Birthday in Tel Aviv – Part II




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While I was originally hoping for at least one upscale culinary experience during this trip, especially given Tel Aviv’s reputation for “chef” restaurants, as they are referred to in Israel, we had promised Jake meat for lunch and so that meant kosher.  Son on the recommendation of our Hotel Manager, we found ourselves at MEATOS Grill Bar on Weitzman near the Opera House.  And while the name is not so inspired, the food – well that’s a different story.

We sat in a lovely outdoor space surrounded by trees and shade amidst dark wood and crisp white linen tables and promptly ordered way too much food.  The business lunch ran for 79 NIS and for that you got an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert.  There were so many good things on the menu that we felt compelled to try lots of them.

So, after placing our order, the traditional salatim began to arrive.  About 7 different ones in total and while I find many of the salatim in restaurants to be average at best, these were fresh and delicious, including a particularly good roasted red pepper salsa, an avocado/egg dip (which Jake promptly declared guacamole and proceeded to eat all of) and a really spectacular cauliflower and tehina salad which I loved so much that I rushed home to make a version for which I have included a recipe.  


This was quickly accompanied by the appetizers we ordered including hummus topped with ground beef (a favorite of Steve’s), an excellent and not greasy breaded and deep fried cauliflower in a sweet & spicy chili sauce, and last but not least roasted eggplant topped with tehini and roasted red pepper.   


Despite being full when our entrees actually arrived, I managed to do justice to a delicious plate of moist and juicy lamb patties, or kabobs as they called them, sitting on more of the delicious eggplant, sticky good chicken wings with a bit of a kick, and one of the best hamburgers we’ve had in Israel yet – flavorful and cooked perfectly – not to mention an overflow of chips.  We did manage to bring home a large piece of schniztel, most of the wings, part of the hamburger, and lots of chips for later consumption.

And don’t forget that the meal included dessert so we tried two different ones and they were both worthy – a more than decent parve crème brulee as well as a strudel that came rolled like a thin egg roll and served in a glass with date honey at the bottom – a perfectly respectable sweet ending. The restaurant also brought over some lovely melon slices that were completely refreshing after the heavy meal.


By this point, we were so stuffed that we couldn’t think about any more food and we devoted the rest of the day to more sightseeing and shopping.  But as we were pulling back into Jerusalem later that night it occurred to me that I never really had birthday cake.   Well, it seems nearly impossible to find “American style” birthday cake in any of the vast number of bakeries around times.  There are plenty of great cakes and tortes and pies – but I’m looking for good old-fashioned birthday cake. So for those of you who have recommendations – please send ‘em my way.  Because a birthday ain’t really over till there’s cake.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tehina
½ head cauliflower broken into small florets and washed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3-cup tehina
Juice of ½ lemon
Water to thin
3 garlic cloves
Large handful of parsley washed & chopped
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Using 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil, coat the cauliflower and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the cauliflower at 450 degrees until soft and the florets are brown around the edges.  While roasting mix the sauce in a bowl.  Add the tehina, garlic, and lemon juice and stir.  Add water a tablespoon at a time until you get a smooth consistency.  You want the tehina to be runny enough to pour over the cauliflower but not too thin.  You can also add a little more olive oil here if you want.  Add the cauliflower and the parsley and mix.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Enjoy with pita or other bread or as part of a salad course.

A few notes:  The cauliflower dish I had at MEATOS was a much creamier consistency.  While I don’t know this for sure, I believe the cauliflower was fried instead of roasted so that it was actually softer and mushier and their ratio of tehina to cauliflower was higher. As a result, the MEATOS version had a consistency closer to a baba ganoush.  When making this dish at home, I preferred the cauliflower roasted and with some bite left to it.



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