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Hetta Glögg – The Ideal Drink for the Polar Vortex

Being British, my co-blogger Lindsey and I both suffer from our country’s national obsession with the Weather

Having emigrated to the North Eastern corner of the USA, I’ve had the chance to experience my fair share of extreme winter conditions, having endured nor’easters and blizzards too numerous to count. However, in the last couple of days,  the weather here in the US has been making headlines all over the world. A ‘Polar Vortex’ has barreled in, bringing us the coldest temperatures seen in living memory. Arctic conditions have stretched across the country and the mercury has plunged to around -41c / -42f in the mid west and a comparably balmy -17c / 2f, here in NY

usa

Stars & Stripes freezing in the Polar Vortex

It occurred to me that this would be the ideal time to get the fire going and pour a glass or two of spiced wine in true Nordic Hygge (cozy) style, as our readers across the country try and keep themselves warm

Luckily, our friends at Hetta, who are a family business based just up the road to me here in the Hudson Valley of NY, had recently sent me a  bottle of their Port based spiced wine ‘Glögg’ to check out

Glögg  is a Scandinavian welcoming drink served to warm your guests up when they come in from the winter cold to your home and is often drunk in the winter on festive days. Darren from Hetta told me their Glögg is based on the founder’s Scandinavian family recipe. It is a handmade Port based wine infused with a mixture of orange peel, raisins, cinnamon and cardamon finished with Brandy and has minimal added sugar and an alcohol content of just below 22% volume

Deep claret in color, with a fruity spiced nose and soft palate, I found it to be a very pleasant heart warming fortified spiced wine with a decent alcoholic kick from the port and brandy mixed within. The spices are very subtle although I could detect a hint of both the cardamon and cinnamon

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Hetta Glögg all warmed up by our blazing wood log fire

Hetta say their Glögg is not just a drink for a festive day or the winter, it can also be drunk cold, used as a cocktail ingredient, as well as a wonderful addition to cooking any time of year. Something I will certainly test out soon

However, this frigid evening, I could not think of a better way to sample Hetta’s Glögg, than to warm it up in the Nordic tradition and enjoy it by the fire after we came in from the freezer outside that is the extraordinary Polar Vortex that has descended on the USA

‘Skål’ as they say, in Scandinavia and to all our readers in the US, in Scandinavia, the UK and beyond, keep warm this Winter!!

Web:  http://hettaglogg.com/

 

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Top 5 Israeli Food Adventures

As transatlantic foodies, we share foodie finds: markets/ cafes/ restaurants. We create and try recipes in New York, London and on our travels. We don’t often get to eat together but had the opportunity during our recent trip to Israel for friends Lena and Albert’s wedding. Neither of us have been to Israel for a very long time, and it was fantastic to discover the current vibrant food scene in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Israeli and Middle Eastern Food is really on trend in USA, UK and globally with chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Sarit and Itamar of Honey & Co in London and Mike Solomonov in Philadelphia,  Israeli chef Eyal Shani with Miznon in Tel Aviv, NYC, Paris, Vienna and Melbourne.  Too many more to mention as part of the London, NYC and global food scene.

Tel Aviv has a growing global reputation as a ‘Vegan City’ with a fantastic choice of vegan and vegetarian places to eat. After all many of these recipes have always been an important part of the cuisine – think falafel and hummus to name two!

We thought we would share our top 5 foodie highlights.

1. Freshly Squeezed  Juice

Simon’s favourite: Passionfruit with everything!

Simon is the juice man and couldn’t get enough of the scene with little juice stands dotted all round Tel Aviv, especially as his favourite fruit, passion fruit, is in abundance in the City. We met Itzik Mitzik founder of  La Fruiteria who made us a bespoke juice combo after asking what fruits and flavours we liked and what mood were we in. Having walked around sunny Tel Aviv for a few hours, we were in need of a refreshing pick me up in the afternoon before getting ready for the wedding in the evening.

Itzik made us a fab refreshing juice combo of pomegranate, red grapefruit, melon, pineapple & ginger- just what we needed to quench our thirst ready for a full-on night of celebrations!

Bloggers Bespoke Juices

2. Shakshuka for Sunday Breakfast at Shuk Ha’Carmel – The Carmel Market

Shukshuka Juice

We had a Sunday morning meander around the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv taking in the sights, sounds and aromas from all the food stalls – more of that later.

Sunday Shakshuka

Sunday breakfast just had to be… Shakshuka. It’s a really popular breakfast/brunch dish that can be found in many trendy all day dining spots around the World. We found a little cafe within the market called rather handily, ‘Shukshuka.’ We had the classic combo with fresh bread from the market, pickles, juice and coffee. Also a great chat with Ari the owner about the local Tel Aviv food scene too!

Give us a wave Ari!

3. The Carmel and Levinsky Food Markets, Tel Aviv

Vibrant Veggies at Carmel Market

The Carmel Market is probably the most famous being centrally located and sells an array of  food, clothing and gifts. We focused on the food. Lots of halva, breads, spice mixes, fresh fruit, veggies, juice & vibrant stallholders enticing us in with their market patter!

Spice mixes for every dish!

One highlight was Dr. Halva and we couldn’t resist trying a few including, no surprise,  passion fruit, Simon’s favorite!

Dr. Halva at Work!

Lindsey purchased passion fruit, pistachio and pecan for foodie gifts and future baking projects: Ottolenghi tahini and halva brownies and Honey & Co Babka in the planning.

Get your Greens at Carmel Market!

There were also many great places to eat nearby, that  source their ingredients from the market.

Yummy dried fruit display at Levinsky Market

The Levinsky market in Florentin District, South Tel Aviv was recommended by a foodie friend and chef Emma Spitzer and has more of a local market vibe. The market developed in 1930’s when the Greek immigrant community started selling spices, nuts and dried fruits from The Balkans. Today this area has developed into a vibrant foodie destination  with the business owners selling a wide and fantastic  range of foods from the Levant, reflecting the Iranian community that settled in this area and wanted  ingredients to cook the Persian recipes of their heritage.

Beautiful Pickles at Levinsky Market

Lindsey visited on a Monday morning, it felt less touristy than Carmel but maybe that was just the day she chose to go. Lots of shops selling dried fruit, nuts, spices, pickles all beautifully displayed and enticing to buy. Working out how much room left in the suitcase to fit everything was key!

Smelling of Rose petals! Levinsky Market View

Lindsey bought dried chilies, dried rose petals and some spice blends and also acquired nutmeg, which proved a challenge. However, with the help of a translation app, a lot of smiling and gesticulating she discovered its alternative name muscat!  There were lots of interesting cafes and restaurants by the market but Lindsey had a hankering for hummus and a destination in mind…..

4. Abu Hassan Hummus, Jaffa: the best Hummus in Israel?

We read a lot of articles, opinions and recommendations but food is so emotive and subjective, after all,  our blog taste2taste is all about 2 friends having 2 opinions! Emma and others recommended a trip to Abu Hassan in Jaffa. It was really worth it!  After Levinsky market Lindsey was ready for lunch and a walk around Jaffa.  When she found it, the place was busy but thankfully no queue and she grabbed the last free table.

Hummus plates at Abu Hassan

No menu! So, Lindsey kept it classic trying hummus that is dressed with a few boiled whole chickpeas / garbanzo beans,  spices, olive oil, parsley and served with fresh pitta bread and raw onion petals quartered. Lindsey had never eaten hummus dipping the raw onion layers before but had to try and it was delish!

The best hummus ever!

They also make a chunkier hummus, Masabacha,  served similarly or with brown beans. Also falafel and that’s it! So 4 options or a mix of all done incredibly well. The hummus was creamy, flavourful and seriously some of the best Lindsey had ever eaten – the hype was right!

Chickpeas & brown beans .. stirring the pot!

She managed to get to see the kitchen with the tubs of hummus made earlier that morning, the big pans of cooked chickpeas, brown beans and the preparation station where all the toppings are added- great theatre and lunch.

 

5. Dinner Street Food Shawarma and Yemenite Mezze Salads and Kebabs

Yashka Shawarma

We spotted this place on our way down Dizengoff Street en-route to our friend’s stag party, at a nearby local bar the night before the wedding.  It was jam packed with every table on the pavement around it heaving with families and friends tucking into meaty flat bread parcels and salads. Simon suggested we try it out as we thought we might need something substantial to eat before the stag night drinking began.

We both went for the fully loaded veal and chicken thigh shawarma in a huge puffy laffa bread (a flat thick pitta style bread). This was pasted with spicy Harissa  (a hot pepper sauce) filled with cabbage, classic  Israeli tomato and cucumber salad, assorted pickles, amba (mango pickle), tahini and a veritable pile of steaming hot crackling meat wrapped and served. Somehow, Simon managed to eat his entire shawarma, which was over a foot long!

We proceeded to the bar where, Albert’s cousin Yossi, was leading the festivities encouraging the Groom to have a drink or dozen.  The local hooch is called Arak (similar to Ouzo, Raki, Sambuca or Pastis from Greece, Turkey, The Balkans, Italy or France respectively). It is an aniseed based spirit. With Yossi calling out ‘shots, shots, shots’ and ‘arak, arak, arak’ endless glasses of this clear potent liquorice tasting drink were delivered. Sadly the groom was so petrified about being drunk on his wedding day, Simon and Yossi couldn’t persuade him to partake of more than a couple of drinks!

Maganda – Yemenite Restaurant

Our fav spicy carrot salad, hummus, aubergine dip, tomato dip pickles & pita

The night after the wedding party, Simon’s niece, who had recently made Aliyah (emigrated) to Israel needed to meet up with him to pick up a parcel he had brought from her family in the US. We decided it might be fun to go out to dinner with her somewhere off the beaten track. After a few minutes on our cell phones, we identified a couple of potential places to try out. One of these was a little off the regular tourist trail in  Kerem Hatemanim, the Yemenite neighborhood of Tel Aviv. After wandering in the humid evening through some fascinating back alleys with run down Bauhaus style concrete buildings street art  and stray cats meandering about, we found ourselves in an area with back streets buzzing with people eating alfresco and located Maganda, a Yemenite restaurant whose hospitable owner, a former paratrooper, sports the most amazing white beard! Although tempted to try such traditional Yemenite delights on the menu, such as: calves feet soup, ox testicles and lungs in sauce, Simon’s niece, who is less of a foodie, persuaded us to go down a more standard route, the highlights of which included a fabulously executed subtle spicy Yemeni carrot salad and perfectly cooked skewers of lamb & chicken straight from the grill.

Chicken skewers & sides

So many more places to check out but sadly we ran out of time. There’s  a great reason to go back and explore some more.

What are your favourite Israeli places ? We would love to hear your recommendations and Israeli Food Adventures.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/itsikmitsik1/

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293984-d8299048-Reviews-Shukshuka-Tel_Aviv_Tel_Aviv_District.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293984-d803562-Reviews-Abu_Hasan_Ali_Karavan-Tel_Aviv_Tel_Aviv_District.html?m=19905

https://www.yashka.co.il/

https://www.maganda.co.il/

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Shoo Shoo Nolita – A Little Bit of Tel Aviv in Little Italy, NYC

One of the biggest trends in the New York City restaurant scene at the moment, is Israeli cuisine. The City is already graced with several great places to try the unique blend of Mediterranean and European fusion found in the country’s food. So, last weekend, we checked out the very latest of these. Hidden among the narrow streets of Little Italy in Manhattan is the bijoux ‘Shooshoo Nolita,’ opened less than a month ago

The temperature outside might have been close to freezing but on entering Shooshoo, we were met with a warm friendly welcome. Inside, the restaurant has that cool Tel Aviv vibe that we so recently experienced on a trip to Israel for our friend’s wedding (more of that to follow in a future post on taste2taste). The decor is simple, modern with exposed ducts and white washed brickwork contrasting with aqua green paint splashes (reminiscent of the sea). There is a cozy couch area and dining is off simple stone topped tables surrounded by glass looking out onto the street

15. Collage

The dining area, bar and cool clock on the exterior

The menu, we were told by our waiter (who was from Herzliya, on the Israeli coast) had just been updated that very evening. It wasn’t available on the restaurant’s website when we booked – perhaps they were trying to live up to their name ‘Shoo Shoo’, which translates as mysterious and inviting? It consisted of 10 starters, 5 entrees and a couple of desserts, all of which appeared to be twists on modern Israeli food

While selecting our food, we were served with hunks of fresh bread with a butternut puree, olive oil and nuts and ordered some drinks including a Mata Hari Cognac, a chai infused sweet vermouth, with lemon and pomegranate Juice topped with edible rose heads – an exquisite blend

4. Cocktail

Mata Hari Cocktail

We eventually rolled with our waiter’s recommendations, focusing on vegetarian and fish courses, although we were tempted by some of the meat and poultry options. In particular, the delicious sounding Arayes which is a pita sandwich filled with either lamb or beef, tahini, roasted tomatoes, spicy peppers, pickled onion and sumac

We ordered Marinated Eggplant, Gluten Free Falafel Latkes, Fish Mademoiselle, a Pickled Beet and Avocado Salad followed by Middle Eastern Daal

5. Eggplant

Marinated Eggplant

We thought The Marinated Eggplant was a masterpiece. A sort of deconstructed ‘Sabich’ consisting of a mini tower of melt in your mouth Eggplant with parsley, lemon and garlic in a tahini sauce all topped with a perfect soft boiled egg

The Falafel Latkes were an unusual spin. A sort of fusion of two famous Israeli dishes, ‘falafel’ ubiquitous of Sephardi (Middle Eastern) Jewish street food and Latkes, a traditional Ashkenazi (European) dish consumed during the Jewish festival of Chanukah (of which it was the 8th Night that evening). They were soft delicious and moreish

7. Felafel Latkes

Gluten Free Falafel Latkes with fresh herbs and pomegranate salad

The Pickled Beet and Avocado salad included cashew butter, sprouts, baby aragula with a simple lemon olive oil dressing. We found it to be a well balanced salad, with a pleasant and delicate herb leaf contrast

The Fish Mademoiselle was a riot of flavor, perfectly combining stewed branzino fish balls as the main item perfectly designed for dipping in the spicy tomato tahini sauce. The balls had a distinct lemon zesty tang and were much enhanced by the sauce

8. Butternut Daal

Middle Eastern Daal

The Middle Eastern Daal consisted of a spicy lentil stew topped with lovely soft roasted butternut squash with fresh cilantro and yogurt. A great combination of flavor and texture. We had hoped to try the Wild Red Snapper Carpaccio, which we also spotted on the menu but unfortunately they had run out of it….

12. Khadifa Kanafeh
While we still had some room, we decided to sample the desserts on offer and ordered both the Dark Chocolate Mousse and the Pistachio Kanafeh

The Dark Chocolate Mousse was a revelation. The chefs had infused whipped cream with espresso coffee beans and dipping the rich chocolate mousse into this infusion one really gets a little taste of heaven on earth. A sort of mocha impact, a reverse cappuccino effect. The Pistachio Kanafeh, a shredded filo pastry baked with curd in a rosewater, pistachio nut syrup was equally ethereal. We were in agreement that Shoo Shoo Nolita’s dessert making prowess is worthy of recommendation. Yum!

11. Moroccan Tea

Moroccan Tea

To wash down the rich desserts, we shared a pot of Moroccan Tea, minty and refreshing. Served in a carafe with a very cute handle cover

Shimon Maman, the chef co-owner behind Shoo Shoo certainly gets a thumbs up from us at taste2taste for this great addition to the established field of Israeli eateries in the City. Check it out and see if you agree

http://www.shooshoonolita.com