Tel Aviv

A day in Tel Aviv

Is there a better way to start your day than with a fresh fruit juice? My favorite combination is banana, melon and dates, but it sounds better to say it in Hebrew: “banana, melon, tamar”. Dates come from the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and they have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%, or in other words, a perfect substitute for sugar. My juice in one hand, blackberry and Ipod-touch in the other (do you wonder how I manage that? Well, both have broken screens from falling), I go on to my next step: textile searching.

It’s only recently that I found myself interested in or should I say passionate for creating, crafting and D.I.Y. My latest? Sewing. I started a sewing class, ‘borrowed’ a real old-school Singer sewing machine and started discovering another yet amazing world. So I walk to Nahalat Benyamin Street, the textile center of the city, only a few minutes from my house on Rothschild Boulevard. This historic street was established even before Tel Aviv was born in 1909. Formerly a run-down province of the textile and haberdashery trade, recent years have seen it redeveloped and rejuvenated as a busy pedestrianized precinct full of fashionable cafes and arty shops. Today I’m looking for denim-like textile for a shirt for the next class, but as I discover a tiny store with so many colors and fabrics, I of course end up buying more. In my head it goes like this: here, this fits for pyjama pants, this for a scarf, this for a pillow, this for the inside of a pouch and so on.

Later today, after procrastinating for months, endless repeats in to-do lists and phone reminders AND one car ticket too many, I will get to the municipality for some parking stuff  (do you guys have Easy-park in Antwerp?). The Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality (http://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/english) is really very active, efficient, young, involved and hip. Today there is some art on the stairway.

No way I’m taking my car there, so there are 2 choices left: my bike or the “monit sherut”. FYI: my bike is a Belgian bike of over 35 years that I brought with me when I moved here in 2007. My mom used to ride it with me in the back. It’s an old school bike and people stop me in the street to ask me where I bought this retro cool bicycle. A “monit sherut” is a share taxi that falls between a taxi and a bus. Sherut meaning service, these yellow vans follow fixed bus routes and you can stop them anywhere. Payment is done by passing money to the driver in a “human chain” formed by the passengers seated before. The change (and the receipt, when requested) are returned to the person who paid by the same means.

As this being my first blog and just a fragment of my life and of this day, how do I end it? I’ll just share my last ritual of the day: my favorite Yogi tea in my favorite cup.

“Layla Tov” dear readers – meaning sweet dreams in Hebrew…

              Marilyn

 

Antwerp

Caffè Internazionale

When it comes to writing a blog there are two things you need: connection (preferably the internet-kind of connection) and coffee. Both are (well) provided in Caffè Internazionale: not the newest, still the hottest but most of all my personal favorite, located in the south of Antwerp.

More than a year ago, Marco Migliore turned a dark empty restaurant into a warm open lunchbar with a vintage and international feel. Popular dish (and also very new for Antwerp) is the pastrami-sandwich. Although this Romanian Jewish specialty has been a famous treat in New York since Katz’s Deli (a kosher-style restaurant) introduced it in 1888, it’s safe to say that Antwerp has also fallen for its beefy charms. Pastrami is typically sliced and served hot on rye bread, accompanied by coleslaw and a salted pickle.

Other foody goodies on the menu are salads, pastas, classic homemade soup (different day, different soup), a huge breakfast choice (which you can get all day long, very interesting on a Sunday) and of course desserts, delicious cheesecake included.

The food is not the only reason why I keep coming back to this place (although it plays a very important role). To me Caffè Internazionale equals home: the staff as well as the regular customers (a.k.a. the people I happily call my friends) are all one big family.

The moment you enter the place you feel the creativity and smell the coffee that goes along with it. Musicians, artists, graphic designers, fellow bloggers, people with ideas; everyone finds their own place at Marco’s huge front room table. A shot of extra caramel in your café latte, a pastrami to go, a freshly cooked, afterhours dinner for Marco’s friends, he’s done (and I’ve eaten) it all.

 

Thank you Marco, for bringing us all together!

Sien Josephine

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv… tell a vibe

Together with about half the world’s population, I wake up excited for one of many morning rituals: coffee. Where? Which? How? With whom? And if you can add something sweet: lamalo (lamalo meaning ‘why not’ in Hebrew).

It’s been over a year since I quit smoking and I’ve developed this          pseudo-need for sweet. I used to not even like chocolate, and  now I feel this urge for sweet taste in the mouth. So my favorite pastry of the moment: chocolate yeast cake. Doesn’t sound as good as it tastes and no it’s not a fungus. In Yiddish it’s called Babka, for all of those with Yiddish skills. Even Martha Stewart has a recipe for it, but it’s not the easiest to bake: http://www.marthastewart.com/312994/chocolate-babka

My favorite Tel Avivi coffee place of the moment is called Ben Ami (www.benami.co.il) and it’s very well located. First of all it’s a two-minute walk from my home. It’s located on a junction of 3 streets: Nahmani Street, Melchett Street and Montefiore Street. What’s in the middle? King Albert Square and yes it is named after our Belgian king that came to visit in the early 20th century. The view from the cafe is on one of Tel Aviv’s finest buildings and it’s called the Pagoda. Built in 1925, it is one of the most typical constructions of the eclectic style, combining oriental and occidental motives. It was originally built for a rich textile negotiator from New York called David Moshe Bloch. The architect, Alexander Levi, originally from Berlin arrived in Palestine in the twenties but went back to Germany in 1927 and died in Auschwitz in 1942. No one really knows if someone is living there, but it’s very well maintained. Rumor has it, it’s owned by a Swedish jewish family that owns Puma.

When wondering what it is that I and so many others like so much about Tel Aviv, there are many answers. How can we describe this vibe to those who never came to visit? To those who don’t get to see this side of Israel in their media? Enter my blog! Tel Aviv gets so many adjectives; it’s young, vibrant, happening, cool, hip, in, hot, fresh but why? Some say it is because it’s the city of contrasts, clashes and paradoxes. The mixture of old versus new. Orthodox versus secular. East versus West. Europe versus USA versus Middle East. Tradition versus innovation. A synagogue versus a gay bar. An old colonial house versus a Philippe Starck tower. It’s this clash that gives the city its surprising and slightly uneven gait.

Let’s keep blogging and unravel the secrets of my dear city. Till later, Marilyn

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