Enjoying a wonderful lunch at Rendezvous in Neve Tzedek

14908271_342685522755922_3975950980092277778_n

Rendezvous

The trend of kosher restaurants opening up in Tel Aviv is a marvelous thing. 10 years ago you were maybe able to find a kosher falafel stand or a very fancy gourmet restaurant. That isn’t the case today. Everywhere you turn, you can find somewhere kosher to eat, milk or meat.

captureThe trend has now hit the art-deco neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, in the city center, by the Shalom tower. The restaurant I visited (I was a guest) is called Rendezvous (Kosher Rabbanut Tel Aviv), an Italian restaurant, run by French chefs. The restaurant took over for the Italian House restaurant that has been there for a very long time and was not kosher.

img_20161222_134014When walking into the restaurant, you feel like you are taken back to your grandparents house; beige wallpapers, big mirror with big frames, old-fashioned couches a very comfortable environment. The wait staff was super nice and polite, and made me feel even more comfortable.

Onto the food. Since I was a guest(I wasn’t alone, I was with 3 other guests), I asked the host to bring out some really unique dishes that I won’t find in every dairy\Italian restaurant. For the appetizers, the chef sent out an endive salad, with a crostini with melted Camembert cheese, An eggplant cream dish topped with a tomato salsa and cornishons, and for something hot,  mushrooms sautéed in a cream sauce on a piece of toasted brioche. Let’s go one by one. The mushrooms blew me away! The cream sauce had a hint of truffle
img_20161222_141212oil in it and it just blew my mind and the brioche was perfect for mopping up the sauce. The eggplant cream dish was a nice dip, smoky and salty, the way a dish should be. The salad was very refreshing and very french with blue cheese hidden in the endive leaves, although the salad was nice, the crostini with the img_20161222_141332melted Camembert was my favorite part of the salad. Who doesn’t love  grilled cheese?

Then I brought a dish that was on the specials menu, a salmon sashimi with a side salad. It was a very delicate dish, very light and very good.

Then for the main course, the chef sent out, a truffle and img_20161222_141429porcini mushroom parpadelle, pizza tortofu, a red drum fish with mashed potatoes and a tomato salsa and one last dish of salmon fillet also served on a bed of mashed potatoes.

I’ll start with the pizza since it was very interesting. I wouldn’t have called it a pizza, it was more like a quesadilla because the dough was super thin and soft. The toppings were interesting too; asparagus, arugula, truffle oil, béchamel, Parmesan, and a runny egg. It wasn’t my favorite and could have used more cheese. Then I tried the parpadelle which was sadly missing seasoning and a img_20161222_141556-1mushroom flavor. The handmade pasta was very nice and al dente but the flavors in the sauce weren’t there. The fish dishes were on point. The red drum fish was cooked perfectly, flaky seasoned well and melted in my mouth. The same for the salmon, cooked to perfection, full of flavor, and a crispy skin for texture. The mashed potatoes were super creamy and full of flavor and weren’t runny at all.  We didn’t have dessert because we were already busting at the seams, but they looked delicious!

For a new restaurant, the food was very good, great service and a very nice ambiance. Rendezvous is a great addition to the beautiful Neve Tzedek neighborhood and to the kosher food world.

Advertisements

A unique Tasters Dinner at ANNA in the Ticho House

07f3771fead841d3aa2d71473cbca8b8

ANNA (kosher Rabbanut Yerushalaim)

15133711_10153940518051366_1270364039_o-1I was blessed with the opportunity to meet some amazing travel bloggers, through TBEX, that are hosting one of their conferences here in Israel during the month of  March. I was invited to 15065003_10153940517906366_1639560144_o-1mingle with the group that have come for the first time to Israel, and get to know some of these amazing bloggers. I myself am more of a food blogger, but I do write about travel, mainly in Israel15134123_10153940517626366_462812988_o (theculturetrip.com, TBEXcon.com) so I didn’t feel out-of-place.

After the meet-up at
the Abraham Hostel we walked over to ANNA the new Italian restaurant in the Ticho House. We 15102191_10153940517971366_1827888837_owere a group of 10 local and international bloggers, but the hostess wasn’t nervous at all.  I learned there, that what goes on in the kitchen is much more than cooking. The restaurant is home to kids from broken homes and by cooking they keep them out of trouble, and give them an amazing opportunity to learn from head chef Nimrod Norman. Chef Norman was a chef in the infamous Machne 15134124_10153940517976366_670917137_o-1Yehuda restaurant for many years and was the head chef at Yudaleh, which is the bar owned by Machne Yehuda. Before I sat down I was already excited.
Since we were a large group we were offered whatever the chef sent out, basically a taster menu. We started off with the house foccacia bread with a dip that had olive oil, balsamic 15102198_10153940517326366_991883872_ovinegar, garlic confit and chili peppers. Then they gave us bread sticks to also go with the dip. Both types of bread were super fresh and delicious. Then they brought out some starters. They brought out a massive chunk of fresh goat cheese in two sauces, they brought out a Caprese salad, a crudo dish and salmon carpaccio. The goat cheese was a great sharing dish and went well with the foccacia bread. The Caprese had 15133940_10153940517596366_1060472640_o3 types of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and a beautiful balsamic glaze that brought the whole dish together. The krudo was very interesting, but tasted great. The fish was cured nicely and the olive oil and tomato was a nice finishing touch. The salmon carpaccio was also a home run, had a purple hue meaning it was cured with beets and again with the olive oil, it was a perfect appetizer.  I almost forgot, they 15102311_10153940517271366_676597297_oalso served us a baked kohlrabi dish with fresh mozzarella and a tomato sauce which was a nice and healthy starter!

The on came the main courses. Two types of pizza a margarita and a pizza Bianca, an endive salad and their homemade gnocchi. I think they thought they were feeding 100 people because they piled on the mains. The pizza margarita was probably the best pizza I have 15045447_10153940517191366_550415649_o-1had in Israel. The thin crust, sauce to cheese ratio was perfect! The Bianca pizza was good, but not as good as the margarita.  I can’t say enough about the gnocchi. The Italians in the group said that the gnocchi in ANNA is better than in Italy, and it was amazing! The gnocchi were so light and fluffy, I could have sat there and just eaten 10 plates of the gnocchi! The endive salad was 15065000_10153940516811366_1138397234_o-1beautiful with the blue cheese and the vinaigrette, a perfect combo to make an amazing salad.  If we weren’t full by then, which we thought the meal was over, then came out a pot of sea bass on a bed of risotto(off the menu)! Are you kidding me?! It was some of the best fish I’ve had in a restaurant ever. The risotto was the same, super creamy with a crunch from asparagus and other 15146659_10153940516806366_129692302_ovegetables, I was ready to go into a food coma!!!

Then came dessert, we couldn’t believe it! They brought out 3 types of dessert and each one was just better than the other!  First was a classic Italian tiramisu. I’m not a coffee and rum guy, but it still tasted great, not too sweet and not overpowered by the coffee. Then was a sticky toffee pudding (Off the menu) covered in almonds and pistachio ice cream. If you have never had sticky toffee pudding before, it’s very impressive and very interesting. But the best out of all three was the chocolate cremeux. Layers of chocolate goodness topped with a dulce de leche cream, it was as I called it “death by chocolate” dessert. One of the best desserts I have ever tasted in a restaurant, period.

15064899_10153940516151366_2070117806_o

When we were barely finished the chef came out and got a standing ovation, because he really deserved it. He was also super nice and a mench too! The experience I had witnessed (and survived) at ANNA had been just amazing! I would even say it is one of the best kosher restaurants in Israel, hands down, definitely in my top five. I really enjoyed being a guest at ANNA and I will definitely go back and try new things off the menu!

 

 

 

A local Neighborhood favorite in Malcha: Cafe Avichail

405

Cafe Avichail

20161027_120956In almost every sitcom you will find the hero’s of the show sitting down somewhere in a local coffee shop or restaurant that the show focuses on. On this occasion, there is no sitcom, but a great neighborhood cafe (Kosher Rabbanute Mehadrin Jerusalem). Cafe Avichayil is located in the center of the Malcha neighborhood (not where the mall is, it’s located in the actual neighborhood) and it has caught the attention of other Jerusalemites and not only the local neighbors.

20161027_122428With that said, there is plenty of parking around the corner, and the place is pretty big. We happened to have noticed that they set up an area for families to eat, with a chalk wall and toys for the kids to play with, very original. We sat down and had a look at the menu, and I liked the way the menu was laid out, every dish had the right category and there was no BS. There were a couple of dishes that caught my eye, for example the Arancini on a roza sauce. I’m an arancini freak, so I ordered that for our appetizer to share. Then in the main courses section, there was an Italian section, salads and fish. What intrigued me was the radiator pasta, I didn’t even know a shape of pasta like 20161027_123341that existed, so we ordered that and then in the fish section we wanted to try the salmon burger, but they were sold out, so we went with the Asian haloumi salad.

The arancini came out piping hot with the steam still coming off the crispy outside, that was golden brown. To cool it off split one of my aranchini in half and the cheese started oozing out, a great sign for a perfectly cooked risotto ball. Once it cooled down and we tasted it,  it was just as delicious as it looked.

Moving on to the main course, the shape of the pasta was awesome. I forget to mention that all the pasta was handmade and it makes all the difference. The sauce needed a bit of salt otherwise it was cooked perfectly al dente and was a great dish. The salad came out hot with a lot going on in one bowl; sweet potatoes, lettuce, peanuts, sprouts, 20161027_123236cheese. A very busy salad, but once you took a bite, every component complimented the next.  It was a great salad that was just as it described, sweetish. We were so full we didn’t get dessert, but the pastries they offered, looked amazing.

All in all, it was a great experience, great food, great service and a great view. So If you are looking for somewhere quiet for a date or a nice dairy meal, make your way to the Malcha neighborhood and give Cafe Avichail a try.

A Middle priced gem in Jerusalem: Medita

thumbs_meditaA lot of people ask me all the time, where can I go out to eat and not have to spend a fortune? Where can I go and take a family of 5 without spending 300 shekels a person?20161026_193217

So this is what I tell everyone who asks; you have 2 options: 1. Go to any shupudia (an Israeli Steakhouse) where you can order 2 skewers with perfectly grilled meat,  fresh salads and fresh bread. The ambiance leans toward the fast food and not fine dining but you get what you pay for. By the way, I highly recommend many of these shipudias, whether it’s Grill Bar or Tzidkiyahu, because you get your value for the money. But when a family is looking for a place with a nice ambience, great 20161026_193320food and restaurant service, I recommend Medita.

Medita is the brainchild of chef Motti Ochana owner and operator of the gourmet restaurant Hechatzer(one of my favorite kosher restaurants in Israel) Chef Motti decided to open up a second location a bigger location, but with more affordable prices without compromising the quality and level that the chef brings. Nothing on the menu looks 20161026_193326cheap and is definitely not fast food. We went two couples so we ordered 2 starters and the house bread. One of the starters was a sabich salad, and the other was the pate mix with the cherry tomato jam on toast.

In a very non Israeli manner, all of the apps came out at the same time! We started with the bread and the dips, the bread was super fresh and crunchy, and had no clue what some of the dips were but they were a delight. The sabich salad was very nice with little pieces 20161026_195545of toast to accompany the boiled egg and eggplant tehini sauce mixture. There was some chili in there as well and that gave the dish a nice kick and a great way to finish it off! The pate was out of bounds, I’ve had it before in Hechatzer and it was just as good; smooth texture, sweet and savory with a perfect crunch from the toast.

For the main course I ordered a medium rare steak with a baked potato and my wife ordered the “hechatzer “short ribs. Again, all the dishes came out 20161026_195433the same time and definitely a highlight of the night. My steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare with the right amount of seasoning to make it complete. I didn’t really care for the baked potato because there was nothing special about it, no toppings or a dipping sauce to accompany it (it had a roasted cherry tomato on top, whoo hoo). The asado (short ribs) had a nice topping by adding pomegranate with scallions, it was a very very filling dish. Perfectly sweet, it’s a very heavy dish to eat alone, but it is so good!

A great location, great service, delicious food, all in all, Medita is a great middle range meat restaurant that fills out all the criteria of fine dining without making a hole in your pocket.

 

Visiting the Chinese Wall in Tel Aviv

0adcf5ea232140baaadd0935483d0b67

The Chinese Wall (Hachoma Hasinit)

20160110_133308Lots and lots of people on social media have asked me and many of the foodies in my group, where does one get authentic Chinese food? As a kosher food eater, the options are quite limited. When I was growing up in Jerusalem, there was an amazing Chinese restaurant called Yosi Peking(for those of you who remember), and they were as close to authentic kosher Chinese food could find in Israel. Sadly, they shut down (please come back one day!) and my life went on without knowing that there was a hidden gem in Tel Aviv that serves authentic Chinese food! Once I heard about it, I had to go!

20160110_135041Welcome Hasinit (Kosher Rabbanute Tel Aviv) opened up in 1996 and has been run by the same Chinese family that immigrated to Tel Aviv ever since. The restaurant is located on a side street in the heart of Tel Aviv not far from the Central bus station, the restaurant doesn’t have a sign outside. Although, you can tell it’s a Chinese restaurant from a mile away!

I went there with my good friend Andrew, who is a foodie at heart and we both had no idea what to expect. We were greeted very
20160110_133839politely by the owner who was super nice, and brought us a hot-pot of Chinese tea. I’m not a big fan of tea, or a hot drink on a hot day, but the owner told us it was good for us so we had some of the tea and it was quite delightful. Then we looked at the menu and I have been craving wonton soup ever since Yosi Pekin had shut down, and there it was, the first thing on the menu! I was already so excited, but then it got better, the owner said that the wontons’ and the egg noodles in the soup were hand-made! Now I was ecstatic!

20160110_135746With the soup we ordered the business menu that comes with 2 types of dumplings and a main course, but the soup is all we really wanted.

After a few minutes they served up two types of piping hot dumplings with a soy dipping sauce. One was a potsticker filled with chicken and fries the dough until it was crispy, and the other dim sum filled with chicken and was steamed. Both of them made by hand and not bought made all the difference. The crispy dim sum (potsticker) was crunchy and filled with chopped chicken, not mushed chicken. That’s where you 20160110_135343can tell the difference. The steamed dim sum melted in our mouths it was so good. The soy and chili dipping sauce was a nice addition but the dim sum had enough flavor it didn’t need it.

Then we were served the soup. Let me tell you, the soup is definitely worth the trip, it’s massive, full of fresh ingredients and steaming hot! The broth is made in-house from chicken bones  the wontons are full of fresh chicken and melt in your mouth. The homemade noodles have great texture and add a ton to the soup. Then to 20160110_140709top it off they put in glass noodle, fresh coriander, carrots and sprouts for a nice crunchy texture. The perfect bite for a wonton soup. It brought back great childhood memories, let me tell you.

At this point we were practically full, but we had already ordered the main course with business lunch. The main course of the business lunch was ok, but there wasn’t anything special about it. The sweet and sour chicken was nice, as the stir fried vegetables and the rice, but it felt like cafeteria food. Next time I go, I order only off the menu.

I felt that everything that they make in-house is really delicious and worth trying, unlike the disappointing business lunch. If you find yourself in Tel Aviv and looking for a great kosher authentic Chinese restaurant, there is only one place to go and that’s the Choma Hasinit.

 

 

My wife’s 3 Bean Salad

I know that this recipe is a classic and many of you may think it’s outdated, but when you put it out at a barbecue, it’s a perfect salad that gets gobbled up in the end.

four-bean-salad_30_1-1-1207_326x580Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of cut green beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of cut yellow beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3\4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1\2 cup of sugar
  • 1\4 cup of oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Recipe

Mix and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Eating Real Deal Italian at La Lasagna Tel Aviv

df1f1e3ea01c4accb69a05703b5bfaa3

I don’t make it out to Tel Aviv, often, so when I do find myself in the city, I try to hit up the best restaurants, whether meat or dairy. If it was to try the best shwarma at Turk Lachmajun, or an amazing burger at Magic burger, only places where the food is worth traveling to. So, when I hear that there is a restaurant that serves the best lasagna in Israel is in Tel Aviv, I make time and try it.

20160518_120135La Lasagna (Kosher Rabbanute Tel Aviv) has been around for a long time, and I feel that the explanation to that has been: evolution and consistency. If you ask anyone that has tried their homemade lasagna, if it has changed since the last time they tried it, they would tell you it hasn’t and has stayed spectacular since the day they have opened. They have stayed as authentic as can be, as true to a dairy Italian eatery can be. The evolution part is that they also have whole wheat options and a full gluten-free and vegan menu. Being able to offer a dish for everyone isn’t a given in an Italian eatery so hats off to the owners for evolving.

20160518_131158I invited my good friend Keren Brown for lunch at La Lasagna even though she’s super busy, and we ordered some lunch. For those of you who don’t know Keren, follow her on her foodie adventures around Tel Aviv, she’s awesome! Back to the ordering I got there early and was hungry, so I ordered the bruschetta and for the main we ordered two types of lasagna, the classic and the ricotta and spinach. The menu offers so much more like pizza’s, pastas, salads and so much more, but I was there for the lasagna.

One of the most beautiful things about small family restaurants is that they stay legit like I mentioned earlier and boy every dish was authentic and delicious. The bruschetta came with slices of fresh whole wheat bread with lots of chopped tomatoes, fresh basil and mountains of fresh 20160518_131205mozzarella cheese. An enormous appetizer for one person, but it was so good, the freshness of the ingredients is what makes all the difference. Then came the two lasagna dishes, piping hot and just looked amazing. While we were waiting for the dishes to cool down I couldn’t stop drooling (For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a lasagna freak, like Garfield!). Anyway, once the dishes cooled down and snapped some great photos (as you will see) we dug in, and boy it was good. The fresh pasta sheets that they make for the dish are perfectly sized not to thin or thick, the sauce was seasoned perfectly and the amounts of cheese wouldn’t embarrass any Italian eatery. The portions were perfect, and getting two different dishes was a great choice. One had the perfect spinach to ricotta ratio and the other had the perfect cheese to sauce ratio. A simple dish made perfectly, that’s how I would describe both lasagna dishes.

I must admit, almost every dairy coffee shop\restaurant serves a lasagna dish, but at La Lasagna they make it special and definitely worth the trip to Tel Aviv.