Monday, April 12, 2021

שפשוואן - Chefchaouen Restaurant Review

As Israel began opening up after months of COVID corona closures I had dinner out with a special person in שפשוואן - Chefchaouen. It's a relatively new restaurant that although opened during the difficult COVID corona restrictions has managed to survive. 

Many of the health restrictions here in Israel seriously affected restaurants, because although the cooks and serving staff can easily mask themselves to keep customers and themselves safe, there's no way that customers can do the same. Therefore only Takeaway was permitted, and quite a few restaurants just stayed closed. That's how my eating partner and I ended up experimenting, trying a new and different restaurant. 

I knew nothing about שפשוואן - Chefchaouen when I called it up to make our reservations, and to be honest, I still can't pronounce its name.

The person who answered the phone was charming with a French accent. I'm sure he was amused that we made reservations, because when we arrived we were the only customers. שפשוואן - Chefchaouen began filling as we ate. It's on Hillel Street #19 where the sidewalk is very wide, and they have an outdoor eating area in a flexible structure. There were just enough walls to keep us warm and comfortable and few enough to make sure we felt safe from unwanted viruses. In today's world, clean, safe fresh air is a priority.

שפשוואן - Chefchaouen is a kosher meat restaurant that serves North-African French style food. As it was a cold night, plus we were in a celebratory mood we ordered our favorite drinks, whiskey and beer. When I questioned the beer list on the menu, which was nothing special, I discovered that they had many more including my favorite, Shapiro's IPA


Maybe it was the chill in the air, because I went against my general practice and ordered a carbohydrate based main course, the couscous. Of course it also comes with vegetables, chicken breast and chickpeas. They were very generous with the chicken, so I was able to fill up easily without having to eat all of the couscous. It was totally delicious. 

The menu they have online is slightly different from what we ordered from, but it doesn't really matter. Everything they served us was first class, 100% scrumptious. We've added שפשוואן - Chefchaouen to our list of favorite restaurants and look forward to eating there again.

To contact them for reservations, questions and takeout call 074-769-1307. 



Monday, March 29, 2021

Back To The Ariel Pool

 


Thank Gd I've returned to my "occasional*" swim in the Ariel Sports Center Pool. The water in the pool isn't as hot as it sometimes was, but it's not cold.

The jacuzzi, sauna and steam room are all closed, due to COVID corona restrictions. And they only let in people who can prove that they've been double vaccinated. I'm not complaining. I really missed my swims, and I'm grateful for every opportunity I have for my water exercise. They extended membership, because the pool had been closed. Gd willing the Shiloh pool, less than five minutes' walk from my house, should open around when the Ariel membership ends. Then after the Shiloh pool closes for the season, I'll Gd willing rejoin Ariel.

That's the plan.

*between one and three times a week

Monday, March 15, 2021

Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey, Book Review

Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey by Arthur Miller is his wonderful saga of how he and his wife ended up in Israel after successful careers in the the states. Miller is a wonderful story teller, honest and humorous.

Having myself made Aliyah a half century ago the easy way, just after our wedding, I always admire those who pack themselves up and change their lives drastically the way the Millers did. Only one of their four children lives in Israel, and they chose to live near her family. Since their Aliyah in 2004, they or their American children and grandchildren now have to fly to see each other.

Miller tells us that their original plan was to make aliyah as a young family, but unfortunately his law profession didn't transfer easily at the time. So instead of raising their family in Israel they ended up raising them in Worcester, Massachusetts, which has a very small percentage of Orthodox Jews. From what Miller alludes to in his book, he played a very large and important role in Worcester. 

"Because it's Israel" was the excuse Miller would hear whenever something seemed strange or illogical. Unlike many, Miller doesn't complain, he just shrugs his shoulders very Israeli-like and repeats the mantra: 

"Because it's Israel"

In Chapter 16, "It Pays to be a Senior," Miller is surprised that his friends couldn't get a senior discount, because they're not Israeli citizens. He wrote that he's sure such discrimination doesn't happen in the United States. I'm sorry to say that in the USA American citizen seniors, if they're expats aren't given senior discounts. During a visit to the states a few years ago, my American passport wasn't accepted as proof of age. I needed proof of residence. American citizenship wasn't enough.

The Millers' aliyah saga includes a lot of "little" and great miracles. The really great miracle is that they lived to come to Israel, since both had serious health emergencies a short while before their target date. Another is that they were able to purchase the exact type of home they had wanted at the exact location, when nothing suitable was actually for sale.

Getting their driving licenses converted to Israeli ones and also buying their first car in Israel certainly needed Arthur Miller's law talents. Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey is full of amazing little stories. Chapters are short, and it's a pleasant read. 

Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey is a great book to give anyone thinking of aliyah. I'd also recommend it to those of us who've made aliyah before of after the Millers. I enjoyed reading a book about an aliyah which is so very different from my own.

Product details

  • Publisher : JewishSelfPublishing (May 14, 2019)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 246 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9657041015
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9657041017
  • Item Weight : 11.9 ounces
  • Dimensions : 6 x 0.52 x 9 inches

Monday, March 08, 2021

Super Simple Halva-Chocolate Icing


Not long ago I shared with you my recipe for The World's Easiest Chocolate Icing, and now I came up with an equally easy to make Halva-Chocolate version of the icing. 

It contains all of three ingredients:

  • a bar of bittersweet chocolate, 
  • some store-bought halva and 
  • a spoon of vegetable oil, whichever you use
Melt them in either a microwave-just melted not boiling hot, or pot on low heat or double boiler. Mix then spread/pour onto the cake.

Yes, it's hard to believe, but that's it. 

If you have ideas of other versions, please try it out and send me the reports in the comments here. Thanks.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Good Thing I Got To Try SHEVET's Wee Laddie Again

A couple of months ago, I bought and reviewed SHEVET's Wee Laddie Scottish Ale and was disappointed. Yes, I gave it a bad review on this blog. A lot of people were shocked, because they insisted that the beer was really good. Maybe I had just gotten a "bad bottle," or the store hadn't kept it stored properly.  

In response SHEVET decided to send me a small gift selection of their beers, which included Wee Laddie. I've already reviewed the other three, SHEVET IPA, SHEVET Iceman Beer, SHEVET Imperial Stout, and now it's time for Wee Laddie. 

Even though I poured it as carefully and "professionally" as possible, there still was quite a foamy head, but the aroma was inviting. That was a very good start.

It got better. The beer in this bottle of SHEVET Wee Laddie was strong, fruity and tasty, a real beer. This was the ale I had been looking forward to drinking when I had bought that first bottle.

Now I can honestly say that SHEVET's Wee Laddie is a great beer, and I'm looking forward to drinking it again.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Perfectly Filling and Tasty Vegetable Soup

 


I discovered how to make vegetable soups decades ago, and to be perfectly honest now two are ever exactly the same. That's why I'm not very specific about quantities. I don't measure, though I do have a very good eye for quantities. I instantly know how much to put in a pot. You may have to experiment, but on the whole, especially if you're using dried beans, barley, lentils or peas, remember that they swell. So they should only cover the bottom of the pot. 

Ingredients

lentils, pearl barley and split peas
onion
fresh garlic
celeriac 
carrot
squash
coarse salt, coarse black pepper and dehydrated parsley

Instructions

  1. Put the lentils, pearl barley and split peas in the pot, and check for small stones or anything that shouldn't be there.
  2. Pour boiling water and cover. Wait at least a couple of hours.
  3. Cut all the vegetables, and add them to the pot. 
  4. Add a couple of spoons of vegetable oil, whichever you like for cooking.
  5. Start cooking, and add boiling water, not too close to the top of the pot. Two-thirds full is good, usually.
  6. Add the seasoning.
  7. Heat to a boil, and then lower flame to simmer. 
  8. Simmer for at least an hour.
That's it. Enjoy!

PS You can add other vegetables, seasoning etc.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Lonely Ayil, A Book Review

I was overjoyed to be offered a review copy of The Lonely Ayil by Rochell Weisfogel. It's a wonderful story for children about community and caring. 

To borrow a phrase "You don't have to be Jewish..." to enjoy the story, its messages and read it to your kids, grandkids, students etc. There's a glossary in the end of the book which explains all the terms. 

The values taught within the narrative are universal. 

Nowadays, when people are donating kidneys, even to total strangers, you can read The Lonely Ayil to explain to your children that there are parts of the body that can be shared, donated to others more in need. 

There's also the siyate d'Shmaya, hand of Gd aspect, when the ayil, a ram, finds itself in the perfect place and perfect time to help others. 

Today when we're all "locked down" or more restricted than we'd like to be, it's very easy to identify with the lonely ayil. 

The Lonely Ayil is not a nonsense fairy tale. Once you buy it and read it to your young, and not so young children, I'm sure that you, too will find a lovely story and the perfect vehicle for discussions.



The Lonely Ayil can be ordered in various formats from Amazon.

Product details

  • Publisher : Page Publishing, Inc. (October 31, 2017)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 34 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1641382694
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1641382694

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The World's Easiest Chocolate Icing

 

Cupcake Iced and Decorated With Chocolate Icing

I was trying to think of an easy and enjoyable activity for my younger grandchildren when it occurred to me that they could decorate some cupcakes I had baked.

This "icing recipe" is so simple, it can hardly be called a recipe. The "hardest" thing was adding bittersweet chocolate to the Friday shopping list.

Ingredients:

    bittersweet chocolate

    a little cooking oil

    spoon of sugar

    colored sprinkles or whatever


Preparation
:

    melt all ingredients together either in pan on low heat, or in microwave

    mix

    spoon on cake/cupcake

    Optional: sprinkle with colored sprinkles, coconut flakes or "whatever"

Let cool and enjoy

Now tell me the truth. Isn't this 

The World's Easiest Chocolate Icing

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

SHEVET Imperial Stout, Great Strong Beer

The gift package I received from SHEVET Beer included their new Imperial Stout, and I'm a very happy camper. 

Imperial Stout is a very full flavor, tasty rich beer. The hops are coated with a chocolaty taste, and you can see it's dark brown, almost black. 

Imperial Stout was brewed as a "small batch" specially to sell this winter, and I hope they brew lots more for next winter. I'm sure people will be looking to buy it. If you like a nice strong, tasty beer buy some before it's sold out. At this point you can still order from SHEVET.

It's a good thing I'll be going to bed soon, since it's 8.5% alcohol.

For more background/information about this great beer read what my beer maven Doug Greener has to say in Israel Brews and Views

Monday, February 15, 2021

Let's Hear Something Good, Life Under COVID Corona


Watching a class on Zoom
Last night I participated in a wonderful Zoom Family Reunion with lots of cousins from my mother's side. My branch of the clan is the only one in Israel, besides one cousin's granddaughter presently on a year's program. The rest are now spread all over the United States. Not all even live as Jews anymore, but we're all family. This was the second time we've done one of these Zoom Reunions, and considering logistics, finances etc., there's no way so many cousins could ever get together f2f, face-to-face. Zooming is easier.

That's why I decided to write about the "blessings," good things that we are now able to enjoy because of COVID corona. And of course all of these can be continued once it's safer to socialize and travel. I have no doubt that all of us can think of at least one thing that has gotten better. You're all invited to add your 2¢ two cents or more in the comments.

  • ZOOM- I had never heard of Zoom before the first COVID Corona lockdown, and now I Zoom daily. All sorts of classes, meetings and reunions are done via Zoom. 
  • video calls- Video calls have replaced f2f face to face socializing, too. You can't get as many people/participants on most of the apps, whether telephone, facetime or WhatsApp, but they generally don't need an additional application and can be done on most smartphones.
  • no traveling- Now that we're not traveling, my study group and I meet daily, instead of weekly. During this past year, we've learned more than five times the amount of material we could have learned if we had still been learning barely once a week in Jerusalem.
  • seeing the world on a screen- There are many people taking virtual tours, instead of packing up, spending a lot of money on flights, hotels etc. Even when they send in a "tip/payment" to the guide, it's a tiny fraction of what real travel costs, and a lot less exhausting.
  • attending classes or events that once would have been too far to get to- As this year's Matan program began via Zoom, one woman in the audience happily announced that she had always wanted to attend lectures by the teacher, but distance had made it impossible. Now she's overjoyed to be able to attend without the need to travel.
  • masks and general health- Many people, including yours truly, have noticed that we've gotten through the winter without the usual colds and flu. Masks and social  distancing have kept us healthy. Not only do they protect against COVID corona, but hospitals and medical authorities are reporting much fewer flu and other winter illnesses. Asians, who've been wearing masks routinely for years, have been proven right. Here in Israel, at least, the price of masks has dropped considerably. 
  • less money saved on weddings and entertaining- The cost of weddings and other "event" entertaining had gotten outrageously high. Keeping up with the Cohen's pushed people into spending more than they had. Now that it's forbidden to attend large events, downsizing is the rule. The new added expense is "live streaming," so your guest can attend without paying for their food.
What would you add to my list?

Monday, February 08, 2021

Join Us Rosh Chodesh Adar

 


For thousands of years Jewish women have come to Shiloh to pray to Gd. Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the New Month, is the traditional holiday for women, so I've been inviting women to join me at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh to pray together. Especially now when our lives have been so challenged by COVID corona, we need to be together and pray.

Shiloh Hakeduma is the same location as Biblical Shiloh, where the Mishkan Tabernacle stood for almost four hundred years and Hannah prayed for a son who would rescue the Jewish People from the chaos of the Time of Judges, Samuel The Prophet.

Today there's a wonderful archeological park in Tel Shiloh with all sorts of attractions for all ages to learn from and enjoy. For more information 02-5789122 and visit@telshilo.org.il.






Wednesday, February 03, 2021

SHEVET IPA Yum

 

SHEVET IPA

SHEVET Beer very kindly sent me a small selection of their beers to sample. I decided to start with their IPA, and I'm glad I did. It's good, fruity with a strong taste of hops. IPA is what I consider a "real beer." SHEVET's IPA has a nice rich flavor and gorgeous color. 

As you can see on the bottle, it's 5.2% alcohol, and according to their site, it's a new one for them. 

This may sound shocking, almost sacrilegious, to some people, but I'd be happy to drink beer during our Shabbat meals instead of wine. A good beer is just as festive for me as wine. I sometimes have a bad reaction to the sulfur in wines, and beers don't pose such dangers. A good IPA is very similar to a nice white wine in my opinion. Sometimes when I'm making morning kiddush on my own, it's on beer. OK, now you know my little secret.


What more can I say?

Sunday, January 31, 2021

COVID Corona Vaccine #2, Real Life Lockdown Adventures

Last Monday I received my second COVID Corona Vaccine. Just like with the first one, I went to Ariel, and the care by Kupat Cholim Leumit was great. I arrived over an hour early, and it didn't bother them at all. They took me immediately. 
 

I handed over my card, then it "went through the system," was returned to me, and I was sent to the next clerk who swiped it yet again and sent me off to a nice lady who got ready to vaccinate me.

"Is there anyone who can take my picture?" I asked, hoping the smile showed through my triple-layer mask.

Before I knew it, someone had volunteered, took my phone and snapped a few photos.  I was told that it's good to have proof of shot in case there's a computer glitch.

I hope you like this T-Shirt. It's pretty old, but the message is still relevant:

"THE LAND OF ISRAEL IS NOT FOR SALE!"

ארץ ישראל לא למכירה!

In a few days Gd willing my COVID Corona antibodies should be strong enough to keep me relatively safe.

Recent statistics here in Israel show that a very very very low percentage of those vaccinated are catching the coronavirus.


Here I am with my post shot "smiley." Apparently they ran out of the official "WE'VE BEEN VACCINATED" stickers. I was looking for one and got the 😀 instead.

If you want Gd to keep you healthy, you have to take some steps, make an effort. Gd goes for the "matching funds" principle. That's why I'm strict about masking, keeping my distance from people and get vaccinated.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I’m Not the Boss, I Just Work Here- Book Review

I’m Not the Boss, I Just Work Here by Howard Jonas in an inspiring memoir. Jonas reminds us that we don't really know what's going on in other people and that Gd's in control.

Howard Jonas has made and lost more money than most people would dare imagine, but his successful rollercoaster life has included challenges more powerful than simple money. Jonas has had to conquer clinical depression which he found more challenging than making an international fortune. 

In I’m Not the Boss, I Just Work Here, Jonas tells us how he has survived and thrived with the help of Gd despite clinical depression. Jonas doesn't waste words, and the book reads easily. Yes, I recommend it to all. 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

SHEVET Iceman Beer, That Was Good!

SHEVET Iceman Beer is a good classic lager, and it tastes like a lager should. No doubt it was made with enough hops to call to a "cold spiked vegetable soup." That's how I like my beer.

Just the right amount of foamy head, perfect golden brown. SHEVET Iceman is a great classic beer when you're not looking for any unpleasant surprises. I guess I'm still traumatized by the raspberry flavored beer I had at a beer festival. It tasted like medicine hidden in sweetened artificial fruit flavored syrup. Since that nightmare, I make it clear that my beer should taste like beer.

I'll buy SHEVET Iceman again, one of the better of Israeli craft beers.


 

Monday, January 04, 2021

COVID Corona Update: Vaccinated 1 out of 2


Today was the day. I was vaccinated against COVID Corona, or whatever you want to call it.

Although I had chosen 11am for my vaccination appointment in Ariel, a time I could arrive by bus, my friend offered to drive me there. Actually two friends offered, and since I'll need a second vaccine...

As soon as we got near to the Ariel Culture Hall we could see signs all over with the Kupat Cholim Leumit (the sick/health fund I've been a member of for over fifty years) logo, an arrow and the words חיסוני קורונה CHISUNEI CORONA, CORONA VACCINATIONS all over.
I just kept following...
...and following the signs. Yes, I had to walk up the stairs. When I was finished I did notice an elevator, but I try never to go into elevators, since there's no window to open.
Upstairs there were lots of chairs, some people sitting and a few secretaries/clerical staff as you can see. They asked if I had an appointment, and I gave them my card. Then I was told to go into the next room and to show my membership card again.


Then I was assigned to two young people in a curtained off area. I made a big "ceremony" out of taking off my jackets and showing them my specially chosen T-shirt. Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions football team shirt. I asked the two young people if they knew that there's American football in Israel. They didn't, but the guy said that he loves watching the game. Now he knows to look for us. I have a very different T-shirt planned for the next vaccination.

First the football fan sanitized my upper arm, and then I asked if they also had a photographer. He seemed enthusiastic about taking my picture, so I set up the camera on the phone and handed it over. Then the young woman painlessly jabbed my upper arm while I smiled for the camera.


Now, as the sticker says, I've been vaccinated. And in three weeks I'm supposed to return. A week after that I should be immune for about six months Gd willing. 

Thank Gd here in Israel COVID Corona is considered a national emergency, and vaccines are available for us to be vaccinated.