Apr 292007
 

Sorry for the long absence, but I went to Germany on business and only returned yesterday. Last night, I went to a Israel Christian wedding reception in Nazareth. My manager got married yesterday afternoon at a Greek Orthodox Church, but had the reception after Shabbat ended. It was a very nice reception. The band played Arabic music and there was a lot of dancing. I didn’t take too many food photos because: a) I couldn’t eat much and b) It wasn’t all that interesting.

There was lots of dancing, just like at a Jewish wedding. The bride and groom are hoisted on chairs high above the audience, just like at a Jewish wedding.

The dancing bottle trick, just like at some Jewish weddings. Actually there is no trick to this, you must have excellence balance. He is balancing Jordanian Arak.

This is some sort of candle ceremony. The bride danced with two candles and a few minutes later, women were circling her, taking turns holding a candle on either side of the bride. Then a few minutes later, the groom took the candles and danced around the bride. I will have to ask her what the significance of the candle ceremony is when she comes back from her honeymoon in the Far East.

The proud father of the bride came round with cigars and whiskey to celebrate the marriage. You know what the most beautiful thing about this wedding was? I looked around the room and saw how much everyone looked the same – Jew, Christian and Muslim. We were all happy for the lovely couple, we were all having fun dancing to the nice Arabic music…..just a normal day in Israel.

Apr 182007
 

Neve Tzedek, which means Oasis of Justice built outside of Yafo’s walls. It was founded in 1887 by Aharon Chelouche, 22 years before Tel Aviv was founded.

Many of the neighborhoods turn of the century houses can still be seen and it has retained much of its old charm thanks to a re-gentrification of the neighborhood in the 1980s. The Nobel prize winning author and poet S.Y. Agnon lived there, as did the famous artist Nahum Gutman.

Neve Tzedek’s narrow winding lanes, colourful plaster walls and tile roofs have become one of Tel Aviv’s latest fashionable districts. If I could afford property there, I would move there immediately.


They have some beautiful galleries and boutiques there; my engagement ring and wedding band came from Agas v’ Tamar Jewelers. The make beautiful 22k gold and silver jewelry.

And, there are some really nice cafes, such as Caffe Tazza d’Oro, Michelle Bar and Ninawhere you can sit and relax as you people watch in this charming neighborhood of Tel Aviv.


Or you can go to Bellini restaurant across from the Suzanne Delal Center and try their delicious antipasti buffet for lunch.

Since Neve Tzedek is so close to Yafo, we usually go and eat at one of the fish restaurants on the seaside. We usually end up at the Arab-owned Succah Levana (The White Pergola). It is a casual restaurant, reasonably priced with a nice choice of grilled fish. The meal comes with a large assortment of meze which are made in-house. You can have your meal al fresco with a view of the Mediterranean Sea.


The White Pergola, 72 Kedem Street, Yafo. (03) 682-6558. Open Sun – Sat 12:00 – 01:00.


First, they bring a table full of mezze. The salads are nice and fresh. The pita is prepared on-site, so they are nice and warm when they come to the table. One was covered in za’atar.


Hummous and eggplant with mayonnaise salad


Syrian olives and pepper salad


Another eggplant salad, carrot salad and matboucha and labane with cucumber


Israeli salad

Then, grilled Gilt-head Seabream. They also have trout, seabass, drumfish and a few others. And, they also serve shellfish. The food is simple, but delicious.

Israeli Salad

Serving Size: 4

The sad thing is that I am allergic to raw tomato, so my husband always has the Israeli salad all for himself. This salad is dead easy to make, but the key is to have the freshest, tastiest ingredients possible and to finely chop the vegetables like in the picture above.

2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

Juice from 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon of za'atar (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a non-reactive (not metal) bowl, combine chopped vegetables. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, za'atar, salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables and toss. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Keeps for two days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/18/neve-tzedek-old-tel-aviv/

Apr 142007
 

Indifference by Fritz Hirschberger (1912-2004)

Sunday evening, 15 April until sundown 16 April is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Can you imagine an entire country coming to a standstill for two minutes? This means stopping what your doing, whether you are at home or at work or in your car and thinking about the six million lives that were lost. A siren is sounded at 10AM on Monday and everyone stops what they are doing: cars stop driving and the drivers get out of their cars and stand in the middle of the highway for two minutes. The first time I experienced this, it brought me to tears. I was in a bus on my way to work and the bus driver stopped on the highway, he got out of the bus and the passengers stood in the aisle of the bus. In front of me I saw a sea of cars; it literally gave me goose bumps.

We lost a total of 120 family members on both sides of my family. One of my cousins, a professor at Leiden University in Holland, was riding his bike to the university when some Nazi soldiers stopped him, forced him to pull down his pants and upon seeing that he was circumcised, they shot him dead on the spot. My great-aunt and her sister and parents were rounded up and sent to Riga, Latvia. She, her mother and sister survived under great hardship, but her father z”l died on Lag B’Omer from gangrene that developed from an ingrown toenail.

My mother-in-law’s first husband was sent to a forced labor camp in Slovakia where he was murdered. They had only been married for six months. László Weiner was a promising Hungarian composer and conductor, whose musical vision was destroyed before it had a chance to blossom. Fortunately, a few of his compositions survived the war and have been played in several concerts in Budapest and elsewhere: one of them is due to be played in the Swiss capital, Berne, this coming November.

My mother-in-law, Vera Rozsa, went into hiding herself, living with a false identity as a Christian: her talent as an actress allowed her to walk unharmed out of two Gestapo interrogations. She also worked at the Swedish delegation in Budapest with Raoul Wallenberg who tried to save the lives of as many Jews as possible.

I will light seven memorial candles on Sunday, one for my family members and six for the six million who lost their lives for nothing more than meaningless hatred. Have we learned from those mistakes? I wonder……

Apr 142007
 

Since I was too ill to cook the last night of Pesach, I made the meal for Shabbat. Luckily, I still had some matza for my dessert.

Dinner this evening was:

Carn Estofada amb Prunes i Patates (Catalan-Style Veal Stew with Prunes and Potatoes)

I used osso bucco instead of the recommended veal shoulder. As the dish was simmering away, my husband sneaked a taste of the sauce and moaned blissfully, “this dish should be in a museum.” Need I say more? This dish is outstanding. The flavors of chocolate, prunes, chili, cinnamon and orange zest marry into an amazingly complex sauce that just bursts on the palate. The crispy potatoes add the perfect texture to the dish. This is a very rich dish that should be served with a dry and assertive red wine, such as the one we had. In the absence of the Rioja, we drank, a good Cabernet Franc or Shiraz would do pretty well.

For dessert, I made a family recipe that I have never made for my husband. They are matza fritters and they are made in several different countries. The Dutch call them Gremshelish, the Italians call them Pizzarelle Con Giulebbe. My recipe is combination of the Italian version and the version my grandmother used to make from leftover Matza Shalet batter. She served it with a lemon custard. This custard is dairy, so if you keep more than one hour between eating meat and dairy, you can serve this with a non-dairy lemon sauce of your choice.

This was a big hit with my husband. The custard is very light and creamy and the fritters are also light, but should not be served with a rich meal like we had for Shabbat dinner. You should make a double or triple recipe of the custard for all of the fritters.

Pizzarelle Con Crema di Limone

Yield: About 25 fritters and 2 cups of sauce

(Matzah Fritters with Lemon Custard)

For the fritters:

5 matzahs, broken into small pieces

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 egg whites

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the lemon cream:

1/4 cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 cup single cream (half and half)

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the batter:

Wet Matza

Place the matza pieces in a bowl of cold water and soak until soft but not falling apart, one to two minutes. Drain in a colander and squeeze out any excess water.

Mix all Ingredients

In a large bowl, mix together the matza pieces, sugar, cinnamon, lemon rind, vanilla, salt, raisins, pine nuts and egg yolks.

Add Egg Whites

Ready to Fry

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the matza mixture.

Frying Fritters

In a large, heavy pot, on medium-high, heat at least 2 inches of oil. Drop heaping tablespoons of the matza as necessary, until they are a deep brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Matza Fritters

Serve warm or at room temperature, accompanied by the lemon custard.

For the lemon cream:

Whisk sugar and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Bring cream and lemon peel to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Return to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into bowl; discard solids. Whisk lemon juice and vanilla into custard. Chill until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/14/spanish-and-italian-inspired-shabbat-dinner/

Apr 112007
 

Sur le pont d’Avignon
On y danse, on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
On y danse tous en rond

On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there, we all dance there
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there in a ring

My last installment on our trip to Provence is in Avignon, the seat of the Catholic papacy from 1309 – 1377 . Avignon is a beautiful walled city on the Rhône river.

It has tree lined boulevards and very interesting architecture.

It is also famous for the Le Pont St Benezet which originally spanned the Rhône River between Avignon and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon on the left bank. It was built between 1171 and 1185, but it suffered frequent collapses during floods and had to be reconstructed several times. The bridge was partially destroyed by a great flood in 1668. Now only four of the initial 22 arches remain intact today.

We did not stay in a fancy hotel in Avignon. I used my Holiday Inn points and we stayed two nights at a Holiday Inn Express outside of the old city. It was brand new. There is safe underground parking near the Le Palais des Papes and we parked there and explored the old city.

Our first day in Avignon, we went straight to the tourism office and got a map of the city. Then, we headed straight for the Le Palais des Papes, which is about a 2 hour self-guided tour. We bought a combination ticket that included Le Pont St Benezet. Both of these monuments have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first documented Jewish community in Avignon existed in the 12th century. The first Jewish quarter, or carrière, faced the pope’s palace. By the early 13th century, the carrière was where the present-day synagogue stands. This tiny area, barely 100 square yards, was home to over 1,000 people. There were many restrictions on Jewish life within the carrière. Walls surrounded it and three gates restricted Jewish activity. The Roman Catholic Church collected tolls, and selling kosher meat outside the quarter was forbidden. We saw the outside of the synagogue at night and were unable to take a good photograph, but it looks similar in style to the synagogue in Carpentras (shown in the picture above).

We had a lovely dinner at Basilic Citron, 4 Place de la Principale . It has a wonderful space for romantic outdoor dining in the courtyard and the decor inside the restaurant is also very romantic. There were strolling musicians to entertain us throughout the meal.

A three course dinner for two with a bottle of wine was 90 euro. This was the most expensive meal of our entire trip. The food was delicious: we loved the entire meal, but we both really loved the tuna. We definitely recommend this restaurant.

Our first courses were:

Thon brulee aux epices, reduction de vinaigre balsamique aux agrumes
Fresh tuna with spices and a reduction of balsamic vinegar and citrus

Asperge vertes et blanches du pays, vinegrette a l’huile de noisette torrefies
Local green and white asparagus with a vinaigrette of roasted hazelnut oil

Second courses:

Tranche d’espadon poelee, tians de legumes, bearnaise aux pistils de safran
Sauteed swordfish steak with a vegetable tian and a saffron flavoured bearnaise sauce

Pave de caillebaud aux herbes fraiches vapeur, chartreuse d’aubergine a la tomate
Piece of cod filet steamed with fresh herbs and an aubergine timbale stuffed with tomato

Dessert courses:

Millefeuille a la pistache, marmelade de griotte acidule
Pistachio napoleon with sour morello cherry jam

Tartare de fraise du pays, sorbet cactus/citron vert
Fresh local strawberries with a cactus and lime sorbet

Plume, Cote de Luberon, white wine

After dinner we went window shopping and saw a lovely confectioners shop that made caramels and candied fruits, a Provencal speciality.

We definitely want to go back to Provence. It is a beautiful region full of history, scenery, art and architecture.

Apr 102007
 

I have been under the weather since last Friday and I stayed home today. The dinner I planned to make on Sunday night (see Spanish and Italian-Inspired Shabbat Dinner) has been postponed until Friday night. Yes, I am still making the matza fritters! And, I will post the photos.

I am really not a very good patient. My colleagues accuse me of being a workaholic. Maybe they are right…. I called work three times today and checked my office email three times. My name is Baroness Tapuzina and I am a workaholic.

So, how does one cure being a workaholic? Bake some bread. Since Pesach is officially over, I decided we needed a loaf of bread, so I got my stashed away flour and put it back in the kitchen. I decided to make my quick and easy whole wheat walnut bread and my husband came in and said, “How about making it with 50% whole wheat and 50% rye?” So I did.

What I like about this recipe is that it is very versatile. You can do half whole wheat, half all purpose or rye flour or all whole wheat. I also have made it with pumpkin seeds or walnuts and raisins. Use your imagination.

Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

Yield: 1 lb (450 g) loaf

1 1/4 cup (300 g) whole wheat flour, plus a little for dusting

1 slightly rounded teaspoon salt

1 slightly rounded teaspoon dried yeast

7 oz warm water

1 level teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon walnut oil or olive oil

1/2 cup (110 g) walnut pieces

1/2 cup (110 g) dark or golden raisins (optional)

Lightly grease a 12 x 10 in (30 x 25.5 cm) baking sheet or line it with a silpat liner.

Put the flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the warm water, brown sugar and walnut oil until the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and either mix by hand or using the dough hook of your electric mixer. Mix to form a dough, adding a further tablespoon or two of water if it appears too dry. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and yet not be so soft that it clings to your hands and sticks to the work surface.

Either stop the machine and knead for approximately 5 minutes by hand or until elastic or knead in your electric mixer. If possible, avoid using any additional flour because, as you knead, the dough will become more elastic and less sticky.

Press the dough out into a rough 12 inch (30 cm) square, and sprinkle the dried fruit and nuts over the surface. Roll up the dough, like a jelly roll and then knead briefly again to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly. Shape the dough into an oblong or round and place on the baking sheet and cover with a piece of oiled cellophane.

Walnut Bread Dough

Let rise in a warm place for about 1-1/4 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Put two or three slash marks in the dough or mark with an X.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for approximately 35 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/10/time-to-bake-bread/

Apr 092007
 

St. Paul de Vence is a very picturesque town which is famous for its beauty and also is the final resting place of Auguste Escoffier and Marc Chagall. It has narrow winding streets with small squares tucked in between. This is definitely a village for romance, whether you want to propose to someone, go on a honeymoon or just spend a romantic vacation with the one you love. I would recommend staying at Le St. Paul. Everyone wants to be at the Colombe d’Or because of its amazing collection of paintings and sculptures and because every movie star known to man has stayed there. The hotel is therefore always crowded with curious tourists. The Le St. Paul hotel is tucked away in the middle of the village, is beautiful and tranquil, and has an amazing view of the valley below.

A number of painters, founders of the 20th-century schools, flocked to Saint-Paul: Matisse, Soutine, Chagall, Renoir, Signac, Modigliani, Dufy… not to mention writers including Gide, Giono, Cocteau and Prévert.

In July 1964, the Fondation Maeght was inaugurated by André Malraux. It was the joint creation of Aimé and Marguerite Maeght and artists including Giacometti, Chagall, Miró and Calder. The museum and grounds are beautiful. If you like modern art, then it is a must-see.

There are a number of art galleries and other specialty shops. One that caught our eye was a shop that sold various liqueurs and olive oil.

The name of the shop is Les Trois Etoiles de St. Paul and it is owned by a lovely man named Horst.

Horst has a very interesting selection of liqueurs, such as honey, plum, peach, limoncello cream, strawberry, blackberry and pear, as well as several types of balsamico and local olive oil. He certainly believes in letting potential buyers try out his wares; we must have had about eight tastings before we chose a plum liqueur and lemoncello cream to take home as part of our swag.

Apr 072007
 

I tend to do a lot of research when planning a trip. I always buy a guidebook and look for interesting places to visit on the internet. I spent weeks collecting information for our trip to Provence, including printing out maps on the Michelin website. It was quite helpful and we used those maps for our various day trips that we made.

One of those places that I insisted on visiting was the village of Villeneuve-Loubet, because it is the childhood home of Auguste Escoffier and his birth home contains the Musee de l’Art Culinaire, or Museum of Culinary Art.

This museum is dedicated to Auguste Escoffier, “King of Chefs and Chef to Kings”, the creator of the famous Peach Melba, strawberries Romanoff and who, according to his obituary in a British newspaper, “put frogs’ legs on the West End menu.”

The museum has eight rooms that display souvenirs, objects, sugar sculptures and utensils from his time, a collection of menus and a number of photographs and articles.

One of the museum’s eight exhibit rooms features the fireplace and spit used by the Escoffier family.

A photograph of the Australian opera star Nellie Melba is signed “A Monsieur Escoffier avec mes remerciements pour la creation Peche Melba,” (To Monsieur Escoffier with my thanks for the creation of Peach Melba) and dated 1914.

The museum has menus from his days at the Carlton and at London’s Savoy Hotel, as well as menus for the coronation dinner honoring King George V.

I recommend stopping and seeing this interesting museum and walking around the beautiful village.

I know I should show you a picture of the Peach Melba or Strawberries Romanoff I made, but I haven’t made either one. However, in keeping with the ice cream that you serve with the peach melba, I thought I would give you a recipe for a luscious coffee ice cream with a warm ganache sauce.

Coffee Ice Cream with Warm Chocolate Ganache

Serving Size: 4

For the ganache:

1 cup finely chopped premium bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream

For the ice cream:

1 cup whole Italian-roast coffee beans

2 cups whole milk

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 cups heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

For the assembly:

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Ganache

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate has completely melted and forms into a thick sauce. Use immediately or keep warm over a hot water bath on very low heat until ready to use.

Ice cream

Crush the beans into coarse pieces by placing them in a ziploc bag and smashing them with a rolling pin. Add the crushed beans, the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup cream into a saucepan . Place the saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring the milk mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat as soon as bubbles break the surface. Steep the coffee beans in the milk mixture for at least 1 hour. Strain the mixture and set aside. Discard the coffee beans.

Have ready a large bowl filled with ice water. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until the mixture becomes pale yellow and forms a ribbon.

Reheat the coffee-flavored milk mixture, bringing it to a simmer. Immediately remove it from the heat, and with the mixer on low speed, slowly add 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs and sugar. While mixing, add the remaining hot milk mixture in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. Scrape the mixture from the sides and the bottom of the bowl mix well, and pour through a sieve into another bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup cold cream and stir well to combine.

Place in the ice bath. Stir until the mixture has completely cooled. Transfer the mixture to a covered container and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until ready to churn.

Churn the ice cream and place in the freezer for about 1 hour.

Assembly:

Place two scoops of ice cream in a bowl and pour the hot ganache over the ice cream, top with whip cream and the chopped hazelnuts.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/07/the-house-that-escoffier-built/

Apr 052007
 

My husband and I went on a lovely 12-day vacation last June to the Cote d’Azur and Provence. We stayed in a beautiful villa on Cap d’Antibes for 10 days and a hotel in Avignon for two days. We travelled to Haute de Cagne, Nice, Tourtour, Villecroze, Salernes, Flayosc, Vence, St. Paul de Vence, Villeneuve-Loubet, Grasse, Villefranche sur le Mer, Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Marseille, Cassis, Avignon, Orange, Carpentras, and Aix en Provence.

We were fortunate enough to have been invited to stay at a family friend’s home in Cap d’Antibes. We had the house to ourselves.

The house was 75 meters from the sea and had a rooftop terrace which has a magnificent view of the bay. We spent several romantic evenings on the rooftop sharing a bottle of delicious Provencal rose watching the sunset over the bay.

We were in heaven. The house is decorated beautifully. I could have moved right in. If I am fortunate enough to design my own home, I am going to have a staircase just like theirs….

The three panels were made by a local artist and depict scenes from life in Provence. I would love to have some made with three scenes in Israel.

Here are a closeup of the three panels:

A cafe scene,

fishermen,

And, the game of Pétanque.

We had breakfast and dinner at the house almost every evening. We grilled sardines, sebaste, trout, red gunard and emperor bream. The fish was outstanding. We were really looking forward to having red mullet, but it cost three times what we pay here.

We did not eat out a lot because most of the restaurants were very expensive and since we had a kitchen in the villa, we took full advantage of cooking with beautiful fresh ingredients. The reason I say expensive is because 1 Euro was approximately 5.50NIS.

We drank a lot of wine while we were there and were amazed at how little they cost. We had:

  • Les Orfevres Vignerons, Sainte Victoire Cote du Provence 2004, Rose
  • Golfe de Saint Tropez Merlot, Vin de Pays du Var
  • Montcigale Beaucaire, Coteaux d’ Aix en Provence 2005, Rose
  • Chateau de Sablet Bordeaux 2005
  • Domaine Francois Gerbet Bourgogne 2004, Rose
  • Chateau Minuty Gassin, Cuvee du Bailly 2004, Rose
  • L’Arnaud 2005, Rose
  • Les Vignobles Choisis 2004, Cotes de Provence

We also ate a number of cheeses:

  • Le bleu des Basques
  • Saint Nectaire
  • Pyrenees Montsegur
  • Brie
  • Dry chevre, don’t remember the name

We came back with some nice goodies:

Two Provencal salt mixes, walnut oil and Basque paprika

Calissons (we also bought dark chocolate covered), olives (didn’t eat them there) and chestnut honey

Creme de Prune and Creme de Lemoncello from a lovely shop that I will tell you more about in St. Paul de Vence

Wanted to bring back more wine, but alas we have a limit.

I also bought some beautiful Provencal fabric for three cushions that I am having made as a headboard for our bed.

Next post: The man that put Villeneuve-Loubet on the map.

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