Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yom Hatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)

It has been 61 years since Israel has declared its independence as the homeland of the Jewish people and like most Israelis I spent my holiday partying in Tel Aviv. Like the last three years I decided to go to Kikar Rabin (Rabin square), in Tel Aviv, for the night time concert and fireworks show. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed due to the fact that last years 60th birthday was off the hook fun, and well……It seems they spent all their money last year because the music was bad and the fireworks show was short. Never mind that…..

After the show I made my way to Florentine St., which is Tel Aviv’s most trendy and urban neighborhood, along with every other 20 to 28 year old in the Tel Aviv greater area. One not to disappoint, the Florentine Independence Day street party kept to its name and could have rivaled the best of any Mardi Gras. Packed to the brim, with walking space scarce, this part hipster hang out, part old-timer hang about, really showed off the power of the Tel Aviv night life. The funny thing is; as an American I am used to being uneasy at a large public gathering, due to the fact that there are always a lot of fights and always someone with some sort of weapon. Well, Tel Aviv does not have that problem!!! Not only were there around 50,000 young people at this party, but there were probably more girls then guys, and I don’t think a single fight broke out.

Borekas #1

In the middle of Florentine street there is this very old bakery that has been around for at least 40-50 years and on Yom Hatzmaut they make sure that they are open for the Drunks. Crispy, flakey, salty, buttery, oily, and delicious. This is the only way to describe this Israeli treat. Eaten by most people, all the time, Borekas is the Israeli version of a salty strudel. Made from a layered dough similar to Filo, they are usually filled with cheese, mushrooms, or mashed potatoes.

The Day:

During the day I decided to hit up the Tel Aviv beach for the Israeli Air force Show. A little disappointing compared to last year, but still fun….. Here is a couple shots for those who like weaponry.

Borekas #2

After the beach I stopped by this famous Borekas place on King George Street. This time I had a cheese and olives Boreka with the traditional side dishes. Sliced Israeli pickles(which are the best in the world), a puree of raw tomatoes, spicy sauce made from red chilies, a hard boiled egg, and OF COURSE TAHINA.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Egg, Date Honey, Mustard, and basil Sandwich

Egg and Date honey Sandwich

  • Two hard Boiled eggs
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Spicy mustard
  • Date honey or Bee honey
  • Fresh Basil

This is a very simple and delicious sandwich that is fast, filling, and flavorful.

Just spread the mustard and honey directly onto the bread, lay the basil leaves on the honey side, roughly cut the egg over the bread, and enjoy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ein Kimonim Cheese Farm

After having fun throughout Sfat, I made way Eastward towards Ein Kimonim, which is a private goat cheese farm on the way from Lake Kinneret to the Mediterranean.  After turning of the main highway, in a dangerous and quite precarious exit, I slowly drove up a one way dirt road till I arrived at the cheese store.  Upon parking my car in the lot, I noticed some moving creatures in the embankment just behind my car.   They were sitting on the rocks and just starring at me with a gaze, almost to fake to be real.  After grabbing a couple of shots, I moved closer to get a better look, at these rodent like creatures.  Later I would find out from a waitress at the adjacent restaurant, that in Israel they are called “rock bunnies” and are found all over the north or Israel.

            Upon entering the store I was pleasantly surprised to see a grand refrigerator counter filled to my hearts delight, with fresh made goats cheeses.  However, the cheese could only fit such an atmosphere, as the small store resembled that of any Tuscan deli, that could be thought of in a dream.  Waiting for my turn, as snacked on a bowl of complimentary olives, which were picked on the property, and had to be some of the best I had ever eaten.  (I bought about 5 packages of sealed olives to go..)

  When it came my turn to order I went with their flag ship cave aged goat cheese, which had a pleasantly sweet must, with a creamy bite that filled the palate and left a mild after taste.  The other cheese I bought was a red wine incrusted goat cheese, with a 3-4 month age.  It was sweet, salty, creamy, and quite enjoyable paired with a Tishbi French Colombard.

I have to say that I will go back…..

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cheese in the Mystical city of Sefat, Israel

                                       An artist studio in the Mystical city of Sefat

Back to writing finally…. The last couple weeks have been a bit hectic as I traveled my way up and down Israel, tasting the many pleasant foods that this country has to offer.

Once in Sfat (Safed) I searched for the famed Sfat cheese store.  This place has been open for around 150 years ( maybe more) and has seen its share of wars.  It has belonged to the same family for 7 generations and I was happy to see it at full capacity and open!!!  It seems that every other time I had been in Sfat the place was either closed or under renovation.  Finally, I made my way inside and was happy to see a table full of wonderful cheeses, home made halva, and fresh local olives.  As I entered the owner cam up from behind me and asked me to sit down at a centrally placed round table, for a cup of complimentary coffee,( a pleasant surprise) I must have been the first of the day or they are just this nice to everyone.  Even the coffee was delicious, perfectly mellow with a very nice hint of Cardamom.   Delicious indeed…..

I ended up going with the goat cheese in wine, which was pleasantly mild with a lingering after taste.

After I had finished enjoying my coffee and purchases, I moved on to take a look at their Sfatit (French cheese) aging room.  These spongy and salty cheeses are made of fresh un-pasteurized cow milk and stay about three months in the cellar.  There was a moldy scent in the room which reminded me of everything great……..

After having some cheese I made my way to a very special and unique place. At the main Kabbala center in Sfat there is this guy named Ronin, who makes the most delicious and flavorful things that I have ever tasted.  I had been there a couple times in the past so I knew what to aspect.  They are the equivalent of Yemenite tortillas.  They start out as these pancake type patties and then he adds and assortment of tomatoes, spices, and chilies.  He gives it a toss in the air, covers it with a splash of home made Yemenite salsa and rolls it up for eating.  This is actually a centuries old recipe that was in his family and that his parents brought with them from Yemen.  These things really are wonderful…..