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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Sauerkraut with loads of sausage and pork at Gilad & Daniel. A rare, rare find in Tel Aviv. Reminded me and my sister (ever so slightly pictured here) of the sauerkraut our dad used to buy us in the weekly market near our home in Paris. Hot, spiced, right out of a barrel and dished into a bag to take home. I don't think it ever lasted long.

Crepe Breakfast

Crepe Breakfast at Gilad & Daniel. Perfect crepe. Almost as good as their Croque Madame. Did I mention that I'll be dining here frequently?

Hot Apple Cider with Rum, a Cinnamon Stick, and Fresh Apples, reading Three Men in a Boat. I often wonder if people think me insane because I laugh out loud and not infrequently while reading at cafes. Good thing that I don't care because laughing out loud while reading is one of the best sensations I know.

Guacamole

5-minute Guacamole with Sesame Cracker (eaten watching China Beach last night). Another attempt at finishing off the weekly organic veg box. Another box just arrived an hour ago. Egad!

Chicken Udon & Caprese Salad at a trendy Ben Yehuda bistro - name alludes me

Breakfast today - melon eaten with spoon looking at the view on my balcony/work space on the dining room table

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The best croque monsieur on this side of the Mediterranean. Best croque madame, if we’re being technical.

I discovered a bistro less than a ten minute walk from my house.  It’s a tragedy it’s taken me this long to find it.  Gilad and Daniel located at 300 Dizengoff (corner of Yehezkiel just north of Nordau) is the closest thing to a real French brasserie I have ever seen in Israel.

Here’s the story of my first meal.

I decided on a long walk this Friday morning.  Tough week.  Sunshiny day.  Why not? I packed 3 books (you always need a selection) and headed north on Dizengoff (I usually head south).  Desperately in need of some breakfast, I knew there were some trendy places north of Nordau.  I didn’t expect what I found.  Jeremiah is a cafe that everyone knows.  It’s always full of hip people.  A place to be seen.  Not a place I’m comfortable with, but as I’d never been, I thought I might try it.  Before I got there, I passed Gilad and Daniel.  It wasn’t as crowded, and the people seated seemed a little more on the interesting side.  A waitress smiled at me as I walked by.  Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw that the far end of the exterior wall was covered in a Renoir print —  famous colorful cafe scene.  Immediate u-turn.

The menu features a breakfast crepe and the croque, of course, with main dishes including an incredible saur kraut and mixed meat dish, coq au vin, boeuf bourgignon, and an incredible looking couscous tagine.  Many “Israeli” dishes on the menu, as well (heck, it is Israel, after all), but these French dishes are perfect.  Down to earth, simple, well done.  No fancy dry brioche (a la Benedicts).

I had such a lovely time eating this croque madame, I cannot emphasize this more.  The cheese was perfectly melted and creamy and rich.  Mingling with the ham and the runny yolk I adore so much, I dreaded the end of the simple sandwich.  So much so that I photographed the very last bite.

It was a lovely day, a perfect meal, and I sat for an hour or more with a good cup of coffee and a hilarious book, Three Men in a Boat.  I highly recommend this bistro.  It’s the finest eatery in my neighborhood, and despite the fact that it’s very much a small neighborhoodsy cafe, the meal I ate was more authentic and satisfying than any I have eaten along the fashionable Rothschild Blvd corridor.  Yes, better.  I’d put money on it.

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Organic Disaster Defused -- Stuffed and Divine

The monster peppers I received today were sweet, not spicy.  I went ahead and stuffed them all.  Because of an embarrassing situation that has ensued (we’re out of gas — can you believe it — and we can’t figure out which gas company is ours — stupid, stupid), I had to make something 100% in the electric oven.  The approximate steps I took –

  • Sliced peppers vertically and de-seeded
  • Soaked a combination of quinoa, red lentils, and white rice in boiling water (from kettle) while I –
  • Chopped 5 medium tomatoes, 1 onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 1 handful of parsley
  • Drained the water from the rice mixture and added to the vegetable mixture
  • Drizzled olive oil, added salt, pepper, chili, oregano, and thyme
  • Stuffed all of the peppers, set them in a baking pan, drizzled with more olive oil, salt, pepper, ketchup, a couple dashes of soy sauce, and a cup of water.
  • Cover with foil, place in a 190 C (390 F) oven for around an hour (keep checking after 40 minutes), until the filling is fully cooked and the pepper so soft it’s practically falling apart.

Fantastic results.

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This is what arrived in my basket today

A little perspective to show you just how monstrous they are

Well, they're kind of pretty, in their own way

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I’m taking a risk here by potentially admitting to a bizarre fetish. I want to write about it because it’s been on my mind, and I think that it’s something not unique to me.  Perhaps it’s something we don’t speak of, and perhaps it’s something of which we’re probably not even aware.

I like to watch. Don’t get the wrong idea – nothing vulgar here.  People getting haircuts, applying makeup, massages, cooking, painting, quiet repetitive actions.  They put me in a trace-like state.  Sounds weird, but I would almost rather watch a massage than have one myself.  During a massage, my mind races — what should I focus on, what does the masseuse think of me, how do I relax, what am I supposed to be feeling.  When you observe from the outside, the perceived pressure and stress are non-existent.  It’s a kind of meditation.

Living vicariously is part of our way of life.  Reality TV, celebrity gossip, the movies, even reading novels, investing in children’s and friends’ dreams as much as or more than our own — we all have tremendous experience in falling into other worlds.  Daydreams.  Escapism.  Living through others.  And I don’t think these are necessarily all unhealthy delusions.

The worlds in our minds may be a direct consequence of a uniquely human phenomenon — our compassion.  The ability to take upon ourselves another person’s situation and emotions, sharing their experiences, practically succeeding in walking in another person’s shoes, is in itself an extraordinary thing if you really think about it.  Our compassion and sympathy lead us to sacrifice ourselves, help one another, act for a greater good. This ability to share burdens seems to have a positive flip-side — daydreaming.  Our daydreams, a related, pleasurable ability, I think, give us that wonderful opportunity to live out our dreams and fantasies in ways we may never be able to achieve in our everyday lives.  My ability to imagine myself in the place of another who is getting their hair cut must really be an act of some advanced mental acrobatics.

I would kill to lead the first manned mission to mars — but we all know how likely that is.  Imagination is also the source of innovation.  Something else to ponder.  How incredible it is we can hurl our brains about.

So, in the spirit of my admission, here is a video I stumbled upon.  Don’t laugh, OK?  As pleasurable as this massage is to watch, at least for me, you can also learn valuable anti-aging tips.  Enjoy!

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The overabundance of organic-ness combined with Valentine-monotonousness led to these. Home made chips.  Or fries. Or wedges.  Whatever you call them.

These small waxy fragile spuds needed to be cooked soon.  Cut them into strips, placed in a small metal oven pan casserole thing (I think it was a tray from a former toaster oven…amazing what we save).  Drizzled olive oil liberally.  I added salt, pepper, chili powder, ground coriander, tiny touch of cumin, sprinkle of sumac, and lots of sweet paprika. Tossed it all to coat.  Stuck ’em in a hot oven for about — can’t say — maybe 20 minutes, stirring some in the middle.  Finished them off under the broiler for a couple minutes to make up more crisp.  Now that I think of it, in the future I’d try doing the reverse.  Broil first to crisp the outside (in the manner of browning), and then letting the insides bake slowly.

They were lovely, though.  Take a closer look.

Eaten with some mayonnaise and a glass of Scotch in front of my laptop, catching up on American reruns.  Happy V-Day indeed.

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Our own personal Proustian Madeleines.  In this case, an Italian sandwich.

If we’re attuned to it, I think we all have these moments daily. A smell we notice while walking down the street, a new food at a cafe, someone’s perfume, laundry, kitchen. And BOOM — you’re instantly transported into a memory.  Sometimes the memory is unclear for me — I can’t pinpoint it, but I can usually assign a time period or location.  Late high school.  Sometime at summer camp.  Ireland.

And sometimes, you know exactly where and when that trigger takes you. That happened to me at lunch yesterday.  I was trying to get some work done at the Loveat on Yehuda HaLevi (after having an awesome haircut at Tomer Reshef, I have to mention — best place in Tel Aviv for curly hair — bar none).  Lunch isn’t cheap at Loveat, but it’s vaguely organic there (perhaps just the coffee), and with the larger sandwiches, you get your choice of side dish — I had a cup of split pea soup — a real treat compared to what you get at most cafes.

Loveat - I really like the atmosphere at this branch

My chicken panini (or gabetta, as they call them here — I’m pretty sure they mean ciabatta; panini would be far more appropriate as that refers to a sandwich often made of a ciabatta; whatever, it’s Israel) was incredible.  When I took the first bite, I was transported back to the 2rd floor coffee shop of the Reynolds Club at the University of Chicago.  This cafe functioned on take out — basically, all the restaurants in the neighborhood brought their best takeaways — pad thai, pad seeyu, curry and rice, samosas, and tons and tons of sandwiches.  I was a vegetarian at the time, and I often got the roasted vegetable sandwich from Pizza Capri (it’s still on the menu!).  It was heaven: roasted red peppers, eggplant, perhaps zucchini, perhaps a slice of cheese, and tons and tons of garlic.  I can assert to the fact that it had peppers, eggplant, and garlic — the rest is a little hazy.

Although my Loveat gabetta had chicken, the rest of it was very much like my sandwich of yore.  The roasted red pepper I think was what took me back.  And why is this significant?  I almost lived in that building.  The theatre was on the 3rd floor, and I think I had 80% of my meals from that coffee shop.  I may have eaten more than 200 of those sandwiches over the course of 4 years.  When I had my internship at Steppenwolf Theatre, there was even a Pizza Capri across the street — and I ate it once or twice a week that whole summer.  The flavor and texture of that sandwich represents the blood, sweat, tears, and every ounce of passion I put into my undergraduate education.  It represents the grimy yet super-comfy theatre lounge I hung out at every day, where I ate half my meals, where I caught up and prepped before classes, where I piled onto ancient sofas with friends and collaboratively did the New York Times crossword, where I held weekly production meetings, where I memorized lines, where I read play after play after play, where I played snood and mac-brickout and checked my telnet email account on ancient computers, where I developed and fine-tuned proposals, where I planned my future and dreamed.

Reynolds Club 2nd floor coffee shop - much as I remember it

It’s almost ten years behind me now.  Seems like yesterday, and I can’t believe how far I’ve drifted from what that girl thought she’d be.  And that sandwich.  Do we go back and try to jump start what we used to love or thought we loved?  Is it pointless to try?  Is it too late?  I didn’t know it then, but it was the happiest time of my life.  Sure, I was miserable a lot.  But I was also challenged and busy and growing and trying and achieving and failing and was surrounded by some of the most interesting people I have yet known.  That sandwich yesterday highlighted my relatively isolated and somewhat stagnant state.

It’s time I announced my intentions: I want to go back into academia.  It will be very different this time.  Nostalgia will probably play a distracting and not-too-positive role in this.  But I’m doing it.  It will take time.  Part-time completion courses.  Maybe a second masters degree in order to get where I would like to be — an excellent doctoral program.  Not in theatre.  A social science/philosophy type course.  Life is horrible, complex, beautiful.  I study it anyway.  I want to be with people I can speak with, research with, and who have passion for these abstract and seemingly ridiculous and impractical notions.  Perhaps I’m sounding arrogant and idealistic here.  Probably.

Powerful sandwich, that. Wouldn’t you say?

A fantastic blog article – a picture-laden tour of the University of Chicago — with a particular focus on all its bizarre coffee shops (my fave was not focused on, however — although I am proud to say I frequented ALL of the ones featured).

Imaginative & refreshing cinnamon lemonade at Loveat

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