Sunday, July 29, 2012

Druze Pita in Jerusalem's Old City's Arab Shuk (Market)

On Saturday, July 28 we arrived in the old city oblivious to the fact that a mass Ramadan prayer would be taking place at 8pm. In addition it's the Jewish Holiday Tisha B'Av so prayers will be taking place at The Western Wall and Jewish quarter. Someone also told me that it's a Christian holiday today but googling didn't bring anything up.
Our destination was the Christian Quarter. S was determined to buy a couple of his buddies in the States some gifts from the Old City. Upon arriving around 4pm, the hustle and bustle at the Damascus (Shchem or Nablus) Gate in preparation for Ramadan was apparent. Parking was impossible. We decided to head to The Jewish Quarter, found parking there in a snap. It's Shabbat, parking was free and we found a most convenient spot.
We entered through the Zion Gate, walked through narrow alleys and passed through the Arab market in the Old City heading to The Western Wall. It was now 5pm and the shop owners were closing down heading to prayers soon. We were the last of the customers. S found a couple of gifts for his friends. We didn't haggle much.
As S was at the shop looking for some gifts I was further down the alley and this is what I encountered. These two guys making bread on a taboon. I asked them what was the name of the bread. They told me the name in Arabic, and instead of repeating themselves when I didn't catch it, they decided to just make it easy, and called it Druze bread, everyone here is familiar with it.
One orthodox man told me I shouldn't snap photos in the old city, it was the day of rest, the shabbat. All along I was telling my sister to cover herself up with her cardigan. Modesty whether you are in the Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Armenian quarter is important. The minute I would indulge in enjoying the early evening breeze my sister would take her cardigan off and reveal sleeveless arms. It was a game of a cat and mouse.
The breads were 50 cents a piece. They are traditionally served with Labne and zaatar. We just devoured it as is. The street signs below show the location of these lads. Am not sure if it is their regular corner spot. The photo to the right shows the pavers you walk on in the old city.
Here is a video I found on the web showing how the bread is made and a recipe. I thought you should see the pillow they use as I didn't snap it clearly in these series of photos. I haven't tested the recipe but I found some of the tips to be very useful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

כפיתולינה Capitolina's Indian Kulfi Ice Cream: Israel Part I

Israel bound I was not about to explore the newly popped artisanal ice cream shops. Creativity in this melting pot is abundant, I could imagine the flavors of the newly sprouted shops would come up with, yet still I wasn't home bound to write about ice cream and Italian gelato. That is until quite by chance I stepped into Capitolina and met Yair while roaming the flea market (Shuk HaPishpeshim) in Jaffa (Yaffo).
Capitolina's logo
The old mixed in with the new as the flea market is being re-gentrified. Strong opinions from vendors that have been there for generations about the new bauhauses, boutiques, galleries and trendy restaurants popping within their alleys, at the gut of their very existence. To me it is all beautiful. We arrived at 5pm for a late late lunch. Parking is scarce but we found what appeared to be a perfect one, only problem from 7pm on. The vendors were hosing down the rundown alleys and curbs preparing to close shop. One Persian vendor, and here we go with the cliche, selling rugs, was meandering about by our parked car across the alley from his corner shop. We were concerned about a whopper of a ticket. He told Jonathan to dial his cell so he has our number. An absolute stranger. While we are having lunch he will be on the look out. So we dialed and dashed off.
We went to lunch to the much hyped Doctor Shakshuka. We had to do it once. A wacky establishment with tzatzkes hanging from the ceiling lending themselves to be photographed. If you are in Israel skip it and experience the colorfulness through this and other pages. If you would like to see the tzatzkes order schwarma and shakshuka but pass the mezzes.
J's pet peeve was why do they serve the schwarma with thick slices of a fresh loaf of bread and not pita?! I echoed his sentiment, but as brave as I am, I was not about to utter the words and muddy the water. The waitress was a reflection of this 'Misedet Poalim' (workers restaurant) with prices more targeted towards tourist pockets. She has lived life and here in this spot she is used to the lime light. She was tough and I had to get access to the kitchen, where the cook demonstrates with a rehearesed playfulness a quick breaking of the eggs. Doctor Shakshuka himself sat with his buddies at a table nearby and once in awhile getting up all ruffled about this or another matter in the kitchen. I knew my way to the kitchen is through this waitress who exudes a nonchalant confidence so I overlooked a small matter of the scorched Shakshuka bottom.
There was even an Israeli celebrity sitting at another table taking or making notes of sorts, just across, but I was a food and tzatzkes paparazzi and not at all interested in celebrities.
Soon after we hurried off back to the car where we talked to the Persian rug dealer. Left again as we saw he wasn't concerned. Traffic violation reports seize after 4pm. The vendors know the in and outs and when the cops go on their respective siestas.
We walked around the flea market, shuk, and took as much as we could in, there was so much bustle. It was easier as things, early evening, were dialling down. We stumbled into Capitolina and plan to go back for their sorbets. This time we ordered the Indian kulfi, which Yair says was the most challenging recipe to perfect. The original version was from this woman in India who showed him how to make it during his travels a few years back, as he put it, at 27, relatively late for Israelis.
Yair uses a gelato technique, not many ice crystals, more accurately non existent, for the Indian kulfi. He doesn't cook down the milk but rather uses condensed milk, as my mom does. Tweaked the flavors to Israeli palates and does not add saffron. I agreed there again, didn't think saffron was necessary as it can be overwheing even in pinches of doses. The kulfi was super authentic in flavors, exactly how I like it. With the Kulfi we had a Malabi flavored scoop too. Was a great combination. I also loved the hazelnut and knock it out of the park grapefruit campari and limonana (lemon and mint) sorbets at Capitolina. Capit as a by the way, means teaspoon in Hebrew.
Malabi on top and Kulfi at bottom. Adding kulfi image soon
Prior to opening his first location in Kiryat Gat in 2009 (in the south), Yair traveled to Italy to study artisanal ice cream making at a small Roman family owned and operated gelateria. The Kiryat Gat location was sold to a dairy restaurant and Yair moved Capitolina a year ago to its current Shuk HaPishpeshim location. With some exceptions, such as the Lemon Pie Yair does not use egg yolks (eggs) in his ice cream bases. Yair does not compromises on the quality, he uses Belgian Callebaut chocolate, French Valrhona and Madagascar vanilla beans as raw ingredients. The nuts are lightly toasted and ground to order. The gelato made in small batches with finest raw ingredients are just to name a few more reasons why they are superior.
The cherry on top was while Yair gave me a tour of the upstairs, where he churns the gelato, one of his staff members, came up complaining, about a man who keeps coming in asking for the reduced rate ice cream. She said 'you were nice to him once and now he is taking advantage'. Turns out the guy is unemployed and has many, if I am not mistaken, seven kids, so Yair absorbs the cost. So nice! ..and yeah forgot to mention Yair studied education and used to be a preschool teacher. Now living back on a kibbutz where he grew up, with his wife and two kids.
While am sure there are other worthy artisanal ice cream shops in Israel, I believe I found the one I fancy the most and caters dead on to my likes. I do not play golf but I like the idiom 'a hole in one'.
Capitolna
Olei Zion 9, Jaffa (Flea Market)
כפיתולינה - עולי ציון 9, יפו
Telephone: 972-3-6036275
טלפון 03-6036275
www.capitolina.co.il (the website is under construction)
I usually do not post recipes with tree nuts as S is allergic but today is the exception.
After receiving the recipe from Yair I understood clearly what sets Capitolina apart. Experience it for yourselves and  enjoy the recipe below. The images of the falvor tags above are just some of the ones Capitolina offers. Thank you Yair for the images of the flavor tags and Capitolina's logo.

Indian Kulfi Ice Cream

400 gr (14.0196 oz) 3% milk
30 gr (1.0582 oz) milk powder (optional but really helps the consistency)
90 gr(3.174 oz) sugar
10 cardamon pods, pound into a rough consistency in a mortar and pestle

Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce to low and cook for five minutes. Let cool on counter then chill in refrigerator for at least three hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

To the base above add:

100 gr (3.527 oz) whipping cream
170 g r(5.996 oz) condensed milk
200 gr (7.054 oz) cconut water approximately 21% fat

Whip the mixture well with a hand held electric blender (immersion blender) on low/medium. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

While ice cream is churning chop:

75 gr (2.645 oz) roasted pistachios, chopped into 1-2 mm (0.0787 inch) pieces (or shelled edemame for those allergic to nuts)


Mix in the chopped pistachios two minutes before ice cream is ready. Scoop into a container and freeze for at least few (4-5) hours before serving.

Ice cream is best served the next day or within at most two weeks of churning.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chocolate, Coconut and Caramel Hummus Pastries

Photo by Matt @LandLoppers with my iPhone
My visit to the Sabra Headquarters was a long time coming. Awhile back at a mom's and pop's grocery shop in Maryland, the owner gave me the lowdown on the newly built facilities in my own very state. The pop of the mom and pop duo heard all about it from his distributors. From that point on I couldn't shake the desire to get a behind the scenes peek at the state of the art new facilities, just a stone's throw away from my little house in a wooded area, outside DC. Sure enough, that call came when least expected, months, if not years later and I jumped at the opportunity to be hosted by Sabra at its Headquarters just outside Richmond.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dairy Free Coconut Chocolate Ice Cream

The third and last ice cream in the Whisk issue is dairy free and Parve. Please check my previous post Strawberry Swirl vanilla Ice Cream for tips and a particular note about dairy free ice creams and alcohol. The ice cream tips are strewn throughout the three part series, beginning with Salted Caramel Ice Cream With Salted Caramel Shards. Feel free to link your special diet ice creams in the comments section below.