Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Politics in the city: Tzipi Livni on Ahmadinejad in NY

NY Times today on Ahmadinejad
Foreign minister Tzipi Livni proved today (24 Sept) that she is much more than just another pretty face when she attended the anti Ahmadinejad rally in New York. She showed she has the guts to stand with freedom loving people against those who want to destroy us.
The Iranian dictator of today is no different than his German predecessor. Hitler wrote and spoke his distorted opinions just as the present fascist in Iran. There is a conflict in Israel in how we should respond. There are even these in the foreign ministry who don't agree with Livni's up front honest approach. Some Israelis are afraid to stand up and say this mad man should not be honored by any civilized institution including Colombia University (in New York city).
This goes back 2,000 years of living in the diaspora, when Jews survived by mostly sticking their heads in the sand in face of controversy. Today we have our country and we don't have to hide from evil as we did in 1930's Germany. If Jews and the rest of the civilized world had confronted Hitler this way, the world would have been better for it.
The time has come when we Israelis should bind together with Jews and Christians around the world and face the threat to civilized society.
We Jews in Israel and the diaspora must face our demons and cast off the guilt that has hindered us in the past to face those who want to destroy us. Remember we are part of the solution, not the problem. If you want an example ask these countries around the world like Greece and Thailand, when in their time of tragedy, Israel was the first to respond with help.
Tzipi continue the fight against evil and help all cast off the demons of guilt. //sam-d-man Read More...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Great Shape Gym on Kikar Rabin (by Jessi)

Another nice gym

Editor's note: this is a contributed article from 'Jessi')

Great Shape in Kikar Rabin lives up its name. The people are Hebrew/English speaking and actually care about you (this is evident when you don’t show up for a week and they call to make sure everything is ok with you). They have various memberships available to work with your schedule and budget. Everyone from students, pre and post army to business men and women frequent the gym at all hours of the day. Mornings are usually the quietest with the nighttime starting to heat up.
It has everything that a normal gym would have; free weights, weighted machines, cardio machines (you can even watch TV - you plug your headphones into on the machines to hear the programs), and locker rooms with hot showers. They have a group exercise room which houses the many different classes, such as kickboxing, cardio hip-hop, yoga, and step classes just to mention a few. A spinning room is also a main feature and you can hear the music pumping with the ecstatic cries of the instructor spurring you on as the sweat beads down your face. What struck me as amazing is their “Boxing Smash” room which actually houses a full size boxing ring and over 10 kickboxing bags suspended from the ceiling on a track so that you can move them from one side of the room to the other with ease!
When you sign up for membership, you are entitled to a free session with an instructor every month who will get you started with a workout, teach you what machines to use and when, and give you an overall reason to keep coming. When you get tired or hungry, you can sit down at the counter of the food/drink bar that’s right there in the gym for you. They have freshly made sandwiches and fresh juice drinks.
Feeling the sore muscles? Indulge in a massage or acupuncture session with one of the many therapists they have on staff at EnerChi, a separate company that works within the gym. As professional as they can be, the various therapists are certified in Shiatsu, Deep Muscle and Tissues, Acupuncture, and other techniques that are too delicious to pass up.
So with a combination of friendly staff, great equipment, motivating classes and the music to keep you going, I’m more than satisfied to be a member at Great Shape. Check it out for yourself, I’m sure you’ll love it. //Jessi - in Tel Aviv (dcjessi@yahoo.com>)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Real estate investment in Tel Aviv: overview

As Real-Estate in the US 'corrects' itself from inflated prices, possibly a correction that will take years, the Real-Estate in Tel Aviv is recovering from years of inactivity and depression. I compare the US Real Estate market to the one in Tel Aviv not to anger or annoy. The comparison is to highlight the opportunity in a market that is on the rising side of the cycle, essentially on the other side of the cycle from the US market. But this opportunity is something that will not last forever, it is also not for everyone. Small investors who are not comfortable investing in a distant location will not be interested. But for these who want to take the opportunity to make money, specially if they are familiar with Tel Aviv and Israel, this is the time to take action.

Renovated Bauhaus on Ben Yehuda

Before you jump into this market there are a few things to learn and become familiarize with. Start out by hiring a good Real Estate lawyer and work with a few good experienced brokers. The legal system in Israel is very sophisticated and sometimes complicated issues are part of a deal. The Real Estate law has developed over many years and two empires, the Ottoman (Turkish) and British laws ruled this land for a long time. Then came the Israeli law to complicate things even more. This is not a problem that professionals in the field are unfamiliar with. Experienced professionals know the laws and practices and therefore can guide you to a safe and profitable investment.
A good local lawyer can help you find an accountant and a Real Estate agent. An accountant will be useful if you are buying a multi-unit residential or commercial building. Once you are set on the type of property you would like to buy, accountants and lawyers can advise on the type of Realtor. Fees for legal and accounting should be negotiated at the beginning of the process. These fees run between 1% and 2% of the total investment. Realtor fees are usually lower than in the US and run the the 2% to 3% range, these can be negotiated at the beginning also.
Real Estate in Israel is recorded in the "Tabo" (recorder's office). Tel Aviv's Tabo office is located at city hall in kikar Rabin. Real Estate lawyers are familiar with the listing process and should be experienced in transferring deeds.
Once you decide to invest in Tel Aviv property, my advice is not to cut costs. Hire the right people with the experience, take their advice and make sure you understand all the steps and the issues. As Tel Aviv is going through a renovation wave, as the economy in Israel is recovering from both the technology and the security slumps, there are many great opportunities to invest in prime location and good buildings.
Enjoy your property in the city, come invest in Tel Aviv.... //sam-d-man Read More...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shalom Hotel in Tel Aviv - Port and beach rest

Why don't you try the Shalom Hotel in the old Tel Aviv port area. Its located at 216 Ha'yarkon street, right across from the port. This boutique hotel with 50 large renovated rooms will provide you with a comfortable place to rest. Specially after a busy day in Tel Aviv.
The Shalom Hotel is steps away from the beach and the old Tel Aviv port area. Here you will find shops, restaurants and bars overlooking the Mediterranean. The Shalom is also a short walk from the Ha'yarkon park, Tel Aviv's "central park". The park straddles Ha'yarkon stream and has miles of paths for cycling and waling and acres of lawns. There are also play areas for children of all ages. The Shalom Hotel is across from the Tel Aviv Hilton, you can have the location at a great discount.
Room rates will be tailored to your budget, with off season rooms in the $85 to $140 range (there is a small discount for Internet bookings at their site).
The staff at the Shalom wants you to feel that this is your home away from home. Call the Shalom: +972-3-524-3277 Read More...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Maganda Restaurant, middle-eastern Yemenite Kitchen

Maganda in the Ha'carmel shook
At 26 Rabbi Meir street, one block from Shook Ha'carmel (open air market) you will find this elegant eatery, the Maganda Restaurant (HE website). The restaurant has a reputation of the best Yemenite food in this part of Tel Aviv. After all, this part is also called Kerem Ha'teymanim, the Yemenite Vineyard, where you can find an old community going back three generations. This is the oldest Yemenite neighborhood in Tel Aviv and one of the oldest area in Tel Aviv as a city. In addition, Maganda is known for its hospitality from three Habora brothers: Tsadok, Haim and Ami.
Maganda is the largest and most prominent restaurant in this part of the city. The area is sometime mistaken as jut the "shook" (open air market). So most people do not think of this area as a place to eat a great meal in a nice restaurant. After all, the shook closes at sundown and that's it, 'everybody just go home'. But Maganda is one example of how a neighborhood can be more than just one thing. The "shook" area is still active at night, and Magenda is a place to enjoy. The reputation of this place goes back years, ask anyone and they will tell you. So you are not alone in exploring this place.
Quiet afternoon meal at the Maganda

Maganda is a large restaurant that accommodates a couple of hundred patrons. The menu is in Hebrew and English features main courses between 35 and 72 shekels. You are offered a variety of lamb, beef, turkey and fish dishes. A choice of soups are offered for 18 shekels. There are also a variety of salads including eggplant, Turkish, Greek and green salads for about 20 shekels. Another choice is an assortment of stuffed veggies for 15 shekels. Soft drinks are 8 shekels, credit cards accepted. Magenda is a restaurant where you can have a real authentic Yemenite meal in a nice place. It is also a restaurant where you can feel the warmth and tradition of the Yemenite community in Tel Aviv, something most people miss on a short visit. The food is great and will let you sample this cuisine that was hidden from most westerners, unless of course you have a Yemenite family friend who will invite you to dinner at their home.
On busy evenings call ahead, Magenda will be full during the peak hours, +972-3-517-9990 or +972-3-510-8235. I am sure you will enjoy your Yemenite dining experience at the Maganda. //sam-d-man Read More...

Monday, September 10, 2007

French life in the city: Boutique Central on Dizengoff

French baked good, walla!

Looking to go shopping for a taste of Paris in Tel Aviv? Try the boutique central on Dizengoff. Boutique Central also has locations in Ha'median Circle (120 Zabotinsky), Masrik Circle (90 Frishman) and in Ra'anana and Ramat Ha'sharon.
This shop is a patisserie. The products here look and smell exactly like a small patisserie you will find in Paris or a small French village. The nice part is this being in the middle of Tel Aviv. All the baked goods are fresh and the staff will help you if you have any questions. You may buy a beautiful croissant or a variety of baked goods and breads.
Counter display with elegant creations

Boutique Central is busy on mornings just as the working crowds wakes up. Watch out for the cream baked goods in the display case (at the counter) they will allure you, and most French food lovers will not walk away empty handed. Ask for help and just listen, this is a place to learn about the intricacies of fine French pastries - after all, isn't this was a 'patisserie' is all about?
Remember in Tel Aviv you may enjoy delicacies from around the world (Italian, Russian, China, Thailand, Hungary, Check, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey and the US). Come to Tel Aviv and enjoy a trip around the world. Don't forget to also taste Israel in Tel Aviv. Enjoy the city -- Tel Aviv //sam-d-man Read More...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

T-Shirt fair, cool-funky-weird-nasty Israeli culture

Early shoppers at T-Shirt fair
In the city there is a non-conformist group living right amongst the everyday life of a normal "straight" metropolis. These tattooed, pierced and leather clad people spotted here and there in upscale restaurant and stores, also congregate in the "grungy" parts. On a hot September morning I headed to the industrial zone where you would buy cars and have Harleys fixed. At the parking lot for the Barzilai club, an annual T-shirt sale was going on. Sixty T-Shirt designers and twenty accessory designers and stores gathered to show their creations. The designs were mostly original with a few designers using known images of famous people or items. There were a few interesting designs using special materials. The styles varied from Zionist / Jewish designer with "pick your Jew" with traditional Kafka, Einstein and Ben Gurion all the way to Japanese Anime images with the classic biker / Harley mainstay thrown in.
T-Shirt fair poster

Prices for the T-shirts run from 50 to 200 shekels. The elaborate shirts with the complicated designs or special material fetching more (95% of the shirts were cotton). For the most part, Tel Aviv is a tame town when it comes to the "grungy" crowd. But in a country where uniformity has been so steady - for so long, in education, military, economy and work, there is a strong minority that wants to bend the norms. But there is also a sense of creativity and artistry that does not have outlets in other media. The print and movie sectors are small here, so all these artists need something to put their work "on". So some end up on T-Shirts, original-funky-weird...
I leaned something interesting talking to the designers. They don't seem to feel a great deal of angst and anger or even despair in getting these design out. But they do seem to want a message and a style "on the street", not necessarily to make a statement, as much as to be heard. There were very few "protest" images for the violence and the political situation. I asked why and most people say that it's not that useful to protest what seem to be an inevitable situation between the Israeli government and the Arab world (both Palestinian and Arab states). The other interesting thing is how they network and congregate. They seem to be everywhere and they keep in touch informally by e-Mail and SMS. So keep an eye on the street on announcements for funky-weird-cool craft/arts fairs and enjoy the creativity -- in the city //AmiV Read More...

Sex in the city - Clubs Part 2

Escort and Massage Biz-Cards (read below)

Tonight you want to continue your nightlife your you may want to start at Bukowski, located at corner of Dizengoff and Frishman (39 Frishman). Come about 9:00 PM and stay until you want to go. This is a low priced bar with a friendly upbeat vibe. The service is charming and helpful. Music is basic 80's. This is a fun bar with an easy going feel. No Cover.
Now you may want to try the Levonitin located at 11 Levonitin just off Allemby. This spot has an oriental touch. The food is good and the music is different every night. Go to the Levontin and enjoy yourself and meet new people.
We will end this part of the nightlife tour of Tel Aviv at the Blounlich loacted at 32 Rothchild. This is a hot spot with stylish yuppie crowd. This bar has a good variety of drinks and alcohol. Music is 80's and 90's and dancing is a good here. You will find men and women flirting and teasing, while they enjoy their favorite drink. This bar is known as a pick-up joint. So, if you want to hook-up, see you at the Bloumlich. Opens at 9:00 PM, closes when the last customer leaves // sam-d-man

If you wonder around Tel Aviv early on Saturday morning, you may be baffled by the business cards on the ground. In Tel Aviv, massage, escort, rave and other "sex industry" services are advertised with business cards, post cards and fliers. It's probably a consequence of the strong Tel Aviv printing industry, which makes these cards cheap and quick to print (you can have 1,0000 cards for about 500 shekels). At first, it might seem that Tel Aviv has a large amount of these services. But in reality, you need to be on your toes to spot a sign tucked into a side street or between buildings to find these services. So don't worry about the "decadence" in the city, it's there, so you can have it -- but it will not encroach on your visit here! Read More...

Staying in the City: Tal Hotel in the Port and Beach Area

Tal Hotel Dining Room

Welcome to the Tal Hotel. The Tal is next to the Beach and only a two minute walk to the Tel Aviv Port area. The port is loaded with fine restaurants serving a wide variety of menus. There is also great nightlife when the sun goes down, bars, clubs and a great walkway on the water.
Your stay at the Tat will include a modern appointed guest room. The rooms include cable TV, safe and a small kitchenette with a refrigerator and cofee maker. The hotel's dining room and bar is designed in a modern motif. There is also complementary wireless Internet service through the premises.
Night run near Tal Hotel

Breakfast is included in the room rate. The Tal is a medium size hotel with 120 guest rooms. Rates in the off season range between $126 and $146. The Tal is located at 287 Ha'yarkon street, Tel Aviv. Phone +972-3-542-5500.
While you enjoy sea, sun and fun in Tel Aviv, come stay at the Tal Hotel //sam-d-man Read More...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Yeminite soup in the city: Ha Bayit at the Yemanite Vinyard

Ha Bayit's scruffy exterior
Editor's note: one of the first areas in Tel Aviv to be developed is the Yemenite Vineyard (Kerem Ha'Teymanim). This area is just north of Yaffo and is made up of narrow streets and small one and two story houses. Shook Ha-Carmel is here and so are many interesting locations. We are just starting to write about this part of Tel Aviv.
    AmiV and I were ready for lunch. We started walking toward what AmiV says is the best soup kitchen in Tel Aviv. After walking for a few blocks behind the shook Ha-Carmel we stumbled on Yihie Kapach street number 31. This eatery is known as the "House" (Ha-Bayit) by all the people in the neighborhood.
    I took one look at this place, that looks like it did during the time of the Second Temple and looked at AmiV. He assured me the food was good. We walked in and took seats at a table I wasn't sure would hold up. The menu was scribbled on a blackboard on the wall and contained a variety of Yemenite soups, pita and one salad.
    The soups offered by the "House" were: meat, oxtail, head, foot, lungs, bone, all for 27 shekels. Bean soup for 18 shekels and kabobs for 27 shekels. You may also order hummus and pita or a salad for 16 shekels. Drinks are available but not included in the a-la-cart menu.
    No credit cards or checks, cash only. You will not be provided with a written bill either, the server does the calculation in their head and tells you what you owe.

Delicious Meat Soup

    We each had the meat soup. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food. The broth was very tasty and the meat was tender and luscious to the taste. The soup was served with pita and two sauces. Be careful, one is VERY "hot" (spicy).
    I have a very enjoyable lunch - too bad nobody at the "House" speaks English, so they could enjoy our review. //sam-d-man Read More...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Dizengoff Center part 2 (stores and more...)

Tiers of "serpentine" interior

Two weeks ago sam-d-man wrote about Dizengoff Center (previous story). Since this is such a big shopping center, we wanted to give more of the feel and the quality of the place.

First of all, Dizengoff Center is considered the first and the "grand daddy" of shopping malls in Israel. At the time it was built (1973) Tel Aviv depended mostly of shopping on main commercial streets. Allemby and Dizengoff streets were considered the "upscale" places to shop. Also, Tel Aviv and Israel in general, did not have large shopping centers built as one unit. So even the idea of one large place to shop was a revolution in consumerism. The center is built out of two buildings straddling Dizengoff street at King George Street (Ha'melech George). The interesting about the center is the curvy layout and the open center. Both buildings are similar in layout with a serpent looping structure going from floor to floor (almost looks like a squashed spring). When you look at interior pictures it's hard to imagine how this feels. In the middle of this serpent (or spring) is a big space, this way you can see from the ground floor all the way up to the fourth. Imagine the Guggenheim museum but with a funky squashed center instead of the circle.

All along the center serpentine, there is a walkway-balcony. Along the balcony are store fronts, mostly there are small specialty stores, boutiques and services (hair dressers, travel agencies, tattoo shops, etc.) The larger stores tend to be at the end of the "squashed" loops and on the "flat" parts. Oh, the "flat" part of Dizengoff Center is an "extension" outside the loops. OK, are you confused enough? Well, you will be more confused, and maybe even a little lost the first few times here. But, there is a positive side to this wavy architecture. Dizengoff Center is HUGE. Not just by Tel Aviv / Israel standards. A way to grasp the size of the center is by the variety of stores. The still in construction Dizengoff Center web site has a partial list of 164 stores (not all the categories are done, as of Sept. '07). (Editor's note: Wikipedia (HE) lists 420 stores. Hopefully the center will have an English version of the site with store index and phone numbers). Anyway, there are stores here off all kind and type. From the big Israeli and international chains to Tattoo and piercings. There are even health clubs and spas. Some of the unique stores here are stamp and coin collector stores which are hidden among the home recording equipment and computer stores.

Typical storefronts, large and small packed together

Dizengoff Center has been renovated a few years back. It went through low times in the late 1990's. Today it has become a high-caliber shopping center. For most people in Tel Aviv it's the biggest with most places to shop. It is one location where all the important fashion chains are concentrated. If you need to shop for cloths, gifts or accessories, this is the place to come.
Tags, Tags, Tags
While talking about shopping, let's look at Israeli fashion specifically at the big chains. If you come to Dizengoff Center for cloths, take a look at: Crocker, Fox, Golf & Co., Diesel, Zara, Onot, Castro, Renuar... OK, you get the point, there are lots of places to buy fashionable clothes, not only that, Dizengoff Center is a good place to start. Tel Aviv fashion is competitive, that's good for the consumer. Besides the large chains, take a look at the smaller stores and boutiques. There you will find lots of unique and interesting things.
Enjoy your shopping in Tel Aviv, come to Dizengoff Center... //AmiV Read More...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Nightlife in the city, clubs, bars and pubs

Party Invitation, Vox Populi

Bars, pubs and clubs are great places to relax and hook-up with people. Not being an expert on the late night scene, I asked a young lady with direct personal experience for some information. Tel Aviv night life begins 'late' in comparison to other places, usually between 9 and 11 PM. The 'night' goes on all night until morning. You can expect people to be out every day of the week, but from Wednesday to Saturday the scene is really going strong. My friend Lilat gave me a good background on the night scene. Here are a few night spots that are active at this point in time (Summer 2007). Editor's note: notice that the club scene changes quickly in Tel Aviv, what you read here now may not be accurate in a few months. Ask around and get updated information from people who seem to know their night time scene.

Molly Bloom's, an Irish pub, 24 Raul Wallenberg, Ramat Ha'chayal, is a good place to start and evening. The bar has a small menu and there is a full dinner menu. Lilat suggests the deserts if you are going to start with bar food and a drink. There is a good selection of beer, wine, liquor and cocktails. The crowd is friendly in the age group of 25+. Molly Bloom's is open Friday from 9 PM to the 'last customer'. Sunday to Thursday open 8 PM to the last customer, no cover charge.

Lima Lima is located at Lilliablum 42 is a hot dance bar. Good drinks are served all night, 7 nights a week from 9 PM to the last customer. Lima Lima is where the beautiful people of Tel Aviv com to dance, groove to the music or just lounge in the bar. Go to Lima Lima for fun int he city, no cover.
// sam-d-man from Tel Aviv

A Benedict "update" - now for lunch too...

Spinach Eggs Benedict

Editor's note: This is an update on the Benedict story from July. As you might remember, Benedict is a breakfast bar-restaurant on Ben Yehuda and Jabotinsky. This is an update from sam-d-man.

I sat down with Roy last Thursday and he gave me a review of the new items added to the Benedict menu. There are five new additions, this gives customers an option for "lunch" items if they come a little later in the day. You can also have these for breakfast!

First: B.L.T. sandwich (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) with mayo on whole wheat. Served with salad and drink, 41 shekels (add cheese for 5 shekels)

Second: Tuna salad sandwich with hard boiled egg, mayo and tomato. Served with a salad and a drink, 39 shekels.

Third: Smoked salmon sandwich with capers, cream cheese and purple onion. Served with salad and a drink, 41 shekels.

Fourth: Two new dishes with brioche sunny side up eggs, with senkin and hard cheese, with Cesar sauce. Served with salad and drink, 43 shekels.

Fifth: Crock tomato with brioche tomato sauce, onions, garlic and topped with sunny side up eggs and hollandaise sauce. Served with salad and a drink, 43 shekels.

Enjoy the new delicious tastes at the Benedict. Your servers are waiting to serve you these treats. Enjoy the city - Tel Aviv, dine at the Benedict, 171 Ben Yehuda, Tel: 03-544-0345 // sam-d-man Read More...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

La Gaterie: genuine French croissant, on Ben Yehuda

La Gaterie: explaining the fine point of sugar free cookies

Bon Jour Tel Aviv. Remember the story about the French coming to Tel Aviv? Well, the French ARE HERE and they are here to stay! They have brought with them all of the good tastes of France. French wine, cheese, sausage and 'jambone'. Put these together on a freshly baked genuine croissant and you got La Gaterie! Two Israelis who went to France, learned the fine art of baking "on the street" in a small local bakery, add a poached egg, and 'walla' you got yourself a meal in a bun, with style!
In the city you see more and more signs of France. French breads abound , even in your corner supermarket. French products and lots of French style. It's a nice improvement over the traditional Israeli, Arab and sometime American influence. Every immigrant "wave" brings to Israel a piece of itself. The French do it with distinction, so much so, that everybody takes notice - sometimes we even clap!
If you want to find an authentic taste of France, stop at La Gaterie at 184 Ben Yehuda in north Tel Aviv. This small cafe-restaurant has it's own French style butter croissant. Your host will serve this beautiful delicacy plain or filled with a combination of French ingredients. For your selection: ham, cheese, sausage, poached egg, smoked salmon, cream cheese in any combination. A large croissant sandwich goes for about 25 shekels. Add a cup of coffee or cider from Normandy and you have a great morning starter.
Stuffing selection on display

On a Friday morning we found two British ladies sitting at the bar enjoying their breakfast and a paper. People were coming and going for takeaway service. The location also serves as a nice cafe, this block of Ben Yehuda is devoid of the chain outlets from Aroma, Arcafe or Cafeneto. I say, viva la differance!
Oh, a hidden secret at the La Gaterie, ask to see their plate of eclairs, tarts and cookies. All baked with the rest of the non-sweet goods. They make a small amount each day, so it's reserved to the 'regulars'.
Enjoy a touch of France, La Gaterie - in the city - Tel Aviv that is...
//sam-d-man

Shaksuhuka for breakfast - a spicy, hot, baked egg dish

Shaksuka at Benedicts

If you are going to stay in Tel Aviv and want to try a local breakfast delicacy, go to one of the good restaurants and try 'Shakshuka'. Don't be deterred by the name or the pronunciation (the locals will help you here). If you are of western background (America or Europe) don't worry. The sephardim have brought this dish and have adapted it to Israeli tastes. But shaksuka is as authentic in Jewish kitchens as gefilte fish for some. Shaksuka is a baked egg dish. Basically, it starts out with a tomato sauce, with diced tomatoes. Then two or three eggs are laid on top of the sauce. The whole dish is then put into the oven until the eggs are done. Usually the eggs are well done but you can ask for less time on the eggs and you will have sunny-side-up style floating in a bath of tomato sauce - DELICIOUS !
Authentic shaksuka is slightly spicy. Most restaurants will not spice it up unless you ask for it. If the shaksuka is not watched carefully, the whole thing will dry up and the juicy consistency of the sauce will be gone. Shaksuka is wonderful for dipping, specially if you have a fresh french roll or a good crusty bread. In most restaurants, it is served with additional side dishes and a salad or cheese dish.
If you are new to Tel Aviv shakshuka world, go to restaurants away from the big hotels. Even try the less fancy locations specially near the markets (Carmel and Ha'tikva). Some of the small cafes have a hidden knack for this dish. Some small cafe-restaurants will only serve this dish on Friday and Saturday mornings when Israelis have the traditional "out of home" breakfast. I call these the "weekend warrior" shaksuka. There are also places that make shaksuka in "bulk". Don't laugh, but it's made in a big pan and then scooped into a roll. This breakfast sandwich is wonderful when you need this dish on the run.
Shellys version: thick and hot
I have been on the 'perfect shaksuka quest' of sorts lately. But it seems like I need to be more daring and expand my search. That may mean leaving my friends behind and visiting the more remote south Tel Aviv locations. The hotels offer a more bland version and usually are not focused on the sauce. The upscale restaurants seem to pay more attention to the side dishes. But like any good dish, the main focus has to be the main dish. If you don't have the right ingredients, skill and experience, the shaksuka is going to be missing something... but that's a whole other story... Read More...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Grand Beach Hotel - Tel Aviv Port Area

Grand Beach guest room

Looking for a full service hotel at very reasonable rates? Try the Grand Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv. This hotel is located in the heart of the renovated port area at 250 Ha'yarkon Street. This is a medium size hotel, with 12 stories and 212 rooms. The rooms are attractively furnished in modern style. Full food and beverage facilities including a beautiful dining room is ready to serve your every need.
The rooms are air conditioned, have cable TV and are equipped with a refrigerator, hairdryer and a safe.
This is an excellent location. In the evening you are minutes walk to fine dining and great nightlife at the port area. During the day the port offers shopping and wide variety of restaurants. You are also at a walking distance to Yermiyahu and Dizengoff shopping and dining. But still have the beach nearby and the quiet of the north west corner of Tel Aviv's old north section.
Modern Interior at the Grand Beach

A nice perk is the swimming pool on the roof, just in case you choose not to head to the beach, five minute walk from your door. Enjoy your stay in Tel Aviv at a full service updated hotel for only $110 (double occupancy, B&B) and $94 (single, B&B). Contact info: Tel: +972-3-543-3333, from Israel: 03-543-3333, Grand Beach web site // sam-d-man Read More...

Mate bar, a local spot in north Dizengoff

Look for a mate for the night or if you have one, you may like to try "Mate" the bar. This is a neat small bar at 226 Dizengoff near Jabotinsky in north Tel Aviv. There is a comfortable bar that will accommodate 15 - 20 people. Also there are numerous tables for your enjoyment. The Mate has a wide variety of beer, wine, liquors and cocktails.
The Mate also has a variety of bar food available for it's customers. The menu changes, but you can usually find hummus, stuffed grape leaves, cheese and deli meat plates on the menu.
You will also usually find numerous men and women who like to hook up for the night. A popular spot for sport watching on a hot game night. This is a nice neighborhood bar for a night or just a drink and 'hello, how are you...' The Mate also has a big screen TV and usually provides any hot sporting event for viewing to its customers. There is no cover charge or minimum at the 'Mate'
Enjoy the city - enjoy the mate, sam-d-man

Jerusalem Post: Israel Economy is "ablaze"

Jerusalem Post - August 31, 2007

Just a few months ago Israel was stressed with the war in Lebanon. Now things are VERY different. Like always, Tel Aviv (and Israel) is a place that changes quickly and in a BIG way. The Tel Aviv economy is truly changing, both in real terms, and behind the scenes. A recent article by Amotz Asa-El from the Jerusalem Post reads: "The Israeli economy is ablaze. The very hotels, malls, restaurants, theaters, travel agencies, car dealerships and construction sites that earlier this decade stood eerily empty while terror raged in the streets are now brimming with customers, turnovers and profits." He continues: "Data released last week by the Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that GDP soared 6.6 percent during the first half of the year; since 2002, unemployment has dropped from 10.9% to 7.5%; household spending on durable goods skyrocketed 36%; inflation stood at 1.1%; interest rates sank below the US Federal Reserve's level; and the shekel's dollar value swelled 20% this decade."
Asa-El also points out that Israel's current economic situation is not indicative of the rest of the middle-east's situation. Since Israel is completely isolated from the Arab countries, economically Israel is also independent.
Renovation of old building at Shook Ha'carmel

Besides the political and security forces helping the Israeli economy, Asa-El does not mention how this new found wealth is being used. One obvious use is a huge renovation of buildings and infrastructure. Tel Aviv has passed an order that essentially forces building owners to renovate or face fines. This applies to buildings that have not been touched for decades. The new push from the municipality seem to work. It helps individual building owners and residents that the economy is "ablaze" as Asa-El describes. So timing for Tel Aviv's renovation is working out fine. Let's hope that the economic boom continues for a while, it will take more than a few months to cloth this city in a new outfit.
Friday Morning Breakfast

Another small detail that Asa-El mentioned is the unemployment rate. When people start earning more, when the economy in general "heats up", you can see it in the people. They dress better, go out more and in general feel better. This attitude change is definitely felt on the streets of Tel Aviv. Like all places that are coming out of an economic slump, the feel is attracting people. Not just from Israel, but from all over the world. This has affected the people and the businesses in Tel Aviv. For foreigners bringing new products and services, it is easier and less risky to start or expand. For locals, there are many more opportunities that have never been seen before. So, come see the new economy of Tel Aviv, and have a time of your life... 'in the city'... Read More...