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

Jerusalem Cafes: Round 3

Continuing my series of posts about Jerusalem cafes (see here and here), Noah and I went to a couple more places in the recent weeks.

For dinner, we went to Focaccia Bar Hamoshava – a meat restaurant on Emek Refaim.

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As the name implies, Focaccia’s specialty menu item is focaccia. The menu offers a range of uniquely Israeli focaccia varieties (such as eggplant/egg/tahini), as well as pastas, meat entrees, and a small collection of salads and sandwiches. The restaurant was very nice with an extremely friendly waiter! To start, Noah and I shared the basic focaccia with spreads (it came with egg salad, tapenade, eggplant, sun-dried tomato paste, and something vaguely resembling non-spicy salsa).

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Look at their beautiful ceramic plates:

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The focaccia reminded me more of a flat bread than the thick focaccia I am used to in the US…I liked this version a lot better!

For our main dishes we ordered salmon fettuccine and eggplant mousaka (fried eggplant with ground beef and lamb) to share. Everything was delicious, but it was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish everything!

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After the meal, our very friendly waiter treated us to coffees (I ordered decaf, Noah got Turkish coffee). I would definitely go back here again!

The other new place we tried in the past couple weeks was Caffit. In fact, we went there twice! The first time was after a slightly disastrous morning buying Rav Kavs (Israeli bus passes). Noah and I had intended to get bus passes and then treat ourselves to an Israeli breakfast.

Rav Kavs are only available at the Jerusalem central bus station and a smaller station called Davidka (which we believed to be closed on Fridays). So, we headed out to the Central bus station in the morning. The Central Station is ENORMOUS! In fact, it is practically an indoor shopping mall combined with a transportation hub:

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After getting our bearings, it was a little bit of a treasure hunt to find where we were supposed to buy the Rav Kavs – we were directed from one window to another until we finally ended up in a back room of the station devoted specifically to the production of new Rav Kavs. We had to take a number and wait about 20 minutes until it was our turn. Once inside, it went pretty quickly, but by the time we were done and leaving it was already past 11:00am. We started to take the bus home but got stuck in a big traffic back-up that eventually led us to get out and walk.

Originally, we planned to go to the Scottish Guest House for breakfast. The Scottish Guest House is located near the intersection of King David and Emek Refaim and is a beautiful bed and breakfast up on a hill, overlooking Jerusalem’s old city. I stayed there my first time in Jerusalem about five years ago, and I still remember the great breakfast spread they serve each morning! According to their website, breakfast is available to the public from 11-3 on Friday and Saturday. Since it was Friday, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to go! Unfortunately, their website appears not to have been updated in a while because when we finally arrived we were informed that they actually stop serving breakfast at 9:30….NOOO! At least we got some pretty views out of the detour:

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By this point, we had been thwarted by Rav Kavs, public transport, and the Scottish Guest House, so when we finally reached Caffit on Emek Refaim and learned they were no longer serving breakfast, we were too tired/hungry to be all that disappointed. Despite the day’s mishaps, we enjoyed a delicious lunch (I ordered the signature oreganato salad with fried zucchini and Noah ordered a pizza):

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We also ordered a fresh squeezed apple juice and iced chocolate milk:

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Caffit is a Jersualem favorite amongst both restaurant reviewers and locals and our lunch was great, so we were eager to return again for breakfast.

When we came back for breakfast, we made sure to get there when it was still breakfast time! Noah and I both ordered variations of the standard Israeli breakfast: bread, eggs, spreads, tuna, cheese, hot drink, cold drink.

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So much food deliciousness. This was amazing. If you find yourself in Jerusalem, go here soon. 🙂

Homemade Pizza

Big news from my day…

1. I biked to work because the week of no sunshine finally ended and the weather was A++++ beautiful!

2. I finally severed my relationship with Comcast, effective June 1. They said, “why are you canceling your service.” I said, “Because I’m moving somewhere that doesn’t have Comcast.” In my mind, I said, “Because I hate you with a passion that burns within the deepest parts of my soul and I will do everything in my human ability NEVER to use any Comcast service again.” Ahh…fantasy.

3. I updated my iPhone to the latest operating system. I have a natural skepticism towards upgrades, but my reluctance to do so was interfering with my ability to facetime. Woe is me.

4. I listened to a great radio show by my baby bro (8-10pm EST on Mondays, http://wamh.amherst.edu/)

5. I have now completed a third consecutive day without chewing gum (a record from the last 6 years!!). I wonder how long I need to go before I can say I’ve broken the addiction and am safe to reintroduce the substance in moderation. 🙂

6. I made homemade pizza!

I have had my eye on a yeast-free pizza dough recipe I pinned to my Pinterest board a long time ago. I decided to make the dough recipe and scrounge up whatever toppings I could from what I already had in my kitchen.

Making the dough could not have been easier. You mix everything in one bowl, spread it on a baking tray, and cook for 10 minutes at 400º. so simple

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While the crust baked, I worked on assembling toppings. I identified the following as possible toppings: black beans, tomato, green onions, smoked mozzarella cheese.

I started by making a black bean hummus to use in the traditional role of tomato sauce. I drained and rinsed one can of black beans, combined it with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and then pulverized the whole thing using an immersion blender.

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I chopped the tomato and green onions and grated 6oz of smoked mozzarella cheese (cheese unpictured):

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After the dough baked into a crust (10 minutes), I topped with the black bean spread, then tomatoes and green onions, and finally cheese:

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I put the pizza back in the 400º for fifteen minutes and…

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yumyumyum. I served with mixed greens on the side:

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After dinner, I made a cup of ginger yogi tea and was told these wise words:

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“Live in your strength.” It caught my attention because it made me wonder what my strength to live in is. What’s your strength to live in?

 

The treacherous outdoors and Black Sheep Pizza

Finally, yes FINALLY, winter seems to be coming to an end. The snow is melting off of the sidewalks, and the road surfaces are nearly entirely visible. While the snow melting is a welcome development, it has led to a dangerous development. BLACK ICE!

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Noah recently shared this comedy sketch about black ice by Key and Peele with me, and I thought it was very funny…so check it out!

Anyway, as the snow has melted, a thin layer of black ice lays hidden on the sidewalk. In fact, I took a pretty nasty fall on the ice pictured above. I fell so hard that my keys flew out of pocket. I didn’t notice until I made it to the gym (where I was headed when leaving the apartment). I walked all the way (super cautiously, of course), and found the keys sitting at the scene of the crime:

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Since the snow and ice are melting more and more each day, I got the winter tires taken off of my bike on Wednesday. I biked to work on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and I had an awesome time.

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Even though the snow is melting, it’s still pretty cold outside, so I need the winter biking face essentials: balaclava and goggles. The helmet is an anytime must-have. 🙂

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One of the places I biked to this week was Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza. I’ve known about this pizza place for a while since it gets positive buzz within the Twin Cities food scene, and I was excited to finally try it. There are two locations: one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis. I met a friend for lunch at the Minneapolis location on Washington Ave N.

We both ordered build your pizzas. I got mine with goat cheese, mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes. My friend ordered hers with feta, green olives, and roasted red peppers:

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The pizza was great! It was a thin crust and the toppings were flavorful. There were also a lot of great looking salads and side dishes on the menu that would be great for sharing with a larger party.

Paleo Pancakes and Pizza Luce

Several months ago, I bought the cookbook Practical Paleo.

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I don’t follow a paleo diet (and do not support following any strict diet plan!), but I do like a lot of paleo recipes and appreciate the paleo approach to eating for two primary reasons.

1. They promote eating whole foods
2. They discourage fear of fat and encourage regular consumption of fat in meat and other natural sources (see my post about not being scared of fat here)

Despite admiring this cookbook on the shelf and reading through it a few times, I haven’t actually made any recipes from it. Why does this always happen with cookbooks? I seem to always use recipes on the internet or just make them up.

Today was the day for a recipe from the book!

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The recipe I chose was for pumpkin pancakes. The recipe was a simple collection of pumpkin puree, eggs, coconut flour (but I used almond), and some spices. Mix it all up:

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Cook it all up:

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And serve with dried bananas and coconut butter (if you’re me):

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Delicious!

In other news, I have a recap from a visit to Pizza Luce from a few weeks ago.

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Pizza Luce is a popular pizza chain around the Twin Cities area that specializes in creative options with plenty of vegetarian and vegan selections. We ordered quite a feast and had plenty of leftovers! To start, we ordered Focaccia Katerina which was focaccia bread covered with pesto, goat cheese, and bruschetta:

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I ordered a veggieball hoagie with a ‘side salad:’

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As you can see, the side salad was enormous. My dining partner ordered a build-your-own pizza with chicken, tomatoes, and basil:

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Everything was delicious! I would definitely go here again. Also, if you’re buying gifts this holiday season, Pizza Luce is doing a special where you can buy $100 worth of gift cards for $80.

Sunnyside Drive

There’s an area around 44th and France that is full of ambiguity – are we in Minneapolis? Are we in Edina? One thing, however, leaves no ambiguity: the food.

Just off this intersection is a small street called Sunnyside Drive. The food on Sunnyside Drive is as delicious as the street name is cute. Next door to one another are two iconic and delicious Minneapolis institutions.

The first, Convention Grill, is an old classic.

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Convention Grill has been serving old style burgers, fries, and malts since 1934. Darn, it is good! I went with a friend for lunch. I got a burger and she got a grilled cheese:

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We also shared a half basket of fries (this is huge – I imagine the full basket would serve four people easily):

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I couldn’t resist the malt menu, so I ordered a peppermint shake.

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This was, unfortunately, a disappointment. Half the glass was filled with Andes mints. I would have preferred more milky goodness and less minty chew. Previously mentioned friend ordered a hot fudge sundae which is unpictured (but very good!).

In contrast to Convention Grill, the second place of yum on Sunnyside Drive is a relatively new addition to the Minneapolis food scene.
Hello Pizza is the baby sister of Pizzeria Lola, offering a more casual atmosphere, pizza by the slice, and easy walk up service.

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The inside of Hello Pizza is an interesting mix of cafeteria and traditional New York slice shop – all with a healthy splash of color!

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The pizza choices range from basic to exciting (artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, and organic pulled chicken).

I ordered a slice of veggie and a slice of the artichoke special, and my dining partner ordered two slices of ‘Hello Rita’ (the classic margherita).

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Can you tell you prefers more inventive toppings? 🙂

In case you are judging me, I did not visit these restaurants back to back. Nor did I even visit them in the same week! I would not, however, frown on such behavior.

Ciao Chow

Italian food is. so. good. Here’s a synopsis of two Italian(ish) eating experiences I’ve had in the recent past.

The first was at Scusi in St Paul.

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I went to Scusi with a group of co-workers early in the week. I haven’t been to nearly as many St. Paul restaurants as Minneapolis ones, and I love being reminded that there’s a whole other city of good grub waiting to be discovered just across the river. Scusi’s menu is fairly traditionally Italian (although I was disappointed to find that they don’t make many homemade pastas). The table started with some appetizers of fried artichokes, bruschetta, arancini (crispy risotto balls), and beet/blue cheese salad:

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The meal also came with some nice looking bread:

the lighting was bad, so most of the pictures are dark!

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For my meal, I ordered the eggplant parmesan with gnocchi instead of pasta (the gnocchi is homemade):

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Others ordered pizza and gnocchi with a san marzano sauce:

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The meal was great! After the meal, the table also ordered some desserts including an ice cream sundae and a particularly impressive dish of sugared donut holes with caramel sauce.

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This was an extravagant meal and not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for a celebratory restaurant and like Italian food, this might be a good location.

My second encounter with Italian food was at Pizzeria Lola

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Pizzeria Lola is a wood-fired pizza place in southwest Minneapolis. It’s not your traditional pizza joint though. First, it is exceptionally delicious. Second, it has a unique fusion menu created by its Korean owner (and the restaurant is named after her dog, Lola).

The place was packed (generally an indication that the food is good), so we took a seat at the bar to avoid a long wait. The bar seating turned out to be great because we had a top-notch view of the kitchen and pizza oven:

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We started off with one of the vegetable specials: a kale salad with watermelon radish and feta:

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We ordered two pizzas. Le Creme which came with Italian red sauce, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream, olive oil and basil:

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And the Korean BBQ which was beef short ribs, mozzarella, scallions, arugula, sesame and soy-chili vinaigrette:

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Wow! The Korean BBQ pizza was amazing. It was super filling because of the meat, but it the sesame/soy sauce made it very flavorful.

More than just a pizza place, Lola’s is also acclaimed for their soft serve frozen yogurt (not what you would expect, right?). After the meal, we shared the dessert special: a swirl of Crispin apple cider sorbet and vanilla frozen yogurt topped with caramel sauce:

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If you like pizza, go here now! The only thing to note is that Pizzeria Lola doesn’t have any pizza by the slice options, and if you want a table at a normal meal time, you need to be prepared to wait. If you want a quick slice, you could check out Hello Pizza near 40th and France, Lola’s sister restaurant from the same owner.

Oh, and the trip to Lola’s was especially fun since our waiter turned out to be from Vermont and went to same college as us! Small world.