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Showing posts from 2008

Goshen

Goshen is an upscale grill meat restaurant located in the "garment district" of South Tel Aviv which has the feel of an up and coming area.  The restaurant's focus is all types of meat simply grilled with seasoning.  We ordered two types of meat based on the waiter's recommendation.  The meat is ordered by weight and comes to the table on a mini-grill with potatoes that are grilled to perfection and rice. The intention is for everyone to sample the meats.  The quality of meat was very good - not outstanding - but very good. I did enjoy the appetizers immensely - we had a trio of different types of chopped liver (chicken, eggplant and zucchini) and lollipop chicken sticks. The focaccia was excellent.  And what made me most happy were the great desserts which is often lacking in meat restaurants.  We had a trio of different flavors of creme brulee (mango, coconut and chocolate whiskey) and a duet of chocolate souffles (one was chocolate with nougat and one was peppery …

Blue and White Exhibition - Israel Museum

The Israel Museum is currently undergoing major renovation and the museum is primarily closed. However, the museum is showing several temporary exhibitions, including Blue and White which is a one room display of original documents pertaining to the State of Israel. The documents are varied and interesting such as the original Declaration of Independence, handwritten notes of David Ben Gurion, and a page from Ilan Ramon's diary that survived that Shuttle crash. The exhibit runs through February 2009.NOTE: The audio guide explanation adds some interesting anecdotal information. However, not all the audio guide explanations have been translated into English. Therefore, if your Hebrew is workable, it is worthwhile to take the audio guide with Hebrew explanation.
Israel Museum - www.imjnet.org.il - 02-670-8811

Yaffo Caffe/Jaffa

What could be better than wandering around the flea market in Jaffa and enjoying the sights and smells? On a beautiful Friday morning I ventured out to Jaffa to wander the flea market and streets. Jaffa is an interesting mix of old and new, funky artist shop, ruins, and of course, a view of the Tel Aviv shoreline. The day was capped off by an excellent brunch at Yaffo Caffe and Gelato. I had the pizza for lunch and finished off with ice cream. Both the meal and dessert were excellent. My husband had shakshuka which was not as memorable but the brownie for dessert was. The service was great and sitting by the window and people watching could not be beat!
As an aside, every Wednesday morning there is a free walking tour of Jaffa that focuses on the history of the city from ancient times. Meet at the Jaffa clock tower at 9:30 AM.
Yaffo Caffe - 11 Olei Zion Street (Jaffa Flea Market) - 03-518-1988 For information about the Jaffa tour go to www.tel-aviv.gov.il/English

Sotheby's/Beit Kastiel

Sotheby's Israel has an annual international auction of Israeli art and Judaica held in New York. Pieces by top name Israeli artists as well as works by up and coming artists are represented. There is generally a pre-auction exhibition in Tel Aviv in order to allow Israeli patrons to view some of the art.  This year Sotheby's displayed the pieces in Beit Kastiel, a gallery/party space attached to the famous Kastiel furniture store.  The gallery is a funky space located in gritty south Tel Aviv in an area which has a Soho feel. I was fortunate to be part of a private group tour. However, I have been told that the art exhibit is open to the general public.  The auction is generally in the winter so the artwork is displayed in Israel sometime in the fall.  One should check with Sotheby's Israel for exact dates.
Sotheby's Israel - 11 Yehuda Halevi (Tel Aviv) - 03-560-1666 Beit Kastiel - Elfassi 36 Tel Aviv

Canela Jumped the Shark

One of my favorite places to go out to eat is in Jerusalem where the choice of restaurants is staggering.  My husband and I fell in love with Canela - an upscale restaurant in the center of town - and we made many special trips to Jerusalem just to eat therere.  The food, from appetizers to desserts, has always been different and outstanding.  The staff seemed to take pride in its excellent service and know-how about food and wine.  Unfortunately, the last time we went the restaurant felt tired to me.  The service was lacking (we asked several times to see a wine list and finally gave up), the bathrooms lacked towels and the staff did not manage a rowdy crowd of patrons until about three tables complained. It is unfortunate because the food was still mouth-watering.  But somehow the evening lacked the sparkle it had on previous occasions.
Canela - 8 Shlomzion Street (Jerusalem) - 02-622-2293

Dialogue in the Darkness/Invitation to Silence

The Children's Museum of Holon has created Dialogue in the Darkness, a great interactive experience that should not be missed by young or old. For 90 minutes a blind guide leads a group of participants (with walking sticks) in rooms that are pitch black, in order to simulate the feelings and experience of a blind person. Each room is a recreation of a different environment such as a market. The museum recently introduced a similar tour simulating deafness which is led by a deaf guide; for obvious reasons Invitation to Silence is not as powerful as Dialogue in the Darkness but still quite interesting. In both cases, the tours end in a bar-like setting where one can order refreshments using sign language in Invitation to Silence and by feel in Dialogue in the Darkness (so take along small change). In addition, at the end of each tour the guide is happy to answer all questions.
Reservations are required and the minimum recommended age is nine.
Children's Museum of Holon - www.c…

Pizza Fino

About a block away from the Tel Aviv Hilton and beach is a pizzeria that I would imagine is very much similar to family-owned pizzerias in Italy. The restaurant section has waitress service and seating both in and outside. The menu consists of pizzas, pastas, calzones, salads and soups. We have sampled all of it and all the food is great. I, however, am partial to the pizza which has a thinner type crust; there are tons and tons of different toppings to choose from. Nothing can beat seating outside with a pizza and a lemonade taking in the Tel Aviv beach air!
There is also a self-service window with a few tables. The food there is slightly different and focuses more on the pizza and calzones.
PIZZAFINO - 169 Ben Yehuda (Tel Aviv) - 03-522-8165

Mazzarine

One of the best parts of living in Israel is the cafe scene. There is nothing better than hanging out at a trendy Tel Aviv cafe on a Friday morning (the equivalent of Sundays in the US) enjoying a good coffee.
Today my husband and I went to Mazzarine which is labelled as a Patisserie & Chocolaterie. It is an adorable little cafe in a pretty part of Tel Aviv.  The food was fantastic. I had the goat cheese french toast which is basically a high end grilled cheese sandwich.  It was delicious.  And the fruity ice tea that I ordered hit the spot.  The desserts, of course, are to die from.  And what was a pleasant surprise was the attentive and pleasant service. We didn't have to fight to get a waiter's attention, everything came as ordered and in general the wait staff was helpful and friendly.
Mazzarine - 17 Gordon (Tel Aviv) - 03-522-1050

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

As a former New Yorker, it was most difficult to leave behind the cultural center of the world.  There is no doubt that New York is home to some of the best and biggest art museums in the world.  
While the Tel Aviv Museum of Art cannot compete directly with the Met or the MOMA, it is a gem.  The permanent collection has an impressive amount of art given the small size and relatively young age of this country.  The museum is currently building a second building that will double its size.
It is also important to keep an eye out for their temporary exhibitions. Some of the temporary exhibits have been fantastic (e.g., Mark Rothko).  Recently, I went to an exhibit by Michal Chelbin, an up and coming Israeli photographer.  It is a small exhibit - occupies one room - but if you have reason to be in Tel Aviv well worth the stop.
One more tip:  Holders of Isracards get into the museum for free
Tel Aviv Museum of Art - 27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard - 03-607-7020

Houses from Within

We just had a great day in Jerusalem. For the past two years, there is a special events weekend called Houses from Within where various houses and public buildings with special architectural features are opened to the public. The website lists the various structures that are opened to the public over the two-day event. Some have a nominal fee and require pre-registration but many are just open houses with or without tours.
Our first stop was The Grand Synagogue of the Belz Hasidic Dynasty which is a grandiose building that has capacity for 10,000 people. It was extremely well-run with two different members of the sect speaking about the building and the sect. It was great.
Next stop was Beit Tavor which is located in the center of town. Originally serving as a private residence, it is currently home to the Swedish Theological Institute. Former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek described it as the nicest house in Jerusalem. Here, unfortunately, the scheduled tour and video did not hap…

MC2 - a dining experience

As you can tell by now, one of the things I enjoy most here in Israel is the food and the unique dining experiences that come along with that.  On Thursday night, I had the opportunity to eat in a most unique place.  MC2 is tucked away in an old castle-type building in Bitan Aharon which is north of Netanya.  We enjoyed an eight-course dairy dinner with each course chosen by the chef.  The dishes are unique combinations of cheeses, vegetables, fruits and pastas - both hot and cold dishes.  And we enjoyed wine and bread alongside.  Dinner took over two hours and was a leisurely and lovely experience.
Reservations are required and my only advice is that on a nice night you request beforehand to be seated outside.   Nothing can be better than a lovely night in that amazing setting enjoying good friends and good food!
MC2 - 09-866-5662

Caesarea - Hana Senesh Museum

I love Caesarea.  It has the feel of a Southern California beach town.  Recently I went to the Hana Senesh Museum in Sdot Yam which is reached by going through Caesarea.  Hana Senesh,  a hero of the Holocaust, lived on the kibbutz for a short while. The museum is basically a room with photographs and other memorabilia related to Hana Senesh. There is also a short movie.   The museum, part of a small antiquities museum, is not worth a visit in and of itself but a nice stop if you are already in Caesarea and a nice way to learn more about this extraordinary woman.
Hana Senesh Museum - Kibbutz Sdot Yam - 04-636-4366

More on Vacation - Kibbutz Lavi

With school starting, my adventures have been somewhat limited so I am going to write about prior adventures.  Our summer vacation included a weekend stay at Kibbutz Lavi.  We stayed in the new wing which was beautiful.  The hotel is clean and well-run.  There was ample food that was satisfactory, not outstanding.  There is a pool - again it served its purposes but nothing stellar.   
One should be aware that the hotel caters to a religious crowd including strict rabbinic kosher supervision (Mehadrin), a central timer that shuts off all room lights on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and separate hours for swimming (there are also hours of mixed swimming).  As a result, the hotel, especially on the Sabbath, attracts almost an entirely religious crowd, including many ultra Orthodox families with large families.
If you do go, be sure to take a tour of the Kibbutz (if there is no scheduled one during your stay, request one).  Our tour guide was an American kibbutz member who moved to t…

Mizrachi Cafe - Mahane Yehdua

I have made several recent trips to Mahane Yehuda. I love the smells, the noise, the character of the place.  I love to just roam around and see the fruits, vegetables and nuts stands next door to some of the yuppie clothing stores now opening up.  In any case, one of my favorite cafes is in one  of the alleyways.  Mizrachi is cafe food at its best.  There is a hot mushroom sandwich not to be missed and don't forget to try one of the brioches.And as you exit Mahane Yehuda on Agrippas, don't forget to stop at Marzipan for some rugleach and cinammon buns.
Mizrachi - Rechov Hashazif - 02-624-0528

Back from Vacation - Kibbutz Nachsholim

It has been awhile since I wrote last. The summer got the best of me.  But we did have a great family vacation to the beach. One of the perks of living here is being so close to the beach.  We did a three day trip to Kibbutz Nachsholim.  They have simple but clean "tzimmirim", aka cottages, five minutes from the beach called Chof (beach) Dor where it is quite shallow and the waves are mild.  We literally spent three days on the beach - building sand castles, swimming, grilling dinner on a disposable grill.  For me it was three days of rest and relaxation (I even got through three books!).
Kibbutz Nachsholim - 04-639-9533

More on Movies

Israelis are notorious for pushing and shoving and disregarding lines. It does make many outings stressful and puts us Americans in a bind. Do we let everyone push ahead of us and maintain our good manners but as a result, become "frayers" (i.e., suckers - the biggest insult for an Israeli) or do we become part of the masses and one day resent who we have become?
In some areas of the country this issue has abated due to the presence of many Anglos. Here, in Raanana, for example, lines at the local coffee shops such as Aroma are fairly orderly and respected.
There is one area of life here where a system has been implemented to compensate for Israeli behavior. Unlike America, a movie ticket in Israel corresponds to a specific seat. Of course, there are times when someone sits in an another's assigned seat and a heated argument results. And there can be absurd situations where four people sit right next to each other in an empty theater. But generally the system works.
As…

Caesarea Movie Nights

It has been two days since my last post but I have been so busy. Yesterday we did a really fun thing. We went to Caesarea for movie night. Every summer Caesarea sponsors movies among the ruins in the Caesarea harbor. This year the theme is Alfred Hitchcock movies. A different one of his films will be shown for the next three consecutive Wednesday nights; last night's showing was Psycho. Doors open at seven, the movie is shown at nine and entrance fee is twenty-five shekels. There are about one thousand seats - first come, first serve seating.We got there at seven but there were plenty of seats even at nine. In any case there is plenty to keep you busy if you arrive early like we did. The promenade is set up with food booths and "tzochke" booths. One tip - bring a blanket or something similar if you want to reserve your chair and just walk around a bit.
Caesarea movie night - *6559

Lice

There is good and bad in Israel. Unfortunately one of the bad things here is the prevalence of lice. Unlike America, where schools and camps have a zero tolerance, institutions allow children to roam freely with heads full of lice.  Almost every American goes through the same process regarding lice. First, Americans are disgusted by the fact that they have moved to a country that in many ways is still third world.  Then, someone in the family brings lice into the home.  The parents immediately run out and buy combs, lice treatments and other remedies and try to conquer the "enemy".  And, then, unfortunately, at some point the parents realize that they are facing a losing battle and give up. The cycle then continues.
Our family basically underwent that process for the first three years that we lived here.  We would make half-hearted attempts when things really got out of control but that was the extent of it.  At a chance meeting, an American told me that she has one luxury li…

Deca

Today we went to Deca - a fabulous fish restaurant in Tel Aviv. We have been there a few times already. The restaurant decor is very modern - a Soho feel. The food is very unique and delicious. The chef tries to utilize fish that are found in the region.  And the desserts are fabulous.  I recommend the fish falafel balls!  There are not many kosher dairy upscale restaurants in Tel Aviv and a good one at that!  As they say on Wall Street, a buy!
Deca - 10 Hataasayah Street (Tel Aviv) - 03-562-9900