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Trip report–Tel Aviv

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I had business in Tel Aviv just before Thanksgiving. We'll start with the beginning of the trip of Philadelphia to Tel Aviv at the USAir Club with preflight pino grigio and cheese.

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After boarding we were given the choice of "sparkling wine or water" before take-off. Duh.

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Jack Daniels, technically bourbon, but inferior stuff I was forced to drink.

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The appetizer was a cold chicken thing with fried goat cheese on the side. Actually tasty. USAir has upgraded its food and its mostly OK. Sadly, the kitchen at PHL is not great and food on flights originating there isn't as good as from other cities.

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Salad with a nice garlicky cream dressing

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"Sideways" on the video thing. What a depressing movie. Unsympathetic main characters with lives of frustration and desperation. I watched the whole thing.

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Filet and roesti potatoes. Over cooked and limp respectively. Not up to USAir standards

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Cheese course

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Breakfast omelet and turkey (?) sausage

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First mistake of the trip. I arrived on Friday afternoon. Beautiful sunset on the beach at Tel Aviv, but the end of cooked food for a day (at least at my hotel).

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A last second reprieve at a beach bar. Fried caulilflower with a creamy dilly dip and a sweet fig? dip. Nice with the beer, which kept coming after sundown.

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Gin and tonic at the hotel bar. If you ever need to know how to spell "tonic water" in Hebrew, there it is.

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Premade tunafish sandwiches with harissa and olives. I ejected the olives. Tasty, but a little sparse on the tuna.

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The humongous breakfast buffet at the hotel. All sorts of fruit and bread. Cooked souffle, potatoes, smoked and salted fish, cheeses (but none any good, really)

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My first breakfast in Israel

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With some time to kill, I took a cab from my hotel at Herzliya to Tel Aviv ~10 minutes. Tel Aviv really reminds me of San Diego. Same climate and to me, the same feel. I like it.

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My second breakfast (same day)

Breakfast bread selection at a beach restaurant in TA. Nice.

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A selection of dips for the bread. Sweet, savory, cheesy. All very nice. We would do well to replicate this sort of thing in the US.

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A fritata of sorts with potatoes and leeks. Very tasty... and a lot of food.

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The ubiquitous chopped tomato/cucumber/onion salad. Very nice. I will bring this back next summer.

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Dinner at a beach restaurant. Underexposed but properly cooked bass. Tasty

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Lunch next day. Decidedly un-kosher Japanese restaurant. Competent , but not "wow" suchi.

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A few of us wandered around at dinnertime and ended up at a place whose name translates as Benny the Fish Guy. Four of us at at a four seat table. The waiter came over and said, "no no, you must move" and put us at an 8 seat table. Okaaay. Then we saw why. After ordering the entrees, 8 or ten dishes came out that we hadn't ordered. Spicy fish, eggplant, salad, shrimp, potatoes, cod...and others. Then came the entrees...

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Old Jaffa is an amazing mix of ancient and modern.

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The plant in the planter on the right is what we'd call Wandering Jew in the US. I asked my Israeli hosts what its name was, expecting a different name...wandering Arab perhaps? Their answer..."Wandering Jew, we wandered a lot"

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A peace offering left in my room from my hotel. There was a dispute over internet access. I contended that $30/day should get more speed than dial-up. They suggested that the problem resided in my computer (even though internet worked fine if I carried the computer to the bathroom). I didn't eat the fruit, though I should have it since represented $90 worth of internet non-access.

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Two days of work. Not many photos. This was a bowl of hummus served for lunch one day. Single serving! Looked unappetizing to my US eyes but the Israelis all cleaned their plates.

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Departure day and a whole day to kill since the flight was about midnight. We went up to Jerusalem, about 50 miles and 2500ft in elevation away. This photo is from the Mt of Olives looking over the Garden of Gethsemane at Old Jerusalem.

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Now looking back at Mt of O from Jerusalem, with the Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock in the foreground

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Baked good for sale. The oval things are called Jersualem Bagels.

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Lots of narrow and mysterious passages in the old city

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Our guide all of a sudden dove through a hole in the wall about the size of a fireplace. We followed and ended up in this old style bakery with fresh bagels. Guide said he preferred these to the ones on carts because only one dirty hand has touched them. They were less dense than a NYC bagel, not boiled, and served dipped in a salty spice mixture. Nice.

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A nice pizza for lunch. Better than those in 3/4 of the US

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A spice vendor in the Arab quarter

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The back entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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Back to airport food at Ben Gurion's overseas lounge. Beer, wine and stuff to dip things in. Eh.

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Capt. Jack is on board. for the flight to PHL

Essentially the same meal (my choice) as the flight over, but so much better prepared. Wine was still pretty bad.

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Edited by gfweb (log)
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Fascinating, both food and scenery. Thanks.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Thanks for this report. I enjoyed the vicarious travel and food. Some of it looks very intriguing and I loved the shots of the old cities; too bad the hotel buffet wasn't any good. The bread basket makes me want to go bread shopping or do some baking.

I live close to several heavily Jewish neighborhoods in Houston and have been to all of the Israeli restaurants, some run by non-Israelis (Iraqi, Persian, Russian). Pizza at a couple of kosher dairy spots is superior to most neighborhood pizza joints but none of the venues puts out spreads like a couple you've pictured.

Around here Israeli salad never includes onion, I think.

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The streets are so much cleaner than NYC and Philly. Your flight back appears to be more generous with the fruit, nuts and cheeses.

Thanks! Now I need to make some bagels.

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Thanks for the photo journal.

The Israeli breakfasts were always something to look forward to. Beautiful salads usually

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It was much cleaner than an Eastern US city. Even the modern areas of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were well-kept. One downside only...street signs are all in Hebrew, so I had to navigate by landmarks eg towers or the ocean. A working GPS would've been nice. (Note to self for next time)

On the last evening we went through the Israel museum's special exhibit on Herod. Fabulous! And its coming to a city near you sooner or later. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a US tour.

I was a bit unclear in my review of the hotel's breakfast spread. Only the cheeses sucked. Fish, fruit and bread were great. The baked goods were all too sweet for my taste, but looked good if you like that sort of thing.

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Also nice to see a blue sky and fresh items to eat !

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Great photos, really took me back. I lived in Jerusalem for about 20 years. Very nice to hear you say the streets are clean, because that never used to be the case! The Jerusalem bagels (or "bageleh") were among my favorite things, especially when they were still hot. They were covered in sesame seeds and the vendor would give you a bit of zatar folded up in a piece of newspaper. The smell (not to mention the taste) of the fresh bread, sesame seeds, and zatar was simply heavenly. Thanks for the nice write up and photos.

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Thank you for taking the time to share this experience.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Wonderful report. Love these sorts of posts, they open my eyes to so many places I'll likely never see (but sure would love to). Those Israeli salads (tomatoes/cukes/onions) are always so pretty and sound so good and fresh and flavorful, but when I make them, they always disappoint. Wonder what I'm doing wrong,,,,

Thanks again for sharing !

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--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Thanks for the report -- it's been too many years since I've been and I have great memories of the food in Israel.

First mistake of the trip. I arrived on Friday afternoon. Beautiful sunset on the beach at Tel Aviv, but the end of cooked food for a day (at least at my hotel).

Because it just wasn't available or because you hadn't prepaid for it? The first time I was in Tel Aviv we also got there on a Friday afternoon but our hotel had 'Shabbat dinner' for the guests as long as you arranged for it beforehand.

Only the cheeses sucked.

As a somewhere lactose-intolerant person I always stayed away from the cheeses on the breakfast buffets, but most people I know rave about them. Did you have a chance to try cheeses elsewhere, and if so, did they suck as well or was it specific to the ones at this breakfast?

Anything you wanted to try but missed out on? Falafel? Bourekes?

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I don't know if a pre-ordered meal was available. I saw no sign of it.

Re the cheeses: The only ones I had were at that buffet. They really lacked depth....didn't taste like much.

One thing I forgot to note was a very nice wine from the Flam vineyard. I think I had a Merlot and a blend, both were more than just drinkable. Only bad thing was the waiters tended to pronounce Flam more like phlegm.

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Lovely trip and a pleasant surprise to find here!

Do international flights still have food? Or do you have to fly business or first class to get food?

Am curious why that gorgeous plate of hummous didn't look good to you? I'd like to dive right into the middle of it!

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Am curious why that gorgeous plate of hummous didn't look good to you? I'd like to dive right into the middle of it!

I forgot - I was going to say the same thing! Looks like it has olive oil, techina, onions? parsley or cilantro? anything else on it?

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You are right there's only food in the front of the plane, at least on US airlines, and BA and Lufthansa.

Hummous... you got all the components but the hard boiled egg (at 12 oclock in the photo). Hummous is one of those things that I can't get past the look of. I know its ridiculous and it tasted OK. But even if I liked the look, that was one huge bowl for each person. At least 1.5 qts of oiled carbohydrate. Gotta be two days worth of calories. Not that I'm counting calories, but ...

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Yeah, I could do without the egg. I don't mind it, but I'm not a huge chumus fan -- a little satisfies. Israelis love their dips. Some pita, chumus (ch in Israel ;) ), babaganoush, techina, matbucha, a few other dips, maybe a few falafel balls, pickles and olives would make most Israelis very happy. When I was there after high school (on an organized trip with 40 of us taking over small restaurants) almost every meal started with a varIety of dips, salads and fresh pita -- never ordered.

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Yeah, I could do without the egg. I don't mind it, but I'm not a huge chumus fan -- a little satisfies. Israelis love their dips. Some pita, chumus (ch in Israel ;) ), babaganoush, techina, matbucha, a few other dips, maybe a few falafel balls, pickles and olives would make most Israelis very happy. When I was there after high school (on an organized trip with 40 of us taking over small restaurants) almost every meal started with a varIety of dips, salads and fresh pita -- never ordered.

A very nice custom, but it must cut down on appetizer sales. Once I figured out the dips were coming I ordered no apps.

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