Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tel Aviv Hotel 0700

Yesterday was a big food day. Since I'm not working in Tel Aviv, I'm exploring and eating more than I got to in Jerusalem.

This hotel has the best hotel breakfast I've ever had anywhere in the world. I have pretty low expectations with hotel food, but this breakfast is incredible. Everything is fresh, and they have a poached egg and tomato dish called shakshuka. It goes perfectly with the fresh rye bread. Most people aren't impressed with fresh rye bread, but I live in China. There are one or two decent bakeries not too far from my apartment, but I've never seen rye. The Chinese aren't big bread eaters.

The funny part is, there's a 24 hour breakfast restaurant around the corner. I thought I would go there when I first saw it, but now that I've had the hotel breakfast, I can't imagine going anywhere else. I usually eat away from the hotel. The best cities have food all over the place, and there's more than enough food around here, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with this hotel breakfast every day.

I went to the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv's answer to Mahane Yehuda. But it's more touristy. Mahane Yehuda was built for locals. I doubt there were many locals at the Carmel Market today. There was a lot of food, though. Everyone says there's a better market for spices, another market for cheese and several bakeries for bread. That's another reason Mahane Yehuda is better. It's the best place for spices, bread and cheese. Carmel is big and crowded, but it doesn't seem to be the best place for anything.

Back in Jaffa, I went to Abouelafia & Sons, considered the best bakery in the country. They are to bread what Matt's Bar is to burgers or Berthillon to ice cream. When I first went there, I had no idea how famous it is. The rugelach is pretty good and the sambousek is excellent. I'll probably go back every day. There are several bakeries closer to the hotel, but the sambousek alone is worth going the extra mile.

Dinner was at Catit, a celebrity chef restaurant near the Great Synagogue. Everyone in the place knew who the chef was – except me. I don't even remember his name. He got a standing ovation when he came out of the kitchen. I was surprised that a celebrity chef actually worked in his own restaurant.

I don't usually like pretentious restaurants, but this place was delicious. Do you need to serve mushrooms and parsnips inside of an egg shell on a plate five times larger than the food? Probably not. But it did taste good.

In between all the eating, I saw the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a very modern and clean complex of buildings. The buildings are works of art on their own, but inside was some Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, Camille Pissarro, Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst and a bunch of names I didn't recognize.

I got back to the hotel later than usual because I saw an amazing performance of Verdi's Macbeth by the Israeli Opera at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, which is right next to the Museum of Art. Vittorio Vitelli and Ira Bertman starred as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, with Gocha Datusani as Banco, Gaston Rivero as Macduff, Eitan Drori as Malcolm, conducted by Emmanuel Joel-Hornak. It made for a late night, but it was beautiful. I've only been here two days and I can already tell that the people of Tel Aviv appreciate and support the arts.

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