Oct 28, 2010

Cashier vs. Dog by Allison Gay

Tel Aviv, which is a mix of everything and everyone from everywhere around the world, is obviously bound to be a really interesting place filled with many interesting characters. But, with all of this diversity aside, I can assure you that the encounters you will have with the people here are unlike anything else in the world. And most of these encounters happen while you are grocery shopping.

Often times, Israelis are compared to Sabras (cactus fruits), which are spiky on the outside but sweet on the inside. For example, the person who steps on your foot and hits you with his cart in the grocery store without saying he is sorry, will be the same person to chat you up while you’re waiting in line and you will end up at his family’s house for Friday night dinner.

Here is one of the encounters I have witnessed so far, that I quite honestly do not think would happen anywhere else in the world.

Since when do you have to be hungry to eat? By Andrea Mann

A little well-known fact about Jews... we love to eat. Put a Jewish family together in a room and I guarantee there will be food involved. It’s no wonder the thousands of restaurants in Tel Aviv continue to thrive.

Another well-known fact (or at least a seemingly true stereotype) about Jews... Jewish mothers and Jewish grandmothers demonstrate their love by relentlessly overfeeding their children and grandchildren. You might not be very hungry, in fact, you’re probably not even the least bit hungry, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be eating.

Oct 26, 2010

More than just Borsht: Eastern European Restaurants in Tel Aviv

By Laura Goldstein
One of the first things that I noticed when I came to Tel Aviv, Israel the first time a few years ago was the ever-present Cyrillic in store windows and the incredible amount of Russian spoken on the street. After the fall of the Soviet Union over 1 million ex-Soviets immigrated to Israel. In recent years the flow of ex-Soviets has died down but is still steady. According to the Jewish Agency 1,381 olim arrived from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) from January to March 2010 alone. These immigrants changing the culture of Israel and bringing with them their unique cuisine.

I have always had an interest and a certain affinity for Russian culture. Most of my family immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe in the beginning of the 20th century and from an early age my mom would tell me bubbemiesas (old wives tales-Yiddish) about the “Old Country” and talk about how my grandpa loved his borsht. My connection to my family’s Russian past has always been strongest through traditional Ashkenazi food from the Pale of Russia. My grandma preserved the family recipes for blinzes and mondel bread and passed them down to my mom and I. This is why, when I returned to Tel Aviv to live, I was excited to explore the food-ways from the explosion of recent Eastern European immigrants.

Oct 18, 2010

Mid October and it's still hot!

By Laura Goldstein
Well it’s the second week of October in Tel Aviv, Israel and it is still mind numbingly hot! I can't help feeling jealous of friends at home and cooler parts of Israel putting on their fall sweaters as I sweat just walking down the street in the blazing sun. To avoid the overwhelming heat I have been exploring Tel Aviv after nightfall and/or indoors. 

Last Wednesday night I went to a concert at Levontin 7 featuring the lovely Shiri Hadar. She was performing songs from a solo project apart from her successful, world touring band Izabo.  She uses her sweet voice and plays her keyboard set to pump out spacey electronic notes to create her unique brand of dreamy indie pop. It was hard to believe it was her first time playing a solo gig! During her performance she also showed a video about how she produced the music video for her recent single Water.
Shiri Hadar at Levontin 7
             I heard about the concert through my friend Shoshanna who works with a band manager in Tel Aviv. Another artist that she recommended to me is Karolina, a well known indie-funk-reggae rocker in Tel Aviv. Her new music video for Smile 2 Me (sung in English) is an ode to the city's street artists

Tel Aviv: Eat Fresher by Andrea Mann

Living in Tel Aviv has made me seriously question the validity of Subway’s “Eat Fresh” campaign. And, rightfully so. Tel Aviv is one of those cities where you can walk into any restaurant, be it a hole-in-the wall in a dark alleyway or a grungy looking stand in the middle of the overcrowded Shuk, and you will be greeted with the freshest ingredients available. Seeing as there are al fresco markets on every street corner offering an array of rainbow colored fruits and vegetables, it’s not surprising that restaurant goers have come to expect the freshest of the fresh.

Yet, for some inexplicable reason, after being in Tel Aviv for a few weeks, I started to miss my simple turkey and swiss sandwich. So, I shamefully admit that I ventured over to Ben Yehuda to hit up the classic example of “fresh” food: Subway. I was overly excited as the sandwich artist toasted my turkey and cheese on honey oat and doused it in ranch dressing. (This may be the only restaurant in Tel Aviv that has ranch). But when all was said and done, it was just a Subway sandwich and I was disappointed in myself for expecting otherwise.

Eager to satisfy my taste buds, I decided to check out a little kiosk that my friend had recommended. Nestled among the trees on the median strip of Ben Gurion and Dizengoff is an unobtrusive sandwich kiosk that my friend referred to as “Dizzy Sandwiches”.  Although there is no evidence on the little wooden hut and you can't find any information about it on Google, I later discovered that this hidden neighborhood delicatessen is officially named Arieli's, after the owner's son.

Oct 14, 2010

Yoga in Tel Aviv by Allison Gay

Tel Aviv is known to gain much of its character from its culinary scene-- and rightfully so. However, the food and dining experience does not paint the whole entire picture. Believe it or not- partaking in a yoga class is another social experience that will definitely help you understand the unique culture and personalities of Tel Aviv and its locals.
Right off the bat, you will notice that there is not much personal space here. People sit very close to one another in restaurants, and people are also very casual and laid-back when it comes to any type of organized group setting. So, all in all, it is the same attitude when it comes to yoga. And by the way, the culture here is not very 'zen". It is actually quite the opposite. Everyone likes to chat in between yoga poses, and these interruptions are more than welcome. 

So, I thought writing this form of a screenplay was a good way to give you a glimpse into typical Israeli culture, and what one of my very first yoga classes here was like:

Oct 12, 2010

First Impressions of Tel Aviv Restaurants: King George Street

By Laura Goldstein
I moved to Tel Aviv, Israel a month ago from the suburbs of Washington, DC to work with TasteTLV.com. I decided to work with the organization after reading the founders bios on the website. We seemed to be kindred spirits in our love of food and finding new and unique places to eat. After hearing about the success of the Taste TLV events I became even more excited to work for them. Though really it all comes down to my love of food and exploring new cities.
Upon my arrival to Israel, I was of course filled with a craving for hummus, shwarma, and shakshuka. But Tel Aviv is a diverse city and I was excited to try still undiscovered cuisines that I knew were waiting for me.
I was overjoyed to discover that I could find an array of restaurants just going up and down my street.

Daniel the Juice Guy
For example, during my first month here I was enrolled in an ulpan class on King George Street. During our morning break, the other students and I would flock to the juice stand located on the same block as my ulpan class. Fresh squeezed juice is simple, but unbeatable on Israeli on sticky summer days.
It  is located right on King George Street between Bograshov Street and Meir Park.You will know the stand by the blasting reggae music that drifts onto the sidewalk and Daniel the juice guy’s prominent dreadlocks.
There are an infinite number of juices to mix, but my personal favorite combination is ginger-pomegranate. It is spicy and tart and will get rid of any hint of a cold brought on by too many late nights in this city that is awake around the clock.

So, you don't eat Falafal everyday? -Andrea Mann

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.