This picture wasn't even shot in Tel Aviv or in a major town, but in an arab village with mixed population north of Haifa. The sign reads мясная лавка свинина (Myasnaya Lavka Svynina), which means pork butcher.
The first time I saw the weird limited-edition bottlings of Kalashnikov was in Russia last year. This vodka is one more among the new brands with fancy names which position themselves in the mid- to upper quality range, like Putinka and Medvedevka. It's not clear wether this vodka is made in Saint Petersburg or in the obscure Udmurt Republic between Kirov and Perm (in the Ural). Whatever, the famed Kalashnikov machine gun, which has been the weapon of choice of muslim terrorists and irregular combatants worldwide finds here its way toward liquid rebranding. Na zdorovia !
If I believe this Facebook page, even Justin Beiber went to Abulafia when he spent time in Israel earlier this year (the second part of the page, in English, explains what Abulafia is about).
B. and I are avid honey consumers, for breakfast and as sweetener in tea (for B.), and I was particularly happy to stop in this honey production facility in the Golan heights. It is located in moshav Givat Yoav, an agricultural settlement in southern Golan which is also known for its milk production. David Alin has been making honey there since 1974. He decided to come here after speaking with a fellow soldier in the Army who was from the Golan, told him about his few beehives and invited him to come see the region. David ended up settling here and developped his business efficiently, capitalizing on the Golan spring with its myriad of wild flowers blossoming all around. He has now 500 beehives and two permanent employees, producing about 15 tons of honey a year in this sparsely-inhabited territory. Some of his customers are local Druze people for whom honey is a tradition. He sells also propolis, which looks like black truffles, flower pollen and cosmetic creams with health properties.
I'm enjoying right now a 1,5-kg pot of firmly-creamy honey from David
Read the transcription of an interview and discussion with David Alin on this page.
Phone of the honey facility : + 972 4 676 34 13
Purchase online on this page and on this page.
Pic on right : cool architecture spotted in the Moshav Givat Yoav.
My visits in the Golan took place several days before the violent events at the Syrian border, with this smart new tactic of sending busloads of paid militants to storm the fence by force. It is quite worrying, these countries around being on the brink of chaos and its people being made believe that by going after Israel they'll improve their own lot. The likely access to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is also a reminder that the vaunted "Arab spring" doesn't imply automaticly peace and positive-minded economic development. The Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928 and has been the ideological source of many islamofascist groups since then, should be particularly worrying for the Egyptians (at least the freedom-loving ones), who will be the first to face disaster under its rule.
On certain days the wine shop offers free tastings of a selection of wines and that day I tasted a Muscadet by Chereau-Carré, a fresh and balanced white priced at 40 Shekels instead of the usual 45 Shekels (8 € or 11,5 USD). Then a Merlot by Duboeuf, IGP Pays d'Oc 2009 at the same price. Nose inexistent and poor mouth. Third, a Georges Duboeuf again, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Pays D'Oc. Nose more interesting, mouth with noticeable tannins, I could swallow it but that was not a pleasant wine. Then, a Syrah 2009 from Duboeuf again, harsh mouth and quite unpleasant. Lastly a Lussac Saint Emilion Christian Mouiex 2007/2008, a weird blend of two vintages (never seen that before, I had to look at the label several times). I didn't note the price but not worth it.
I think that Georges Duboeuf makes a bad name to the French vinous reputation with these wines and although working with négoce is convenient I would recommend to this shop to importe wines from individual wineries.
Whatever, the shop is a gold mine if you're looking for good Israeli wines, and for Israeli Arak of course, like the El Namroud which goes for 59 Shekels here (pic on left - 12 € or 17 USD). Sampling Israeli products is what you're looking for primarily when you're a visitor from abroad, so the foreign imports are not that important. I spotted an intriguing bottle made by the 2006-founded Trio winery and named The Secret and which is a good wine according to the manager (costs 100 Shekels or 20 €, 29 USD). The winery is located in the Jerusalem hills and buys grapes for its wines.
Then we tasted a Floreffe Triple, a 7,5 ° beer. Good, darker beer with character.
Then we tasted an Opus, a Belgian bière de garde. 8,3 °. Very nice beer with honeyish aromas. Excellent. Costs 17,9 Shekels that day (3,6 €).
Then a Blanche de Bruxelles at 11,9 Shekels (2,4 €) and 4,5 °. A white beer with aromas of lychees.
Jem's Black Lager (German Lager). 5 %. Taste of caramel, smooth beer. I appreciate the generous pours. Good balance between the bitterness and the smoothness. Like it. 13 Shekels at the shop (2,6 € or 3,7 USD), 4-pack : 44 Shekels (9 € or 12,7 USD).
Jem's 808. Like a Belgium beer. Makes 8,08 ° in alcohol. Fruity and sweet, with good bitterness at the end. Nice beer too.
Jem's Wheat. Bavaria beer style. 5¨%. Light, unpasteurized beer. To light for me though, a bit too bland.
Jem's Amber Ale. Nice beer with Ale character, the bitterness with a sweet side.
In the basement of the same wine shop there were other beers to taste :
Alexander (pic on left), blond, Belgium style beer. 5,3 °. Made in Alexander brewery, a boutique brewery 30 km from Tel Aviv Pleasant beer with pepper feel in the mouth. Not filtered, not pasteurized.
Alexander Ambrée, French style. Natural gas for all the beers, nothing added. They make also a dark, 7 ° beer in winter, called black.
At another table, I tried a US beer made by Samuel Adams, Boston Lager, 4,9 °. Very nice beer indeed, costs 12,2 Shekels here.
Then Samuel Adams Winter Lager, a5,6 ° season beer. Sweeter, very nice beer again indeed.
I also tasted another Belgian beer : Abbaye de Maredsous Triple (Shiran holding the bottle on right), such an intensity in the mouth ! 10 ° Really great beer.
This is about the arab-restaurants issue, there is a growing number of good arab restaurants in Israel, and Israeli food lovers go out of their way to eat there, sometimes on weekends if it's a long drive from their place. The most well-known of these restaurants is El Babor on Route 65 in the arab village of Umm al-Fahm. Paradoxally, some of these restaurants saw their business increase with the construction of the separation fence, which brought quietness in areas where shooting and suicide bombings were a threat. El Babor has now another branch in town.
Zeev told me that everything began in an arab village named Turan in lower Galilee, where arab restaurateurs decided to make food tagetting specifically the Israeli loving arab food. It worked immediately and other followed around the country.
>e stopped at one of them for lunch, the Tanureen which is located along the highway near Magdala (the native village of Mary Magdalene) at a junction. It's a large restaurant with parking lot which can accomodate group. Very good service, there's a wine fridge (we didn't try wine though) and the food is both excellent and cheap : we paid maybe 9 € each for a vast quantity of small plates full with all sort of food, bread, and Italian water. Couldn't finish even though it was excellent. The cuisine is said to be Lebanese.
Tel Aviv is considered expensive and people find ways to try different food at lower cost by coming here on weekends on their way to the Galilee or the Golan. Near Tel Aviv proper, people go to Jaffa for arab restaurants where there is good affordable food too.
This was along the road in an arab village in Galilee. We stopped for a quick lunch in a Schwarma eatery that we spotted there. This was probably the cleanest kebab joint I've ever seen. Very tasty food. There seems to be quite a good level of economic activity and investments in some of these villages even though on the whole they seem less developed than jewish towns and communities.
This picture symbolizes what should be the indicment of overpriced European home solar technology : If you've been thinking to install a solar water tank system in your home in Europe (or worse, if you have already installed it), you can't but be scandalized by the prices practiced in Europe for the installation of these systems. 4000 € is basically the starting price in France for this now-almost necessary heater in individual homes. The European systems are unncessarily complicated and computerized, and need much more maintenance compared with the original Dud Shemesh units, the water tanks that you see everywhere in Israel. These very simple systems (which were invented here in 1953) work by gravity, no pumps or computer needed, just these two things that you can install by yourself. The cost of this system starts from 300 € to 550 € from what Israelis told me, WHICH INCLUDES INSTALLATION, and again it's so simple that many of us could set them up ourselves, the important thing being that the tank must be above the panel. If we want to hide the tank for esthetism reasons, we could have it fixed just under the top of the roof, with the panel lying on the roof but slightly below the tank level. I think that also many people with a country house would be satisfied to have such a Dud Shemesh system working between say, may and september, even if at times the water may not fully hot, who cares when you spend zero on electricity for your showers. I think the reason we don't see these systems here in Europe is the European norms, another weapon that the European bureaucracy including the French one have found to slow the economy and hamper individual initiatives. The green activists should be inspired to let aside their usual political agenda and invest themselves in this important issue. If these systems were available in France for example, many modest homeowners would choose to heat their water with solar panels and thus spare on electricity. Europeans should shortcut these normative laws and order the two elements to install this simple system by themselves. Israel has of course many solar heater companies as well as individual distributors in the field, but I think that you can find the components in Europe and assemble them on a plan (here are a few of them), an other important thing being the isolation valves. The investment should be small enough that it's worth to try.
This was an impromptu beach party in a bar on the sand in downtown Tel Aviv. This is how this city goes, always ready for fun and good time. Although I was aware of it since my first trip here, it is still a surprise to experience how people who don't even know each other can share and let themselves go without any selfconsciousness... Kudos to the lead musician and singer Fernando Seixas, an Israeli musician with Brazilian roots.
The place, which is located right in front of the Abuelafia bakery (Tel-Aviv-beach branch) seems to be a hot spot for partying and dancing on the beach, if I believe this video or also this video. Now you understand why Tel Aviv is called the city that never sleeps...
This is a High Resolution video (even if its quality was diminished by the transfer on youtube) . If it stops all the time just let it buffer to the end, then watch it quietly - or download a video accelerator, it works very well.