Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Donkey: Tex-Mex Heaven in Tel-Aviv

At a rather young age I realized I'm missing several things that judging by my TV watching habits seemed common and reasonable. Taco Bell was one. It was hard to grasp how things some considered mundane were in fact a rare delicacy. Along with the now locally defunct KFC and Dunkin' Donuts - some brands just don't do well overseas.
But now, for this taco hungry writer the earth begins to shake.

pulled pork tacos with lots of cheese, black beans and cilantro saucepulled beef tacos with crispy lettuce, hot sauce, salsa ad cheese

Don't get me wrong, Israel has a handful of Mexican or rather Tex-Mex (i.e. Texas-Mexican) dining venues. In the last fifteen years there has been a notable change in how we perceive food. More cooking shows, finer materials and ingredients, fancier restaurants and a variety of new cuisines that are becoming more mainstream. The Israeli palate has evolved greatly.
If until now the "Mexican" options were places offering an American menu with a token tortilla wrap dish, or a specializing Mexican restaurant that serves only minced beef dishes along pizzas, now there's a new sheriff in town.

three pulled meat tacos with spicy sauces and a lemon arizona teabeef burrito with cilantro lime rice and lots of cheese

And now for the reason we have all gathered: Donkey.
91 Hahashmonaim St, Tel-Aviv, remember this address. That is where you'll need to go for a good burrito, taco, casadia and quesadilla, altough the latter is not officially on the menu.
Don't get me wrong, I know there are dishes that are missing from the list. This is by far not the whole dream menu I had in mind, but the fact the have pulled beef, pulled pork and even pulled chicken speaks highly i their praise; allow me to explain. mincing meat is easy, mostly machine work. Cooking minced meat is faster, thus you save both time, work (the chopping and mincing part) and one might even use cheaper cuts of meat since it can go unnoticeable.
On the other hand, slow-cooking large quality cuts and then breaking them down into individual pieces in the right size and proportion - that's an indication of effort put into food. Add great taste, interesting sauces (the cilantro is amazing even if you're not a fan), quality cheese, fresh ingredients and amazing black beans, you get the picture. 
There's even a vegetarian option in the form of sauteed peppers and onions as a meat substitute. Also to be found are salads and burrito bowls. The owners assure that crispy tacos will be added soon.

pulled meat tacos with a side of tortilla nacho crispsthe best tacos in israel

Please step towards the cash register. Right below it there's the beverage refrigerator, stacked with drinks that will make you feel as if you are really in the United States of America, there's the variety of Arizona iced teas, Dr Pepper, common sodas, exotic juices and several types of beer.
Three tacos and a can of Dr Pepper will set you back nis50 (approx. $12.5), not the cheapest of meals, but it will definitively satisfy your hunger along with thirst for innovation and Tex-Mex desires.

The only negative thing I can add to this review is that their menu lacks tortas, which is a shame since their delicious meats deserve to be placed in a heavenly sandwich.
Donkey is well worth a visit, even if you're not a fan of this sort of cuisine. It's a breath of fresh air and as for personal taste goes you might just discover they're your new favorite.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Search for Tel-Aviv's Perfect Sandwich: Fleishman's Deli

Me and a few people from work went out for lunch today - to a quiche place I adore.
Yeah, I know, quiche, right? But that place is amazing. Was amazing actually, we discovered that it moved.
Instead of the familiar venue I found Fleishman's Deli, same location, different dimension. 
They were wise enough to place fresh, gorgeous sandwiches in the window display, I fell right into that trap.

BBQ sauce, chipotle sauce, mustard, tomato, lettuce and sliced pickles
BBQ sauce, chipotle sauce, mustard, tomato, lettuce and sliced pickles

I ordered a corned beef sandwich. 
They use fresh frena bread; frena is a Moroccan style bread, named after the frena oven in which it was traditionally made. The traditional way also includes river stones (for thermal reasons).
When compiling the sandwich I asked for: BBQ sauce, chipotle sauce, mustard, tomato, lettuce and sliced pickles.
The sandwich is served with a side of potato chips and sweet pickled cabbage.
There were sauce bottles and various dipping sauces on and behind the counter, it was like a party in my mouth.

the best corned beef sandwich I had in quite a while
the best corned beef sandwich I had in quite a while

I'm gonna stop here cos I'm pretty tired of writing this post, wasn't going to post anything new today but the sandwich was so amazing I just had to share.
Just let me add that they have four special gimmicks that are worth mentioning:
  1. There are self serve taps with various types of soda (no brands but they were all good), you just pay for a cup and drink whatever you want. This concept is rarely used in our parts of the world due to both sides (i.e. business owners and customers) being assholes. People will drink your "free" soda all day and fill up bottle they brought from home - and on the flip-side, if you can charge for extra drinks it's considered a loss.
  2. There are vases with fresh green onions all over the place, just pick 'em and eat away.
  3. They use a machine that keeps the potato chips warm and fresh. The kind of machine you find in cinemas and nacho stands, but the fact that they bothered and that the chips were actually fresh is pretty new in our culinary scene. It's usually stale-ish servings or just factory sealed bags in our areas.
  4. They have really cheap booze! 9nis for a shot of Stoli or Jameson is pretty decent. 

That's all, enjoy the rest of the pictures.
Also, I gotta state again that the sandwich was EPIC.

a display of corned beef sandwich awesomeness
a display of steamed corned-beef sandwich awesomeness

a bowl of sweet pickled cabbage, a side of potato chips, lemon soda
a bowl of sweet pickled cabbage, a side of potato chips, lemon soda

corned beef pleasures
warm corned beef pleasures

a tap of goldstar beer, green onions, bread and a potato chip heater
a tap of goldstar beer, green onions, bread and a potato chip heater

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Roast Beef Bagel

Wasn't even my idea, it was the lady.
We were at a new delicatessen, it was crowded, claustrophobic even.
I went out for a breath of air, she hung in inside for a while, and later came out declaring she's craving for a roast beef sandwich. 
I'm not one to argue on such matters.

poppy seed bagel, mustard, roast beef, grilled eggplant, cucumber, tomato, lettuce
poppy seed bagel, mustard, roast beef, grilled eggplant, cucumber, tomato, lettuce

Tal Bagels, that was our destination of choice.
The place was kinda empty, but with enough people to not seem suspicious.
While our roast beef was sliced and heated and we chose our bagels. I picked poppy seed and she wanted a zaatar bagel, later switching to a light bagel.

My poppy seed bagel also featured: mustard, roast beef, grilled eggplant, fresh crunchy cucumber slices, tomato and lettuce. Heating the meat made it lose the pinkish hue, but the flavors and softness made up for that. All and all it was a sandwich justifying the fact we ran out of the hippest deli in town.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

HaCarmel Hummus

In the middle of Tel-Aviv's HaCarmel market, on the market's busiest steer, lies a hummus placed named after the street it's located on. Hummus HaCarmel is also named Hummus Magen David (star of David), a name that goes well with the interior design. Numerous Judaic artifacts, books and even some of the seats used to be synagogue benches.
But the main thing, their hummus, it's divine.

hummus, soft chickpeas, parsley, pickles, skhug
  hummus, soft chickpeas, parsley, pickles, skhug and a can of non-alcoholic malt beer

A few warnings:
  • Self service! Go to the counter, make your order, take your food and sit down in one of the two halls available.
  • Make sure you know what you want: Hummus HaCarmel offer a unique style of plating in which all of the stuff that's often served in several dishes is piled onto your plate so if you don't want a side of pickles, skhug or chopped onion you better pay attention.
  • The skhug is amazing. Their version of this popular hot sauce is closer to the traditional green Yemenite skhug but it's not all green chilli peppers; there's a touch of cilantro and chunks of red stuff that might be tomatoes but also could be red peppers. It's not the deadliest hot sauce, it's moist and not as oily as others in this genre, but it might physically hurt some of you.
  • The pricing is absurd. You won't get these prices anywhere. They charge roughly 50% less than anyone out there on both food and drinks. I'm guessing that the self service and the fact that they have lots of diners helps them to not lose money that way, or maybe they're just less greedy.

hummus, soft chickpeas, parsley, pickles, skhug
hummus, soft chickpeas, parsley, pickles, skhug, olive oil

This is my current favorite and I make an effort to visit every Friday.
It's hard to argue which hummus is the best since it's a matter of personal taste, but this is certainly not one of the bad ones.
The taste is rich, the paste is smooth and creamy, the toppings add a whole new dimension of textures that other hummus venues seldom explore.
I'd give Hummus HaCarmel five stars or a 10/10 rating, but I don't do that shit, it's not that kind of blog.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lunch, same as yesterday: Caponata Tortellone

Today's lunch was tortellone pasta with stuffed with  various cheeses and porcini mushrooms  with caponata sauce (containing tiny bits of eggplant),  along with basil and feta cheese chunks.
It was pretty much the same lunch as I had yesterday, (i.e. same dish, at the same location - Laboratorio Di Pasta) but I'm still gonna talk some more about that one, the previous, just below the following image.

#tortellone #pasta with #cheeses and #porcini filling, with #caponata #sauce, #basil and #feta #cheese chunks.

Yesterday's pasta got to our table faster, and was hotter, burn your mouth kind of hot.
On the other hand one of the people I sat with got her pasta 10 minutes after us all, and it seemed to be a smaller amount than everyone else. She insisted that I point that out.

#tortellone #pasta with #cheeses and #porcini filling, with #caponata #sauce, #basil and #feta #cheese chunks.

Anyhow, today I was the one to get my food last.
It was just as delicious as yesterday, but I had to eat it real quick cos I had an appointment with a doctor who was about to tell me my tests showed I have a high sugar count in my blood and that it's time to visit a nutrition expert.
Also: low on vitamin D.
That would be all for now.

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