Cinematheque

The Jerusalem Cinematheque is a movie theater and arts venue just a few minutes walk west of the Old City walls.

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Last week, Noah and I went to the Cinematheque to see an origami exhibit as part of Jerusalem’s week long Japanese festival.

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The exhibit has some pretty amazing origami figures:

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For the event, they were also handing out free samples of sake and ‘origami-ed’ vegetables:

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While at the Cinematheque for the origami exhibit, we bought tickets for the following week to see the movie Boyhood. When we returned a few days ago for the movie, we got there a little early to get drinks at the small food kiosk at the theater:

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WARNING: you can’t bring food and beverage into the theater, so if you get a snack or drink, make sure to leave plenty of time to finish before the movie starts!

The theater itself was clean and comfortable…although the chairs were a little step down from the couch-like chairs at fancy theaters I’ve been to in the U.S!

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The movie was in English with Hebrew subtitles. Boyhood is a really unique movie. It was filmed over a period of 12 years, using the same actors to depict a family growing and changing over time. The main character, Mason, starts the movie as a six year old, and the movie ends when he is 18 and just starting college. Despite having been filmed in segments over a number of years, the flow of the movie worked great, and the transitions between each time period felt totally natural. The main themes of the movie dealt with social conditioning, personal connection and relationships, and how beauty and love can exist even in times of hardship. I thought the film was incredibly realistic and touching, and I’ve continued to think about it over the last couple days since seeing it…definitely a sign of a good movie! I would definitely recommend going to see it if you have the chance! I’m glad the Cinematheque offers films in English, and I definitely hope to go to more movies there over the course of the year.

48 hours is Tel Aviv: Day 2

After a full day walking and biking around in Tel Aviv, I was ready for a relaxing dinner and a good night’s sleep! After looking around a bit for a dinner spot, Noah and I decided to go to Piazza, an Italian-style restaurant, that had good reviews on Trip Advisor.

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We sat outside underneath a clementine tree:

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For the meal, we ordered a small focaccia with egg and tahini spread, pea/zucchini/artichoke risotto, and a tomato and cheese salad:

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After the meal, we were stuffed and completely crashed at the hotel.

The next day, we did a lot more walking around. We stopped by the Bauhaus Center for some shopping and reading about architecture in Israel, and we also visited the contemporary art building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which was featuring a series of short films. The main stop of the day was the Tel Aviv Tahana.

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Tel Aviv’s Tahana (station) is extremely similar to Jerusalem’s Tahana Rishona – which is not surprising considering these were the first two stations between which the first Israeli trains traveled. Tel Aviv’s Tahana had a lot of open square space, several shops and restaurants, and a couple old train cars for people to look at:

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We considered getting lunch at the tahana, but all of the restaurants were packed, so we decided to find a place to eat in the Nave Tzedek neighborhood that was next to the station. We went to a restaurant called Cafe Suzana and shared a delicious lunch of kubbe (basically dumplings filled with ground beef) and a chicken roll:

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We also tried a local drink that was listed on the menu simply as ‘almond drink:’

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The drink was sweet and served with mint. I really liked it!

After lunch, it was already after 3:00pm and we had expended most of our energies getting to and from the tahana (it was about an hour walk each way), so we gathered our stuff and headed back to Jerusalem on a sherut (shared taxi). Overall, it was a great weekend away! There are about a dozen museums in Tel Aviv that I really want to visit, so I’m already itching to go back. :)

48 hours in Tel Aviv: Day 1

Last weekend, Noah and I took a lovely two-day trip to Tel Aviv. A mere 45 minute drive from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv feels like an eternity of difference. While by no means are all of the people living in Jerusalem religious, the city definitely has a certain feeling of piety about it, and there’s a sense of holiness and connection to the past that seems to linger here. Tel Aviv, on the other hand, is by every measure a modern city, complete with sky scrapers, clubs, a beach where tzniut (modesty) can be completely forsaken, and trefe (food that is categorically unkosher, ie, pig or shellfish) can be easily be found on menus.

While in Tel Aviv, we stayed at The Cinema Hotel, in Dizengoff Square. The Cinema Hotel used to be a movie theater, and old movie posters and video cameras comprise the bulk of the hotel’s decor:

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Our room was comfortable and clean with a view looking out to the city:

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Dizengoff Square, where the hotel is located, is an elevated square above a busy road crossing. The highlight of the square is the Dizengoff fountain which, four times a day, puts on a fabulous fire/water/music show. I thought the show wouldn’t be that cool (it’s a fountain, right??), but in the end it turned out to be AWESOME (in my humble opinion). Spoiler alert: there is FIRE in the fountain. YES, REAL FIRE!

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Can’t get over that one. In addition to the fountain, there was also an antiques market at the square on Friday selling clothes, books, and basically every knick-knack you can think of:

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We were also right next to the Dizengoff shopping area (essentially like any American shopping mall) and the Dizengoff tower:

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Breakfast was included with our room, and the hotel offered a fairly typical Israeli breakfast spread – eggs, cheese, bread, vegetables, fish, fruit, coffee, juice, yogurts:

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In addition to breakfast, we also got a free happy hour at the hotel which included snacks, wine, and great views off of the hotel’s terrace:

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We saw this fun sculpture on a neighboring building:

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On our first day there, we rented bikes through Tel Aviv’s bike-sharing program, Tel-O-Fun:

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We biked about an hour north of the city center, primarily on protected bike paths along the beach promenade:

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Along the way, we got some great views of people heading out for a beach day, and we also saw a portable beach library!

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Originally, our plan was to bike to the Yitzhak Rabin Center and view their exhibits, but we ended up getting to the museum too late (it closed early on Fridays), so we had to satisfy ourselves with looking around some of the HUGE (and, oddly, empty) rooms of the building:

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Instead of more biking, we decided to walk back to the city center…which turned into quite a journey!

We meandered our way along the Yarkon River for a bit…

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…taking us through a park with a Coffee Bar (non-stop!!!)…I had a laugh about the name

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and, SURPRISE, a zoo!

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We were extremely surprised to find this mini-zoo in the middle of the park. And it was way more than just a petting zoo! There were ibexes, deer, turkeys, emu, and – somewhat strangely – a single white bunny rabbit:

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In the words of Noah, this was, “the best zoo ever.” He has the gift of being easily entertained.

By the time we were out of the park and back in the thick of the city, it was late afternoon and we were ready for lunch. We stopped at a cafe called The Streets and ordered a cocktail and cold coffee while we waited for our food:

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For the meal, I ordered an Israeli breakfast and Noah ordered a roast beef sandwich:

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Continuing after lunch on our walk back to the hotel, we passed by Habima, the Israel National Theater, and the surrounding Habima Square:

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The square included some interesting artwork including this sculpture called “Ascension,”

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And a small garden that moves from, on one end, desert plants to, on the other end, beautiful and abundant flowers. Clearly a metaphor for the land of Israel itself!

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Finally, our last stop for the day was Rabin Square, so named after Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated there in 1995. The spot were Rabin was shot is now marked by a memorial and some preserved messages in response to his death:

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Rabin was shot by an Israeli terrorist who opposed Rabin’s peace initiatives. Sadly, Rabin’s efforts and progress towards establishing peace for Israel and Palestine has not been replicated since his death. Visiting the square, it was somewhat tragic to think what things might be like today if he had remained alive and continued the process of peace negotiations at that time.

Besides the memorial, the square also offers a lot of open space, an artificial pond (where there were lots of people laying out on chairs, sunning and reading), and a memorial sculpture commemorating the Holocaust:

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After a long day of walking and exploring, it was seriously time for some down time!

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Check back soon for a post about the rest of the Tel Aviv trip!

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

The season of pumpkin continues here in Jerusalem! Last week I went to a pumpkin-themed potluck, and, in fact, I will be attending another one at the end of this week as well! For last week’s potluck, I made a pumpkin french toast bake following this recipe with only a few modifications (just cinnamon and nutmeg instead of pumpkin pie spice in the pumpkin filling, challah rolls instead of Hawaiian rolls, and no pecans/powdered sugar for the topping)

Since the recipe requires time to sit in the fridge and set before baking, I started it on Wednesday night to bring it to serve on Thursday. To begin, I combined one package of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl:

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In a separate bowl, I mixed milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla:

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I tore three challah rolls into small pieces and placed them in the bottom of a round baking pan:

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On top of the bread, I layered half of the pumpkin mixture, the full amount of the cream mixture, and the other half of the pumpkin mixture:

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I covered this to rest in the fridge overnight, and the next day I prepared the topping of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter:

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I baked the french toast for 40 minutes at 350º until it was browned on top:

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Yum!

Home Cooking!

Even though eating out in Jerusalem has been a lot of fun (as evidenced by my several ‘Jerusalem Cafes‘ posts), there’s always something fun about cooking at home. In the past week or so, I’ve had fun turning the contents of my fridge and impulse buys at the fruit-and-vegetable stands into good dinners.

Earlier in the week I made a sweet potato, egg, and cheese melt. I started by roasting slices of sweet potato (about 25 minutes at 450º):

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After roasting, I removed from the oven and added two sliced chopped tomatoes, 6 eggs, and shredded mozzarella cheese:

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I broiled in the oven until the egg whites were completely cooked and the cheese a little browned (it took a little more than 10 minutes in my oven, but my broiler is not very good, so it would probably take a lot less with a better broiler):

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I served with sliced peppers and hummus (in total, this was enough for 3 servings):

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Later in the week, Noah and I made an eggplant tomato sauce to go with goat cheese-filled beet gnocchi. The sauce was extremely easy to make. I finely chopped two shallots, two cloves garlic, and put them to heat in a skillet with a little butter. After just a couple minutes, I added half an eggplant, 1 tomato, and half a can (15 oz) of tomato sauce:

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Noah was on skillet duty:

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The gnocchi was from a nearby bakery and it looked awesome! The beets gave it a purple-ish tint:

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The gnocchi only needed to cook for two minutes, so I waited until the sauce was nearly done (about 10-15 minutes) to put them up. In total, the meal came together in twenty minutes or less.

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Finally, I made beef and parsley burgers for lunch. For the burger patties, I mixed about a 1/2 pound of ground beef with 1 egg, 1 T whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. I mixed everything together and cooked on a skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. We ate the burgers on whole wheat rolls with an assortment of salatim and vegetable toppings:

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It’s amazing how the internet enables everyone to have access to an essentially unlimited collection of recipes and food ideas! Every day I add more recipes to my ‘to cook something like this’ list…so there are a lot more dishes on my mind to make in the upcoming weeks. :)

Jerusalem Cafes: Round 4

Israel…land of milk and honey, land once thought to be the physical center of the world, now “only” the spiritual and emotional center of the world.

Also, land of cafe culture and a quite-possibly-perfected leisurely breakfast….

So, it’s time for another ‘Jerusalem Cafes’ post!

The last few weeks involved two visits to The Grand Cafe. Grand Cafe is practically next door to my apartment AND delicious, so it’s proved to be a great go-to place for any meal of the day. I went for lunch with Noah and we ordered eggplant lasagna, open-faced mozzarella toast, and a cappuccino:

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My next visit was with friends for breakfast so, of course, we ordered the signature Grand Cafe breakfast. This included the Israeli breakfast standards of eggs, bread, a hot drink, cold drink, and salad. While many Israeli breakfast come with fixed sides including some combination of cheese, spreads, tuna, avocado, and other vegetables, the Grand Cafe breakfast lets you select your own sides from a lengthy list. Around the table, we ended up with jam, tapenades, eggplant (with and without yogurt), roasted zucchini, gouda cheese, and yogurt with granola:

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The waitress we had at Grand Cafe was super sweet and brought us coffee mousse with a chocolate ‘espresso’ bean after the meal!

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Grand Cafe is definitely a favorite. Everything on their menu looks great, and everything from their coffees to salads are really tasty. Also, their dessert case looks amazing. :)

The next cafe we visited was Cafe Hillel. Cafe Hillel is an Israeli cafe/coffee shop chain – somewhat similar to Aroma – but slightly fancier. Noah and I met there for lunch during the week and had a nice meal. Many restaurants around Jerusalem offer a ‘business lunch’ which includes a lot of extras with an entree order if you go for lunch during the work week. I ordered eggplant/goat cheese ravioli with pesto cream sauce and it came as a business lunch with bread, salad, and juice (I chose carrot juice). Noah shared my business lunch extras with me and also ordered a caprese pizza (although there didn’t seem to be any basil) and a fruit shake:

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I really liked Cafe Hillel and there were a lot of salads and drinks that looked appetizing – I definitely hope to go back and try another dish!

Lastly, we went to Tomas Masaryk for dinner. Tomas is on Emek Refaim and has a fairly brief menu: salads, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and a few fish dishes and starters.

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I liked the atmosphere of this restaurant, and we had a seat where we could see a little bit into the kitchen and saw the chefs working their magic with the pizza oven. For our meal, we ordered a pizza with spinach, tomatoes, stracciatella, and olives, a salad with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and feta, and focaccia with eggplant, pesto, and mozzarella.

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The food was good, but I don’t think Tomas is a new favorite. If I’m eating on Emek, I’m still partial to Caffit!

Other Jerusalem Cafe posts:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3

Pumpkin Beef Chili

Thank goodness for canned pumpkin, allowing people everywhere to make pumpkin flavored dishes. I picked up a couple cans of pumpkin at the grocery store last week and was excited to make something using one of them. I found this recipe online and decided to make something similar.

*full recipe below

To start, I prepped the veggies by chopping 2 carrots, one red pepper, and half a white onion.

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I also prepped a spice mix by combining 1 tablespoon each of paprika and cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes and cinnamon.

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I put the vegetables along with 1 lb. ground beef in a skillet with some coconut oil, stirring occasionally until the meat browned:

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Meanwhile…I chopped three small tomatoes:

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Once the meat browned, I added the tomatoes to the chili along with the spice mix:

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For the final touch, I added half a can of pumpkin, mixed thoroughly, and heated through:

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I served the chili with bread and it made for a hearty meal!

Pumpkin Beef Chili, serves 4
Ingredients
 - 1/2 white onion
 - 1 red pepper
 - 2 carrots
 - 3 small tomatoes
 - 1 T cocoa powder
 - 1 T paprika
 - 1 t cinnamon
 - 1 t red pepper flakes
 - 1/2 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
 - 1 lb. ground beef
Method
 - chop onion, pepper, and carrots 
 - combine cocoa powder, paprika, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes
 in a small bowl to have ready
 - heat ~1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet and add the
 onion, pepper, carrots, and ground beef
 - cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned. While the meat
 is browning, chop the tomatoes
 - after the meat is browned, add tomatoes, spice mix, and pumpkin
 - stir to combine and continue cooking until heated through
 - serve warm with bread or grain of choice