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Cover: Founding Flavors

Recipes with Tel Aviv

28Oct 12

What Does 100 Years of Existence Get You? Unforgettable Rugelach!

While last week’s blog entry focused on the Founding Flavors’ discovery of Tel Aviv’s Vaniglia ice cream shop, today I’m focusing my attention on an equally enticing sweet shop called Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  This bakery—located in Jaffa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv—has been around since the late 1800s.  Given Jaffa’s 4,000 years of existence, this could technically place Abuelafia among a list of newcomers!  Once you arrive at this outdoor bakery and swoon over its mouth-watering selection of savory and sweet pastries, you quickly understand why customers have been lured back to this establishment for over a hundred years.

After a little assistance from the staff, I opted for dibla, awwami, and rugelach.  The dibla is best described as a pastry that has a crunchy texture with a slightly sweet taste and is topped off with sesame seeds.  While I’m glad I tried this pastry, I did feel like I’d wasted by calories on a treat that was not very flavorful.  Next, came the awwami, which is a donut ball that is offered with or without jelly filling.  My overall impression… that which we call a donut ball by any other name would taste as sweet.  Don’t get me wrong, the awwami was delicious but I was looking for something that had a combination of ‘to die for amazing’ and unique to Israel.

That is when I tried the rugelach.  And, hands down, the rugelach at Abuelafia has the Founding Flavors’ stamp of approval because it is one of the best rugelach that I have ever tasted.  In addition to a delectable blend of chocolate and cinnamon, there are three things that stand out about their rugelach.  First, the overall appearance of the rugelach, which is displayed in large mounds and perfectly lined with chocolate or jam filled swirls.  Second, the size of the rugelach is large enough to hold you over until lunch or dinner but not so small that you keep craving more as you tour around the area.  Third, the consistency of the rugelach is substantial, chewy, and not overly drenched in syrups or honey.  This is particularly key as a tourist because the last thing you want is to be strolling around Tel Aviv eating rugelach and then be left with a sticky hand and no conveniently located area to wash up.

Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery is a pastry establishment that is definitely worth a visit.   If you’re ever in Jaffa, head towards 7 Yefet Street, one block behind the Jaffa clock-tower, and you will not miss it.  Abuelafia’s rugelach was so amazing that it left me wanting to try my hand at making some on my own.  So, stay tuned for next week’s blog entry on making rugelach!

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

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21Oct 12

If You’ve Got One Shot, Go With Vaniglia in Tel Aviv

Have you ever traveled somewhere and played what I like to refer to as the culinary roulette?  You know, it’s that moment in your vacation when you look through your travel guidebook and browse for restaurant recommendations.  Knowing that you have limited time and calories to spare, you go back and forth between suggestions worried you’ll pick the wrong choice.  Then, after finally deciding on what you hope is the best option, you pray your selection will not let you down.  Well, recently the Founding Flavors ventured off to Tel Aviv, Israel in search of unique, local, sweet establishments that will take you straight to dessert heaven.  The outcome was two must try sweet shops: Vaniglia and Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  Today, I’ll focus on the former.

Before departing for Israel, I searched for places that were recommended by several tour guides and online articles.  While several bakeries and bread shops popped up, my attention was caught by an ice cream and gelato store called Vaniglia.  What particularly attracted me to Vaniglia was that the reviews I read indicated the owners not only took great care in purchasing their ingredients but also listened to their customers’ wishes by incorporating healthier alternatives like soy or rice milk into some of their offerings.

So when I arrived in Tel Aviv, it was only a matter of hours before I made my way up to 98 Ibn Gvirol Street from the seashore in search of Vaniglia.  As I walked through the city, I was tempted by the various chocolate, pastry, popsicle, and frozen yogurt stores.  When I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I finally saw a crowd of people around a glorious white sign.  I had arrived at Vaniglia!  Exercising absolutely no self-control, I pushed and shoved my way up to the gelato display cases.  Oh the colors, the smell, the creative decorations used to denote each flavor, and then…silence.  The labels were all in Hebrew!  After I got over my moment of panic, I realized this was actually wonderful news.  It was proof that I’d found a shop that truly catered to locals.  And for my fellow travelers, fear not because the entire staff was attentive and ready to assist any English speaker in selecting their flavors.

As I browsed through my options, I decided I’d opt for two gelato flavors that I’d never tried before: poppy seed and alfajor- a rich cookie made with dulce de leche.  As with most food I tasted in Tel Aviv, Vaniglia has mastered the art of flavorful food…this time in the form of gelato.  Both flavors are delicious in their own way.  The poppy seed has a subtle, sweet taste that is perfect if you want a lighter option but something that is still creamier than a sorbet.  Its color is powdery white, which contrasts very nicely with the black poppy seeds.  From a distance, it reminds you of a perfectly blended vanilla bean ice cream.  The alfajor, on the other hand, is definitely a thicker gelato with a much sweeter taste.  The tint is an elegant golden caramel color and Vaniglia manages to create a creamy flavor that makes you feel like you are actually biting into an alfajor.

Whether it is your first or tenth time in Tel Aviv, there is so much to see between museums, stores, galleries, the beach, or cafes.  But, whatever you decide to do, make sure to leave room for dessert at Vaniglia.  It will add a sweet memory to your vacation.

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

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