Boys went for a school Shabbaton - weekend together with classmates. This involved a Friday morning hike in trad'l Israeli fashion and then off to simple innlike place for togetherness and spirituality, both things that the boys were disinterested in. Nonetheless, the packed up their things and went. Given that they were both gone, we decided to indulge Akiva's carniverous inclinations, the fact that my new chirpractor said that I needed some more animal protein in my diet and the fact that Ira is always looking for an opportunity to eat a good meatball and we went off to try a new takeout place in Emek Refaim.
Coffee first at Aroma - read the paper, ate a good breakfast sandwich, listened idly to the coversation of the varous couples on either side and when the cigarette smoke got too strong for us, left to do our errands. Purchased the Jerusalem Post Friday Edition - it is critical to get both Ha'aretz/Herald Tribune and JPost on Fridays. Lots of sections to read and the all important In Jerusalem in the Post which details local events and has articles concerning J'lem. Not like "Talk of the Town" but we take what we can get. Monday's JPost is also important as it has good portions of the Times's Week in Review reprinted. Also bought Yedioyot Achronot, which is an absolute rag but at least is readable for us newbies who struggle with the newspaper. Both Ira and I notice that we're no longer so shocked by the fact that the newspapers are all in hebrew. This may sound stupid to some but you know, it's surprising. What's also interesting is that I can read the hebrew faster - my hebrew was always good but I find that I register the language faster in terms of street signs and advertisements and newspaper headlines. I may not know instantly what it means but I take in the language more automatically, like the way I do in english.
Back to Friday. Headed to Ma'a'da'nei Tzid'ki'yahu for some Shabbat specialties that we've grown to like - excellent veg liver that's zucchini based with lots of onions, great bread that comes from a local baker, pickled cabbage (we've been perfecting a new recipe at home based on their most delightful cabbage with dill), and excellent smoked salmon (not lox mind you but more like gravlax with a definitely smoky quality - I mean Iris's is better but one has to make do), and a good hunk of aged goat cheese. With these delicacies in hand, we next headed around to the takeout guy around the corner that had come well recommended. It immediately became apparent that we had made a huge mistake showing up with our Tzidkiyahu bags in tow. We walked around eyeing the choices - spiced fish dishes, chicken in various styles (roasted, sauteed with veggies in an obvious attempt to modernize their recipes), meat in all styes of chop, stewed and stuffed - when I mean stuffed, I mean stuffed. Stuffed cabbage, stuffed grape leaves, stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchinis....you get the picture. Then there are the fried things - fried veg cakes, kubbe (bulgar torpedos stuffed with meat), cigars and other filo pastries stuffed with meat, potatoe cakes stuffed with chopped, seasoned meat, and soup kubbed which is more like a soft dough stuffed with meat that's put in chicken soup. Then, there are the salads in the fridge case along with the soups - cabbage slaws, red salads including spicy turkish salad and more piquant matbucha salad, chopped and seasoned pepper salads and of course, humus, tuna salad (this is a specialty with all sorts of chopped veggies inc pickles that I happen to like) and veg and real, chopped chicken liver. There are kugelike things called pash'ti'dot which look like veg kugels but taste more like veg potato niks if you know what that is. Anway, there we are with our Tzidkiyahu bags and someone says - turns out it's the owner, "what, you went and bought salads there?" "don't you know they make their stuff in a factory?" "everything we sell, we make right here," "taste," he says, breaking a cauliflower pancake in half and handing it over to the two of us. "Good?" he says, "right?" I answer that this is our first time here and he came recommended and what can I say but now I know better. Unconvinced, he urges us to follow him into the kitchen in the back. Well, now you're talking I think to myself. We follow him. Biggish space by Israeli standards, big pots with piles of stuff being sauteed by cooks standing by. He shows us - filling for his different kubbes and other salads being made in the back. I think to myself, he must do this constantly. He takes up back into the store and demands to know WHAT we bought at Tzidkiyhu that could compare with his store. I venture to tell him that we bought some coleslaw - "coleslaw! mine is fresher and better." He reaches into the fridge and grabs a container of coleslaw - please understand that I find colesaw indigestible under most circumstances except for Tzidkiyahu pickled slaw and even then, I eat it gingerly - and then, grabs a plastic fork. He stabs in and forks up a big pile of mayo styled slaw and shoves it toward my mouth. I take the fork, open mouth and chew obediently, remarking that it's just fab, thinking it's ok but it's still slaw. He goes on about the fact that the mayo is at the bottom. Ira and I assume that this is either testifying to it's home madeness, it's lower fatness or something else perhaps. He then returns the container to the fridge, minus my bite and that was hilarious to me but that's Israel. We order a nice selection - some plain chicken for Akiva, rice and lentils, 2 pieces of stuffed cabbage for Ira, some meatballs and some sauteed chicken livers with onions for both of us and chickpeas nicely cooked in a paprika/tomato sauce. End result - it was good but so far, we like the place on DBL - Derekh Beit Lechem, near Jess's old place more but to be fair, the food was fresh and good and not heavily salted or oiled or overly seasoned and all tasting the same. We'd go back and try again, but needless to say, leave the Tzidkiyahu bags in the car. Tzidiyahu may have a factory and be a bigger operation but it's a small country and none of the food is traveling that far - it's fresh and good and they really know their neighborhood. I had a long chat with a guy at the Emek Refaim Tzidkiyahu about the diff in their food at that location and at their location in the shuk which I prefer more as the food is a bit more Sephardic/Mizrachi in style - spicier and peppier.
We toss everything in the car, head for home, pick up Akiva and make a run for the pool. Ahh...Fridays in J'lem.
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