Tel-Aviv: Creation & Color
June 18, 2012 § 2 Comments
Tel-Aviv is a Middle-Eastern city with European flare. The food is amazing and as in any city there is a whole spectrum of different cuisines, some traditional others more creative. Because of the many ethnicities, religions and the traditions that come with them, creativity thrives in the city’s food, in the culture and in the people.
Our time in Israel concluded with just a few days to explore the beaches, markets, cafes and cuisine of Tel-Aviv. Earlier in the trip we had been tipped off to Mizlala, a cutting edge restaurant at the heart of the city.
Mizlala was impressive from the start; taking the place of bread were puffy peanuts in their shells served with a helping of grainy flur de sal for dipping. The menu, broken up into four parts took careful deliberation before we finally choose what we would eat and drink. We chose a Rioja to pair with our adventurous dishes of Cubana (a brioche-like Cuban bread made with lard), Palestinian tartar (chopped rump steak, crude tehina, pine nuts, yogurt, broad beans and cumin), calf brain mafroum (wrapped in potato, hummus chickpeas & pepper harissa) and slow cooked veal plate (veal cheek) with ratte gnocchi, baladi spinach & forest mushrooms. After our meal we ordered the cacao and nuts ice cream sandwich served with toffee ice cream and chocolate whip. Dessert was perfect in taste, texture and temperature (imagine warm, crunchy cacao cookies with cold ice cream, nuts and cloud-lite chocolate cream). So delicious.
The food at Mizlala definetly reflected the necessary hybridizations present in Tel-Aviv between the various religions and cultures. Tel-Aviv is a city I’ll rush back to (in large part due to the aforementioned creative hybridizations). The streets are lined with cafes where people sip cappuccinos and Turkish coffee, the beaches are dotted with paddle ball players and guitarists and the market, Carmel Market, is a feast for the senses. The most intriguing thing about the city is that every Friday night on Shabbat, the beginning of the Jewish sabbath, all of this modern life comes to a halt for a day of rest. In fact, the best time to visit the central open-air market is of Friday afternoon before sundown when everyone is scrambling to buy the last of what they need before Saturday’s Shabbat when the market is closed.
At the market in Tel-Aviv (which was more chaotic than the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem), fragrant spices are guarded by vendors shouting prices in Hebrew. By showing just a bit of curiosity the vendors will pour some of their favorite spice mixtures into the palm of your hand for sampling. I happily left with 400 grams of sumac and 400 grams of za’atar, sesame seed halva, dark chocolate dip, tahina and a platter of baklava, kataifi and borma.
As if being in another country, Tel-Aviv serves as a haven for those looking to escape the religious and political heat that is present throughout the volatile regions of Israel. I found it to be a space for creating culture; art, music, food etc that I greatly recommend visiting (not just for the food).