Feb 26, 2012

Cold Weather in Tel Aviv

Cold Weather in Tel Aviv? Find out where it was warm...

TasteTLV is proud to work with CityOwls.com  to familiarize you with the top dining, drinking, dancing and all social spots in Tel Aviv  Through CityOwls weekly blog post featured on TasteTLV you can find out the best things to do in this city during any time or season of the year.

CityOwls helps outgoing locals to decide where to go by predicting trends and collecting real time information from social networks. CityOwls eliminates the need to read through countless reviews about a place, and we deliver the bottom line - Where, When, and How good. Established in 2011, the CityOwls team is a blend of social aficionados and technology experts united to build the most compelling social recommendation platform.

Aviv Lichtigstein +972 525 704870 aviv@cityowls.com

Last weekend, strong winds accompanied by low made a appearance in Tel Aviv. However,Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps, was not influenced.
Based on the company’s proprietary technology, CityOwls was able to analyze the social activity inside real venues during the last weekend, 17-18.02.12. Over 300 Venues were analyzed across 4 categories to see which are the most popular on cold winter nights. Over 300 Venues were analyzed across 4 categories.

Here are the Results:

Hottest Restaurants
1) Brasserie @70 Ibn Gvirol Street, Rabin Square

2) Messa @19 Ha’arbaa Street

3) Dixie @120 Yigal Alon Street

Hottest Cafes
1) Cafe Tachtit @9 Lincoln Street

3) The Streets @ 70 King George Street

2) Zorik @4 Yehuda HaMaccabi Street, Milano Square

Hottest Bars
1) Radio EPGB @7 Shadal Street

2) Molly Blooms @2 Mendele Mocher Sforim Street

3) Hamaoz @32 King George Street 

Hottest Clubs
1) YaYa @3 Ben Yehuda Street

2) Dizingoff @9 Dizengoff Square

3) Seret @30 Ibn Gabirol Street

more information: http://cityowls.com

Feb 22, 2012

The Kanafe Experience

Written by Jessica Hochstadt 

Chocolate heals a broken heart, although Ben & Jerry’s can be equally successful. Twizzlers, to me, are movie candies- the sweetness of the strawberry licorice paired with salty popcorn is enough to make any movie worth seeing. Cakes are for celebrations. But kanafeh? Kanafeh is simply an experience.
I’ve eaten kanafeh twice in my life; both times were in Israel. The first time, I was 21 years old and urged by an old friend to head to Jerusalem for the best middle-eastern dessert that the Arab people had to offer. This time, I sought it out myself, in the heart of Tel Aviv. If my memory served me correctly, this dish was “achla” (“wonderful”, in Arabic/Hebrew slang), and worth the trip to the shuk (outdoor market where you can find anything from vegetables and breads to costumes and curry flavored sesame seeds).
The shuk is often crowded with shouts from vendors to come purchase from the best, smells of raw fish and sewage, pushy Israelis trying to make their way past tourists like me, and of course, food booths. This particular shuk, “Shuk HaCarmel” is located on a narrow side street on the busiest intersection in Tel Aviv.
Most of the booths have beautiful displays of fresh and local vegetables for the best prices this side of the Galilee. The kanafeh booth, however, is more of an isolated table in the middle of the shuk. Once I approached, I figured out why this confection vendor stands alone among the hustle and bustle of the marketplace.
The old man who makes this dessert stands confidently by his sweets. His hands are visibly worn from years of preparing this unique dish. He’s perfected his recipe over the years to the point where he is certain that his culinary creation will sell, without the need for customer service. Simply stated, the man is rude! He doesn’t care to elaborate on his feelings of the dish, his recipe, or the history of kanafeh. Therefore, I had to do some online research for a background on kanafeh, but I assure you the experience is all my own.

Kanafeh is a sweet pastry made from layers of thread-thin, crispy dough with nabulsi cheese (a sweet cottage-cheese-like filling), drizzled in sugar- and rose-water. Often times, it is topped with crushed pistachio to add to the crunch, and coated with orange food-coloring. This dessert dates back to the middle ages of Arab culture and is often cooked in large pans, double the size of a pizza-pie dish.
In my most recent kanafeh experience, I approached the vendor to ask if he could tell me a little bit about the dessert. His response was a dismissive “I don’t have time for this”, in Arabic-accented Hebrew, of course. (To elaborate, he had no other customers at the moment but me.) Alas, I was persistent. So I asked him for a slice of his dessert.
He proceeded to slab a mouse-pad-sized serving of moist kanafeh on a square Styrofoam plate, and charged me 10 shekels for my purchase. (This translates into approximately $2.50.) It wasn’t the price of the dish that bothered me, but the amount he gave me. It would have been impossible (well, maybe not impossible, but certainly unhealthy) for me to eat the entire serving.

I asked him to cut the serving down to half of what he had given me. So he removed half of the kanafeh and returned the plate to me. Again, I asked him how much he would like. Again, he responed, “10 shekels.” I looked at him, confused. I might not speak his language, but I know that if you remove half of my purchase, I should only pay half of the original price. Determined to get 10 shekels from me, he added a small piece of baklava to my plate. Annoyed, I paid the man his 10 shekels, and walked away with what I’ll call a “piggy-portion” of dessert, all for me.
This particular kanafeh was not the warm, moist dish I remembered from Jerusalem. However, there was no mistaking its distinct rose-water flavor and phyllo-dough crunch. Kanafeh is a staple dish at Arabic celebrations and can be found in many Middle-Eastern specialty stores in the US. Fortunately for me, I have the authentic version of this dish at my disposal, just down the street. Unfortunately, acquiring it necessitates interacting with, quite possibly, the least friendly Arab-Israeli I have yet to meet in this country. But the dessert is so unique and decadent that it is often worth the aggravation… and the ten shekels. 

Feb 1, 2012

Bring on the Saffron

By Judith Goldstein 

Every culture has a different image in their mind when they think of comfort food. For me it's the thought of the deep aroma of saffron, cardamom, persian rice, and raw herbs and onions that takes me to that happy place and makes me good inside. So whenever I'm homesick and miss those magical Shabbat evenings where my family and friends gathered around a table filled with various stews, rice, fresh herbs, gondhi, tadik (crunchy rice), and baked chicken, I make myself my favorite Persian dishes- Polo Zereshk ( rice with currants) and saffron baked chicken.

Saffron has been cultivated in Iran since the 10th century B.C and according to Wikepedia, "threads of saffron would be scattered across beds and mixed into hot teas as a curative for bouts of melancholy." So, perhaps my craving for saffron is beyond my perceived wants and really what my body needs. I'm not sure, regardless, it's this intoxicating scent that sends me down to a happy happy place and I want to share with you my favorite dish.

In Persian culture, making rice is more than a cooking ritual, it's considered an art form. Back in the day, a woman's talent was measured by the quality of her rice. Cooking rice correctly takes an intuitive understanding of timing. I've probably cooked rice over a thousand times, and still my rice isn't as nearly good as pro's like my mother. But here is the recipe below for Polo Zereshk: 

Rice (for up to four people): 

2 Cups of rice
3 Tbl. of water
2 Tbl of oil 

1. Wash two cups of rice thoroughly and add 1/2 Tbl of salt 
2. Bring water to a boil ( enough to cover two cups of rice, it doesn't matter how much as long as the rice is immersed) 
3. Once the water comes to a boil, add rice 
4. After the water and the rice come to a boil wait 3 minutes and drain the water out ( you want the rice still be slightly crunchy) 
5. Put the pot back on the stove and add 2Tbl. of water and 1 Tbl. of vegetable oil, allow that to get hot
6. Add the rice back into the pot and add 1 Tbl of water and 1 Tble spoon of oil to the top, cover the rice (you want the bottom of the rice to become crunchy so that you can have tadik, crunchy rice) 
7. After about ten minutes, bring the heat down to medium and sprinkle a little more oil 
8. Cook for ten more minutes and bring heat down to low 
9. Cook for ten more minutes on low and take the rice of the heat and set it aside

Zereshk mix: 

1 large yellow onion
1/2 cup of currants, if you don't have currants you can use cranberries
sliced almonds (optional) 
orange zest (optional) 
5-8 threads of saffron
2 teaspoons of salt 
1 Tbl olive oil 

1. Chop onion
2. Add to a pan and bring to heat
3. Add onions to pan over med. heat
4. Cook for ten minutes, stirring frequently until the onions get soft
5. Add  salt and saffron
6. Add the currants or cranberries and cook for five minutes
7. Add slice almonds and a couple of pieces of orange zest
8. Mix everything with the white rice 


Whole Chicken
5-8 threads of saffron
2 lemons juiced
1/4 cup of olive oil 
sliced onion
Salt and Pepper

1. Ground saffron
2. Mix lemon juice, olive oil and saffron and pour on top of chicken
3. Add salt and pepper to taste
4. Garnish with sliced onions
5. Baked at 175F for 75 mins