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Plant-Based Burger Review

Plant-based, meat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian – so many buzzwords! It’s a changing World.  Adopting a more plant-based focused diet as a lifestyle change is a growing trend, as is the number of people giving up  meat, gluten, dairy and also adopting a vegan lifestyle. There is so much posted on Social Media  and new products to try, whether street food markets, cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and independents  in the U.S. , U.K. and globally.  We love cooking and eating vegetarian food and have made a conscious effort to cut down our meat consumption too, although not putting a label on it!

We decided to check out some plant-based burgers at Simon’s local Bareburger in New York. With so many options on the menu we thought we would keep it Classic and go with Impossible Burger, Beyond Burger and a Thai Chia:  one  of Bareburger’s in house veggie burger combos.

Lots more  in house combos or build your own burgers to choose from whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or a meat eater! It was my last meal in Westchester County, New York  before I drove back to Newark airport to fly home to London. Simon was also busy with family stuff so we made a quick decision to go with only a small number of relishes and condiments so we could focus on tasting the burger.

Our 3 choices:

Impossible  Burger:  with vegan American cheese, caramelized onions,  stoneground mustard and ketchup in a brioche bun

Impossible Burger

Beyond  Burger: vegan American cheese, caramelised onions, stoneground mustard and ketchup in a gluten free bun

Beyond Burger with Gluten Free Bun

Thai Chia: quinoa, chia & green pea patty, vegan American cheese, caramelized onions, 7 spice Thai ketchup in a sprout bun ( no mushrooms or spinach)

Thai Chia Veggie Burger

We cut them in half to look at the appearance before munching away for our taste2taste test!

So how did they taste? We were impressed with the flavour and textures of all three. The Thai Chia patty you could see and taste the green peas and had a slightly grainy texture from the quinoa and chia, very filling. It reminded us a bit  of the veggie burgers we ate in Vegetarian restaurants  such as  Cranks in London. We liked the layers of flavours from the Thai  spiced ketchup in particular. Both the Impossible and Beyond burger had a more meat-like texture and look. We enjoyed both. Simon said  that if he visited again with his ‘tweenage’  son, ordered an Impossible and a Beyond burger  without mentioning they weren’t made of meat , his son probably wouldn’t notice!  Simon did visit Bareburger again recently and although he did let his son in on the secret, he said that his tweenager really liked the Beyond Burger finding it quite close in taste and texture to meat and it especially worked well in vegetarian stance with American cheese, salad leaves, tomato and ketchup!

Impossible Burger on Simon’s 2nd Visit

It got us thinking should a plant based meat alternative burger taste of meat ? We asked a few friends : vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian and meat eaters. We also polled our Yotam Ottolenghi Housewives FB Group foodie friends. There were lots of different views. Friends who were vegetarian/vegan because they didn’t like the taste of meat were clearly not fans, preferring something like a Portobello mushroom ‘burger’. Some non meat eaters both vegetarian and vegan, who did miss the taste of meat would consider eating on occasion. Our YO Foodie friends who  love cooking lots of different cuisines and are fans of both plant  and meat based recipes were mostly in favour of veggie burgers tasting of veggies, although one or two non meat eaters  would consider eating.  My local running shop manager, an ethical vegan for many years  said it’s not something he would personally choose to eat. However if it was a vehicle for people to enjoy, that involved less animals being killed he supported the principle. Another neighbour of Simon’s also a vegan and a food entrepreneur again thought an interesting innovation, preferring Beyond Burger,  as a lighter texture, not leaving him with that ‘carb heavy’ feeling after eating. Although he wouldn’t personally choose to eat something with the appearance flavour &  texture of meat he pointed out that Beyond Burger is marketed towards meat eaters wanting to eat less meat, more plant based meals. Simon also bought a pack of Beyond Burger patties to cook at home.

Beyond Burgers bought to cook at home

Simon Cooking Beyond Burgers

Beyond Burger skillet cooked at home

Simon’s Homemade Beyond Burger

So we enjoyed doing this taste test and enjoyed all three options however felt the Impossible burger just edged it on overall flavour, texture and eating experience. The Beyond  Burger is also widely available to buy  in U.S. to cook at home, and in U.K. too in Tesco’s Supermarkets and at Honest Burger Chain.

https:/www.bareburger.com/

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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

fire

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/