Tag Archives: jerusalem

The Anna Ticho House

thank you to Jonathan Caras for the wonderful blog post and the great pictures, and thank you to Sarah for being so pretty.

Anna Ticho House

by Jonathan Caras

Since the birth of our daughter 10 months ago, my wife and I have made the extra effort to find time to spend a night out on the town whenever possible. The partially lit corner of a cute restaurant is about the best choice to get away from the heck-tick run around of our day to day lives.

My wife and I have always been fans of the Ticho House. We have recommended this restaurant to friends on a number of occasions, frequenting the restaurant with our friends and relatives for lunch or dinner. Since the last time we visited this restaurant, the Ticho House upped it Kosher status from Rabbinute (regular) to Mehadrin (vente). This was very exciting for us because we as a family also started eating only at Mehadrin Restaurants.

When we arrived at the restaurant, with no reservation, we were surprised how packed the place was for a Monday night. A waiter promptly sat us at a table for two and left us to rummage through the menu.

I am a sucker for fettuccine Alfredo, it gets me every time. I cant remember the last time I went to an Italian restaurant and didn’t order the dish. Sure enough after looking the menu up and down we decided to order two appetizers and a plate of Fettuccine Alfredo.

The appetizers came lightning fast, the first being a dish of wild mushrooms. If you are a mushroom fan this dish alone is worth visiting the Ticho house. Lightly sautéed wild mushrooms come seated on a giant crunchy fried dome shaped object, not unlike the potato chip “Munchos.” The mushrooms amazingly all had their own unique flavor while at the same time blending excellently in with the sauce. The dome shaped object was fun to break apart and use to scoop up the last remaining mushrooms on the dish.

The second appetizer did not measure up as well against  the amazing quality of the mushroom dish. We ordered a plate of stuffed artichokes, a dish I can remember my mother making in my home growing up. It may have been a case of unrealistic expectations but the hearts tasted dry and the stuffing lacked any kick that would make me say “wow, you have to try this!” We both agreed the dish needed some kind of sauce and a little pick me up in the presentation department. I cant say I didn’t enjoy the dish, but by the time I had salted it enough to taste some real flavor, I was in fact simply tasting salt.

The service at this point continued to surprise us. Despite how crowded the restaurant was, our waitress (can we still call them that, or is there some new PC term I don’t know about?) stopped by our table to check in on us just about every time she passed by the table.

At this point my heart broke. The pasta was brought out and a simple glance told us they had skimped out on the cheese. The noodles were cooked to perfection, but that was about all there was in the bowl. I felt like I had been served fettuccine noodles in warm milk. The most disappointing part of the story is that i am no stranger to the Ticho house’s Alfredo dishes. In the past it had always been creamy with that extra sauce left over for the much enjoyed bread dipping. We finished our meal talking nostalgically about how this pasta dish used to be served at this respectable establishment.

We still had some room left to fill after the disappointing pasta, so we asked for the desert menu. Glancing around the restaurant we spotted a few cakes and other deserts that looked to die for. My wife was in the mood for chocolate on chocolate so we ordered a volcano, and a decaf mocha-chino. This is a dish just about every restaurant has on its menu, and rightly so. Its hard to mess up chocolate cake with a hot chocolate sauce within, and the Ticho house did an excellent job. Desert was served quickly and hot, and there was no shortage of whipped cream on the coffee.

All in all it was a mixed experience at the Ticho House. We are defiantly looking forward to visiting again but next time we may end up sticking with the fish dish.

the Anna Ticho house is a museum located in one of the first houses in Jerusalem built outside the old city  at the end of the nineteenth century. The museum portrays life in Jerusalem in the beginning of the 20th Century. The Ticho house is located  in the center of town where the famous artist living and worked. To learn more about this beautiful and charming restaurant / museum visit

http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/htmls/Ticho_House3.aspx?c0=13392&bsp=12940

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So close to Italy Yet so Far…

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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

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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”

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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…

Joy Bar and Grill: Needs a little tune up

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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. ..

Jerusalem Wine Festival 2009

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As you can see the Jerusalem Wine festival was a total hit, and this picture curtsey of Jerusalem.com did not even show the huge crowds that came to the Israel Museum on Tuesday. Working with the wonderful and talented Holding the Sun productions, I got a press pass and go the festival two nights instead of the usual one. Well to sum up the 2009 festival there were good points and well not so good points.

First way too many people showed up, I cant blame them its a wonderful event. But the booths were clearly not capable of handling all of the drinkers much less to actually talk and describe the wines. I think the wineries also expected a good showing and only brought the lower level of wines, I dont think I tried very many  new other than the new Tabor sparkling wines which tasted horrible. However, I was pleasently suprised by the Golan, pino noir which they chilled and was light a refreshing. Other notables was the Yatir , Sauvignon blanc with an amazing fruity fragrance. Kinda felt like ambrosia. To me the wine festival is a way to taste wine that would not normally buy and the crowds did little to further that end. Yet the music was great, the view spectacular and the wine as always are good even if i have had them before .

The last bothersome point for me was that there was only one food option was Tnuva cheese, something I could have bought at my supermarket. Now cheese is a great accompaniment to wine, but I would have liked to have seen more variety. Three years ago they had a whole food court with plenty of options where everyone found something they liked. And heck maybe if there was more food people would be crowding the wine booths.

Still for 60 sekels its the best game in town, my husband suggest that the wine makers have another wine festival with a higher ticket entry but will get a more reserved and dignified crowd. Maybe you never know?

also here is a picture of David Rhodes he is an expert at wine.  We had a great time chatting at the wine fest, also took some awesome photos check them out at his blog at  travelulah.com

David at Festival

Jerusalem Wine Festival 2009

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Its August, Tisha B’av (the national day of Jewish mourning) is over and the festivals have begun. This week is the Jerusalem Wine Festival, one of the funiest, tastiest, and coolest Festivals of the year. Not only is there a single charge (60 sekels) that covers the entire event but the festival takes place at the beautiful and historic Israel Museum. I love the festival because i get to try a whole new set of wines and wineries that I may or may not be adventurous enough to buy just to experiment. Just writing about it is getting me excited. Although there is normally food at the festival, last year there was only one vendor serving subpar food. Hoping for the best and looking forward to see everyone there.

to find out more see Jeruslaem.com

or watch this great teaser by Holding the Sun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1io7LJ3v-o

Happy Drinking