, and sea fare.
The most memorable dish was a ceviche of mackerel and roasted almonds, covered with crispy sea greens, served with a saffron aioli and topped with caviar. At home, I often substitute spinach for freshly foraged sea greens, and high grade salmon for the mackerel served at Helena, because I like the color so much in ceviche, one of the oldest dishes known to mankind.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.