Whatever you choose to call Yafo, it will always be that magical place on the sea. I love the Arab architecture, the amazing sea views and cultural mix.
Don’t get me wrong, Yafo is not a perfect place, but there is something that draws me to the old city of Yafo. Maybe because it reminds me of some of the villages David and I visited in Provence.
I would love to buy an old house there and fix it up.
David’s uncle and aunt lived in the middle of the old city of Yafo. His uncle was a painter, potter and stained glass maker. The menorah outside in the courtyard of the Ihud Shivat Zion Synagogue in Tel Aviv was made by his late uncle, Peter Rozsa, and the stained glass windows in the synagogue were designed by his aunt, Claire Szilard and built by his uncle.
Yafo also has some very nice art galleries, restaurants and a Yafo institution, Abulafiya.
Abulafia is open 24 hours a day. There is always a line to buy fresh pita and other wood fired bread straight from the oven, some sprinkled with za’atar or kashkaval cheese.
I try not to do this very often, but I love to go to the Arab pastry shoppes and look at all the beautiful pastries. Okay, sometimes I buy one or two pieces. The best Arab pastries come from a shop in Nazareth. My boss is from there and sometimes she brings us treats when she goes to visit her family. They are not as sickeningly sweet as you find at Greek restaurants in the States.
The best baklava that I ever had was in Istanbul. However, the best baklava is suppose to be from Lebanon. Maybe one day I will be able to cross the border and try some.
Since we are on the subject of baklava, I found a savory baklava recipe some years ago that I would love to try, but the main ingredient, duck, is just a little too expensive here to play with. This definitely is a special occasion dish. Perhaps for an anniversary…..
I finally made the Ducklava and it is delicous. However, I have to call it Clucklava, because I made it with boneless chicken thighs instead of duck and I also made it with very large dried cranberries (I thought they were cherries) instead of the dried cherries. I also used round warka leaves, fried the cigars in a frying pan instead of baking them, and drizzled chestnut honey on the outside of the cigar instead of adding it to the filling. It was a perfect first course and I will definitely make it again.
2 c (500g) cooked duck meat
1/2 c (113g) almonds, pecans, pistachios or walnuts
1/4 c bourbon
1/2 c (113g) dried sour cherries
2 T minced shallot
1 T honey (optional)
1/2 pkg phyllo, thawed
1/2 c melted butter or olive oil
Chestnut honey or similar strong honey such as Greek Fir, for drizzling
Soak cherries in bourbon for 30 minutes. Grind the nuts and duck meat in a food processor or chop by hand until combined. Add cherries to duck mixture, reserving the bourbon. Briefly pulse to combine. Add shallots and three tablespoons of bourbon, pulsing to incorporate. Add more bourbon by the tablespoon until the mixture is thick and chunky. Season with salt as needed and add honey, if desired.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
With a pastry brush, brush butter or oil on the top layer of two sheets of phyllo. Fold in half to form a long rectangle. Brush top lightly with more butter or oil.
With your hands, use 1/2 cup of duck mixture to form a log to place at the short side of the phyllo dough, leaving about 1/2-inch on either side. Roll the short end with the duck mixture into a thick cigar.
Place the cigar, seam-side down on baking sheet, tucking in the phyllo on either end. Brush lightly with butter or oil. Repeat this five more times.
You can refrigerate the ducklava for up to 6 hours by wrapping the cigars in plastic wrap. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden, or according to the phyllo package directions. Remove from oven and slice cigars diagonally into two-inch sections, if desired. Drizzle with honey. Serve hot.
All photos and recipes are the copyright of Baroness Tapuzina unless otherwise noted.