Jan 19, 2011

Love Letter to Tel Aviv

 Tel Aviv
By Laura Goldstein

As I pack up and get ready to leave Tel Aviv, I am in a reflective mood about my five months in this complex city of both beauty and balagan.  After almost half a year of exploring  I am still discovering new exciting corners around the city. Being a girl who thinks with her stomach,  some of my best memories of my time here are food related. The following are my favorite restaurant moments from my time in Tel Aviv, they reflect the ups and downs of living in this place.

Barnash  and Beginnings
Eating at Cafe Barnash with my roommates was one of my first meals in Tel Aviv. I remember how excited I was to start my new life on King George Street surrounded by so many funky places like Barnash. I ordered the classic Schnitzel with mashed potatoes, it reminded me of  what my family calls "Grandma Rosie Chicken", her signature dish of breaded chicken. Lauren ordered the Barnash Burger which she said was the best burger she had ever eaten. We knew if the rest of the restaurants in Tel Aviv served food like this it would be a happy five months. To end the meal we all ordered the delicious frozen margaritas and toasted l'chaim, to life and to Tel Aviv.

My savior, Falafel Gaby
 Falafel Gaby Pick Me Up
In October my parents sent me a care package and I was having a particularly hard time dealing with the post office. I was going back and forth between different post offices for a week chasing my package while trying to decipher the Israeli postal bureaucracy. One afternoon, coming back from one of those offices, I was disheartened and hungry, then I spotted Falafel Gaby on Bograshov. I instantly felt better about my situation after watching the man behind the counter frying balls of fresh falafel and stuffing pita bread with roasted eggplant. My smile grew wider when I got my own and smothered the falafel with mango sauce. With that the post office debacle became a distant memory.

Ruben's Picnic in HaYarkon Park
Juicy Ruben's Sandwich
My roommate and I were determined to have a own picnic in HaYarkon Park going there on Shabbat and seeing all of the families enjoying themselves in the sun on the banks of the river . The next week we took a bus down Dizengoff, picked up some Ruben's sandwiches and beer, and we were ready for our picnic. We lay a blanket down on the grass in a patch of sunlight near the water and unwrapped our delectable sandwiches. Both of us ordered the turkey/corned beef mix on rye and couldn't have been happier. A dog wandered over and tried to eat the last bits of our sandwiches and we ended up chatting with the friendly owner for twenty minutes about life and the virtue of exploring places not your own. It was a lovely afternoon. 

Sonya Lasana during the First Rain of the Season 
One day at the beginning of winter I met a friend in the beautiful courtyard of Sonya off of King George. It started to drizzle as I was walking over. My initial reaction was, mah ze? What's this falling from the sky? 
There had been a drought and I temporarily forgot what rain was. I was reminded as the drops became heavier and faster. With the restaurant in sight I rushed to the door and thankfully my friend was sitting under the protective plastic cover in the courtyard. We we were cozy with our hot tea and warm lasana as we watched the storm increased in power and heard the thunder and lightning. The drought was over in the land of Israel. 

Par Derriere Wine & Cheese
Last week I went with Lauren and Debra to a wine bar called Par Derriere. It is one of the most romantic restaurants in Tel Aviv. You sip your wine while soft candle light and overgrown foliage surround you and the stereo plays smooth soulful music by the likes of Al Green. We all sighed and commented on how great it would be to have a date there but we were glad to be together to celebrate the end of our program.  In the spirit of celebration we ordered a bottle of wine to share and the cheese platter. The cheeses were incredible especially after being deprived of cheddar and other European cheeses that you don't see very much in Israel. We ate each and every bite on the platter, satisfied with our night we went back to our apartments to get ready for the impeding goodbyes.

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