Apr 13, 2011

The Magic of Odelia's

By Chelsea Truesdell

When my family and friends come to visit, I always have a long list of assorted Tel Aviv restaurants they have to try, from sushi spots to cafes to falafel stands. I am always excited to send them on their way and have them explore the culinary world of Tel Aviv but there is always one restaurant that I have to take them to- Odelia's. 
 Odelia's is like a legend that can be passed down only orally; if you catch wind of the restaurant you must be talking to the right people. This small discreet restaurant is nestled between the bridal boutiques and trendy bars lining Ben Yehuda street. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, you will most likely pass it again and again. There are no restaurant signs, fancy décor, or hostesses waiting for your arrival. Instead, you will find a small restaurant that houses an open kitchen and can only fit about twelve tables. The décor is modest with red checkered table cloths and red and gold paint on the wall. The golden warmth created by the colors adorning the tables and walls gives the restaurant an Italian feel, welcoming you in as if you were family.

The stews and meat dishes is what makes this kosher Tel Aviv restaurant a hit. My order always includes the Middle Eastern chicken maqluba- chicken drumsticks laid over a bed of egg noodles and jasmine rice cooked with cardamom seeds, carrots, and potatoes.
The turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon blend together to bring out the distinctive Middle Eastern flavor while the cooked chicken melts in your mouth like butter. This dish will have you licking your fingers clean every time.

The meat dishes are not the only thing that keeps me coming back. If you ask me, Odelia’s hummus and falafel are the best compared to any other Tel Aviv restaurant. The velvety smooth dish is perfectly prepared hot (also known as masbacha) or cold and is so delicious it can be eaten alone or accompanying your meal.
The falafel balls served at Odelia's are impeccable with the ideal amount of crisp on the outside and softness on the inside. An insider’s secret- If you are on the run but want to still enjoy Odelia’s flawless falafel, they sell theirs at a stand right next to the restaurant for only 10 NIS.

Really, anything you order at Odelia's will be mouth-watering scrumptious. Their finely chopped Israeli salad is a must side-dish for any meal as well as their freshly prepared warm pita. If you’re lucky enough to come a day when they are serving their chicken matzo ball soup, you must indulge. Your grandma’s recipe doesn’t have anything on this magical soup. Even their freshly squeezed lemonade tastes like a gift from the Gods.
Besides watching my friend’s faces as they dig in to the food of Odelia's, my favorite part about taking them here is to see their faces when the bill comes. I don’t know how they do it, but Odelia’s is one of the cheapest restaurants in Tel Aviv. Often times I find myself wondering how they do it- serve the most delectable Israeli food for half the price I usually pay. Somehow they seem to make it work. Odelia's is really a crowd favorite, anytime of the day. No matter what combination of foods you order, you are sure to eat like a king at Odelia's.

Apr 6, 2011

The Local Way

Written by: Chelsea Truesdell

In Seattle the organic, sustainable and local food culture is a force to be reckoned with, therefore today the values of eating organic,local food are as big a part of me as being Jewish. In my home we embraced the organic produce grown nearby and my mother would often cook meals using ingredients purchased at our local farmer’s market. We would eat seasonally, indulging in the fresh fruits and crisp vegetables. Therefore you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I moved to Tel Aviv and found that the local produce market is located in the center of the city. The market in Tel Aviv houses everything from foods to clothes to electronics. As you dive deeper in, you are bound to uncover more and more food treasures of Tel Aviv. Locally grown juicy fruits, newly picked vegetables, warm pitas and pastries, all of which are waiting to be properly consumed. I love to ask the vendors where their fruits and veggies come from. Although not everything in the market is local, most is. It's interesting to find out about bananas being grown in a moshav in the north, or the apples that come from a kibbutz. Along with local, seasonal fruits and vegetables, one can find a variety of spices and a plethora of cheeses; mozzarella, feta, goat, and safed, all delicately crafted in the land of Israel. Every step you take through the market fills the senses, whether it is the vendor shouting his daily specials, the rainbow colors of the fruits, the smells of Mediterranean spices, the touch of the crisp vegetables, or the taste of the flaky pastries. You can spend less than $20.00 and create a delectable dish with the fresh and local foods provided by the local market.

You don’t have to buy from the market to eat fresh and locally. Most Tel Aviv restaurants prepare their meals using the best organic ingredients around. Big leafy green salads mixed with seasonal vegetables can be easily attained in almost any café you walk into. The Restaurants in Tel Aviv unquestionably take advantage of the locally grown produce and transform them into affordable mouth-watering meals. It is easy to eat healthy in Tel Aviv with the abundance of crisp salads and wholesome sandwiches made with the finest ingredients available.

Not only have the Tel Aviv restaurants taken advantage of fresh produce readily available, but the street food has as well. Smoothie stands in Tel Aviv have been blossoming throughout the city. Smoothies crafted from local fruits and vegetables native to Israel such as pomegranate, date, honey, and orange can be found on every corner. These succulent creations provide the consumer with an affordable way to indulge in healthy local produce.

It is important to realize the significance of eating locally. When you eat produce that is native to your surroundings, not only does it taste better but it promotes a healthier way of living. Local organically-grown food is higher in nutrients and free of pesticides and hormones compared with industrially-produced food. Along with being a healthier life-style choice, it helps build your community and supports a cleaner environment. Simply put, when money is spent locally, more of it stays within the community. Supporting local farmers reduces the dependability on large industrial food-packing plants that waste energy preserving and transporting food abroad. Buying locally-produced food eliminates the need for fuel-guzzling transportation.

Take advantage of this bountiful and beautiful world we live in and support your community. Whether it is enjoying a plentiful leafy organic salad in a Tel Aviv restaurant, crafting a home-cooked meal with the local seasonal ingredients found in the market, or sipping on a natural juicy smoothie, take pleasure in eating organic and local, wherever you are.

Apr 1, 2011

Tel Aviv: Breaking the Lox of my heart

By Chelsea Truesdell

I'm not sure if this is the result of growing up in Seattle, but often times when I wake up in the morning I crave the flawless combination of a bagel topped with velvety smooth cream cheese, tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and fresh smoked salmon.The journey to satisfy this craving began the first morning I woke up in Tel Aviv. After a late night of reveling in the Tel Aviv party scene, I knew that my pastime favorite food would ease the hangover throb. Luckily a friend knew exactly where to take me, to her favorite Tel Aviv restaurant, Bagels & Coffee on Diezengoff.

We walked into a narrow bagel shop crowded with the Friday regulars- old men sipping their morning coffee, teenage boys enjoying a high protein breakfast sandwich after the gym, a young couple sharing a plate of tuna salad under an awning.

Inside, a refrigerated case was lined with vegetable salads, various cream cheeses, sliced meats, and assorted fish dishes, all freshly prepared that morning. The wall was adorned with shelves housing an assortment of freshly baked bagels. I didn’t even know where to begin but I knew a bagel sandwich would do the trick.

I ordered a toasted onion bagel with cream cheese, salmon, sliced tomato and cucumber, and chopped onion along with a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. My first bite instantly cleared any pain in my head and the second bite took me bagel nirvana. The sandwich was perfectly prepared with a thick spread of cream cheese layered with all the accouterments my mouth was watering for. I fell more in love with Bagels & Coffee with every bite I took; I was now a Friday regular at this bagel restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Since moving to Israel I have successfully encountered a number of Tel Aviv restaurants offering salmon and cream cheese in various ways. I am lucky enough to live in the center of Tel Aviv where every other step you can be sure to find a place to eat. On the corner of Bograshov and King George is a café named Sequella which offers everything from Israeli breakfast to fajitas. I have indulged in a number of meals from there but the one dish that keeps me coming back for more is their Israeli-Norwegian Brunch. I first ordered this dish at 8:00 at night when I was suffering from a bad cold and had a craving for salmon (no surprise) in my mouth. If you ever go here, you must treat yourself to this delectable breakfast, no matter what time of day.

The Israeli-Norwegian brunch consists of a big toasted buttery croissant sliced in half and filled with cream cheese, salmon, roasted sweet red peppers, and a fried egg with a side of big leafy green salad. If you are looking for a combination of sweet and salty, creamy and toasty, this is the meal for you. After I finished the Israeli-Norwegian Brunch I swear my nose stopped running, my throat stopped itching, and my belly stopped grumbling. Maybe it’s a cure-all meal or just extremely scrumptious, whatever it is, it’s a must.
The only other Tel Aviv restaurant I have enjoyed a salmon breakfast so finger-licking good (so far) has been at Olive on Bograshov. I was going to a bakery nearby for a quick breakfast but came to find it was closed for Purim. At this point I was starving and decided to eat at the next place I came across. I usually try to refrain from eating at chain restaurants but when a girl has got to eat, a girl has got to eat. Olive welcomed me in and I ordered the “French Breakfast,” mistakenly thinking it must include French toast… boy was I wrong. The waiter brought out a plate with a toasted sandwich filled with tomato, salmon, and cream cheese topped with two perfect sunny-side up eggs. On the side was a fresh salad in a sweet almond dressing and crispy golden-brown potatoes. Simple yet scrumptious!
The culinary world of Tel Aviv has justly proved to me it is capable of satisfying a little Jewish girl with a constant craving for salmon and cream cheese. I have indulged in various versions of my favorite ingredients, each dish better than the next. I want to thank the Tel Aviv restaurants for making me feel at home.