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eG Foodblog: Swisskaese - The Israeli Table - Not Just Felafel and Or


Susan in FL
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We are back from an interesting evening in Jaffo. The traffic was so bad that we had to go straight to Jaffo.

Interesting.....the war is over and every restaurant in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa was packed this evening. Phoned five restaurants for reservations this afternoon.....every one was booked. We wound up eating in our neighborhood sushi joint. Great fun

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Sorry it took so long to report back but, I had a problem uploading the pictures and then 24 came on.

Tonight did not turn out exactly as we planned. As Daniel said, Tel Aviv was very crowded. So, we went straight to Jaffo and went on a mission to find Middle Eastern Pastries. First, I tried Daniel's suggestion, either they are closed or they don't exist anymore. Secondly, I tried another suggestion of a specific place and it doesn't exist anymore. Then, I went to plan C and they also don't exist anymore. What has happened to the Middle Eastern pastry shops in Jaffo?

So, we decided to stop looking and head to dinner. I would have loved to have gone to one of the best fish restaurants in Jaffo, called Margaret Tayar, but we just can't afford it right now. Her restaurant has been written up in Gourmet magazine. So, we went to a simple, but nice fish restaurant on the sea:

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The White Pergola

First, they brought a table full of mezze. The salads were nice and fresh. The pita is prepared onsite, so they are nice and warm when they come to the table. One was covered in zaatar.

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Hummous and Eggplant salads

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Syrian olives and pepper salad

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Another eggplant salad, carrot salad and Matboucha and labane with cucumber

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Pita with zaatar and plain pita

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Israeli salad

Then, grilled Gilthead Seabream. They also had trout, seabass, drumfish and a few others. And, they also serve shellfish. The food is simple, but delicious.

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We then headed to Abulafiya, just to show you this Jaffo landmark. They have been a Jaffo institution for 120 years. They are open 24 hours a day and are famous for their fresh pita, kaak, lamacun and other breads. People are always lined up three or four people thick. Tonight the crowd was light. There bread is good, but we decided to show you some baklava. Big mistake. It is the second worst baklava I have ever had. The best baklava I have every had was in Turkey, second is in Nazareth, third Bethlehem. Someday, I hope to be able to drive to Beirut and go to one of the bakeries that Elie and others have recommended. I hear Lebanese baklava and other pastries are some of the best.

On our way to Abulafiya we passed a very good Libyan restaurant, Dr. Shakshouka. Shakshouka is sunny sideup eggs that have been sauteed in a mixture of hot peppers, onions and tomatoes.

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It is hard to see, but they hang their old shakshouka pans from the ceiling. They also have very nice couscous complet and other dishes.

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Abulafiya

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The oven

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The baker in the red shirt.

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Mahmoud the bread seller.

So, I have been bragging for years on eGullet about Israeli juice bars and we went on a mission to take you to my favourite juice bar in Tel Aviv. It is on Sheinkin Street. IT WAS CLOSED!!!! It used to stay open late. So, we went to my second favourite juice bar on King George. IT WAS CLOSED!!!! I was bound and determined to show you some damn juice, even if I was going to have to squeeze with my bare hands and lo and behold, a juice bar was open on Ibn Givrol. And.... it was good.

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Ahhhh, Israeli fruit :wub::wub::wub:

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Tall Drink of Water

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Nirvana, not the band. On the left is my mango/banana juice and on the right is David's Kiwi/Pineapple.

Tel Aviv and Goose Shwarma is planned for tomorrow.

Lila Tov.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I have loved reading this. I am looking forward to shabbat.

I love Israli chocolate, is there anything chocolate you could share with us?

There are some very nice small chocolate makers here. I will show you one at the food fair on Friday.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I forgot a few pictures.

Here are some pictures of Jaffo.

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This one of my favourite signs.

I told you about the best fish restaurant in Tel Aviv/Jaffo, Margaret Tayar, but the best fish restaurant I have ever been to (I have travelled to a lot of places and eaten a lot of fish), full stop, I mean ever, is in Acco, Israel and it is called Uri Buri.

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Uri Buri is the name of the owner and he makes love to his fish. He offers a tasting menu of the days catch. You tell him what your restrictions are and he works around that. I had some amazing baby sole there. And, they also have fantastic homemade ice cream. Their date/walnut and cardamon ice creams are to die for. This is not an El Bulli restaurant. He serves fish with wonderful flavours, but it is fish and seafood, pure and simple. You must make reservations. He is always full.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Tall Drink of Water

Geez Michelle - I don't see any signs for water anywhere :wink: . How tall was he?

I love everything you've shown us so far. Everything. If I had the time and the money, I'd get on a plane tomorrow to join you. Everything is so different in the two countries we live in - I miss the juice stands and the bakery stands and the salads and pita!

I took a look at the store's website you linked to (for the tasting). it looks great - I was even able to understand some of it (I really need nikudot :sad: ). Can't wait for more.

Lila tov!

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I apoligize for starting so late today, but I am filming a video at work and I just finished. Just call me Michelle Spielberg today. :laugh:

I just got back from lunch. I don't have my camera here because Tapenade is taking it with him to Tel Aviv.

I will post more pictures this evening, but feel free to ask questions.

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That fruit juice stand looks great! (And the guy isn't bad either... :wink: )

Do they blend the juice with anything, or is it just fruit? Any ice or water to thin it out a bit?

The food at The White Pergola looks simple and tasty. Was all that food just for you two?

You can either have the fruit mixed with water, juice (i.e. orange juice) or milk. We chose water.

I forgot to mention that the sign under "Tall Drink of Water", says "Wheat Grass". You can also get a shot of wheat grass.

Most of the fish and grill restaurants overload your table with salads. We couldn't finish half of it. This restaurant has a fixed price for the salads, fish and a drink (i.e. lemonade). Dinner for two was 138NIS or 31USD. It would have been a little more with wine or beer. It is a real bargain.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I forgot to tell you about lunch. :rolleyes:

Today, I had fish again because it is light and tonight we are going to have goose shwarma.

I had the same fish I had last night, gilthead seabream, roasted butternut squash and a salad.

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I have loved reading this. I am looking forward to shabbat.

I love Israli chocolate, is there anything chocolate you could share with us?

I don't have time to show you during the week of the blog, but there is a local chocolate maker who has gone international. His name is Max Brenner and he sold his business to Elite in 2001. They just opened a Max Brenner boutique and cafe in New York. I think there is a discussion about it on the New York forum.

Max Brenner's chocolates are nice. He has very good hot chocolate at his cafe. I am not a big chocolate person, but several friends of mine told me that his chocolate soup is very good.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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What a treat to finally steal many minutes to read all of your blog so far, Michelle. (We are tres busy here -- leaving tomorrow to take dd to college in big, bad Tampa.) Thank you for the diversion and for making me wanna go to Israel!

Edited by Lori in PA (log)

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

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What a treat to finally steal many minutes to read all of your blog so far, Michelle. (We are tres busy here -- leaving tomorrow to take dd to college in big, bad Tampa.) Thank you for the diversion and for making me wanna go to Israel!

I feel honored that you took the time to look. :smile: I hope your daughter (is "dd" a girl?) enjoys her time in Tampa and that you don't have empty nest syndrome for too long.

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I am off to Tel Aviv.

I think I have figured out most of my Shabbat menu:

Druze salads from the food fair

Maybe another surprise as an appetizer

Challah and surprise bread

Mahloubeh

Some other vegetable for the Vegetarian guest

Green salad a la Daniel Rogov :smile:

Fruit salad

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What is seabream like? Firm? Flaky? Strong flavored? Mild?

Upthread you showed an eggplant salad that looked to me like baba ganough. Is that what it was? If so, is there any twist that Israelis give it? I've noticed (for instance) that the Lebanese version includes pomegranate seeds, whereas the Egyptian version doesn't.

I've had a wonderful eggplant salad from a Hebrew deli in Minneapolis that goes by the name of chatzilim. It's very very garlicky, and I don't think it has tahina. I've never found it anywhere else. Is that an Israeli dish? Do you know how to make it?

Your photos are beautiful, and I'm really enjoying your desktop tour of the country. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this, Mme. Spielberg. :laugh:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I am sitting at my desk drooling over the pictures of your dinner last night. :wub: The seabream looks amazing. Thank you so much for your fascinating blog Michelle.

Dawn aka shrek

Let the eating begin!

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Most of the fish and grill restaurants overload your table with salads. We couldn't finish half of it. This restaurant has a fixed price for the salads, fish and a drink (i.e. lemonade). Dinner for two was 138NIS or 31USD. It would have been a little more with wine or beer. It is a real bargain.

I have to say I was really glad to see you blogging and am so inspired to visit Israel one day.

Is it common place to take leftover food home? Everything on the table looked so fantastic, especially the eggplant dishes, I would regret not being able to eat it all!

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What is seabream like?  Firm? Flaky? Strong flavored?  Mild?

Upthread you showed an eggplant salad that looked to me like baba ganough.  Is that what it was?  If so, is there any twist that Israelis give it?  I've noticed (for instance) that the Lebanese version includes pomegranate seeds, whereas the Egyptian version doesn't.

I've had a wonderful eggplant salad from a Hebrew deli in Minneapolis that goes by the name of chatzilim.  It's very very garlicky, and I don't think it has tahina.  I've never found it anywhere else.  Is that an Israeli dish?  Do you know how to make it?

Your photos are beautiful, and I'm really enjoying your desktop tour of the country.  Thank you very much for taking the time to do this, Mme. Spielberg.  :laugh:

Gilthead seabream is a very mild flaky white fish. I really like it. I buy it whole and stuff the insides with garlic slices, lemon and thyme and then sautee it in a pan.

Chatzilim is the Hebrew word for eggplant. We have different kinds of eggplant salads:

Roasted eggplant, lemon, mayonnaise and garlic

Baba ganoush which is roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon, olive oil, tehina and parsley

Chopped fried eggplant with peppers and tomatoes

Fried eggplant

Roasted eggplant with onion, parsley and garlic

Eggplant that tastes like chicken liver

etc.

I have never tried making any of the salads, with the exception of tabouleh and hummous. I can buy some really nice ones, so I don't bother.

We don't serve as much tabouleh in restaurants as they do in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. You can find it, it just isn't offered in all of the grill restaurants. Most of the other salads are also served in those countries.

Thanks for the compliment on the photos. David has take some of the restaurant photos. I am more of a people and landscape photographer. The landscape photos and the shuk photos are mine.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Most of the fish and grill restaurants overload your table with salads. We couldn't finish half of it. This restaurant has a fixed price for the salads, fish and a drink (i.e. lemonade). Dinner for two was 138NIS or 31USD. It would have been a little more with wine or beer. It is a real bargain.

I have to say I was really glad to see you blogging and am so inspired to visit Israel one day.

Is it common place to take leftover food home? Everything on the table looked so fantastic, especially the eggplant dishes, I would regret not being able to eat it all!

You can take leftovers home from restaurants. Although grill restaurants, such as the one I am about to show you are not so keen on letting you take leftover salads home. I don't know why. It is a bit silly. You can always ask, some them say ok and others say they would prefer that you leave it.

BTW - We do have a table to table program where restaurants and wedding halls donate leftover food to soup kitchens and other organisations in need.

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Gilthead seabream is a very mild flaky white fish. I really like it. I buy it whole and stuff the insides with garlic slices, lemon and thyme and then sautee it in a pan.

Chatzilim is the Hebrew word for eggplant. We have different kinds of eggplant salads:

Roasted eggplant, lemon, mayonnaise and garlic

Baba ganoush which is roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon, olive oil, tehina and parsley

Chopped fried eggplant with peppers and tomatoes

Fried eggplant

Roasted eggplant with onion, parsley and garlic

Eggplant that tastes like chicken liver

etc.

We don't serve as much tabouleh in restaurants as they do in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. You can find it, it just isn't offered in all of the grill restaurants. Most of the other salads are also served in those countries.

Thanks for the compliment on the photos. David has take some of the restaurant photos. I am more of a people and landscape photographer. The landscape photos and the shuk photos are mine.

michelle -- ur photos are indeed beautiful, especially the ones of Yaffo. what is eggplant that tastes like chicken liver btw?? never heard of that one. [edit: egglant that tastes like chicken livers, right? i set myself up for that one]

too bad u couldn't get to Tayar. it is beautiful (and expensive). if only to be able to sit outside and enjoy dinner and look at the mediterranean ocean. sigh. i love the facade of the restaurant also ... here is a link to see pics of the resto. it's a hebrew website but if u click around on the numbers, u can see different views.

looking forward to seeing what u show next :wink:

Edited by ohev'ochel (log)
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I am pleased that I could show you my part of the world.

Before I show you this evenings meal, Tapenade was in Tel Aviv today and he went to a pastry shop. This shop is called Roladin and it is the same pastry shop I featured in my Hannukah blog. They are a kosher bakery that serves all types of cakes, pies, quiches, breads, cookies and burekas. They have been in business since 1987. There products are very nice and we always buy their doughnuts for Hannukah. We buy our bread at another bakery. I also featured them in my last blog.

Sorry for the blurry pictures tonight. I think Tapenade put the camera on the wrong setting. But we will forgive him. :rolleyes:

Here are the photos from Roladin:

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Chocolate cake, Kremeschnitt with raspberry filling and a plum tart.

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Loaf cakes, braided yeast cakes, strudels, babkas and rugelach

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Breads and burekas

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More burekas: mushroom, eggplant, bulgarian cheese, kaskeval, spinach and pizza

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Chocolate Mousse Cake and Cheesecake

Here are some pictures of Neve Tzedek, the original part of Tel Aviv. I really love to walk around there. They are some cute boutiques, cafes and restaurants. I would love to buy an old house there and renovate it, but I need a gazillion dollars to do it.

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Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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You can take leftovers home from restaurants. Although grill restaurants, such as the one I am about to show you are not so keen on letting you take leftover salads home. I don't know why. It is a bit silly. You can always ask, some them say ok and others say they would prefer that you leave it.

BTW - We do have a table to table program where restaurants and wedding halls donate leftover food to soup kitchens and other organisations in need.

Still enjoying seeing Israel (and its cuisine) through your eyes Michelle. Thanks for the photos of your dinner at The White Pergola. Warm bread, olives, and an assortment of fresh salads, a tasting of the fresh catch of the day, and lemonade--definitely a perfect meal for me.

I have to ask though, do you think the reason that some restaurants want you to leave your leftover salads is that they, er, recycle them? Sorry, but my enquiring mind has to know (and I'm sure I'm not the only one here who's wondering that). :smile:

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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You can either have the fruit mixed with water, juice (i.e. orange juice) or milk. We chose water.

I forgot to mention that the sign under "Tall Drink of Water", says "Wheat Grass". You can also get a shot of wheat grass.

Never mind the wheat grass and the fruit and juice--what's his phone number? :wink:

With or without the lad, though, fruit and juice stands like that one would be wonderful to have over here in the States. (Well, I guess we do have our approximations, like the fruit stands that sell fresh squeezed juice, and the smoothie stands that have proliferated like dandelions.)

I have a linguistic question for you.

I note that whenever you want to say "God willing," you use the Arabic term -- "Inshallah."

Is this an ecumenical gesture or a way around the prohibition on uttering the name of God that some branches of Judaism have?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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