Organic Farmers Market in Tel Aviv

Organic farming is nothing new in Israel, but given the fact that several Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms have popped up over the last several years and regular supermarkets are pushing organic products, not to mention the Eden Teva supermarket chain, you would think that Israel has just been introduced to the organic way of life.

It is quite the contrary. In 1958, a group of people of various backgrounds decided to create a moshav based on a vegetarian, vegan, and organic lifestyle and ideology. The founders of Amirim were among the pioneers of the vegetarian movement in Israel. The Israel Bio-Organic Agricultural Association (Tuv Hassadeh) was founded in the late 1970s by an 84-year-old farmer, Mario Levy, from Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in the north of the country. It was quite difficult in the beginning to convince Israeli farmers to forego the use of pesticides, but now there are over 500 farmers who are members of the association and produce 13% of farm products in Israel.

Organic products and produce could always be found in the various health food stores in Tel Aviv, but now there is a dedicated famers market at HaTahana (The Train Station), the beautifully renovated Ottoman-period train station on the Tel Aviv-Yafo border. The Tel Aviv municipality and the Israel Bio-Organic Agricultural Association opened the farmers market as a joint project.

Every Friday, approximately 40 stalls with food growers and manufacturers, all certified members of the association, sell products such as cakes, dairy products, eggs, and of course beautiful seasonal fruits and vegetables.

The vendors at Shuk HaCarmel are always finding clever, but generally noisy, ways to advertise their products to the crowd of shoppers. The organic farmers market, by contrast, was relaxed, peaceful and unpushy.

At Orbanic, the attractive vendors smile and proudly talk about their produce, with passion in their eyes, and visible pleasure, the results of their hard work. Like on the face of Or Glicksman, who gives you a big beautiful smile when he describes his organic vegetables from his father’s farm on Kibbutz Gal-On in the southern part of the country.

And the cute guy from the Negev who was selling his sweet and juicy little mangoes and perfectly round cherry tomatoes.

There are vendors selling organic large-leafed purslane, from imported seedlings from France that are acclimated in hothouses at Kardesh Barnea in the Negev, and large shoots of lemongrass, waiting for a Vietnamese stir fry.

You can even take home the much sought after Aba Gil’s organic hummous, quiches, and brown rice pilaf. Their quiches are egg, wheat and dairy free.

And you can also take home romaine lettuce seedlings, which I bought for my garden along with 1 kg of spelt flour, 3 desert mangoes, a yellow and green striped pumpkin, olives marinated in red wine and herbs, and pickled baby eggplants.

Mario Levy must be smiling on his cloud as he looks down and sees how even in the big city, the movement that he helped start has achieved so much popularity.

Orbanic Farmers Market
HaTahana
2 Yehezkel Kaufmann Street
Tel Aviv
Open: Fridays, 0800-1500

Best Ice Cream Shops in Israel (Part 2) – Vaniglia and Shaked

Vaniglia Gelateria

Brothers Nitzan and Itay Rogozinski opened their first branch of the Vaniglia ice cream boutique in 2001 at Basel Square in Tel Aviv. Anything that goes into the ice cream is made on the premises, from cheesecake to poppy seed cake. They use pistachio paste from Sicily, truffle oil from Umbria, orange flower petals from Turkey, camomile flowers from Egypt, tonka beans from Guinea and vanilla from Madagascar; to mention but a few.

Vaniglia in a Cup

Vaniglia offers a nice selection of sorbets with a very high percentage of fruit (over 70%). The dairy ice creams are delicious too, and they are also producing a new line of 100% organic ice creams made with rice milk or soy milk, and a line that is sugar-free.

I visited the new Hod HaSharon branch that is located in a cute little “house” that was built for the ice cream shop. It might look small from the outside, but this branch offers a good selection, such as the following highly recommended flavors:

  • Yogurt with orange flower water, Sicilian pistachios and apricot compote
  • Yogurt with honey and pine nuts
  • Plum sorbet
  • Valharona chocolate with an infusion of cocoa beans and chocolate crunch
  • Sicilian pistachio
  • Coconut
  • Mango sorbet
  • Blackberry sorbet
  • Oh, just try them all!!!

Vaniglia has several locations:

22a Eshtori Hafarchi Street (off Basel Street)
Tel Aviv

98 Ibn Gvirol Street
Tel Aviv

HaTachana
Tel Aviv

18 Derech Ramatayim
Hod HaSharon

Shaked Gelateria

Shaked Gelateria (pronounced Sha-Ked) was originally started as a pizzeria in the leafy town of Ramat Gan, just next to Tel Aviv, then turned into a cafe, and eventually branched out into homemade ice creams. Today, Shaked also has a branch in the entertainment zone of the old Tel Aviv Port, which is also a cafe, even though it is better known for its ice cream (something which obviously appeals to the patrons of the toy shop strategically located next door).

Shaked in a Cup

Shaked offers some interesting flavors of ice cream, such Kremschnitt, sabra (prickly pear) sorbet, olive oil and za’aatar (hyssop), tehina and humous. They also produced a special for the World Cup, which is no longer available: beer ice cream with sunflower seeds! Unfortunately, they didn’t have some of these flavors on offer when I visited the Tel Aviv Port location, but I do recommend the following:

  • Frutti di Bosco (Forest Fruits)
  • Chocolate sorbet
  • Cheesecake
  • Mango
  • Limoncello

Shaked Gelateria has two locations:

Hangar 7, Tel Aviv Port
Tel Aviv

40 Aluf David
Ramat Gan

Trains and Balkan Water Börek

I used to love to go to the train station in my hometown. My father would take us there every once in a while to see the trains and we would always try to get there early so he could put a penny on the rails and have the train run over them. As soon as the train was safely out of harm’s way, he would retrieve the misshapen pennies for us to take home as souvenirs of our adventure.

So when I found out that the Tel Aviv municipality had painstakingly renovated an Ottoman-era train station, now unoriginally called HaTahana (The Station) near Neve Tzedek, I couldn’t wait to go and see it. And I must say, they did a beautiful job with the restoration.

The train station was inaugurated in 1892 and was the first railway line in the Middle East. The rail line went from Jaffa to Jerusalem and the length of the journey took 3-1/2 to 4 hours. The line was eventually extended to Lod and Haifa, and in 1921 the train travelled to Al Qantarah El Sharqiyya, Egypt, approximately 160km (100 miles) from Cairo. The station was closed in 1948 and only reopened as an entertainment complex this year.

There are several restaurants and cafes to choose from to sit and have a leisurely coffee with your favorite someone, such as Cafe Tahana in the original railway building.

Or sit on the roof of Shushkashvilli Beer Bar and Tapas, which is in a beautiful old Arab house that stood in the neighborhood called Manshiya, built by the Turks in 1892 to house Egyptian laborers working on the new railroad.

The Wieland Villa, built in 1902, was owned by a German Templar named Hugo Wieland, who built his home and a factory building and agricultural materials next to the railway station with the intention of shipping the goods throughout what was then Palestine and around the Middle East. The family remained in the house until the 1930s when they left and eventually moved to Australia.

HaTahana also has some lovely boutiques and art galleries in the surrounding stone buildings that will appeal to all sorts of shoppers.

The train tracks are quiet now, but HaTahana is abustle with people enjoying the lovely cafes, restaurants, art exhibitions every Thursday evening, and the real reason Mr BT and I got up early to go there: the Orbanic market, which is the new organic farmers market, open only on Fridays.

After visiting the old Ottoman station, I was inspired to make a Water Börek, which is a cheese or meat bureka, made with boiled warka leaves. Instead of going to all the trouble of making my own warka, I bought Moroccan cigar wrappers at the supermarket. Since most of my readers in the US and Europe will not be able to find cigar wrappers so easily, you can use egg roll wrappers. You can serve this for breakfast, afternoon tea, or a light supper with a big salad.

Water Börek - Su Böregi

Serving Size: 6 to 8

1 pkg (500g or 1lb) Moroccan cigar wrappers (thawed) or large egg roll wrappers

100g butter, melted or 1/4 cup olive oil

250g (1/2lb) Bulgarian or Greek Feta

1 log of plain goat's cheese

1 egg

1 cup fresh parsley or 1/2 cup parsley and 1/2 cup dill, chopped

2 green onions, sliced thinly

Several grinds of black pepper

Butter a 22cm (9 inch) deep-dish pan.

Mash the feta and goat's cheese together until well combined. Add the egg, parsley, green onion and black pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

In a large pot of boiling water, place one cigar sheet or egg roll wrapper in the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Scoop out the sheet with a wire mesh skimmer and place in the pan. Don't worry if you can't straighten the sheets out, just try to smooth a few out so they will go up the sides of the pan. Repeat until you have one layer of the sheets.

Brush butter or olive oil on the sheets and cover with half of the cheese mixture. Place another layer of boiled cigar sheets, brush them with butter, and add the rest of the cheese mixture. Place a final layer of cigar sheets, fold over any sheets that are hanging off the side of the baking dish, and brush with butter. Bake for 1 hour or until lightly brown. Serve hot or a room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/06/16/trains-and-balkan-water-borek/

Israeli Food Bloggers Event at Mazzarine Patisserie Artisanale

This past Thursday, six of the some of the more interesting (okay, I am biased) Israeli food bloggers got together:

Irène of Irène Sharon Hodes
Liz of Cafe Liz
Miriam of Israeli Kitchen
Sarah of Foodbridge
Yael of Apples and Honey

We had fun learning about each other. Some of us talked about whether we should only focus on one genre of food such as raw food, kosher, vegetarian or Middle Eastern/Kurdish, others talked about concentrating on the promotion of their food writing for professional gain, and some of us just enjoy writing and learning about cultures they are not familiar without thinking about whether it will turn into something like a cookbook or freelance articles. The most important thing we all agreed on was that we want to try and meet once a month at a different locations, and also arrange field trips to wineries, shuks, dairies, and other interesting food-related jaunts.

We met at the lovely Mazzarine Cafe on Montefiore 42 in Tel Aviv. When you walk into the cafe, you feel like you have  just walked into a chic Parisian cafe. I love the way they designed the space, with several different rooms to choose from: the front of the cafe with a constant view of the beautiful pastries on offer; the main room with a lovely view to the garden room, which gives you a feeling of sitting in a botanical garden; and the private room, with a beautiful wooden table that reminded me of my cousin’s French farm table in Holland. We had reserved the private room.

The cafe was founded by Chef Pâtissier Alon Goldman who started his culinary career working at the legendary and sorely missed Keren restaurant owned by one of my favorite Israeli chefs, Haim Cohen. There he fine-tuned his pastry skills and after a year he decided to move to France to expand his professional knowledge. He studied at the famous Lenôtre Culinary and Pastry School in Paris. While in France he worked at several Michelin starred restaurants such as the beautiful Burgundian restaurant at the late chef Bernard Loiseau’s Relais Bernard Loiseau and at the famous Ladurée pâtisserie. He also studied Mediterranean pastry at the famous and mouthwatering Karaköy Güllüoğlu (some of the best baklava I have ever had!) in Istanbul, Turkey, and was head pastry chef at Taboon restaurant in New York before fulfilling his dream of opening his own cafe.

The staff at the Montefiore location were very nice and excited about the food bloggers visiting their cafe. They all understand the items that they are selling, which is very refreshing for an Israeli cafe. But, really, how could you not be enthusiastic about selling beautiful looking cakes and pastries.

The menu has an array of sandwiches, salads, pasta, and main dishes to choose from. Most of us ordered from the specials on offer:

I choose a delicious soup made from a mushroom and vegetable base with perfectly pink-centered salmon and pasta designed with flat-leaf parsley.

Yael chose a vegetable quiche and salad.

Sarah and Irène chose a grilled tuna with Chinese pancakes, jasmine rice and a soy reduction. The tuna was also medium rare as I like it. My only issue with it is that the soy reduction was a little too salty, but I would definitely order it.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of Liz’s Caesar salad and Miriam’s gnocchi with artichokes and roasted cherry tomatoes, but I did taste Miriam’s and the gnocchi were light as they should be and the sauce was very nice. Another dish I will have to order.

Mazzarine’s very charming chef, Sharon Artzi, who only joined the restaurant a week ago, came to greet us with one of his new and very interesting dishes, gnocchi stuffed with prunes and served with roasted eggplant and a tehina-portabello mushroom sauce.

I know that it sounds quite strange and maybe too many flavours, but it worked and I thought it was delicious. He explained that he is going to change the entire menu in the coming weeks. I think there is great promise from this chef and I look forward to dining there again.

Of course we couldn’t leave without trying some of Chef Alon’s lovely pastries:

Sarah and I chose Zen – a tart filled with chocolate crème brûlée and covered in dark chocolate, which is perfect for a chocolate lover.

Miriam chose the eclair with cream and strawberries.

Irène chose Ebony, which is topped with 70% chocolate mousse,  filled with chocolate crème brûlée and covered in dark chocolate with an almond macaroon on the side.

The truth is that although the tarts and cakes were, or looked, wonderful, I would have liked to see more of them based on fruit, which is certainly not lacking in Israel during the winter. For that matter, I would have liked to see more Middle Eastern influence in the traditional French and Austrian pastries in the confectionery cabinet, which would have been a good marriage to the new chef’s main dishes. I highly recommend a visit to Mazzarine: where you will not be disappointed.

If anyone would like to come to our next event in March, please send me an email on my Contact page above and I will add you to the list.

Related Posts with Thumbnails