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Posts Tagged ‘photographs’

The European oyster - the native Oyster of France - "Huître plate" or "Gravette"

I could not resist.  Many know that for the past year or so I’ve been a de facto vegetarian.  I do believe it’s OK to eat meat – I simply do not want to consume the hormones and antibiotics that swim in our meat pool.  I’m for healthy happy animals.  Regarding seafood, I’ve been on the fence.  Overfishing is a big issue, and lots of species (other than the ones being targeted) are being annihilated in the process.  As I’ve not quite made up my mind, I have simply abstained from eating all animals this year.  Until Friday.

One each of five different kinds of oysters flown in directly from France

A guy in my yoga class, someone I’ve seen once or twice a week for over a year but have never actually spoken to, mentioned to our teacher after class that there was an event at his restaurant the next day.  Turns out he’s a chef at one of my favorite wine-tapas-y-bars in town, Basta, and they were flying in crates of oysters direct from France.  Free-for-all true-blue French oysters, best in the world, from 8 am until they run out.  I knew I would be there.

So after an excruciatingly long wine tasting (hot, little business, new high heeled boots), I walked about 20 minutes until I reached the Carmel Market area, a strange yet fitting location for this bistro.  Friday is my favorite day in the shuk – I can get the best deals – everyone wants to get rid of their produce before the Sabbath starts – and I know where the best vendors are.  10 minutes later, laden with all the fruit and veg I’ll need for a month – and I’m at Basta – looking at this:

Basta's oyster spread

France and oysters go way, way back.  From Roman times when France was known for the best oysters, all the way to modernity when France became the first country in the world to start cultivating oysters on a large commercial scale – the French take their oysters and oyster culture seriously.  This fantastic website I discovered, devoted entirely to oysters, quotes the poet Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947): “I love oysters. It’s like kissing the sea on the lips.” So here I was, thrilled beyond belief to be sitting at this charming Tel Aviv bistro – meters from the raging-pre-Shabbat shuk, (the vendors now screaming and lowering their prices every few minutes), about to consume these gorgeous, rare gems – about to plant a slobbering wet kiss on the lips of the sea.

I think they're just as beautiful on the outside

To tell you the truth, that expression is bang-on.  I’ve always told my curious kosher-keeping friends that eating oysters is like eating a mouthful of the sea.  But kissing the sea – on the lips – oh my – that injects the sexy passion into the act of eating oysters.  It feels so natural,  feeling the cold, creamy, briny loveliness slide into your mouth.  It’s like French-kissing your food.  A food that is the embodiment of French-kissing.  But cold.  Ice cold.  Weird, I know.

And so, my friends, the time has come, to talk of cultural oyster references.  The first that comes to mind is, of course, Lewis Carroll’s poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” from Alice Through the Looking-Glass.  The most famous stanza:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

However, my most favorite oyster scene is from Tampopo.  Please excuse the inane “commentary” from the person who posted the video onto YouTube.  Just watch the movie.

Ahh! So damned good.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?' But answer came there none-- And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one.

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Morrocan chicken stew

My Morrocan chicken stew - so tender - served over couscous

Cumin, chick peas, chicken & lamb. Eggplant, coriander, courgettes & couscous.

"Casserole" in HebrewThe second of the Anglo Food Blogger’s dinner I’ve attended was held last night at Casserole (3 Lillenblum, Neve Tsedek), a trendy yet down-to-earth kosher restaurant specializing in real Middle Eastern cuisine, specifically stews and kubbehs (meat-filled semolina dumplings either boiled or fried) from Iraq, Tunisia, and Morocco. The restaurant also seems quite proud of its Arak collection.  An alcoholic anise beverage (similar to Ouzo and Pernod) served on ice, often with sprigs of mint,  it is a regional specialty and favorite.  It’s an acquired taste, and many Westerners (like us) don’t take too kindly too it.  Besides a selection of some 12 different kinds, the restaurant sports a wide variety of homemade flavored Arak.  Rare, indeed.

Dinner was organized by Miriam and Michelle, and we were joined by Sarah, Liz, and Yael, all wonderful, knowledgeable cooks and food bloggers.  I encourage you to visit their blogs – altogether they’re great way to get a real taste of Israel.

Iraqi beef stew

Iraqi beef stew

Our dinner was lovely. Rather home-cooked, yes, but very satisfying, and very very affordable.  The chicken in my Moroccan stew was as tender as you could possibly want, falling off the bone at the mere suggestion of cutlery.  I tasted the others’ kubbeh and various other stews, each as delicious as the next.  I was particularly taken by a couple of the mezes – a stewed zucchini with a generous amount of garlic cooked in it and a spicy cold eggplant dish I ate until I wiped up the bottom of the dish. Half loaves of thick white bread were served with a small bowl of pickled cabbage and carrots, as well as a small bowl of savory curried pumpkin.

Curried pumpkin spread, (juice of) beet salad, spicy eggplant & pickled veg

The conversation’s wide range spanned from translation of the names of the unique ingredients in some of the lesser-known dishes we were eating, to the particularly embarrassing state of Israeli politics and international relations at the moment, to Studio 54 (one of us had been!), Andy Warhol’s diaries, and back to Israeli wineries and the tour we’ll potentially be taking together to one when the Passover season is over. And of course, much more.

Huge kubbeh! - stuffed with lamb & cooked in broth

With only three (or four – I almost never look at salads) categories, all mains are 30 shekels, all first courses around and mezes (smaller “tastes”) between 10-20 shekels or so.  With the six of us sharing a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for 90, we each paid 50 shekels apiece.  I’m saying wow. A real deal for dinner or any meal. Especially for Neve Tsedek – yuppie-ville if ever there was one.  I’m going to have to come to Casserole again.

A super-fun evening.  I really enjoy the company of this diverse, smart group of ladies.  Seriously, folks, check out their beautiful blogs.

Casserole's interior, image from their website

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Conjoined Quadruplet Strawberry - a surprise indeed! Found in a box I picked up for 5 shekels on the street corner. Made for an interesting dessert.

Balsamic Strawberry Dessert - this is what the mutant (and its siblings) went into - best strawberry dessert, ever! Just add balsamic vinegar and sugar! Stir! Let sit! And we ate it with fresh whipped cream. I've done it with vanilla ice cream (the best), and I've done it with moscato sabayon - very decadent.

Tomato Anise Jam at Cafe Arlozorov - what a joy! Very weird, most people, and indeed the friend I was with, don't really like stuff like this. I mean, gosh, tomato jam? And then, tomato jam with anise?! But it was wonderful. Really wonderful. Hence the image below...

My attempt at tomato anise (cinnamon) jam - tonight actually! Just came off the stove! Decent result. Cooked down a lot. I have maybe 3 breakfasts' worth of jam for my toast. Was it worth it? Yes! Great idea for jammy gifts. Although, maybe not. Who would appreciate such a thing? All the more for me...

Cucumber, Mint, and Spring Onion Salad

Cucumber, Mint, and Spring Onion Salad (organic veg box strikes again!). This was fantastic. Added some sunflower spouts later, raw tahini, tiny drizzle of sesame oil, and lemon juice. That's it.

Chopsticks, soy sauce, meat magazine, and Tel Aviv at my local takeout sushi. Just a nice view. It was raining cats and dogs. I took refuge and decided to get lunch.

Fab family dinner with tender beef stew and homemade mac & cheese. Goodbye dinner for our good friends Caitlin and Drew. It was a great evening. The food (pat on the back -- mostly for my sister) was awesome. Stew, mac & cheese, broccoli, garlicky zucchini, and store-bought white chocolate cheesecake. Great bottle of Galil Mountain wine, their 2006 Avivim - aged Chardonnay/Viognier blend. Will miss the two of them a great deal as they start their life again in Philly.



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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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Tel Aviv Beauties

I took a very, very long stroll on Friday afternoon after my lovely croque-y brunch.  How long?  I walked from the very north to the very south of Tel Aviv.  Here are some snapshots. This city is so pretty.  In the right light.

The Mediterranean from the Namal - the port of Tel Aviv - north of the city

Fisherman at the Namal - great mix of swank cafes, clubs, and everyday life

Orange "tus tus" (motor scooter) in Neve Tzedek

Oh-so-fragrant blooming jasmine in Florentine

Mustard Bug in Florentine

Tel Aviv's awesome graffiti - some of the best I've ever seen

Cafe on Washington Boulevard in Florentine

Colorful gate of what looks like a former synagogue on Shlush Street in Neve Tzedek

In Florentine - what I think is an ancient taxi - but doesn't it look like a hearse?

Derekh Yafo/Eilat - ancient electric tower - always wondered what it was all about

Last of all - a rather distorted photo of me - I suppose, a self-portrait. This is on Derekh Eilat, near border of Tel Aviv and Yafo - frame and miror shops line the street for blocks

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is a joy forever.

Dried flowers on a blue plate at my artist friend Diana's studio in Haifa.

passed this window on Dizengoff yesterday afternoon...two beautiful women, or what?

my sister's gorgeously demolished birthday cake resting on a sticky table beside a bottle of Finlandia and cans of Red Bull in a posh night club.

finally got a halfway decent martini in tel aviv - trick is, you really have to say - "very very dry, very very cold, gin martini with two olives in a martini glass, please."

one of my favorite images. it almost seems a dream i was ever there, communing with baby cows on a goan beach. but i was. and it was really that beautiful.

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Really nice shoes. I did.

I haven’t been blogging for a while, and the longer I don’t, the harder it is to go back.  And I’ve had so many ideas, and such an interesting couple of weeks.  Seriously, it kills me, and I don’t know where to start writing.

But the situation itself (the not writing) is reflective of the current state of my life.  Not that I’ve not been busy (went to a tweet-up, went out on a date, and worked the incredible IsraWinExpo).  But the internal drive and state aren’t so healthy.  I’m feeling pretty apathetic, a bit behind on work, my laundry situation is dire, the dishes and leftover food situation were physically nauseating, and my linens were seriously, seriously needing a wash.

So, in short, last night I had an “insightful” evening — had a moment of clarity and took a honest look at my life. I’ll spare you the details for the moment. But this morning, this Saturday morning, I got out of bed, and I immediately put on trousers, a bra and shirt, and finally shoes.  Shoes.

Whether barefoot, in socks, in slippers, or even in Uggs, I find I’m not really awake and rearing to go in a serious, “I am going to work, make money, do my chores, call my friends, and generally be productive and feel good,” without shoes.  Fully dressed, yet still in slippers, I might as well have stayed in pajamas. Although it be possible to get work done in this condition, I do it as grudgingly, as a schlub.  Nobody likes to feel like a schlub.

Today, I did the dishes, all of the dishes.  Emptied and scrubbed the “kolboinik,” (it’s a sink-trash – no disposals in Israel), and bleached the hell out of the sink and surrounding areas.  It took more than 2 hours.  I planned on stopping.  I wanted to go to a favorite cafe and work and write and be  a Tel Aviv “participant.” But as soon as I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, I had the urge to scrub a bit more.

So, when in doubt, when feeling a bit of despair, hopelessness, or if you’ve hit an itching dry procrastinating spell – put on your shoes.  Some powerful shoes.

I’m in boots, thick high-heeled black leather boots.  Imagine standing in those for two hours in front of a nasty dripping sink.  Got through it though, didn’t I?

Here are some photos from the past weeks that I’d like to share.  I’ll get to describing some of the fantastic events I’ve been to shortly.  I promise.  Enjoy!

My Clean Dishes!

Ahmadinijad in drag - lovely figure don't you think?

Edible Elmo & Cookie Monster - cupcakes are chic in Tel Aviv

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