Beer and Beef where can you go wrong?

logo

Video TLV wisely convened at the Dancing Camel last night. They understand that people are always more lively and interested when there is good alcohol about. I was excited to get out in the middle of the week to a nice evening of video trends and good brews, but the food pretty much blew me away.

Nestled in the heart of Tel Aviv in an old grain storage facility built in the 1930’s, the Dancing Camel is Israel’s first Micro brewery. Having met and the owner on numerous occasions, David Cohen, he consistently puts out superior products because he loves what he does. So when he started the new menu I was intrigued.  Between me and my husband we ordered a foot long and the Ibn Givrol sandwich (corn beef on gibbeta). When the food arrived, I had realized we order too much, the sandwiches were huge (we trying to diet although this was not our night for lower calorie consumption).

The hot dog was big and meaty, but I must admit  the corn beef over shadowed the hotdog and  was just a dream. First the bread was fresh and lightly toasted, you wouldn’t believe how many restaurants forget the bread is there not only as a place holder. The meat was lightly toasted making it melt in your mouth soft and there was a tantalizing smoky flavor permeating the meat.

After we had dived in to the food, the cook came up and asked us how we liked it. We of course gushed to him how great the food was. And his reply with a big smile on his face was “of course it is I made it myself.”  There was such pride in his statement, he knew he had put out good food and was happy that we were enjoying his work. I believe this kind of attitude stems from the David, who makes all of his products with a passion for greatness.  I had a wonderful night punctuated with great beer, food and atmosphere.

 

A True Pizza surprise: Yaale Bakery

IMG_3526

Now when you google “Good Pizza Beit Shemesh”, you don’t get very many results, in fact you get none. But there is indeed a little gem of a pizza place in the heart of Ramat Beit Shemesh. Knowing I was going to be in the area for lunch, I sent out a message to my friends on facebook asking for advice. Yonah, a friend who has lived in RBS, reminded me about Yaale Bakery pizza. Now Yaale is a chain across the country that in my opinion make subpar bakery food, and in my area bad pizza. But I know that it has been good in the past, I wondered what it would be like compared to the other pizza I will taste over the next month.

And I was pleasantly surprised, the pizza on Israeli standards was not bad in fact I would go so far as to say pretty good. The dough was fluffy yet had that elastic that made it real pizza dough. The sauce was bold but not over powering, and the cheese although the typical yellow variety was plentiful. More importantly the pizza was well cooked; the bottom was brown and crispy, while the cheese was not hard.

The secret here is the pizza maker, a tall bald Israeli, who makes the pizza in front of your face. Amply and eavenly speading the sauce and cheese. He really looks like he is actually taking his time and making an effort to make a good pizza. In this case his pizza really is better than “Government Work”.

If any Italian was to eat this pizza, the might spit it out. But for Israeli pizza it is very good, especially in RBS a desert of good food.

If you agree or  disagree or wanna talk about food in Israel comment below.

So close to Italy Yet so Far…

Israel+127

After sojourning the American land of the beef and berries, coming back to Israel felt just great. Especially to have my givena levana, there is no real substitute. However, something started to feel lacking.

I have gotten over the fact Israel is not known for its beef, and cold weather vegetables and fruits are not going to be the same, but why in Israel is a good piece of pizza so hard to find. Israel is in the Mediterranean area, we have great tomatoes, olives, oil, and even better bread.

So why is the pizza so elusive? I was at the mall Saturday night, which in my opinion is pizza night, and I looked at my options: Sbaros and Home pizza. Sbaros looked like one huge piece of dough so I went with home pizza, which was not much better. I had them heat the pizza three times as long as normal so the crust would actually be a little crispy, the cheese was like plastic and sauce so tasteless as to be nonexistent. I feel that Israelis love lots of flavor and texture and pizza for the most part here lacks both. Why?

Therefore, for the next couple of post I’ll be trying out the best or possibly the worst pizza places in Israel.

Any suggestions just posts them below.

And the final word on Home pizza, stick with the falafel next door.

The Deli: an Essential Jewish Delight

Sandwich

If you are an Ashkenazi Jew, especially those who have lived in America. Then the above picture is a tantalizing treat that in Israel is usually just a tease.  But maybe that is changing.

At least in Jerusalem, there some options although nothing like the non-kosher but kosher style delis of America.

New Deli:

A cross between fast food and deli, which is a kind of antithetical by nature. Deli food is in essence non fast foods its food that takes a long time to prepare. For example, corn beef made right can take up to days, and pickles well then you are talking at least a week. Although their meat is tasty, it’s not the same flavor as old style deli meats. But they do make the best restaurant hotdog in Israel with an actual bun. Plus they recently changed their fries from whole fried potatoes slices to skinny and crunchy, which are my favorite. All around better alternative to the standard burger, but not quite the deli flavor

Hess

Nestled in the Russian compound is Hess the self proclaimed “Sausage King of Switzerland”. This is a full on European style eatery complete with homemade everything, from sausages to pickles. Since the American deli has its roots in the European foods, they pass pretty well for one another. The food at Hess is delicious and the service is friendly and helpful, usually the owner and his huge saint Bernard are hanging by the entrance. But be prepared to bring your wallet, Hess is great but very pricey so it’s a special occasion spot.

Chofetz Chaim

Although Chofetz Chaim is not a restaurant, I could not write a post on deli and not speak about them. Hailing from Chicago, Chofetz Chaim is a family run butcher shop on Agripas street that makes their all deli meat from scratch and in house. Plus excellent pickles, coleslaw and chopped liver. An excellent place to get great deli for Shabbos and just for home use.  Beware though they are well known by the Anglo community so prices are high, but it’s the most authentic American style deli you can get in the country.

I don’ t know if Israel will ever get an authentic American deli, but I’m off to American so ill wallow in Corn beef for at least a couple of weeks.

If  you would like to find out more about Israeli Resturants subscribe to the RSS and hear about the best and worst of Isralei cuisine

Thanks

Dena

Jerusalem Beer Fest 2009: Festival “HaBira”

alllogos

If the wine festival is a cultured and sophisticated gathering of individuals, then the beer fest is glass full of debauchery cleverly misnamed. Despite being sick with strep throat, I managed to get out and join the crowds in the Holy city to have a great time. The music was great, the food was awesome, and although I didn’t get to drink (drinking and antibiotics dont go so well together) I did get to have doughnuts !!!!

The Venue

Located in the convenient and grassy (much better than the train station) Independence park, the festival was not too over crowded and well laid out, if it were a concert. The beer fest always seems less like a beer fest and more like one big concert with beer. Mostly because they dont have a set price for “all you can drink” beer just the regular prices that you can get at a bar so there doesnt seem to be any point. There were two sections

1. the main section where the band was playing and surrounded by beer stalls. The stall were woefully inadequate to supply the people with beer, and my husband was upset because they refused to sell him the tasters.

2. the food and craft section which was away from the speakers so you could actually hear yourself, but close enough that you could still hear the music. Score one for the Beer Fest

The Food

All the foodies are constantly talking about simple, and fresh food.  Well it seems that El gaucho really has been watching Gordon Ramsey, because they took their great restaurant to the street in a simple yet refreshing way. The menu was simple and all grilled in front the waiting patrons. The choices consisted of chicken, beef, burgers or chorizos. All served in a big fluffy white roll with chimi churry. Thats It. Seriously thats it. No complicated ordering or cooking and everything was super fresh, from the well grilled and tasty burgers to the soft bread and tangy sauce. Unlike the competition at the fest who all had deep fried food, El Gaucho really stood out by just being themselves, grilled meat on fire. and I appreciated that. 

Last but not least was desert, when was the last time anyone had real doughnuts in Israel. Well for me it has been a long time. And they were fresh, tasty, and not overly sweet. The doughnuts were made right in front of us with this clever contraption similar to the krispie kreme. Thank you Mister doughnut for a great doughnut.

The Music

I don’t think I need to say more than Pishutey HaAm rocked Jerusalem.

Here are some links of the show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DBt9I_gMyY&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6MhH90YsiM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvYMEOfCyUY

Finally the Beer:

I love the play on words with festival Habira: beer and the capitol, but the promoters may just want to rethink the whole beer aspect. The festival did feature over 30 beer labels  from all over the best of the beer world, there was definitely a lacking in smaller breweries, and speciality beers. In other words there wasn’t a single beer I could not have found in a bar within a 3 mile radius of the festival. Plus when we got there since the stall were so mobbed they would sell tasters, you just had to buy a whole ½ liter. How many ½ or ever 1/3 can anyone drink at a given time, which automatically means that the number of beers one will try will be low. Further one of the reasons people go the beer fest is to try different beers and to lay out for a whole ½ or 1/3 on a new beer does’t sound like a good idea. So we were very unadventurous and just went with Dancing camel which always puts out exceptional beers and we supported our local Israeli counterparts, not that I mind giving money to Guinness but I believe in supporting the  locals.

To sum up The beer fest had all the makings of a great party: Rockin music, tasty food and plentiful alcohol, I am just not so sure how “beery” the beer festival is…

Cafe Cafe on the run

cafe cafe 2(1)

I found myself between meeting and in Ramat Gan with little to no time to eat what should I do? well good thing Cafe cafe was there to save the day. They have a huge balcony seating area, which I didnt have a chance to enjoy since I had called ahead to make an order knowing I would not have time to eat there. I ordered the tunisian sandwitch and the house salad. The sandwitch was good and on great bread, but the salad was a wreck. Way over dressed and they claimed it had sweet potatoes but i could find any.

I really wish they had told me over the phone that they had sushi which would have been great on a hot day, so I guess ill have to go back and try it agian before a give a fianl reccommendation. One thing in their favor already  is that they are located everywhere and often have mehadrin kasrut standards.

Joy Bar and Grill: Needs a little tune up

joyjoy 2

The restaurant as you can see from the photos is simple beautiful and true to what was promised they had great drinks, my beer was exceptionally good.  But things started going downhill once we ordered our first courses. I ordered the tuna tartare, and well I didn’t get a tuna tartare, which is supposed to be diced with chilies and seasoning. I get slices of fishy tasting tuna with a salad with chilies cut so large I thought they were bell peppers and got quite a surprise. Our companions ordered the liver pate, which was decent although a little congealed, and chicken wings which were cooked well but just drenched in chili sauce which obliviously came from a bottle.

The waitress that served us was very nice and helpful but when I asked what my main course was served with she assured me it was a bakes potatoes, well I got mashed potatoes. My husband’s salad was so over cooked he sent it back not even wanting a second try. Good thing my chicken portion was so large that we both ate and were completely satisfied even with the reappearance of the bottled chili sauce that was on chicken wings which they called “scheuan”. Maybe the chef should take a trip to china to find out what scheuan sauce really it.  However, the chicken cordon blue, which being chicken breast I would never have ordered was delightful and well cooked. Full of fresh herbs and juicy smoky meat, the best dish of the night, and  almost made up for the disgusting liver dish that was served next to it. My only problem with the dish was yet another appearance of the chili sauce, which was so unnecessary.

Finally in repentance for my husband’s botched salad, the staff gave us a free dessert, not the ones we ordered but something on top that we didn’t ask for and in the end didn’t eat.

I feel really bad reviewing this restaurant in such a bad light since it really seems that they are trying. They have the decor and the menu items in place and the wait staff was very nice and polite albeit not necessarily well trained (none of our dished arrived at the same time). I think the Chef needs to sit down and go over the execution of the menu items and make sure they are absolutely right before serving them. And lay off the chili sauce.

I have great hope of Joy getting better so maybe in another year I’ll try it again. ..