Category Archives: EXPLORE

Spring Cleanse and Thirst Juice Co.

June 3, 2015

thirst juice co, green juice

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to go check out Thirst Juice Co. a juice shop located right in Downtown Crossing in Boston. You all know how much I love green juices, and since moving from San Diego to Boston, I was starting to lose hope on what the green living scene here was.

I must say, the transition between California and Massachusetts has been tough. I moved in the dead of winter, and pretty much hibernated for three months. I didn’t venture out, I stayed indoors, ate terribly, didn’t move my body and treated myself so poorly. I remember when I lived in Philly I would get SAD, but never to this extent. The shock of the move really affected my body and as soon as the large piles of snow melted, the rain had dissipated and the sun decided to peak through – I was out.

I moved to a lovely neighborhood in Boston called Jamaica Plain, where I’m minutes walk to a yoga studio, plenty of cafes to write in, and an organic grocery store that has kombucha on tap. No joke.

I found out about Thirst Juice Co. from a friend of mine and knew I wanted to learn more about it. They have amazing juices like the BuddahBeet, Field of Greens and Kale-idoscope. Not only do they have great names, but these made to order juices are super fresh and ultra good for you.

Most juices contain several POUNDS of fruits and vegetables, so even if the rest of your day is crap, you at least know you got an abundance of greens in your system doing their magic.

acai bowl

What I love most about Thirst (aside from their friendly and knowledgable staff, beautiful and understated decor) is their Açaí bowls. If you have no idea what that is – I feel you. Let me explain:

Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a berry native to Brazil. It’s rich in antioxidants, heart-healthy fats and fiber. Açaí berries grow in clusters on tall palm trees native to the Amazon rainforest, and ancient Amazonian tribes would use these berries both medicinally and as food. Açaí berries have twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and also contain a broad range of vitamins and minerals and a naturally low sugar content.

Açaí bowls were all the rage in Encinitas (go figure) but I never actually ordered an Açaí bowl while living there. At Thirst, I ordered the Coconut Açaí bowl and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS. Go there now, tell them I sent you, and order that thing. It’s a game changer.

Cold Pressed Juice

Co-owners Chris and Heather started Thirst Juice Co. after careers working as corporate lawyers, feeling burnt out and wanting to try something new. While there may be a juice bar at every corner in Manhattan, Boston has been slow in keeping up with the trend, with only a handful of juice bars in the city. Heather and Chris are both multiple-time marathon runners (18 between them!) and want to spread the message on good clean eating.

I spoke to Heather about the fad of juice cleanses, mostly because I really want to try a juice cleanse myself. However, most people don’t realize that juice cleansing is more of a fast. And fasting should only be done if there is something seriously wrong with your system that you need a complete re-start. Not something you need to do once a month.

wheatgrass shot

I also had the chance to take a wheatgrass shot (and chase it with an orange) which was delicious. Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll which is super detoxifying and rids your body of free radicals. It’s a great source of natural energy, and one ounce of wheatgrass has the some of the same micronutrients as five POUNDS of spinach. Wheatgrass is best taken in the morning on an empty stomach, but I think if you’ve never tried wheatgrass, give it a go anytime.

There you have it folks, I’ll be sharing one of Thirst’s Green Smoothie recipes later this week. If you’re in Boston, go check out Thirst Juice Co. and tell them Local Belle sent you! Have a beautiful day people!

California Road Trip

December 31, 2014

It’s good to be back on the blog today! In a week I’ll be moving across the country from sunny San Diego to the frost of Boston. I’m really excited to make the move, but I’ll admit it’s definitely bittersweet. I’ve had a beautiful community of genuine, interesting and motivated people for the past 15 months. Weekly potlucks, a shared community garden, interesting events and lectures, and the freedom to create meaningful work and projects. I’ll definitely miss it.

As I say goodbye to California (for now) I decided the proper way to celebrate would be a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. Here are some of the photos from our stops along the way- enjoy!

venice, california, road tripvenice, california, beach, sunset

venice, california, sunset

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Guest Post: Best Mexican Food in LA

October 28, 2013

Today’s guest post I’ll admit, is long overdue- Virginia emailed me this summer about sharing the best spots in LA, and I’m so happy to finally share this post. While I’m not living in LA anymore, these Mexican spots might be worth the drive! To be fair, I should probably write a best Mexican spots in San Diego too! Take it away Virginia..

Best Mexican Food In L.A

When you are craving spicy salsa and flavor-packed food, but can’t afford to head south of the border, just turn your car in the direction of L.A. The options for tantalizing Mexican food are endless, with a delicious menu to tempt you seemingly on every corner.

No matter what you are looking for, with the amount of restaurants sporting authentic Mexican cuisine in the greater L.A. area, you will, in no way, be disappointed. These restaurants are some of the best-of-the-best, satisfying customers– one enchilada at a time. Take a look, but don’t think too hard—no matter which one you choose, the food will definitely hit the spot:

1) Guelaguetza

Located in Koreatown on Olympic Boulevard, this restaurant might seem like it has itself confused, but trust us—the food is anything but confusing. They are known for their delicious tortillas and one-of-a-kind asiento spread. To keep things happening and hip, live music tends to play nightly; however, Thursday nights are reserved for classic Mexican films– the entertainment abounds.

2) La Casita Mexicana

The food here is off the charts, and the chefs who work behind the scenes are no different. Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu are famous for their loaded enchiladas, are are unlike anything you have had before.

Loteria LA

3) Loteria Grill

The food here starts at breakfast and doesn’t stop until customers are satisfied after clearing away the dinner plates. At Loteria Grill, boring is not an option. Fortunately, the restaurant has more than one location: Studio City, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Westlake Village, so there is no excuse to avoid this place if you are looking for truly authentic Mexican dishes.

4) Babita

From the outside, Babita may look unassuming, but after your first bite, you’ll think twice! The chef and owner, Robert Berrelleza, has truly perfected his food and his love for cooking spills over into his restaurant.

5) Tacos Ensenada

The backdrop to this restaurant is the San Gabriel Mountains. The soups will make you ask for more, but the true crowning glory? Why, the fish tacos, of course! For authentic fish tacos that make you think of white beaches along the Mexican Riviera, look no further. The fish is fresh and the cabbage slaw is a perfect balance of tang. Order up!

6) El Huarache Azteca

Customers from all around come here for, what else, the huaraches! When you perfect something this good, it’s only natural to name your restaurant after it.

7) Coni’Seafood

Sometimes all you want is some nice, flavorful seafood. Well, look no further! Chef Sergio Penuelas delights in serving up plate-after-plate of amazing bites from the sea.

8) Yuca’s

The carne asada here is so delicious that your mouth will water after every bite– not to mention the tamales, which will find you with an instant craving the first time you try one. At Yuca’s, customers feel like family. It’s no wonder people keep coming back for more.

9) La Taquiza

No matter what you order at La Taquiza, the food is sure to please. Everything is created to taste authentic, full of flavor and spices, and the chefs definitely know what they’re doing.

10) Birrieria Apatzingan

Found in the San Fernando Boulevard, on Laurel Canyon Drive, you’ll soon learn that the meal of choice here is the goat stew. Some customers, first-timers of course, are usually squeamish about the idea, but almost everyone is soon smitten by this unique combination of flavors.

From the heart of L.A. to the San Gabriel Mountains, your quest for authentic Mexican food should start and end here. Get out there—and don’t stop till you’ve tried everything on the menu!

~

Virginia Cunningham is a writer for Northwest, a mother and yoga enthusiast in Los Angeles. After living in L.A. for quite some time, she’s tasted most of what the great city has to offer, especially when it comes to Mexican food.

~

There you have it! Has anyone tried any of these Mexican restaurants? Is there somewhere we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Zion National Park + Peanut Butter & Co

October 1, 2013

Heyo Bellpeppers!

www.localbelle.com

Given the sad state of affairs today (read: the government not getting its act together and shutting down (?!?)) I wanted to share some love from my camping trip this past weekend at Zion National Park. Considering national park employees are not going into work today, I’d say I had pretty good timing.

Zion

I’m not going to get into the ridiculousness of this situation right now, but rather share some of the beauty that I found in Utah. Zion, the Hebrew word for redemption, is exactly that. In Jewish mysticism, Zion is interpreted as the spiritual point at which reality emerges.

And since I’m reading this book and just watched this movie– I’d say the gigantic sandstone cliffs parted by rough waters forming the largest slot canyon in the world were certainly a good dose of reality in the most natural form.

DSC_0121I was lucky enough to go to Zion with three wonderful women from my fellowship, one of whom used to work at the park and was able to give us the local insider information- like where to find a secluded swimming hole in the dry heat of Utah.

The weekend at Zion was simply incredible. And as I hiked around, first to Angel’s Landing- a steep 1400 ft. cliff that juts into the middle of the canyon and as the park described “unsuitable for those fearful of heights“, and then through the Narrows, I felt a sense of serenity that was missing for a long time. Its just incredible how being in the vastness of nature can make you feel so small.

www.localbelle.com/zion-national-park-peanut-butter-co

Hiking Makes You Hungry

When thinking about what to eat on this glorious trip, I admit, I had little input. One thing I did know was that of a recent package I received from Peanut Butter & Co, I would have to bring along a jar of peanut bar. I decided on Mighty Maple, and so glad I did.

www.localbelle.com/zion-national-park-peanut-butter-co

We ended up finishing the entire jar in the first day by adding it to our morning oatmeal, making copious amounts of PB&J sandwiches, and just straight up eating it out of the jar. I met one of PB+Co’s reps at the Blog Her Food Conference this past summer, and was so happy when they reached out to me about trying some of their vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO peanut butter.

www.localbelle.com/zion-national-park-peanut-butter-co

Still waking up

While PB was HUGE when I was living in Nepal, I haven’t really eaten much of it in the past year. Let’s face it, Israeli’s love Bamba, but they don’t love Peanut Butter. It’s one of those paradoxes that we may never solve.

PB Camping

In any case, the peanut butter was a huge success and definitely a new staple for any camping trips. If you find yourself going on a trip, I would definitely suggest bringing along a jar of one these really delicious jars of peanut butter. Then again, that trip may have to wait awhile…

National Park Closed

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie + Pie Ranch (Part Duex)

July 16, 2013

sneaky pie

Hey there bellpeppers!

Last week I took you to the beautiful shores of the Pacific Ocean on a post I think of as the distance of blue. Today we explore more of Pie Ranch, and of course the wonderful art of baking pies. Shall we begin?

Pie Baking at its Finest

It was pretty obvious to me at the time that if I was going to visit Pie Ranch, then there would most certainly be some pie baking involved in this trip. Throw in a gorgeous outdoor kitchen, fresh strawberries and rhubarb that we harvested ourselves, a friend who is always down to try something new- and you get a day filled with pie.

Finished Pie

 

Honesty guys, this pie was the most delicious pie I’ve ever eaten. No joke. Perhaps the hours of work that went into it influenced my taste buds- but it was pretty darn good. Tamar and I focused most of our attention on the crust- specifically the level of flakiness to it, and let the farm fresh fruits speak for themselves.

pie vibrations

we’ve got those good {pie} vibrations

I also think that as I look back on my photos there are numerous pictures of Tamar and I posing with our creation- a sign that this took much longer than anticipated and there would be enough photographic proof to show that we actually made pie from scratch.

tamar pie

 

I never grew up eating pie. We ate Jewish apple cake. Around Thanksgiving, my mother would buy pumpkin pie from BJ’s (it’s like the East Coast Costco for all you West Coasters) and it was delicious. But baking pie? That’s hilarious. That’s reserved for stay at home moms, country people, and Keri Russel in the Waitress.

Can you tell yet that I’m super pleased with myself for having made this pie?

hungry pie

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

hey there pie

This recipe is a combination of one from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen as well as a random page torn out of an Edible magazine for a pie recipe. We definitely spent a lot of time working on the dough to ensure the crust be really flaky. The trick is to not mix in the butter too much and leave little flecks throughout the dough. If you have a pastry cutter, your life will be a lot easier with this. But a fork works fine too (what we used). 

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Filling

  • 2 cups strawberries, halved and chopped in large pieces
  • 2 cups rhubarb (with fibrous ribs and skin removed), chopped in small pieces
  • ¾ cup sugar (less if using mostly strawberries)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

tamar with pie

Make the dough

Fill a cup of water with a few ice cubes and water, and set it aside. In a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces.

Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender. Your butter should be the size of tiny peas. Then sprinkle your ice cold water over the butter-flour mixture, and using a rubber spatula, gather it all together. Add a tablespoon of water at a time if you need more. Once it starts to come together get your hands in there to form a ball.

Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough chill in the fridge for an hour or two before rolling it out. You can keep the dough for another day- it will keep in the fridge for about a week.

pie dough

Roll it out

When rolling out the dough you want to make sure your surface is well floured and that you roll out the dough a little bit, pick up and rotate. When in doubt, add more flour as you guy and be patient. It will all work out- promise!

With the other ball of dough you will take your rolled out dough and cut it into 12 to 14 strips, about ¾ inch wide. Put the strips on a cookie sheet and put them in fridge for half an hour or in the freezer for 5-7 minutes.

mmm pie

Filling

Whisk together the dry ingredients and the fruit, careful not to mash the berries. Add into your pie. There will most likely be lots of juices flowing, so an open-lattice or cut out dough design on top will be best to allow for evaporation.

All Together Now

braiding techniques

Bake at 380° F, rotating to be sure each side is equally browning. Baking should take about 40 minutes or until juices bubble through the lattice and the crust is brown. Let cool. Pat yourself on the back. Do a victory dance. Take about 4000 photos. And Eat Pie!!!!

 

tamar with pie ranch sign

 

 

Pie in the Sky fun at Pie Ranch (Part One)

July 8, 2013

A few months ago (hello July, and hello where the hell does the time go?) I visited my very dear friend Tamar in Petaluma, California. See, I was flown out for an interview in San Diego (more to come on this) in late April and decided it was only fair to my heart to make a short stop in Northern California.

Pie Ranch: localbelle.com

10 blissful days spent jaunting around my favorite city, San Francisco, and a beautiful few days spent at Pie Ranch.

The drive down to Petaluma was prolific. The Pacific Ocean waves crashed on the cliffs as we drove down the scenic Highway One- it was California at its finest.

Anabelle on Beach

 

Beach Structure

As we made our way to one of the many beaches dotting the shoreline, we discovered a beautiful wooden structure that became our new home. We discussed the distance of blue, how time takes us away and back to those we love, and how being present and playing in the sand was the most we could ever want at that moment.

The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. The blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go”

Hands in the Ocean

Characters in the Book of Life

As we moved along the coast our stops were natural. A stop for fresh bread. A stop at a goat farm for a button of chevre with cranberries. A hang out at the local lighthouse.

belle with goats

Spending time with Tamar makes you feel like a character in a book. You want to flip the page to find out what new adventure is around the corner, life is an exciting journey.

T with goats

Tamar is a person I admire so deeply, she has such an enthusiasm for the world, a passion for learning and doing and meeting and seeing and being. Her creative spirit guides her as she navigates the most beautiful experiences. She is certainly someone I feel blessed to know and call a friend.

Pie in the Sky

Once we were on Pie Ranch, I met the other fellows working there, and of course see a friend from Mount Holyoke, Reesha. I love how the world can seem so big and yet so small all at once.

pie ranch kitchen

The space was truly inspiring. An educational farm complete with cows, chickens, goats and pigs- not to mention a gorgeous (pin-worthy) outdoor kitchen.

outdoor kitchen

I tried raw milk for the very first time- it’s actually so delicious. After the first sip I realized that I never actually had milk before in my entire life. It was like I blindfold was removed from my taste buds. And while I’m not going to go into the details (aka controversy) surrounding raw milk, I’ll just say this: if you can get some, do it.

happy belle after drinking raw milk

happy belle after drinking raw milk

The evening at Pie Ranch was certainly quiet. It was farm living. Tamar and I ventured back to the lighthouse, which doubles as a hostel. Since Tamar was the local, she hooked us up with exclusive front row tickets to the Pacific Ocean in a hot tub.

As we let our body temperatures heat up, the cold ocean breeze surrounded us. Everything was still as we listened to the rush of water.

Longing- because desire is full of endless distances”

The following morning we had one mission, and it was to make pie. After a farm fresh breakfast including fresh eggs, strawberries, salad greens and arugula pesto we started the pie process.

farm fresh breakfast

We thought to go the classic route with a strawberry rhubarb pie, especially since strawberries and rhubarb were in abundance at the ranch. We also read up as much as the spotty internet allowed us, on the perfect pie crust and decided to focus our energies toward making the flakiest pie crust humanly possible.

I think we succeeded.

***

I’ll be posting the second half of my adventure in the pie baking world this week. Stay classy, bellpeppers.

Kitchen Visit: Cohen’s Deli – Jerusalem, Israel

April 17, 2013

Last week (before leaving Israel- more on that later) I had the pleasure of sitting down with Shimon Cohen, owner of Cohen’s Deli– a small cheese shop in the German Colony/Katamon/San Simon neighborhood in Jerusalem (I never really understand where each neighborhood ends, but FYI it’s on Hizkiyahu HaMelech St.)

I met Shimon as I would pass by his shop every single day on my to and from work. I would stop in for coffee, try new cheeses and constantly bother him for new recommendations for cheese.

In an adorable deli that reminds you of a Parisian café in a residential area of Jerusalem, where the owner knows most of his clients by name and supports Israeli products: I thought it would be a perfect fit to feature Cohen’s Deli on Local Belle.

cohensdeli outside 2

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born in Jerusalem, actually here above the store. I lived here above the store. It was my grandfather’s store- since maybe 1958, maybe earlier. He bought this place and it was a grocery store. He also sold cheese, bread and wine.

So my background- I was here in Jerusalem until I finished my army (a long time ago), then lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, traveled all around the world for something like 10 years. And then three years ago I came back to Israel, I was living on a kibbutz studying Jewish philosophy, and then six months ago we decided to open the store and do what my grandfather did. Me and my brother run this deli together.

shimon- Cohen Deli

Why cheese?

Actually, my father had two restaurants here in Jerusalem. Since we were children, he would always bring us back cheeses from his trips to France and Italy. Since I was little I’ve had a love for cheese. We thought that in Israel it’s not so popular (these types of artisan cheeses)- so we wanted to open a cheese, bread, and wine shop- that was the concept. And here we are today (laughs).

innajam

olives

wine bottles

What makes this deli unique?

What I sell, you can’t find in the supermarket. All of the products are boutique- you can’t find any of these wines in any big market. The bread also- it comes from Dekel bakery and I’m the only one who sells this bread. There are some other places who sell it in shuk Machane Yehuda or in restaurants. Also the Israeli cheeses, you can only find them here. The guy who makes the cheese is a well-known cheese monger, his name is Shai Selzer. He’s never sold to anyone else- he makes his cheese in the Sataf- the Jerusalem mountains.

The other cheese maker, the farm is called Shvil Izim, he has a little restaurant where he sells his cheese and then only here.

I think they like this place and the concept. It looks a little French or Italian, and you cannot find a lot of places like this, especially in Jerusalem. It’s very expensive cheese, so they were looking for a place with a select clientele.

I have a lot of cheese that I import from France and Italy. But aside from the cheese, all of the products are from Israel and are boutique. We support Israel- we wanted to sell Israeli products. There are good things from Israel and if you want to buy them you have to drive up north and I thought it would be nice to help them sell within Jerusalem.

sundried tomatoes

bread_cohens

outside looking in

Whats the best cheese here?

We have a French brie with truffles, its very hard to find even in France and its very expensive. About 800 shekels (about $250) for a kilo- kind of like gold :)

3 wines

What would you eat it with?

Oof- with nothing! (laughs) – Just good red wine, and something a little more sweet like a Shiraz.

Are you vegetables organic?

In the beginning all of our vegetables were organic, but now they are all “baladi” which loosely translates as being grown in the forest- it grows naturally. Its not organic- its something different. I go every morning to get the vegetables, and pick the best every morning in the shuk.

Wine and Cheese Pairings brought to you by Cohen’s Deli:

Hard goat cheese: White wine- Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc

Soft Cheese like Brie and Blue Cheese- with red wine like cabarnet

Strong Cheese like moncheggo: pair with a sweeter wine like Shiraz

In between cheese, not soft or hard like Gouda: dry white wine

And of course all the cheeses are fantastic with cheese!

5 things you can’t live without:

Cheese, Wine… It’s a hard question! There’s a lot of things but only five? Ok lets see.. A woman (laughs).. books– I really love books. Last one? I don’t know, I think there is only four.

shimon outside

 

 

Herbal Healing: A Conversation with Jerusalem’s Infamous Etrog Man

February 16, 2013

If you’ve ever traveled or plan to travel to Jerusalem, chances are you’ll be visiting the shukMachane Yehuda. It’s an open air market, with rows and rows of produce stands, in addition to restaurants, shops and some hidden gems.

shuk

Today I get to share with you my favorite person in the whole shuk- Uzi Eli. He’s an older Yemenite gentleman, who is known around Jerusalem simply as: “The Etrog Man.”

Etrogs (or citrus medica) are a fruit that are typically used for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They look like a larger, more wrinkly lemon and aside for their religious use, I’ve never even thought twice about them as they’re totally inedible.

But with every unusual suspect comes a great story.

father son

Uzi Eli, as he’s been known to be called, has been working as a herbal medicine man for 18 years. He is a 3rd generation herbal healer using herbs, plants, and flowers and making medicines for seasonal allergies,  sinus infections, wounds, and general spiritual ailments.

His father learned various healing methods, and his mother learned how to use plants for medicine. He was immediately hooked.

beets and carrots

apples and celery

“I came to the shuk because I wanted access to the fresh fruits, vegetables and spiced. Instead of having a big warehouse, I prefer to go around the shuk, see what is in season and make my drinks and medicine from what is available here.” –It doesn’t get more local than this.

etrogs hanging

“The etrog can be used for heart conditions, pregnancy, and it is good for women– so that they have beautiful children who have curly blonde hair. Also its an aphrodisiac because it has a pleasant smell.”

juices outside

How do you use the different parts of the Etrog?

“The peel is used for the face, the middle is used for a drink, and the seeds are pressed and made into a creme.

“All of our medicines are good for a period but after 90 days you should stop because the body is not being helped by this. But the best is to just eat fruits and vegetables from nature.

oranges

Is that what you do?

That’s what i live!

Do you eat meat?

Once a week.

Do you take chemical medicine?

No. I only take cayenne pepper (extract). A drop in a cup of water. Every day.

What do u think about people who are taking many chemical medicines?

It’s more a problem of the soul. Except of course if your born with a disease. But most of the people taking  a lot of medicine are addicted. It’s a psychological problem- if they thought to be healthy and ate fruits and vegetables they would be healthier.

pointing

Doctors are drug dealers. Legal drug dealers (laughing)

You have to teach the body that everything is in nature is good for you. The body knows what is good for it. But when chemicals are inserted into the body, the body has to begin to fight them.

But overall its a mental problem- people don’t know what is good for them.

~

I’ve always avoided chemical medicine since I was a child. I would run away and hide if I had to take medicine- seriously. Now that I make my own health decisions I rarely choose chemical medicines. Instead I try to stay active by doing yoga, practice mindful meditation, and of course use my food as a medicine. 

If you have questions about Uzi Eli’s practices or want to share some of your own practices for herbal or holistic health- please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear what people are using for their personal health choices!

 

Na Laga’at: An Experience in the Dark

February 12, 2013

This past weekend we celebrated Misha’s birthday. The big ol’ 2-5. As I myself have been thinking obsessing about this number for quite some time, I certainly felt the need to make a big deal.

Vanilla Bean Cake with Caramel Frosting

Vanilla Bean Cake with Caramel Frosting

Which in my case, obviously means ensuring there is a top notch birthday cake involved. This beauty was made courtesy of my friend Emunah. You may know her from the pop-up cafe, and now she is blogging too- check her out!

Thanks again Emunah, for a delicious cake that made Mish’s birthday especially sweet!

Friends

The cake popped up, along with 20 of our closest friends this past Saturday night as I successfully planned a surprise party. Last year I completely blew the surprise when I told Mish the night before that I was flying to India to see him on his birthday. Oops. But now I’m vindicated for last year’s slip up.

But the fun didn’t stop there.

I got us tickets to see the production: Not by Bread Alone– a show enacted by a completely deaf-blind crew of actors. The concept of the play was to educate the public:

Just because these actors are blind or deaf (or both) doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams, goals, feelings and ambition. They do not live, on bread alone. –Share this 

Bread baked on stage by blind-deaf actors

Bread baked on stage by blind-deaf actors

During the show the actors kneaded, fermented and baked the bread- which the audience was invited to taste afterwards. As the actors told their stories, one by one, the warm aroma of bread permeated the theater.

Afterwards Misha and I had dinner at the BlackOut Restaurant in the same building as the show. There are only 8 restaurants like this in the entire world, an Jaffo just happens to be one of them. The experience that the restaurant gives is one of complete darkness- similar to what a blind person experiences on a daily basis.

The menu at BlackOut Restaurant

The menu at BlackOut Restaurant

We ordered our meals before hand- Misha the potato gnocchi with mushrooms, and me- a surprise. I wanted to see if I would be able to know what it is I was eating with not being able to see it, and no knowledge ahead of time.

Our waiter, an Ethiopian immigrant who also works at the blind museum in Holon, escorted us to our seats as we entered the pitch black restaurant. I held onto Avi’s shoulders timidly, with Misha behind me and our 3 person train slowly made our way to our table. Avi helped us get situated- asking us to feel around for our silverware, glasses and the carafe of water.

He told us not to worry and that we would get used to the feeling after a few minutes. I didn’t really believe him, but tried to remain calm as I felt around the table. Avi gave us a basket of bread and told us there was olive oil and za’atar on it. I felt around for the bread and just ripped up what I thought was a small piece.

The bread was very hot. The steam that I would’ve normally seen could have warned me about the bread- but my sight was gone. Everyone around me seemed to be screaming, and most of the meal I just wanted people to be quiet.

Then came our wine. Since we already spilled half the water on the table, we asked Avi to pour our wine for us. Instead, he had Misha pour and by listening- Avi could tell when we should stop pouring. We were so impressed, but I guess when you live your whole life a certain way, you get used to living without one of your senses.

Avi told us stories of his childhood, coming from Ethiopia with his brothers, and how a number of them died along the way in trying to reach Israel. He told us about embarrassing questions he was asked- like how a blind person has sex or goes to the bathroom- and how he always felt uncomfortable and shy answering them. He told us how he lived in almost every neighborhood in Jerusalem, and how now he lives in Beit Shemesh. He told us he works there for the experience, and to educate others.

When our food came out I was very excited. I first smelled what was on my plate, then felt around and then -just stuck my fingers in. I wanted so badly to feel what it was I was about to put in my mouth. The first thing I tasted was cheese. Perfect.

Then a lemony-sour taste. Then ricotta. Oh ricotta, you distinctly flavored cheese, you. It was definitely pasta- but what kind? As I kept feeling around, smelling and tasting I eventually came upon a roasted tomato, roasted cloves of garlic and artichoke. At least, that’s what I thought.

Turns out- I was spot on about everything. The pasta? A ravioli. And the lemony-sour taste? Olives. Misha got that one. If anything it was a fun experiment of the palate and a good excuse to feel Nepali again by using my hands to eat.

When we emerged from the restaurant our eyes hurt from the abruptness of the light. We felt dizzy and a little sad. We emerged from the darkness, but Avi did not. He stays there. He listens, smells, touches, tastes and lives in the dark.

As we walked back to the bus along the sea in Jaffa,  all I could think about was how lucky I am. Lucky to be the person who I am, in the place(s) in which I live, and to be able to see and hear all of the wonders of the world.

The Nalaga’at Center located in Jaffa Port offers theater productions and restaurant experiences. Check out their site for more information and to get a glimpse of the darkness and silence. 

 

Foodie Tourism

February 5, 2013

Contemplating the Eiffel Tower circa 2007

Contemplating the Eiffel Tower circa 2007

“Let’s go to Paris… Wake Up in Tokyo…”

Last year while fantasizing about eating cheese and drinking wine in France, I came across a new concept: Foodie Tourism.

You may have heard of disaster tourism (read: New Orleans post Katrina) or cultural tourism, but foodie tourism? Does this really exist? You can travel to a country solely for gastronomic purposes? Yes, my friends. Yes. Here’s a roundup of the best tourist companies offering delectable tours around the world.

Have you ever gone on a food tour? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

  1. Paris, France: travel to the land of smelly cheese with Gourmet Tours and find yourself drinking Bordeaux wine, in Bordeaux! (Note: I spent time in Bordeaux drinking wine, and it truly is one of a kind). 
  2. Love Thai food? Check out Global Food Tours for an experience you won’t forget in Southeast Asia. This company is also eco-friendly!
  3. The Middle East- get yourself to Israel now! Not only to visit me, but to experience the amazing food that Israel has to offer. It’s not just hummus and falafel, people! If you’re a member of the tribe, check out a free Birthright Israel trip focused solely on food. What’s not to love?
  4. While you’ve come all the way to the Middle East, you should probably stop by in Turkey and learn the fundamentals of Turkish cooking with Culinary Quests– a Turkish delight indeed :)
  5. Last but certainly not least is Intrepid Travels. Not only do they have an amazing TV series about local food around the world (check out the Resources page!), they offer amazing culinary tours. Check them out if you’re thinking of traveling  to Japan!