Sunday, September 28, 2014

Restaurant, Reviewed: Yulia's on the TLV Port

It makes total sense to review a restaurant on a fast day, doesn't it?

OK, so it may be poor timing, but I am four weeks into a new school year; anytime for blogging is poor timing.  But I am making it happen, so that's the best timing I can think of, even if it is dripping with a little irony.

Regardless of that, I cannot rave enough about Yulia, a loving little spot along the Tel Aviv Port that I enjoyed one pre-Shabbat brunch. I had walked all the way up to the organic food market, and was all the way back down when my breakfast had worn off and I was in need to rest and replenishment.  As my TripAdvisor review states, this was the greatest place to find both.

Yulia - TLV Port
Dined at on June 20, 2015
Reviewed on September 19, 2014

Dining options around the Tel Aviv Port is not the problem on a Friday at lunch time; finding an empty chair is.  All the way up the shore and all the way down I scanned for an open seat.  When I found one, it was at a little place called Yulia, and  what I found there was a great pre-Shabbat treat.

When I arrived, I was seated instantly and presented with a breakfast menu. It wasn't the largest selection I have seen, but what it lacked in options it made up for in taste. The treat I chose was a Sweet Potato Quiche (54 NIS, $15 USD), which was definitely a wise choice. The cheesy dish had an amazing crust, and was served in the Israeli tradition with a great little salad (not a traditional Israeli salad, but one just as tasty).  This and an iced coffee were enjoyed outside along a boardwalk, and made for a great dining experience.

The only real negative was service; it took longer than I would have expected for an iced coffee, but it was exceedingly busy, so I tried to keep that in mind. Overall it was a pleasant dining experience, so when in the TLV Port area, don't be afraid of Yulia's for a Friday brunch.

One Sweet (Potato) Quiche
Iced Coffee with Simple Syrup
The diner at the other table
The view from Yulia's

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Restaurant, Reviewed: Tmol Shloshim

Before my first trip to Israel last August, I was so pinterested in Tmol Shilshom. I saved picture after picture of food, drinks, books, you name it from this restaurant.  Sadly, I never made it--between the hustle and hiking around that town, I wasn't up to it.

This July, however, I was.  Even though I wasn't feeling the best and I was having the hardest time swallowing the softest food, I owed it to myself and my Pinterest board to taste the food I had dreamed off for the last two years.  As my Trip Advisor review will tell you, it was all worth it.

Trip Advisor Review of Tmol Shilshom
By KaylaLeeinTLV
Visited July 2014
Reviewed: September 6, 2014

Not too far from my Jerusalem home of the Harmony Hotel, tucked away from Yoel Solomon Street there is a restaurant. This restaurant, whose name implies "those were the days", keeps today days alive and well-fed with what I can say is the best meal I have ever eaten. Ever.

Iced Coffee with Whipped Cream (23 NIS)
Upon entering, a diner does go back in time; this restaurant calls a beautiful, 100-plus year-old building home. What has been done to this former-dwelling has created an eatery that provides ample amounts of dining options--from eating indoors with a sweeping view of Shammai Street to eating outdoors in a lovely little space that is open to the Old City area atmosphere. 

Three Cheese Lasagna (67 NIS)
This is a great place to just sit and read and enjoy and ice coffee; however, if no moments are to be wasted, enjoying dinner is a must. I read the menu before I dined, so I knew exactly what I was going to get: The Three Cheese Lasagna. I got exactly what I ordered; it was the largest, most beautiful mass of noodles and cheese in culinary creation. The more-than-generous portion was so incredibly filling, but I could not waste a single bite. This, paired with their Iced Coffee with Whipped Cream, perfected an already great day in Jerusalem. 

Let your time in this holy city be perfected, too--enjoy a meal at Tmol Shilshom.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Strangers with Fiction: Ten Shekels

So, it is already Elul.  Wow. How quickly a year goes. As we enter this month of introspection and reflection that leads up to the new year, I wanted to share a short story inspired by real-life, as observed last year in Tel Aviv.  

This piece does multiple things.  It let me work on my Hebrew.  It let me document an interesting and beautiful sight at a restaurant my first night in town.  I really got to work on descriptions.  

But most importantly, it let me think.  I hope it does for you, too.

Ten Shekels.
By Kayla Lee.
Copyright 2013/5773.

        “Rosh Chodesh! Rosh Chodesh!”
Yoav looked up from his Mesoamerican temple of receipts at the lady in the doorway of his restaurant.  He entertains all kinds in his little Mexican joint, but mostly tourists or wayward aliyot who have still yet to grasp Modern Hebrew.  That’s what he has come to know and expect from his little corner of Ben Yehuda Street; that’s what keeps the menus bilingual and his business in business.
  This lady, worn tough by the Middle Eastern sun from above and the radiant Tel Aviv heat from below, stood like a question mark in the doorway.  She repeated her call of the new month, barring her toothless grin.  Sparse gray hair corkscrewed out from her dusty, dirty, once-pink hat, now mauve from poverty.  Her purple plaid blouse creased easily to her thin shoulders, tenting over the remainder of her gaunt frame.  
  She was a Rosh Chodesh Beggar; and this was Rosh Chodesh Elul. Elul coincided with August this year; vacationers paired with the observant should bode well for his business this month.
  Yoav pushed back from his office-slash-waiters station, and dug into his pocket, fishing out a ten-shekel coin; there were bigger bills to catch in that pocket, but the coin is what he hooked with his index finger.  Standing with the effort of men well twice his age of 36, he stepped of the slight landing, walking over to the lady, handing her the two-toned piece.  Her frail hands captured the token as quick as a venus fly trap. She also caught his hand and his eye contact.
“Todah.”  Thank you.   May the Creator grant you peace and comfort in this month of retrospection and the New Year.
Yoav smiled at the sincerity of this woman as she let go and left.  Closing his eyes with a soft chuckle, he turned to return to his workspace, shrugging his shoulders to one of his servers as the asked silently what that s all about.
“Rosh Chodesh” was all he could respond to his questioning wait staff. 
Secular Yoav had seen it all before: the begging, the prayers, the blessings.  In truth, though, there wasn’t enough of Rachel’s red wool in Jerusalem to make him think differently.  Regardless of which New Year was being brought in; he remained relatively confident about his life, his choices—his outlook over his bills and the growth of his business attested to this.
       Dropping his glasses back down onto nose from his graying bristle-brush hair, he watched the lady slowly progress down his street.  With one last smirk and shake of his head, Yoav went back to work balancing his books, the same company he has kept New Year in and New Year out. At one point in life he may have wished for more, but the present situation always seemed more pressing than the future; that would take care of itself, he always thought. He looked down at this past, present, and future—a pile of fading bills and crumpled receipts with one lone photograph on the desk’s horizon of The One.  Occasionally his eyes caught the one moment that camera’s flash enlightened; it was their last night of college, their first night together, and one of many moments he wished he could relive.  Most of all, it was the reminded that there are no real do overs in life, just move outs and ons. 
        With this, his cynical mind went back to that lady with those shekels.  That lady who, no matter, seemed to believe that everyone can begin anew, and she was going with those shekels.  He couldn’t wedge that thought into any little crack of his mental being. What was she going to do with that solo coin? It was just a measly ten shekels.  
  He guessed she could buy a bottle of water—those big, clear, flavored bottles, the ones that fill those corner cages all over Tel Aviv.  There had been August days where he wished he could have just one more bottle, one more sip.  She must be on her way to the AM/PM, he reasoned; she needed water.
She could also ride the bus, he thought.  Yes, she could spend however long in air conditioning on the Dan’s Number Ten.  In this heat, that would definitely be a comfort, even if it was short-lived.
If she were a coffee drinker, she could perhaps get a cappuccino, but that could be a stretch without another kind heart and another ten shekels.  Maybe that was where she went: She headed down to a corner café on Mapu Street, and she was enjoying a nice frothy coffee with a pomegranate swirled into the foam.  
      His current server on duty, Ronia (Ronnie for short), walked by in the midst of this moment. 
“Rega.”  Wait, Ronnie.  What would you do with 10 shekels?
Ronnie paused in her steps, the confusion fused to her face.  
“Ma?” What are you talking about? 
Again, Yoav asked.  What would you do with 10 shekels?
Ronnie had been employed by Yoav for the better part of five years; her ever increasing wardrobe of black, off black, and charcoal would support this.  She’s come to know and appreciate his idiosyncrasies, and that it was always best to go along with him rather than against him. But it was so more fun to make him think.
Hugging the serving tray to her chest, she shrugged her shoulders.  She didn’t know.  What would you do without it?
“Slicha?”  What are you talking about?
Think about it.  If you didn’t have it, would it matter what you could do with it? No, it wouldn’t. If you didn’t know it was an option—having just ten shekels, no more no less—would you even bother thinking about it? 
      Placing her tray down close enough to the bills to send a couple floating to the floor, she took out her coin purse, cracking it open, and revealing several selections coins that totaled to 42 shekels (and some odd arogot). 
See, she said.  I don’t have to worry about just ten shekels, because mine had 32 other to help. She returned the purse to her pocket. Imagine if I didn’t have those 32.  Imagine if I didn't have two. Then ten would really be something. 
The cook’s dinging bell incited a Pavlovian response in Ronnie, who went to retrieve the completed entrées. 
      Seriously, she continued as she piled her tray with the order; if you didn’t know you had it, would you worry about these things?  Of course not.  Now, if you found just the ten shekels on the street, a surprise at your feet, then you would have something to think about.  
      Carrying her loaded tray, she brought to the no doubt tourist or wayward aliyot her vegetarian fajitas and another bottle of Coke. The caramelized sweetness of the fresh-now-flavorful food curled through the air.  
Yoav supposed Ronnie had a point; if we don’t know what we have, we might as well not have it.  
That lady had ten whole shekels to do with what she wanted.
All Yoav had was bills.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #31 and #32

Studying literature really messes with your brain.  It makes you think everything stands for something. Nothing happens just because; it all written with purpose and intent. Sometimes we carry this thought away from the seriffed pages and into the real world.

It meant something to me that I saw and photographed this piece of art on a wall near Kikar Rabin:

As I have alluded to before, the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin was a pivotal point in my life--it was my introduction to the land I have come to love as my own.  The complexities of his assassination parallel his mission, then and now.  For him, then, I put this serendipitous crane photo to the best use possible: A Memorial to his words for our future.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #30

I made it 30 Days!  Woohoo!

There are so many things I love about Israel, I cannot get myself to say "The reason I love Israel is...", because there just is not one single thing.  The place as a whole makes my soul smile.  I like to explain it to those back home as if it was a perfectly casted movie--everyone in that land has a purpose and a plan for it, whatever it may be; this is right down to how cohesive interactions are that one might just think that it was all scripted.  This often ties into a "Chosen People" tangent, but I won't take you down that road.

Where I will take is to a beach in Tel Aviv, at sunset, and the man who was selected to do this was doing it quite well.

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #29

One of my favorite places in Tel Aviv is Bialik Square.  Home to a couple smaller but incredible museums, it is a nice little spot to get lost.  I got lost on there one day last June, happily next to a beautiful fountain.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #27

This is iconic Tel Aviv.  The Dan Hotel on HaYarkon Street is something that cannot be missed while in Tel Aviv.  Literally.  You can see if from basically every vantage point on the beach.  Thank goodness it's pretty.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #26

It was warm in northern Minnesota; I can't imagine what it was like in Jerusalem.  Last August, a group of children knew how to beat the heat--they spent the morning at Teddy Park.  This would have been a great way to spend today here in the northland.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #25

I loved Shabbat in Tel Aviv.  The sun dipped into the Mediterranean Sea, cooling the Tel Aviv coastline with hues of pinks and purples.  It is a great sight, and an amazing sense.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #24

I love the Azrieli Towers.  They are the adult version of that child's toy where shaped blocks were dropped into a corresponding hole.  I love the clean lines and simple design.  She's a beauty to me.

I feel fortunate to have been able to catch this marvel from the back seat and through a tinted tour bus window; I am blessed to have it clean up how it did.

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #23

Somewhere, across the sea...these people are sailing.

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #22

Who needs the Olympics when you have the Maccabiah Games?

Ok, I do--they are both just too much fun!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #21

Why, hello!  This adorable family of cats called Jaffa/Yafo home (they had a sweet little sibling meowing away outside of the Gelateria).

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #20

Blooms amongst blooms at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #19

So many different ways to get around Tel Aviv...what's your favorite? (Mine is by foot;-)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #18

We've looked at Jerusalem, and we peeked at Tel more needs attentions.

So, #ThisIsHaifa:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #15

I love the Carmel Market--Shuk HaCarmel if you want to sound local. There is something for every sense at this Tel Aviv attraction, and it appeals to every shopper--from the fresh-veggies vegan to the wannabe informercial shopper.  One particular item someone was selling was this bubble gun.

I didn't get one, but I did get a picture.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #13

The first major graffiti in my hometown was met with an instant paint job, which only created a tone-on-tone art job.  In Tel Aviv, however, it is an art form; one could look at the corners and walls of urban expression as defacing, but by not embracing it, that one would be missing out an a huge element of visual creativity in this city by the sea.

I like the thoughts of this Lego Man, painted in place somewhere along Bograshov. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vignette Vacation: Israel through Photos #12

A favorite from the Jerusalem Light Festival (which will be better seen in a post dedicated to the event at a later date).