Food · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Ottolenghi – food for thought

In Flemish they say ‘Liefde gaat door de maag’ – literally translated  ‘Love goes through the stomach’ – and yes you can cook your way into capturing love. Wintertime is cocooning time and that means time for new culinary challenges. As Israel’s population consists of 76% Jewish people, Christmas is not as widely celebrated as in the rest of the world. While recently traveling to New York and London, I kept seeing that same cookbook in shops and homes called Jerusalem, without giving it too much attention; until I got my own copy as a Christmas gift.

Yotam Ottolenghi is a culinary star in London, overseeing four restaurants, writing vegetarian columns for The Guardian and a familiar face on BBC tv. Born in Israel not long after the 1967 war, Ottolenghi grew up in Jewish West Jerusalem. After some time in Tel Aviv, he moved to London, took a cooking course at Le Cordon Bleu without any intention for professional cooking; and there he met his later-to-be business partner and co-chef Sami Tamimi. Tamimi grew up in the Muslim neighborhoods of East Jerusalem around the same time. What are the odds: a Jewish Israeli from West Jerusalem, an Israeli Arab from East Jerusalem, meeting in the UK, sharing a passion for the same food despite cultural dissimilarities and together manage to successfully create their own brand of Meditteranean based cuisine. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s story is inspiring; a sign of hope and a symbol for peace.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook is their third book and was already a bestseller before it even came out. I wanted to prepare diner with a few typical Middle Eastern for my Belgian guests. So we started the preparations: it can begin with sewing your own apron first (yes maybe I’ll post a tutorial for it one day) but let’s stick to shopping for this one. We went out to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, where they have the best fruit & vegetables at the best prices. We also got some spices, tea and herbs like Za’atar (Hyssup), Cinnamon, Cumin and Curcuma (Turmeric). In the little streets of the Shuk (market in Hebrew) one can find great food spots for authentic Hummus, Tehina & Shakshuka like at Shlomo & Doron, to cement the stomach. And then it was time to cook; out of 120 recipes in the book I picked a few: I made roasted cauliflower & hazelnut salad (replacing some of the ingredients to my own taste). Then we had stuffed aubergines with lamb & pine nuts (I used minced beef meat instead) with Mejadra (ancient dish with rice, lentils and fried onion). I also added a plain sweet potato puree and some avocado salad. And some fruit for dessert.  בתאבון – شهية طيبة

Maybe one day, peace in the world will come through the stomach too…

ottlenghihumus ottolenghibuyspice ottolenghibuyspice1 ottolenghimarsbuyspice ottolenghispicesmaybe ottolenghiteaottolenghidiner

ottolenghia

Food · History · Judaism · Tel Aviv

Hanukkah, a festival of lights

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Every night, we light the candles of the Hanukiah to commemorate and celebrate the miracle of Light: the Jews only had enough oil to create light for one night, but the miracle made it last for 8 days…

 photo 2-1Jewish family spirit, Tel Aviv December 2012 – photo by Sharon Erde www.twitter.com/sharonerde

Being a secular Jew doesn’t mean I don’t honor values and follow rituals of the Jewish holidays. Families always gather around a big food table.  Family & food. Celebrating the miracle of oil also means eating fried food. While some of us yearn for Sufganyot (they’re like doughnuts and come in various shapes, colors and with many different fillings); some rather eat Latkes (Yiddish word) or Levivot (Hebrew word) which are a kind of potato pancake.  Here’s my favorite recipe for you to try at home – thank you Ameloush and thank you Doda Anny from Belgium…

Ingredients:photo 1

  • 5 potatoes (big red ones preferably)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • salt, pepper and white pepper
  • canola oil to fry in

Preparation:

1. Heat +/- 1 to 2 cm of canola oil until boiling and ready to fry
2. Meanwhile, start peeling and grating the potatoes (feel your muscles?)
3. With your hands, squeeze out all the water from the potatoes (very important!)
4. Add the shredded onion, eggs, flour, salt&pepper and mix with a spoon or  photo 2with your hands
5. Make flat round shapes with your hand/spoon and fry till golden brown 6.Before serving, make sure you use a lot of paper roll to remove as much oil as possible.
7. Bete’avon, you can eat your latkes with sugar, mustard or whatever other weird family ritual you have.

Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song, part. 1; there’s also part 2 & 3 if you want more…

Lyrics:

“Put on your Yamakkah, here comes Hanukkah… so much fun-Hakka to celebrate Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the festival of lights… instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights. When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, here’s a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me.

David Lee Roth lights the Menorah, So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah. Guess who eats together at the Carnegie deli, Bowzer from Sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli. Paul Newman’s half Jewish; Goldie Hawn’ss half too, Put them together–what a fine lookin’ Jew. You don’t need deck the halls or jingle bell rock, cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock-both Jewish!

Put on your Yamakkah, it’s time for Hanukkah… The owner of the Seattle Super Sonic-ahs celebrates Hanukkah. O.j. Simpson- not a Jew… But guess who is…hall of famer Rod Carew-he converted! We got Ann Landers and her sister dear Abby, Harrison fords a quarter Jewish-not too shabby! Some people think that Ebenezer Scrooge is, Well, he’s not, but guess who is: all three Stooges.

So many Jews are in show business… Tom cruise isn’t,but I heard his agent is. Tell your friend veronica, it’s time you celebrate Hanukkah…I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah. So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah… If you really, really wanna-kah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Hanukkah! Happy Hanukkah!”

Happy Hanukkah…may the light shine… in and around you….

General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Tel Aviv Alive & Kickin’

Let’s start this post with a little note to my fellow Belgians or should I say Europeans. I wouldn’t be discussing the recent tensions in the Middle East as this is certainly not a political blog. But as apparently everyone seems to own the conflict, I guess I do have a say. Maybe the media are the first to blame as they should stand for “impartial” and “objective” reporting? At university they taught us the media is the watchdog of democracy. Not what I see when I watch Belgian news about Israel. And as for the people’s opinion: maybe I wouldn’t know better either if I’d just watch your news and read your newspapers. But at least I won’t feel I have the right to preach, convince nor judge. I live in Tel Aviv since six years and I still feel I have no right to judge. Because I do not know war. I did not grow up with terror. I did not go to the army. So why do Europeans feel they have the right to? Most of them have probably never even been in Israel. Yes I’m bothered with that hypocritical solidarity. That being said; my blog is about my life, my life in Tel Aviv, both as a stranger and an insider. And I decide to focus on the bright side of it, the creative, the stimulating, the talent; what makes us wake up in the morning and smile. And I can tell you this: Tel Aviv is alive and kickin’. Towers still grow like mushrooms, people going to the beach, party in clubs, eat and drink 24/7, real estate is still unaffordable, there is still no parking and too much traffic, three new boutique hotels just opened around my corner, and the sun still shines…

All photos by me & my broken Ipod touch – maybe soon I’ll get a real camera…

photo 2 Life is good @ Delicatessen: my Filofax, the blackberry, some sun, a knitting project and a “hafuch” or two or threephoto 3 Old versus New on Mazeh Street

photo 4 Old versus New on Mazeh street

photo 5 New boutique hotel Alma

IMG_1123 Yarn Bombing on Nahlat Binyamin Street

IMG_1477 TLV view from Jaffa

photo 2 Electric art on Pines Street, Neve Tzedek

photo 1 Sunset at Fortuna Del Mar @ Tel Aviv Marina

photo 3 Kalisher Street

photo 1 Sunset at Topsea Beach

IMG_1480 Super Jew is Coming soon – Drawing by Julien Roux

General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv

Lady Godiva in Tel Aviv

Thank you Theodor Herzl for having created Israel in Israel. Did you know that here we have 300 days of blue skies a year?  It’s fall and we reach the 30°. Yes, that is a big deal for a Belgian. And no, I’m not only here for the good weather. What is it that makes this country so special? Why do people leave behind their good lives in far away countries to start over here? It’s loud, it’s chaotic; life can be rough and tough. Welcome to the jungle?  It’ll take more than this post to explain the phenomenon and many have tried. Books have been written about the success story of this tiny little country, like this one: Start-up NationThe book addresses the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel – a country only 60+ years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK? How is it that Israel has, per person, attracted over twice as much venture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe?

In Israel there are about 7 million inhabitants of which 76% are Jews, 16% Muslims and about 2% Christians, Druze and other religions. Tel Aviv has around 400,000 residents of which half are under the age of 35. How does such a young country create its identity?  I can only share with you my perspective. Who are we and who do we want to be? We Wonder, We Wander. Tel Aviv has European and American influences yet is it is Middle-Eastern and Meditteranean. The population consists of immigrants from all over. Ashkenazis, Sefardim, so many roots and cultures mixing in. On a sociological level, many try to define that Israeliness. What is typical Israeli? What does “Rak be’Israel” (only in Israel) really mean? By locals is it mostly used for the bad side; I’m all about balancing it up.

Why is it so difficult to just stand in line here? Because we are ‘The Chosen People’? Why do cars need to honk all the time? What’s with the Chutzpe? Israel. The only country with Katiushes coming from Lebanon, Scuds from Irak, bombshells from Syria, Suicide bombers from Gaza but a bedroom apartment in a dump building is more expensive than in Paris, London or NYC. The only country in which we can build computer programs to fly drones and high technology, but to get a technician for the tv we wait a week and he might show up between 11 and 6. Israel Post. Packages I send/receive in the mail hardly ever arrive. Fed Ex Israel does not deliver packages at all. Making aliyah, going to the bank, dealing with bureaucracy definitely confirm the ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ slogan. And why don’t cars let ambulances pass? Some men go to the beach in their underwear; wtf? Politeness, aesthetics, style, finishing are just not always priorities here (yet?).  My daily encounter of having to explain to Israelis I’m not French but Belgian. Why give me an english menu while I just spoke Hebrew with the waitress? Maybe I will always be considered a foreigner here. And in my country of origin. Everywhere. But all by all: I’m in love with Tel Aviv and I do feel at home here!

I used to have a little radio item called Lady be Tel Aviv in a show by two journalist friends Attila Somfalvi and Raz Shechnik on 102fm in which we would discuss these ‘Rak Be’Israel’ items. Every week I’d share some experiences like the above . We’d talk about semantics (and how there is no right translation for certain words like stam, titchadesh, bekarov etslech, baktana) or the advantages of dating an ‘olah chadasha’ (no fighting for family diners) with an accent (quite impossible to have a serious fight). Listen to the Purim item (08-03-2011) or live in the studio (25-03-2011).  

“Fragments of Tel Aviv” photos by our special guest photographer Kara Bieber from London. Backed by the Anglo Israel Association, Kara is in Tel Aviv undertaking a major photographic project highlighting the very best of creative talents in the country. Aimed at showcasing Israel’s image as a hub of creativity and innovation, the completed body of work will form an exhibition and possibly an accompanying book which will be launched in London in 2013 . Visit Kara’s website – Facebook page 
History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv

Jewish Holidays Indian Summer

What better than to start your summer when most summers are over? I’m not a beach person really; I mostly hate the sand everywhere. But at this time of the year I love it. The big heat and humidity of July August is gone. And so are the many loud tourists. Finally it’s calm, I’m back and the city is mine again. I feel my feet in the white sand, I swim in the clear sea and spend hours just enjoying the weather until after sunset. When does one have time to spend days at the beach? Never. Or during the Jewish holidays. You almost have no choice. Nobody’s working anyways.

This month we celebrate Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year 5773), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Each holiday has its history, meaning and traditions; and families have their own rituals around them. Rosh Hashana is the New Year and starts at sunset (like all Jewish Holidays) with a big traditional family diner. One of its main symbols is the dipping of apples in honey. To have a sweet year. On Rosh Hashana God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book called the Book of Life and waits until ten days later, at Yom Kippur depending on wether the sinner repents or not, to “seal” the verdict. During those Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). Leonard Cohen’s song “Who by fire” is inspired by this prayer from the liturgy of the Day of Atonement:

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.

We start Yom Kippur with a big dinner before commencing a 25-hour fast. I consider myself a secular Jew but this tradition is one I keep. I go to synagogue and I pray; in my own way. I question myself, I look back at the past year. Have I been a good person? A better woman? What do I expect and wish myself and my beloved family and friends for the coming year? Oh what am I lying, I ask myself those questions every day. Anyways; Yom Kippur is the day Jews ask for forgiveness. A day to repent. The end of the fast is sounded by the Shofar, a ram horn blown by the rabbi in synagogue. And then we go and eat again. What touches me is that Tel Aviv, a city that is not known for its silence nor religious practice, feels sacred on Yom Kippur. Just this holy silence for a day. And as soon as it’s over, Tel Aviv ignites again in its dynamics. This video by a colleague from StreetIsrael shows the power and impact of Yom Kippur on daily life.

During Sukkot Jews build a Sukkah (booth) where meals are eaten and the Mitzva is to host people in it. Sukkot refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (“Rejoicing with/of the Torah”) mean the end of Sukkot and mark the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle.

Chag Sameach & Shana Tova dear readers…

Wishing card from the Israeli website Nostalgia Online archive

 

Music

Marilyn & Camp Cohen

Where do I start my Leonard Cohen story and how do I tell it? Needless to share the part of I’m a fan; loving his music and admiring the man. After working on his legendary concert in Israel in September 2009, I was asked to join the tour in July 2010 as production assistant. When I got the call from Leonard Cohen’s tour manager, I was first of all very flattered and honored. Of all working people they met over the years, they had chosen me. Luckily I didn’t have too much time to think and prepare, we were leaving 3 weeks later. Leaving for 4 months and a half. 3 months across Europe then New Zealand, Australia, West Canada and the US. As it has now been almost two years ago, some memories fade and one keeps mostly the good ones. Yes I was homesick many times. Living in a hotel, out of a suitcase and traveling is not made for everyone. Being on the move all the time is not an easy thing when you are attached to your family and friends and to your comfort zone(s). But what a ‘chance’. To see the world and to be part of the most wonderful touring company, the Unified Heart Touring Company. It’s hard work and it’s boring, it’s fast and it’s slow, it’s joy and it’s tears, it’s close and it’s far. It’s all of it. All together I visited 45 different cities/countries and did over 60 shows joining the last leg of a 3 year world tour. I listen to Leonard Cohen everyday. I am grateful everyday. The new tour has just kicked off in Ghent, Belgium and is making its way through Europe. It’s been an amazing reunion. So long my Cohen road family.

Hanging backstage signs in Tours, France – photo by J.S. Carenza III

My tour twin, road manager, blogger and photographer J.S. Carenza III took these in Strasbourg venue

Touring can be lonely, luckily I had 2 blackberries – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Santa Croce, Firenze, Italy – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Celebrating Jewish new year in France – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Deep talk over coffee in hotel lobby. Auckland, New Zealand – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Small talk over dinner in Brisbane, Australia – photo by J.S. Carenza III

The other highlight in Australia: wildlife park with my friend Mr. Koala

Soundcheck in Australia’s “Hanging Rock”

Celebrating Hanukkah in Vancouver, Canada – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Celebrating last Hanukkah candle in Portland, Oregon – photo by J.S. Carenza III

After show in the green room. Oakland, California, USA – photo by J.S. Carenza III

Last two shows in Las Vegas. December 2010.

Signed poster, framed on my living room wall.

My daily cup of merch and the “Unified Heart” ring I never take off.

Collage I made a long time ago with a quote from Anthem: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

More info about Leonard Cohen on his website or on the Leonard Cohen Files. Follow “Notes from the road” for all updated tour info or for more souvenirs: http://leonardcohen.tumblr.com/archive/2010/12

Architecture · Design · Lifestyle · Neve Tzedek · Tel Aviv

Sunset happiness at Brown Hotel

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When Tel Aviv is as hot and humid as can be in July and August, cool spots are a must. Some days you can’t even leave the AC until late afternoon. Then you can finally find a little sea breeze and enjoy the sunset. And if you want to add more charm to this experience, go to the Brown Hotel’s rooftop and combine it with a cocktail.

This is how the Design Hotels website describes the Brown Hotel: “Behind the facade of a former bank is the intimate Brown TLV – a hotel defined by its rich chocolate-and-caramel colored walls, dark wood floors, and vintage-inspired furniture. It belongs to young hotel entrepreneurs, Leon Avigad and Nitzan Perry. In the lobby, tufted leather couches, low-slung chairs, and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase produce a more intimate urban experience than the bright, extroverted city outside its doors. Throughout, delicate details and provocative gestures meet: the diaphanous drapes of a canopied bed fall just next to black marble bathroom floors. Above its perfectly-tailored 30 rooms, a rooftop deck with lounge chairs, open-air showers, and white umbrellas invites guests back out into the Mediterranean sun and to reconnect with a bustling Tel Aviv below.”

The Brown Hotel is not just the coolest urban boutique hotel in town. The rooftop with panoramic view on the city serves as daytime sundeck and nighttime bar (also for sophisticated private events). The spa offers good massage deals either in the spa or on the rooftop. And beach lovers can even get their own little brown bag.

Brown Hotel Tel Aviv, 25 Kalisher St, 65165 Tel Aviv-Yafo 03-717-0200 www.browntlv.com photo credits: Brown Hotel

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History · Lifestyle · Restaurants · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Good vibes at Jaffa Flea Market

There’s no doubt about it, the hotspot for your summer Tel Aviv nights in 2012 is the Jaffa Flea Market. The area has been developing immensely in the last few years and maybe it’s only the beginning. One could write about the flea market itself – ‘shuk hapishpeshim’ in Hebrew – for furniture and antique shopping or for wandering around the old galleries looking for cheap souvenirs (from Chamsa bracelets to little scarves, from jeans and leather to Thailand merch). I’d rather tell you about its most charming and magical spots: “Pu’a” for lunch and “Fleamarket” for dinner. Jaffa is only a few blocks away from south Tel Aviv and Neve Tzedek but it brings you in a completely different atmosphere. Call it Tel Aviv’s Soho or Camden, Jaffa is over 4000 years old and bursting with energy.

Pua was established in 1999 and is described as a ‘beloved, veteran and unique café-restaurant’. It is so quiet in there. The place is named after owner Puaa Ladijensky. Their menu is plain and simple; it is homely and healthy and most of the dishes are based on typical Israeli and Middle Eastern ingredients. Their green Tehina is legendary. Believe me, it’s a great “show off spot” when you have foreign guests. Serve them a fresh Limonana as you sit down (Lemonade with fresh mint) and they’ll forget about the heat. The décor at Puaa is the outcome of constant love and care. The place is full of ornaments and all of its furniture, including the tableware, is for sale.

  

photo credits Pua: http://www.rol.co.il/sites/eng/puaa for reservations: 03- 682 38 21

Flea market has been opened recently by 9 partners including famous chefs and bar owners. It’s located next to Pua on an alley called Rabi Yohanan. We Europeans love to sit outside in the hot breeze but for locals there’s the inside with AC in a super stylish design conserving the Flea Market’s vibe. The menu has a creative mix of Mediterranean dishes combined with the chefs personal inspiration. If you like seafood, get the grilled Calamari in its own black ink. Our favorite dish is called “Shoarma of Ossobucco” and is served with little al dente black lentils in creme fraîche and a yellow smooth sauce I couldn’t name. Never have I intended to become a food critic or write a gastronomy blog. I just like to share with you the places I love.

For reservations: 03- 620 22 62

photo credit Eyal Marilus

photo credit Aviad BarNes

photo credit Daniel Chechik

Architecture · Art · Entertainment · General · History · Lifestyle · Music · Restaurants · Tel Aviv

Live music on Jaffa Port’s waterfront

Tel Aviv is divided into 9 districts that have formed naturally over the city’s history. The oldest of these is Jaffa, the ancient port city out of which Tel Aviv grew. There’s much to write about Jaffa, I’d talk about the flea-market or the ancient city but let’s focus on the port today. The Old Port of Jaffa is reputed to be one of the oldest ports in the world, notably being the port from which Jonah set off in the famous Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. Its long and fascinating history as  strategic port in the Eastern Mediterranean continued until only recently when new ports were built south of Tel Aviv in Ashdod and north in Haifa, to cater for modern-day shipping methods. Still functional as a small fishing port, the port is currently a recreational zone featuring many restaurants and cafes with lots cultural and artistic activities.

One of my favorite spots in the Namal (port in Hebrew) is called The Container. The Container is an industrial warehouse from the 1920s that has been converted into an art project space, bar and restaurant, located on the waterfront. The NY times recently wrote: “The space fuses Red Hook grit with Levantine glam, incorporating a sweeping, 45-seat horseshoe-shaped bar under a warehouse-high ceiling that affords nice views of both the oversize wood oven in the open kitchen and the rotating exhibits on the walls. Adding to the mix is a three-times-a-week D.J. set.” And live gigs:

As my brother is coming to visit Tel Aviv again, we set up a little concert there. On Friday July 6th at 10PM, N8n will perform with his Israeli band led by drummer Ori Raz for another night of good vibes by the water, some good old funk and some new ‘raw’ material. People are advised to reserve tables, entrance is free. Join us!

More info: http://www.namalyafo.co.il/http://www.container.org.il/  03- 683 63 21

Jaffa Port – photo credit Dani Jordan

The Container by night – photo credit The Container

The Container inside – photo credit Liron Erel

The Container inside – photo credit The Royal Excursion

https://www.facebook.com/events/318911194866710/

http://n8nmusic.com/

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