Jerusalem Cafes: Round 2

A couple weeks ago, I posted about cafe culture in Jerusalem and a few of the nearby cafes I visited during my first couple weeks in Jerusalem (see that post here).

As my weeks in Jerusalem have increased, the list of cafes I want to try grows longer and longer. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to try a couple more cafes in the last few weeks…

First up, I went to Shosh Cafe with a group of friends about two weeks ago. I went with a group of friends from college (oddly, there are a lot of us here in Jerusalem this year)! While the cafe was supposed to be yummy, a big motivating factor for choosing it was the comedic effect that it shared a name with our college Rabbi.

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The signature ‘Shosh breakfast’ was quite a sight to behold:

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I opted out of the namesake breakfast, however, and instead had a frittata with sweet potatoes, cheese, veggies, and all the typical Israeli breakfast accoutrements (bread, spreads, salad):

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Shosh Cafe was delicious and I would definitely go there again. As mentioned previously though, my list of places to try is long enough it might be a while before I’m going on a ‘second round’ anywhere. :)

My official first day of classes at Pardes was two Sundays ago, and after my first day ‘back to school,’ Noah and I went out to dinner at RoladinRoladin is near our apartment in the Baka neighborhood in a small shopping center. The cafe is both a bakery (with desserts, pastries, and coffee drinks) and a sit-down restaurant:

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I ordered a salad with eggplant, tahini, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, radish and onions:

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Noah ordered a pizza:

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The meal was good, but I preferred the other cafes we’ve been to. I think I would be more interested to grab a coffee or dessert at Roladin than to go back for a full meal.

Lastly, at the end of last week we went out with some friends to a nearby Baka neighborhood cafe called Hamakom Shel Itzik (Itzik’s Place). As mentioned in some of my previous posts, essentially all restaurants in Jerusalem in kosher. What this typically means is that the restaurant pays a fee to hold a kosher contract with the chief rabbinate of Jerusalem. After paying the contract fee, a restaurant can receive a certificate of kashrut on their wall, confirming that they meet the standards of kashrut as set forth by the chief rabbinate. If, however, a restaurant meets all of the standards of kashrut but doesn’t pay the fee to the chief rabbinate, they cannot receive a certificate and, therefore, are prevented from being publicly recognized as kosher.

As you might imagine, this system leads to some frustration and the feeling that the fee to the chief rabbinate is, at best, unfair and, at worst, corrupt. In response, a small group of Jerusalem restaurants have challenged the chief rabbinate’s authority, refusing to pay the kashrut fee but still calling themselves kosher. No, there’s no certificate on the wall, but the kitchen is kept strictly kosher and all business stops on Shabbat. If you are uncomfortable eating at the restaurant for lack of certainty about their level of kashrut, they are even happy to give you a peek into their kitchen!

Hamakom Shel Itzik is one of these restaurants, and I really enjoyed my meal there. Around the table, there was lentil soup, stuffed grape leaves, eggplant/egg/tahini salad, and a cheese-filled boureka.

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The food was excellent, and our server was also particularly friendly (something not so common in Israel where the waiters often seem less-than-interested in chatting with their table).

Stay tuned for more cafe recaps soon…and if you are interested in reading more about the situation regarding Jerusalem restaurants holding their own kashrut and challenging the chief rabbinate, read this article!

 

Dense and Delicious Brownies

After last week’s cooking experiment with avocado chocolate cake, I was eager to try another dessert recipe using the big green monster.

Cookieavocado-+Sesame+Workshop[source]

When I was asked to bake another dessert to bring to a Shabbat meal this weekend, I decided to make a recipe for brownies using avocado as a dairy replacement again. I found this recipe online and used that as a starting point for the recipe listed below. *full recipe at bottom of page

To begin, I (vigorously) beat together 4 eggs and 2/3 cup white sugar:

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Then, I heated 8 oz. non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips on the stove top until just melted:

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So much love chocolate!!

I quickly re-stirred the egg/sugar mixture and then stirred in the melted chocolate.

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Next, I added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cocoa powder, and 2 tsp vanilla to the mixture and stirred until it formed a smooth, thick batter:

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Next up…mash the avocado!

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The avocados in Israel are ENORMOUS, so I only used one. If you are using regular size avocados I would use two though. Once the avocado was sufficiently mashed, I added it to the batter and stirred until it was thick, smooth, and had no visible green flecks:

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I poured the batter into a 9 inch round baking pan and baked for 45 minutes at 350º. If I had a better stocked kitchen, I think it would be better to bake in a square baking dish (I would also check to see if the brownies are set starting at 30 minutes).

They came out wonderfully.

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The brownies were extremely dense, moist, delicious…all the good things. Last week’s cake had a little bit of the ‘healthy’ flavor to it, but these could have passed for brownies teeming with butter and heavy cream. Definitely a good contribution to any meal. :)

Dense and Delicious Brownies
Ingredients
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 8 oz. chocolate chips (non-dairy if necessary)
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 very large or two small mashed avocados
Method
- Vigorously beat together eggs and sugar in a large bowl
- Melt chocolate chips on stovetop over low heat until
just melted
- Quickly re-stir eggs/sugar and add in melted chocolate 
and stir until well combined
- Add flour, cocoa, and vanilla, stirring to combine
- Mash avocado and then add to the batter
- Stir until a smooth, thick batter forms
- Place in a 9 inch round or square baking dish
and cook for 30-45 minutes at 350º (I would
check the center of the brownie to see if firm
starting at 30 minutes)
- Allow to cool and slice, if desired

 

Jerusalem Wine Festival

This past week was the Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum.  The Wine Festival is an annual event, taking place in the Israel Museum’s Art Garden and featuring tastings from wineries from all over Israel.

This was actually Noah’s and my second time to the Israel museum. On our first visit two weekends ago, we looked at a few of the indoor galleries and exhibits. The museum is quite large featuring a wide collection of art, Judaica, synagogue recreations, a model of the second temple, the Dead Sea Scrolls, archaological exhibits, the outdoor art garden, and a few temporary exhibits. When we went, we visited the contemporary Israeli art galleries and temporary exhibits called ‘Dress Codes: Revealing the Jewish Wardrobe,’ ‘Light Spaces,’ and ‘Big Bambu.’

photo from one of the rooms included in the 'Light Spaces' exhibit

photo from one of the rooms included in the ‘Light Spaces’ exhibit

Big Bambu was definitely the highlight of the visit! Essentially, Big Bambu is a huge sculpture made entirely out of bambu…and the best part is that people can climb it! The exhibit is outside in the art garden, and if you buy a ticket to climb you are assigned a certain entry time when you will be allowed to go up in the sculpture:

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Good thing they limit the number of people climbing, because at times it was a little scary climbing up so high on only bamboo floors!

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From the center of the sculpture, it looked like a big mess of bambu sticks to all sides:

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At the edges of the sculpture there were great views looking out over the city and the art garden:

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But back to the Wine Festival!!

The Wine Festival took place exclusively in the Art Garden, and attendees received a wine glass upon admission:

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The various wineries had booths set up around the garden.

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Most wineries seemed to offer about 2-4 wines for tasting, and the people working at the stand were quite friendly and happy to offer multiple tastes or more information about the wine.

Mixed in with the wine were a couple hard cider stands, including one called Buster’s that had an amazing hard lemonade!

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There were also stands giving out samples of passionfruit wine, chocolate liquor, and aperol spritz.

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Mixed in among the tasting stands were some nice places to sit and relax…

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…as well as a few eateries (wine tastings were included with admission but food was for purchase). There was an especially nice looking cheese stand!

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We were at the event for about two hours, and there seemed to be a steady stream of people coming in the whole time. It was definitely a popular outing!

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Afterwards, Noah and I walked home and stumbled upon some live music at the Tahana:

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All in all, a wonderful evening. :)

Avocado Chocolate Cake

Kashrut is a Hebrew word meaning ‘fit’ or ‘proper.’ Although it has several applications in Jewish law, kashrut is most often spoken about in relationship to food and the Jewish dietary laws. To explain the entire system of dietary laws here is a much larger undertaking than I am interested in, so I will VERY briefly sum up the highlights: no pork, no shellfish, no mixing of meat and dairy , and no eating dairy after meat for 1, 3, or 6 hours (depending on who you ask). Due to the prohibition against eating meat and dairy together, traditional Jewish meals are classified as either halavi (dairy) or basari (meat). Restaurants in Israel serve EITHER dairy dishes OR meat dishes, and meals within homes are also given the same classification. Therefore, after being invited to a Shabbat meal and being asked to bring dessert, my first question was, “Is it a meat meal or a dairy meal.” The answer, “Meat.”

No. That does not mean I would be making a dessert with meat in it. It does, however, mean that the dessert cannot contain any dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, and other creamy things that often find their way into the end-of-meal deliciousness.

Fear not, dessert lovers, because there is a solution! It’s BIG. It’s green. It’s still creamy:

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Yes. The avocado is the magical replacement ingredient for dairy. While others may be bringing margarine-laden delicacies to Shabbat meals, I am powering my meat-meal dessert with the fatty avocado (a good kind of fat, if you’re interested!).

I decided that I wanted to make a chocolate avocado cake, loosely based on this recipe*see the full recipe for my cake below

First, mix together the dry ingredients of whole wheat flour, white flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda:

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In a separate bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, water, apple cider vinegar, 1 mashed avocado, and white and brown sugar. This will quite possibly look gross. In fact, the one in my kitchen looked quite gross, hence my artistic decision not to include a photograph of this particular step. Don’t worry though, it will still taste great!

After you mix the wet ingredients (as listed above), combine them with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly:

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Pour the batter into a large pan (two small pans would be preferable  – I just didn’t have) and cook for 45 minutes at 350º.

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When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes. While you’re waiting…make the frosting!

Combine two cups powdered sugar with cocoa powder and cinnamon:

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Add (another) mashed avocado to the mix and stir until the frosting takes on an even consistency:

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Once the cake sufficiently cools, you can layer and frost it! Since I had only the large pan to cook in, I ended up cutting the cake in half and making layers that way. If you have two pans, I have no doubt that would be much easier!

Full cake (with avocado flecks – don’t be scared of the green!):

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Half cake (otherwise known as the first layer):

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Frosting and layers:

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Yummmmm

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Tell your guests that the green bits are actually delicious. And that it’s healthy. And no one will care. Or, just get a food processor. ;)

Ingredients
For the cake:
- 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 3/4cups water
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
For the frosting:
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
 Method
 - for the cake, combine cocoa powder, flours, cinnamon, baking 
powder, and baking soda in a large bowl
- separately, combine coconut oil, water, apple cider vinegar, 
mashed avocado, and sugars
- add the wet ingredients to the dry, transfer to a pan and cook
for 45 minutes at 350º
 - as cake cooks, make frosting by combining all ingredients
and stirring thoroughly until smooth
- allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting

Cafe Life

Cafes abound in Israel. Walk down any main street in Jerusalem, and you are likely to see a smattering of cafes – often with both indoor and outdoor seating areas – busy with customers at any time of the day. Popular for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as just a coffee or dessert, meals at cafes are often long and leisurely, fitting with the Israeli taboo of bringing the check before bringing directly asked.

In the last few weeks I’ve been to a few cafes (also see posts about The Grand Cafe and Fresh Kitchen). The weekend here is Friday-Saturday, aligning with Shabbat. In Jerusalem, nearly all stores and restaurants close down for Shabbat, so I’ve enjoyed going out for a Friday midday meal at a cafe to enjoy getting out around the city during the weekend before settling in for a restful Shabbat.

Two Fridays ago, I went with friends to Kalo. Kalo is another Baka neighborhood establishment very popular with both Israelis and visitors. While some cafes may be known for a particular dish or inventive menu item, the overall food line-up at each cafe is very similar: shakshuka, an assortment of omelettes, salads, cheese/eggplant/tomato/egg sandwiches, and the classic Israeli breakfast. Ordering an Israeli breakfast is a (deliciously) filling experience, and the meal typically comes with two eggs, cheese, salad, jam/cream cheese, a small serving of tuna, and bread. Something that I’m not used to from the USA is the inclusion of a hot and cold beverage with a breakfast meal. Typically, juices and basic coffee options are included for this option, and if you want to upgrade to a smoothie or shake there’s a small upcharge.

At Kalo, I ordered their version of the traditional Israeli breakfast and chose orange juice and a cappuccino for my beverages:

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Other noteworthy items at the table included a fruit smoothie and a ‘green burger’ salad:

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We enjoyed a relaxing couple hours at the cafe chatting and eating before asking for the check and heading out to do some Shabbat shopping and preparations. We especially got a kick out of watching a very human-like dog at a nearby table:

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This past Friday, I went to Tmol Shilshom for lunch (with my brother, Samuel, who is also here in Jerusalem!). Tmol Shilshom is near Ben Yehuda street. The restaurant is both a cafe and a bookstore and has become somewhat of a cultural establishment due to the fact that many Israeli writers have conducted readings of their work at the cafe. In fact, the cafe was mentioned in my Ulpan book! I also read online that their Shakshuka was voted ‘top 10 breakfasts in the world’ by Lonely Planet Travel Guide – a fact which was reiterated on their menu. :)

The cafe itself is on the second floor of a building, and the entrance is tucked away in a back alleyway so we followed a series of signs from the main road to get there:

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Eventually, we found our way to the stairs and made our way into the cozy cafe interior:

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BIG bonus points to them for quoting Joni Mitchell on the placemat!!

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It seemed like the right occasion for a luxurious meal, so my brother and I both got milkshakes…

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… and Noah got a decked out version of the Israeli classic: ice kafe. Unlike iced coffee in the USA, ice kafe in Israel is more like a frappuccino – a blended sweet coffee drink. To get the American version of cold coffee with ice, you would need to order a kafe kar, literally, cold coffee. Noah basically got the super version of ice kafe which added ice cream and whipped cream:

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After all the buzz about it, we obviously all ordered the shakshuka.

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Delicious!

Halva Banana Cake

Today was my first baking experiment in Israel! I think it went pretty well. :)

I bought some halva (a Middle Eastern dessert/candy made out of sesame and honey, often sold in large bricks) earlier in the week, and quickly realized that it would be an incredible feat to eat the whole amount of halva straight.

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So…I decided to incorporate it into a baked good! The result: halva banana cake! *full recipe below

First, I mixed together 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup white flour, a scant 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon:

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Next, in a separate bowl, I mashed 3 small bananas:

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With the bananas, I mixed two eggs, 1/3 cup applesauce, 1/3 cup greek yogurt, and 1 tsp. baking soda:

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I combined the wet ingredients with the dry ones:

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And then added 3/4 cup crumbled halva to the batter:

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Once the halva was stirred in, I poured the batter into a buttered cake pan and added another 3/4 cup of crumbled halva on top:

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I baked for 40 minutes at 350º and…

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YUM YUM YUM! The little hole is from where I put the knife in to test it before it was quite done…

Ingredients

 - 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

 - 1/4 cup white flour

 - scant 1/2 cup sugar

 - 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

 - 3 small mashed bananas

 - 2 eggs

 - 1/3 cup applesauce

 - 1/3 cup greek yogurt

 - 1 tsp. baking soda

 - 1 1/2 cups halva

 Method

 - Combine flours, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and
stir to combine

 - Combine bananas, eggs, applesauce, greek yogurt, and
baking soda in a bowl
 and stir thoroughly

 - Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and
stir to combine

 - Stir into the batter 3/4 cup crumbled halva

 - Pour batter into a buttered cake pan

 - Sprinkle another 3/4 cup of crumbled halva on top

 - Bake for 30 minutes at 350º F (175º C - useful temperature
conversion for my Israeli oven!)

Making a Home

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I’m in Jerusalem for a year of Jewish learning at Pardes, but moving to a new home – especially in a new country! – takes some adjustment to make things feel comfortable. Tomorrow, I will have been in Jerusalem for three weeks, and I’ve definitely started to feel at home.

Eating meals at home helps me to feel settled. On vacation, I’m usually eating out all the time, and while I plan to do plenty of eating out in Jerusalem, there’s something that feels comfortable and “I actually live here” about having meals at home. While I’ve gone out for a few meals with friends, I’ve mainly eaten from the comfort of my own kitchen. And the food has still been great!

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It’s been especially fun to eat at home since there continues to be so many fresh fruits and vegetables that I want to enjoy straight from the fruit stands.

This week: mango and kiwi!

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Taking all of my stuff out of bags and making sure that everything has a place in the apartment also was a big step for making the apartment homey. In some instances, this tooking getting a little creative. For example, I brought all my jewelry here in a ziplop bag (and then spent about 30 minutes getting it all untangled when I got here!). Earring trees don’t travel so well, so I had to find a solution for how to store my earrings while I”m here. The result: egg carton earring stand! 

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While I didn’t want to buy a new earring stand here and then feel compelled to fly it across the Atlantic later, there were some things that are worth buying…

…such as a new yoga mat! Having the mat has enabled me to do some yoga at home; I’ve done a few YouTube lessons by Lesley Fightmaster. Her last name might not sound very yogic, but her videos are a good workout and I’ve felt really rejuvenated afterwards.

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I’ve also visited the Pardes building a few times to get my bearings and see where I’m going to be studying for the year…so excited!

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and the most essential part to feeling at home here…

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LOOK WHO ARRIVED ON TUESDAY:

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Yay. :) This is really starting to feel like home.