Tag Archives: Vegan

Travel Guide: Tel Aviv

A lot gets packed into our eighth grade trip to Israel. After four nights in Jerusalem, two nights in the Negev, and three nights on the Kinneret, the trip staff were exhausted. Built into the trip was a weekend with host families, usually students’ relatives or family friends. For staff, this meant two nights to choose anywhere in Israel to stay and just relax. One of my carpool friends was also a trip chaperone and we chose to spend the weekend in Tel Aviv; it was nothing less than glorious.

With the kids, we stopped in Tel Aviv twice over the course of the trip: Once to eat falafel and hang out in a park before visiting the Olympic Museum, which was entertaining for the kids and a lovely display of Zionism, and once to go to the beach. Suffice it to say that Tel Aviv (and perhaps anything) with kids is completely different than with adults.

After traveling by bus with a group of students also staying in and around Tel Aviv, we were free! We dropped our bags at the hotel and headed straight to Nachlat Binyamin, the artists’ market where, back in 2007, my parents bought a fruit plate that still sits on their kitchen counter and I bought a pair of purple earrings that I wore every single day until they turned green. (Those earrings are the reason that I chose purple studs when I pierced the second hole in my right ear.) I didn’t buy anything this time, but it was still fun to look around.

From there, hungry, in the mood for shakshuka, and still in need of gifts, we wandered Shuk HaCarmel, the most famous of Tel Aviv’s markets. As readers of this blog know, I adore markets. I love food and smells and flavors. I love the dedication of the vendors, the passionate bargaining of customers, and the speed of each transaction. I love the crowds and how markets are universally loud, frenetic, and a true delight for all the senses.

This particular market area of Tel Aviv is also a great spot for really neat street art. Shout out to my weekend partner-in-crime for her patience every time I said, “Wait, need a picture.”

Truth be told, however, we spent most of our weekend just sitting on the beach. I’m generally really bad at sitting but that’s all my body wanted to do. Sometimes we sat with food or drinks and sometimes we just sat and watched the water. We met up with a friend and some friends of friends and had ourselves a lovely time.

In addition to a great beach atmosphere, Tel Aviv also has a great restaurant and bar scene. On recommendation from one of our trip guides who lives in Tel Aviv, we went to Four One Six, a vegan restaurant that exceeded all expectations. After a few minutes of talking to the owner, we made a New York connection – he and his twin brother, the head chef, are from Brooklyn and opened the restaurant together a few months ago. He had previously worked at Candle 79, a phenomenal vegan restaurant that was blocks away from my Upper East Side apartment for the month that I lived there. The owner was really friendly and told us that he and his brother are working to challenge the food scene in Tel Aviv by introducing delicious vegan food that highlights what vegan can eat rather than what they can’t. Sounds a little like Candle 79! (And Vedge in Philadelphia, which I also highly recommend.) The owner dropped off a plate of chocolates and stopped back to ask if we’d figured out the flavors. Delicious isn’t a flavor but that’s what they were.

Other food highlights from the weekend include shakshuka, which we didn’t find at Shuk HaCarmel but ate outside at a sidewalk bakery/café, and burekas, which we also enjoyed while sitting outside. I could eat nothing but Israeli food every day for the rest of my life and never get bored. Every meal, including breakfast, is full of various types of fresh salads and I just love it.

After dinner, we met up with our guide, his girlfriend, and a few other friends at Dizzy Frishdon, a great bar with outdoor seating, several indoor bar areas, a table with swings instead of chairs, and a few rooms of normal tables and chairs. It was a really lovely evening to sit outside (are you noticing a theme?) and enjoy just being in Tel Aviv and watching the nightlife all around us. Our guide’s friend is a part owner of the bar and that came with food and drinks perks, which was a lot of fun.

Overall, it was an incredibly relaxing weekend and exactly what we needed to prepare for the final two nights of the trip back in Jerusalem. It actually ended up being two and a half nights after a seven-hour flight delay, so it’s a good thing that we were relaxed and rejuvenated. Beautiful beaches, beautiful food, and beautiful people have a way of doing that.

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View from our hotel room

Just a Note

I went to college in Syracuse, NY and I’m back now for my roommate’s wedding. I couldn’t be happier to be here or to celebrate such a genuinely kind person and her equally kind tomorrow-to-be husband. In revisiting some old haunts, I headed to Strong Hearts Café, which I was delighted to see had not changed a bit in five year. It’s vegan, provides free coffee refills, and has a list of milkshakes named after radical, influential, and often forgotten people (my personal favorite names include Tiananmen Square Guy, The Haudenosaunee, The White Rose, Sacco & Vanzetti, Howard Zinn, and Paul Rusesabagina). What’s not to love? Actually I can answer that: the lack of cheese.

A girl in her late teens or early twenties came in with a woman I assume was her mother and sat at the table next to me. The girl remained at their table while the mother went to the counter to order. Alone, the girl started to cry. She regained composure and then broke into new tears several times while they waited for a strawberry waffle.

My heart went out to her while I sat at my table and tried to concentrate on my book. I wanted to reach over and tell her that it would all be okay. I wanted to ask if she needed a hug. I wanted to help her stop hurting.

So I wrote her a note on a napkin.

The girl and her mother asked for a takeaway box and left while I was writing, so I never dropped it on their table. Maybe had I started writing earlier, instead of waiting to see if the waffle would help her feel better, I could have been of comfort in some way. Instead, I’ll leave the note here in case she reads this blog. Stranger things have happened, right?

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I know life can sometimes be very hard. I’m sorry for whatever you’re going through. I’m sorry you’re hurting.

But I also know that this, too, shall pass. Every day will be easier than the last.

You are not alone. The people in your life are here for you. Everyone hurts sometimes – we are all here for you.

Fall down seven times, stand up eight.

You can do it.

As I’ve been typing this, Jakob Dylan’s “Everybody’s Hurting” is playing in my head. (Let the record show that there are often songs playing in my head.) It’s a little church-y but I really love this line: My sweetheart we’ve got to learn to live with these ghosts/They can’t leave and we can’t go.

This is the message I want to send to everyone who is hurting, for whatever reason. This is for anyone who needs a friendly face or a shoulder to cry on. I am here for you. If we have yet to meet or if I’ve known you for a long time, I am here for you. Whatever your ghosts, I am here for you. We are all humans, and therefore I am here for you. No questions asked.

Eat, Drink, and Take Pictures

A good portion of the last 24 hours have centered around food and drink, though not in that order. Last night, a group of us went to Flight Wine Bar for, you guessed it, flights of wine. All of Flight’s flights (haha) come in groups of three, which meant we had quite a lot of wine on the table.

Flights at Flight

Being a place that specializes in wine, Flight also has more options that one could possibly go through. The ladder is my favorite part.

Wine Collection

A couple days ago I came across a recipe for vegan shawarma, which was really exciting because shawarma was my favorite Israeli dish before I stopped eating red meat a few years ago. And wow, was this good! I served it on a bed of lettuce with kalamata olives and delicious tzatziki on the side.

Dinner

Towards the back of the plate is a mixture of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, kale, and red quinoa. Also rather delicious.

Another food picture

Bon appétit!