The night before I embarked on this wonderful journey to spend the next chunk of my life living in Tel Aviv, my parents graciously took me out to what I'd like to refer to as "the last supper". Upon graduating from college, I refused to join the real world. Thus, my decision to move to Tel Aviv instead of getting a 9-5 job required that I support myself financially. I have often been referred to as fiscally irresponsible… so I knew this would not be an easy feat.
As my parents and I were sitting at a beautiful bistro in downtown Cleveland, I meticulously studied the menu, eagerly anticipating what my last meal would be. Our Jewish family friend is the head chef of the restaurant, so you can probably imagine the amazing home cooked Jewish-style dishes from which I had to choose. I finally looked up from my menu and announced that I was ordering the brisket and potato latkes. My dad looked at me and sarcastically remarked, "Right, because you won't be eating any of that in Israel." My parents had never been to Israel before, so they had quite a skewed perception of what to expect.
Having been in Tel Aviv for almost two months, I have yet to see, order, or taste brisket at a Tel Aviv restaurant. Rather, I am overwhelmed each and every day by the diverse selection of food at a fingertips reach. I step outside of my apartment in the center of the city and smell pizza just around the corner, falafel and schwarma wafting in from next door, sushi and pad thai being prepared fresh right across the street. Every chef has its own specialty and every Tel Aviv restaurant has its own story, but until you are here, experiencing the magic first-hand, you would never know the gastronomical secrets of Tel Aviv.
Today, my parents came to visit me. Throughout their 10-day visit, I am determined to show them how Israel is a culturally diverse city, offering delicious food from every region and ethnicity. Our first stop: Goocha. We sat down at Goocha, one of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv, and listened as our waitress recommended the shrimp and mussel platter. Immediately, my mom commented "It's so funny how they're pushing the seafood. I wouldn’t expect that in Israel." My point has been proven. There's more to Israel than falafel and schwarma or brisket and matzo ball soup.
Of course, we devoured every bite of the salmon gnocchi, sea bream fillet, and pasta alli oli. But what really did us in? The Belgian Banana Waffle. Oozing with sugary caramel sauce, topped with sweet vanilla ice cream, and served with fried bananas. The warm, freshly baked, caramelized Belgian waffle literally melted in my mouth. Trust me, it was well worth the caloric splurge.
Let it be known that as I learn to be financially responsible, every shekel spent thus far has been on food.
And with every bite, I fall in love with Tel Aviv all over again.