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"The Martin Sinkoff Wine Interview" With Aviram Katz

Sinkoff-Martin_KATZ-and-SINKOFF-BASTA-July-2023 Martin Sinkoff (left) with Aviram Katz (right) enjoying a glass of wine at HaBasta

HaBasta is to Tel Aviv what Chez Panisse is to San Francisco, the former Four Seasons to New York, the Hemingway Bar at the Hotel Ritz to Paris, and River Café to London: iconic! The name means "market stall" in Hebrew slang and the restaurant is located just outside the Carmel market. Meals at HaBasta are a celebration. The menu is written every day by hand after the chef and staff review the produce, fish and meat at the Carmel market, next door. I sat down with Aviram Katz, the managing director of the restaurant and its wine director, to find out more about his itinerary and the restaurant.

Where did you grow up?  

I grew up in Holon, a suburb just south of Tel Aviv.

Where did you go to school?  

 I studied classic literature, the humanities and history at the University of Tel Aviv. Not very useful for business but very useful for life.

How did you become interested in wine?

Basically, I Iove to eat and drink! That's how it started for me. Vodka as a teenager and then whiskey in my 20s and with whiskey I started to appreciate differences related to "terroir", Islay vs Highland malts for example. I then started working in restaurants and discovered wine and the magic triangle of place, time, and human intelligence. 

Do you have a formal education in wine? 

I am mostly self-taught but I completed the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 3 in New York where my father was working a decade ago. I met many very informed wine collectors at this time who introduced me to their collections and that was, in itself, an amazing and special education and then I started visiting wineries and wine regions all over the world. 

How did HaBasta come into being, history and vision and when? 

Basta before lunch service

Most people do not know that "Basta" in Hebrew means simply a "Market Stall". We are the restaurant of the shuk, of the market. HaBasta was founded 16 years ago by Moaz Alonim and Itai Hargil. Our chef Eilon Amir has been here for close to ten years. I joined HaBasta in 2015. I like to think of myself as the second generation of our amazing place. We source all of our food from the market and local purveyors, and we buy all of our services too from our neighboring merchants including my haircuts and shaves. We shop early in the morning when the market opens for deliveries and pick the best of the best for the restaurant. Our fish is only wild, never farmed. We never buy industrially produced foods. Again, we are part of the market. It's really simple. (Authors note: and really good). 

How would you describe the menu at HaBasta? 

Again, we buy what we love, and we cook what we love. We write the menu every day by hand based on what we have found in the market. Of course, we keep some favorites all the time which we know we can offer. But for the most part the menu follows the seasons and the market. 

The wine list at HaBasta is one-of-a-kind. What do you look for when selecting wines for the restaurant? 

One word: authenticity. I like wines that speak clearly of the magic triangle of place, time, and person. I want to know what the wine tells me about where it was made, when it was made and who made it. Wines that speak to me in this way are the wines I select. I also do not need what I call a wide pallet of color. By this I mean I don't need to fill in every box and have wines from all over the world. That is not me and that is not HaBasta. We buy what we love to drink. 

Do you have a favorite wine region? 

Burgundy, if you must ask! Why? Again, for me, the magic triangle: no region speaks too precisely about place, time, and winemaking intention. However, Burgundy requires an unlimited budget. 

What about your second restaurant around the corner. Tell us about that. It's totally different. 

What about your second restaurant around the corner. Tell us about that. It's totally different.

We love Schwarma (grilled meat) and we decided to create a super simple but super delicious hang-out for ourselves. HaBasta and Mifgash Rambam are places we love. We love each other, we cook for each other, and we like to make ourselves happy. When we are happy, our guests are happy too. 

 Which wine did you select for this interview? Tell us about it and why you selected it.

I selected Terra Vita Vinum Bigottiere 2019 from Savennieres (Loire). This is an artisanal wine made from Chenin Blanc. I love the Loire because, like Burgundy, there are many wines that express place, time, and human intelligence. And, wines from the Loire are fare more affordable than wines from Burgundy. I am always looking for new experiences in wine and this lovely wine represents who we are here at HaBasta: simple, authentic and delicious. 


AUTHOR'S NOTE

The city of Angers is in the very heart of France and is located on France's greatest river, the Loire, equidistant from the vineyards of Muscadet to the west along the Atlantic and Sancerre to the east almost at the border with Burgundy. Savennieres is the vineyard closest to Angers. Produced from Chenin Blanc like their more famous sibling Vouvray (to the east of Angers), the wines are dry and complex. The Terra Vita Vinum Bigottiere 2019 is a perfect introduction to the wines of Savennieres: complex and rich with the flavors of citrus fruit and vanilla. The wine wakes you up! It is uncommonly delicious! Perfect with the food at HaBasta also uncommonly delicious! NIS 470 on the wine list at HaBasta.

 

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Tuesday, 28 May 2024

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