Gizzard is not a lovely word. There's an onomatopoeic quality to it: it sounds gristly, surely it's not going to be good eating. The same must be true of spleen. I'm no anatomist but doesn't the spleen do something fairly important with blood? So again, not something you crave to see on your plate.
But what if you fry them, maybe add some hearts (depends whose heart of course), a bit of liver, some diced lamb. That's sounding a bit better. And then fried onion, the sine qua non of Jewish anti-cardio/Ashkenazi cooking. And then, and then some spices that no-one can ever quite pin down. Well then you have a dish that makes for great eating. And so it was when we had dinner at Sima.
Silverbrowess is not as obsessed with food as I am and frankly finds my 'hobby' more than a little frustrating at times. Especially when we are on holiday and I plan entire trips of several thousand miles around meals I would like to eat. So for the sake of marital peace I've calmed down a bit. I've got wise to the fact that she wasn't delighted to spend her 30th birthday in a car driving down to Cornwall for lunch that we were two hours late for - but that was fantastic.
Now, I do it all surreptitiously. I plan and organise where I want to eat (Google Maps' My Maps feature is perfect for anal restaurant planning) and forget to mention it to Mrs S. Then when the inevitable question of breakfast, lunch or dinner rolls around, I can nonchalantly suggest somewhere, as though I've just picked it out of thin air. Whereas the truth is that my anticipation at eating there has been building for weeks, I'm about to pop and here's my chance to get my way.
It was during such planning, in particular on Daniel Rogov's Israeli focused food & wine forum, that I had been alerted to Sima and the restaurant's particular speciality, the Jerusalem Grill.
Although Rogov advocates eating the grill in a pita with chips out on the street, being with Mrs S and Silverbrowlette meant sitting in the back of the restaurant, with other families out for some reasonably priced grilled meat.
Instead of chips we had mujadarah, a Middle Eastern rice dish laden with lentils and fried onions (again). We also had some sides of salads. You need a little bit of fresh stuff to cut through the fat of the food.
The Jerusalem Grill was sublime, easily as good as billed. There was a depth of flavour I'm having trouble describing in words. People think that offal is an acquired taste and the ferrous, bloody quality of this offal overload is thankfully a long way from bland. The meat was balanced with the sweetness of the onions and some subtle heat from the spices. Mrs S is not the generally drawn to offal but had little difficulty helping me seeing off the very large plate of food. Which reminds me, the portions are massive and with the obligatory salads that all restaurants in Israel serve when you sit down, plus a couple more we ordered, one main course between two really is enough.
A word on Sima's location. It is next to Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem's main food market. On a Friday the place is brilliant bedlam. As the increasingly religious city of Jerusalem prepares itself for Sabbath, a day when shopping, cooking and much besides is forbidden, Mahane Yehuda is where Jerusalem comes to prepare. I imagine an early lunch at Sima on a Friday would be pretty special. I say early because everything shuts down just after lunch in preparation for Shabbat.
Sima, 82 Agrippas Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: +972 (0) 2 623 3002
What others think
Daniel Rogov - ...this is marvelous fare and a huge portion of the truly excellent me'urav yerushalmi packed into a pita, and served with small but adequate side-dishes of really good coleslaw, pickles, olives, Turkish salad and a soft drink or beer will cost well under ten dollars, surely one of the best values for money to be found anywhere on the planet.