08 November 2009

Dining in תל אביב

After a super 3 a.m. airport reunion with my friend Adi, with whom I had almost instantly hit it off in Zimbabwe and later traveled to Chobe National Park in Botswana, my first day in Tel Aviv was spent chilling, sipping Arak (cf Pastis) at Mezizim beach on the Mediterranean, and sorting out how we would work the week. Adi generously shuffled her entire life around to accommodate me, and in advance of my arrival discussed Israeli culinary options with her network of friends. She had a list of roughly ten places we should go while I was visiting. Unfortunately, I don't know that she grasped, before I arrived, what the gastronomic aspect of my journey is about exactly. [Ir]regardless, we did not starve.

Within the first two days I must have consumed about 1/2 kgArak and Olives of olives. Adi made me an Israeli breakfast of salads, cottage cheeses, silan (date syrup), and bread. We had Libyan food at Casserole one night, including an incredible eggplant mousse and a spicy beef cheek & lamb stew with couscous. The next night we had Georgian food (not of the fried green tomatoes, field pies, and chicken fried steak ilk, mind you) at Nanouchka. Herbs, walnuts, and plums seemingly play prevalent roles in Georgian cooking. I had a white bean and white wine braised lamb shank. Adi and I went for a drink nearby. I'm fairly certain Jesus served me my black russian.

Well before I ever stepped foot on a plane, a friend in Seattle gave me a few suggestions of things to see and do while in Tel Aviv. One that percolated to the top of my list was having hummus/masabaha at Abu Hassan in Jaffa. Evita had her rainbow tour; the lunch at Abu Hassan, eating hummus using layers of quartered onion thus began my hummus tour of Israel and beyond. Thanks, Anat, for pointing me in this direction. [Here's a picture of the awning at Abu Hassan in Jaffa. Only just realized that the post is blocking the name of the place. Well, at least you can read what they serve: hummus, foul, masabaha, labneh]Abu Hasan

beachI wandered around Jaffa for several hours then and on another day walked from Jaffa back up the beach front to Adi's. Such strolling is necessary after consuming a few cups of blended chick peas at one sitting.

Chez ParentsOne other noteworthy dining experience in Tel Aviv was having Friday night dinner at Adi's parents' place. We had her dad's famous grilled whole eggplant with tahina, avocado salad, puff pastry stuffed with mushrooms and vegetables, and goooooood goulash. Besides this, it was a real treat getting a chance to meet the parents I had hear so much about and converse with them for a few hours about everything from lions to sociopolitical tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

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