Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jaffa : Shipudey Zika

The following post revolves around the last two visits I've made to Shipudey Zika (shipud = skewer), located  on Jaffa's Yefet street. A small place with a welcoming staff and really great food.
The first one happened on my birthday, the second one was on a holiday, with all the streets overwhelmed with local and foreign tourists, mixed in with the occasional foodies and locals.
We were heading to some other place, but on the way we decided to change our route, Zoe said she was craving and all the everyone else were easily convinced.

one is lamb and two are beef
Guess which is lamb and which are beef

On my birthday we arrived at 3am. There was only one last group of diners and they were just finishing up. Our order was taken quickly, and we were served just as fast, with the speed reserved for people closing up and dying to get home.
Nevertheless, the service was gracious, kind and very professional. At 3am that's quite an achievement. 

opening a feast with freebies
A great opener

Zika offer great VFM (value for money) ratio. As soon as you sit down your table is loaded with freebies. Wonderful hummus, hand sliced fries, a variety of salads, fresh soft pitas, falafel and deep-fried cauliflower if it's in the season.
The deal goes like this: all of the above is free, as long as you order something from the meat menu. One-three people usually get one round for free. If you're four you'll get two plates of fries and two bowls of hummus, and so on and so forth. Refills are pretty cheap.
If you're not planning to buy a main course - fear not, the prices are still pretty low. Wait, that's not all! The meat is not that expensive either! We usually go for beef, lamb and chicken skewers, but if you wanna go mad there are also internal organs: hearts, kidneys, tonsils and there's even udder.

hummus, pitas, salad, salasa, food porn galore
Hummus, pitas, salads, salsa, the good life

Thinking of Zika makes me hungry, so does looking at all these pics.
And it's not like I haven't eaten in a while, there's a half eaten burrito near my laptop, I'm not gonna finish it anytime soon, I'm not really hungry, but thinking back of Zika makes me drool.

salad awesomeness
The only thing better than great food is great food you don't have to pay for

Anyhow, that visit after my birthday ended real quick. We ate fast and took two cabs home. I was drunk after heavily celebrating and for a moment I woke myself up snoring.
The food just drop-kicked me, well, the food and all the booze, I mixed all sorts of crazy; arak, Feigling (fig vodka), lots of hard cider, beers and a few glasses of Baileys. 
That was sure a fun night out.

fries, but we call them chips
Golden fries


The other visit was something else altogether.
I wanted a Zilber roast beef sandwich so we were heading to the Jaffa Port market.
On the way we ran in to obstacles in the form of aforementioned tourists, slow-walking families, people taking bike rides on the sidewalk, all over the pavement and the boardwalk. 
There was also an international photography festival going on, so lots of hipsters with pro \ vintage cams, fashionable folks, pseudo artists with modern haircuts and just your average curious crowds, sitting all over the place, making it impossible to get around.

it looks great but it tastes even better
A taste of the good life

We swiftly changed course, Shipudey Zika wasn't far away; we were sure that Zika Hamdan's place will have a table just for us. That wasn't the case, but we got a table after about four minutes, which was pretty good for such a packed day.
The party started.

fries, pitas, salas, salt shaker
Om nom nom

The friends we came told us that it was quite a while since they last visited a place of this sort.
Perhaps it was the fact they aren't much fun and they treat food as something functional, just an action you do and then go on with your day. They said they rather save up or spend their money on trees instead of what they called "wasting".
We on the other hand tried to explain how pampering yourself with new tastes improves your mood, how the way is just as important and  filled with experiences as the eating, and that memories of fun times are surely more important than bong hits.

skewerd beef and lovely chunks of lamb
Beef on the skewer and lamb on the plate

At that point we got our food, so the conversation died and the eating began.
I recall mocking my friends in my thoughts while chewing,  and later losing my train of thought when the grilled eggplant arrived to the table.
It was amazing, look at it, it's here, below. Served with tahini, soft chickpeas, paprika, olive oil and fresh parsley.

grilled eggplant with tahini, parsley, paprika, soft chickpeas and olive oil
Grilled eggplant, tahini, soft chickpeas, parsley, paprika and olive oil

It was a good day in Jaffa. We passed by a church and the bells tolled, later we heard the muezzin singing form a nearby mosque and at some point we saw people dancing with torah books (it was the Simhat Torah holiday, when people take the holy scriptures out of the synagogues and walk around the building to celebrate the end of the torah and the beginning of reading it anew).  
The wind was chilly even though it was still mid-summer, there were happy dogs, cute kids, horses, and people seemed happy.
Too bad it was the last holiday for quite a long time.

hummus, fries, salads, pitas, foodgasm
All things that are good

Zika is a place  you can always go back to. The food is great, great and  affordable, the location is comfortable, there's parking and nearby bus stops, and it's a close walk from the port which is near the beach which is kinda near everything else. You don't even notice how you get back to Tel-Aviv by food.
People are nice there, in Jaffa in general and especially at Zika, going there you can easily start thinking of peace and coexistence, after all it's easier to like people when they make awesome food. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Food Porn: The Little Things

Can't quite recall why was it that I stopped doing compilation posts, but here's a comeback!
A digest of various meals, dishes and stories.
Descriptions below each image, just like I used to do.
Hope you like it, drop a line if you do, drop a line even if you don't, I've been getting mostly spam comments for several weeks now, it's quite disappointing to find bot generated nonsense each time I expect something real, don't people have opinions anymore?
Come on, ask me something, it's getting lonely here!
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green fava beans cooked in crushed tomatoes
people from Kurdistan and with Kurd genes can't eat green fava beans cos they lack the G6PD enzyme so they can die

Just some of my home cooking.
Fresh green fava beans, cooked in crushed tomatoes, with cumin, paprika, garlic, black pepper, date syrup and mustard seeds.
The rice has some garam masala in it, and sumac too. And also some mustard seeds, I was adding them to everything that evening. It was delicious.
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mushroom pizza with sriracha
mushroom pizza with sriracha

I had several horrible experiences with Pizza Seret and was glad to see they returned to their marvelous norm. All it took was a bite from this slice with mushrooms and a bit of sriracha, I was in pizza heaven again.
It's bad when good places turn wrong, but it's great when they relapse.
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pizza flavored bourekas with a hard-boiled egg, crushed tomatoes, pickles, tahini and a hot chilli pepper paste
pizza flavored bourekas with a hard-boiled egg, crushed tomatoes, pickles, tahini and a hot chilli pepper paste

Pizza bourekas with the works. I had the exact same post a while ago, but it wasn't the same bourekas.
This was after an early Halloween party this Friday, it was also a housewarming party for a couple of friends.
We walked the streets, slightly drunk, looking craving for a pizza. Mama's Bourekas was the only thing open in the immediate area. It was pretty good. 
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soft smelly cheese
soft smelly cheese

Lately I've started purchasing funky cheeses. I mean moldy, smelly, pungent, soft, covered in weird colors, the kinds that make your fridge and pee smell weird.
They're delicious.
Here's me enjoying them on a walnut rye. Good times.
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eggplant and tahini ciabatta
eggplant and tahini ciabatta

Ciabatta, with a big chunk of eggplant baked into its top, and lovely thick tahini hiding beneath the layer of eggplant. A touch of coriander was the garnish added to it by the baker, I added some coarse salt when I got home and ate it like a madman, not stopping for a second, completely disregarding my surroundings.
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pickled cabbage
pickled cabbage

Hummus Asaf which is my favorite hummus got their pickled cabbage recipe back. Their last few batches were unlike the amazing sweet and savory cabbage strings I used to devour, but like I said, they recreated the original recipe after a few mediocre months.
It's worth a visit even if you hate hummus, just order anything, you'll get the cabbage anyhow.
Forget that, just walk in and ask for a tiny bowl to go, they're good people.
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chicken selects, McDonalds
chicken selects, McDonalds

A two image feature.
Lunch at McDonald's, indeed one of the simple joys. I don't eat burgers, prefer to avoid ground meat and generally dislike what McDonald's represent and do, but every once in a long while I eat a chicken meal.
The ultimate junk food, but still, I'm lovin' it (and feeling guilty about it).

McDonalds: fries, ketchup, BBQ sauce, sweet n sour sauce
McDonalds: fries, ketchup, BBQ sauce, sweet n sour sauce

And that's it for now.
Don't forget to write!
Also, if and when you do, please add an animal that starts with a C, just for fun.

Another day, another salad.

It was last night, the g/f complained about sudden hunger.
Salad time!
Sprouted legumes, alfalfa sprouts, yam shavings, shimeji mushrooms, cranberries, two types of aged cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coarse sea salt, black pepper.

sprouted legumes, alfalfa sprouts, yam shavings, shimeji mushrooms, cranberries, two types of aged cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coarse sea salt, black pepper
epic salad time

Moments later complaints were registered, the alfalfa sprouts taste like grass she said, so I took 'em out.
Placed the majority of the sprouts and some of the other stuff between slices of walnut rye, with all the juices of from the salad and a few chunks of smelly cheese. Fucking epic.

alfalfa sprouts, walnut rye, cheese
alfalfa sprouts, walnut rye, cheese

Moments later I was told that the cheese was too pungent (which was rather true). So I warmed up some leftover rice and vegetarian cutlets and ate the rest of the salad myself.
It was supposed to be just a part of a larger meal, but after the whole bowl and the sandwiches - I had no more stomach space.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Food Porn: Fries, Bacon, Cheese

So simple yet so delicious, three magical ingredients that make everything awesome - combined into one superb dish, served in a bowl. All you need is a fork and some room in your belly.

Fries, cheese, bacon
Fries, cheese, bacon

So yeah, I guess you're scratching your head now if you're aware that this blog reviews Israeli food (or food found in Israel) cos bacon is not that kosher, nor is mixing meats with dairy products, but that's just your being prejudice, Israel offers all sorts of foods, and is also the home of secular people that eat all sorts of shit. There are also other religions here: Muslims - that also obtain similar culinary laws, Christians, Druse, and other minorities such as Atheists, Baha'i and even Scientologists.
This is also a country of many immigrants, from all over the world, so culinary wise we have a wide spectrum of possibilities.

But forget about religion and politics, this is a food blog so let's talk food.
This lovely bowl of awesome belongs to the Mike's Place chain, I ate it at the Ramat Ha'Hayal branch, a  noisy pub that serves a greasy spoon menu, along with pizzas and Mexican staples.

It was rather packed, there was an annoying cover band, the service was shitty but hey - I ate two of these along with three bottles of Savanna dry cider. The cider was painfully overpriced but I already sat down and wasn't about to go elsewhere cos it was really late. I deserved it.

Anyhow, a bowl of fries, with grilled cheese and bits of bacon, it's as good as you think it is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Consistency is god: 100 Chicos fail to deliver

I wish this was a happy tale, but instead I bring disappointments.
The story is quite simple: I visited 100 Chicos again, ordered the same sandwiches I had last time and was served something something similar, only it wasn't the same product.

beef short rib, chicken satay, Moroccan style eggplants
Left to right: beef short rib, chicken satay, Moroccan style eggplants, fries

Beef short rib asado: this time the meat wasn't pulled, nor there were there large chunks, and there were no charred and smoked "ends", just thin slices. But that wasn't the deal breaker. In the past the sandwich contained sweet gravy. Several times it was served dry, but that was okay since the meat was fatty and juicy, and there were vegetables to moisten things up - this time mustard was added, a great condiment but it wasn't a good combination.

Chicken satay: the meat was thinly sliced, almost like shawarma, unlike the big bite size nuggets of past.

Morrocan eggplant: the ingredients were all minced together to a coarse paste, where previously there were bits and slices and pieces. To me it was an unpleasant surprise since the texture snuck up on me while I was expecting a chew-able bite, but the flavors were still the same. 

Some might say I'm just like to complain, others might suggest that they're still working on the sandwiches, adjusting the menu - which was what I was told by the owner, but personally I find it very important for foods to stay the same. It prevents unpleasant surprises and customers sending their dishes back (which I didn't). 
The owner is a nice guy so I had the chance to talk to him about this freely, and he wasn't defensive at all, he said that at this point they're still trying new stuff, taking notes and adjusting according to customer's input.
I really appreciated the fact he was so open, and that they truly care for other people's opinions instead of just forcing the creative vision of the person behind the menu.
I left feeling pleased, which I discovered is actually better than just being a hater and walking home angry.
All well that ends well.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Roast beef sandwich with a side of corned beef

About a week ago I went to the market at the Jaffa Port. A modern building complex with lots of various stands and variously sized restaurants and cafes. I ate at Zilber's Deli and I'll tell you all about the place in some other post, probably in one of the "Search for Tel-Aviv's Perfect Sandwich" posts. This is just a short one.

 The greatest roast beef sandwich ever
the best roast beef sandwich ever

I was slightly drunk (a pint of Westons cider and another one of  Liefmans while walking in the hot sun) and very hungry. We went straight for the sandwiches (one vegetarian friend chose hummus instead). 
I picked the roast beef, it was fresh out of the oven, pinkish and succulent, over Italian whole grain bread, with mustard, jalapeno sauce and a tad of BBQ sauce, with lettuce and tomatoes.
FYI, Zilber serve the best roast beef sandwiches I've ever had the pleasure to place in my mouth.

superb corned beef
warm, thinly sliced, delicious corned beef

Being drunk-ish and very hungry I decided it would be ingenious to get a side of warm smoky corned beef. It was delicious and complimented all the other stuff (sandwich, pickles, carbonated lemonade). 
I did grab a slice of pizza moments later from some other stand, and a few more drinks.
Unfortunately at that point photography was not something I could indulge in.
Thank you for following my simplistic tales.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yesterday's lunch and dinner: noodles \ salad

Yesterday was just another day, work, shopping for groceries, a short stroll outside to stretch and get some air but mostly to feed the neighborhood cats. Then a shower and lots of TV. Just another day.
But that ordinary day produced two great photographs and a story to tell.

Stir fried noodles with pork, chicken and smoked bacon

An annoyed delivery person brought me my noodles.
Wide, whole wheat egg noodles, pork, chicken, smoked bacon, bok choy, broccoli, green string beans, cashew nuts and peanuts, stir fried. Oh, and there were thin slices of fresh red chili peppers too.
I ordered it from Giraffe, hoping their streak of good food will go on forever. This time was a bit worse, some of the port was chewy and she noodles were a bit dry - which might resulted from a very long trip on the delivery scooter.

amazing fresh salad

After shopping for fresh vegetables you kinda have to use them otherwise they're not fresh, so I made a quick salad for dinner, along with vegetarian cocktail wieners, but they're not the main story here.
The salad ingredients were: various sprouted lentils, radish sprouts, mushrooms, thin zucchini slices, chestnuts, soft young goat cheese, aged and ripe goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, cranberry juice concentrate, olive oil, black and white mustard seeds, coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
We ate it with fresh rolls, and it was so amazing that I can't even describe it with words.

That's it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Search for Tel-Aviv's Perfect Sandwich: 100 Chicos

100 Chicos is a new conceptual sandwich place that opened a month ago instead of  Mikoni, another concept restaurant. While Mikoni claimed to fuse Brazilian and Japanese cuisines and place every type of dish into a sushi like roll or a plain roll or a bowl - 100 Chicos simply offer one hundred sandwiches.
Now think it over a bit, some places offer one great sandwich, other offer several good or mediocre ones, some places just serve horrible food. A hundred sandwiches are a lot to live up to.

short rib, chicken satay, roast beef
Top to bottom: short rib, chicken satay, roast beef

Located at the corner of Ibn Gabirol and Kaplan makes the place's potential clientele pretty obvious, during the day the area is a hot spot for hundreds of soldiers looking for a lunch, people from nearby offices and stores and the people walking the busy street.
During the night the area is filled with party goers, drunk clubbers and again - people roaming the area.
I've visited the place quite a few times and it's never empty.

beef & chicken sandwiches
Three types of beef and one type of chicken

The menu holds what the name suggests, 100 sandwiches. All served in an almost bite size but (white or whole wheat) with meats (cold cuts, grilled dishes, meat curries, meatballs hot dogs), fish, dairy, egg dishes, vegetables and even dessert sandwiches. It's pretty safe to say there's something for everyone, even vegan options. There are also salads and fries, and all in a reasonable price. One can easily get a complete meal with drinks and side dishes for under 50nis (sandwiches cost between 7-13nis). I don't know how you eat your food, but a 100 Chicos sandwich is about 2-6 bites, the bun being usually around 13 centimeters (about 5.2  inches). 

asado beef short rib sandwiches
Beef short rib asado sandwiches

I'm far from trying the whole menu, but my personal favorites so far were the asado short rib sandwich, the chicken satay, eggplant and smoked cheese, roast beef,  salami, spicy eggplants and several schnitzel variations. I have to point out that there wasn't one bad sandwich, there were good ones and several great ones. The ultimate favorites would be the satay with it's amazing peanut sauce and grilled chicken  and the beef short rib with it's juicy meat, glazed with wonderful gravy, finger licking good.

grilled eggplant and smoked cheese
Grilled eggplant, smoked cheese, fresh basil leaves

The service is quick and the employees seem genuinely happy. There are two taps - one with beer and one with *hold for it* lambrusco! The design is modern, simplistic and clean. You'd be a fool not going in to sample those cheap delicious sandwiches. Just look at the roasted eggplant and peppers sandwich below!

grilled peppers and eggplants with a side of fries
Drilled peppers and eggplants sandwich with a side of fries

The only bad thing I can think of was the fact that several sandwiches varied from time to time. An order should taste and look the same each time, that's a basic. Having said that, I do realize that the staff was just learning to make each dish, the place is brand new and they haven't completely reached the formation and the formulas they seek for. I'll give them some time, but the current product is still great.

grilled rib meat sandwich
Rib meat on the left and I can't recall what on the right

So as I've said, cheap delicious mini sandwiches? Hell yes! You might even find your perfect sandwich right here, hiding in the vast menu. Don't forget to try the lambrusco, it goes great with everything.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Search for Tel-Aviv's Perfect Sandwich: Ruben

Ruben is a place that you can easily get addicted to its produce. They have several branches yet they're able to keep the original ma & pa look and feel, kind service and most importantly - incredible sandwiches.
Ruben, which sounds like Reuben and kinda looks like it too - is not your classic Reuben.

The pictures below were taken in the Carlebach \Yehuda Halevi branch, it's the closest one to where I live and I ate quite a few sandwiches there. You can smell the cured meats outside the store, and when you walk in the serving counter is right in front of you, there are bar stools to sit on and look out the huge windows. There's a second floor, with more stools and windows, and even a balcony.

Juicy thinly sliced corned beef
Juicy, moist, thinly sliced corned beef, sauces, gherkins, a frosty Dr. Pepper

The menu is quite simple. Three sandwich sizes, two types of sliced bread, there's beef, there's turkey, sauces and vegetables, just name your ingredients and it's made in front of you while you drool. You might even get a few slices of meat to snack while you wait. Each sandwich gets a side of two delicious, crispy gherkins.

The fridge is packed with all the usual drinks, plus Dr. Pepper and several types of Dr. Brown's. There are also  two taps of beer (and pitchers if you're that thirsty).
Now for the sauces: there's a superb horseradish sauce, mustard, mustard cut with date syrup, herb aioli, and a hot sauce. The vegetables are pretty basic: tomatoes, lettuce, onions and pickled cabbage with onions.

The perfect corned beef sandwich
A perfect corned beef sandwich

The sandwiches are of the kind that makes you come back again and again. Tender, smoked, moist meats, fresh and delicious everything, it's a foodies wet dream. The prices are reasonable and there's always good music playing in the background.
The only bad thing I can think of would be the opening hours, this place should operate 24/7.
If you're a fan of sandwiches - Ruben is a place that you must visit.

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