Once upon a time, star chef Eyal Shani dreamed of opening a grocery store that cut out all the middlemen and allowed producers to sell directly to customers. Now he's doing just that, by turning his hit restaurant Abraxas North in the heart of Tel Aviv into an impromptu marketplace every Friday, selling raw ingredients used in the restaurant to wannabe chefs so they can create their own gourmet dishes at home. Products from Shani's favorite suppliers will be on hand as well.
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"The whole purpose of the grocery store is to share the same raw ingredients we use," Shani said. "Over the past five years we’ve been lucky to serve up the sort of food we believe in with all our hearts, but we've never had the ability to share the private moments that get us out of bed every morning – when we look at the ingredients and realize that we can make whatever we want with them."
Shani's grocery store will feature farm-fresh goods, like bouquet garni of sage and hyssop, lima beans from the Andes and, of course, Shani's famous varieties of tomatoes. Free-range beef and lamb will also be available for those who want to re-create some of the restaurant's famous dishes, such as the carpaccio (NIS 38), or fatosh (NIS 32). A number of items will be pre-prepared in the restaurant for you to take home, like perfumed tomatoes, tomato foam, tomato sauce, tahini, pickled sardines and black olives. You'll also find kits for making focaccia and the restaurant's house bread, as well as its chocolate mousse. Once you have the right ingredients, you can also try your hand at cooking like the eccentric Shani, via a series of YouTube videos in which he reveals some of the restaurant's recipes and culinary techniques.
Abraxas North, 40 Lilienblum St., Tel Aviv. The grocery store is open every Friday, from 11 A.M.-4 P.M.
Tailor Made for your enjoyment
In recent weeks there has been growing buzz over the imminent opening of an intriguing new bar where Stefan Braun, Tel Aviv's famous meat restaurant, lived for 15 years (it has now moved to the location previously occupied by Italian restaurant Radio Rosco). At the beginning of next week, the new bar, Tailor Made, will finally open. The all-star team of partners includes actor and TV presenter Michael Aloni and other nightlife personalities. Tailor Made will feature tapas-style nibbles, art shows and live music twice a week, managed by two savvy industry insiders. Shows will take place in a special performance area; the space also includes a smoking bar, central bar and courtyard patio.
Allenby 99, Tel Aviv. Open Sun.-Thur. 7 P.M. until last customer; at the end of the trial period it will open in the afternoon until last customer on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tiger Lilly provides an authentic Thai experience
Newly opened Tiger Lilly is the real deal when it comes to Thai food. No regional adaptation here: Chef Yanir Green traveled to Thailand to learn all about its famous street food before introducing it to an Israeli audience. Aside from Green, the rest of the team is Thai so authenticity extends to the staff as well.
"The main inspiration for the dishes comes from the streets of Bangkok," Green said. "We're trying to recreate part of the Thai experience, so we made a special stand where dishes are prepared in front the customers. We also have an open kitchen, and diners are invited to see how their dishes are made. In Israel, Thai food is usually only part of a wider Asian menu, rather than a stand-alone cuisine. At Tiger Lilly, the food will be Thai only, and will try to be as faithful as possible to the original. We've committed to using authentic raw ingredients imported from Thailand."
Dishes include calamari heads with crispy garlic, clam sauce and coriander (NIS 32), or strips of white meat chicken in Thai whiskey with herbs (NIS 42). Main courses include wok dishes, curries, seafood and meat. Starters vary from NIS 22-42; soups from NIS 52-56; wok dishes from NIS 52-62; curries from NIS 62-69; and seafood and meat dishes from NIS 53-94. The restaurant will soon start hosting Thai-themed events and cooking workshops that draw inspiration from the markets of Bangkok.
Tiger Lilly, 32 Habarzel St., Tel Aviv
You can find quite a few specialized fruit and vegetables at farmer's markets across the country, but good luck getting a hold of them on a daily basis. The task will be easier, however, now that Afuna ve Gezer ("Peas and Carrots") is opening in Tel Aviv. The new branch of this chain store is one of 100 rolling out across the country in the next six years, bringing consumers a wide range of unconventional fruits and vegetables not easily found elsewhere, such as papaya, star fruit, yellow cherry tomatoes, feijoa, brown pears, Meyer lemons and more. The store will also sell spices, special sauces, dried fruit and more. The goal is nothing short of culinary revolution.
Afuna ve Gezer, 11 Kehilat Saloniki St., Tel Aviv
A new sushi bar on the boulevard
The intersection of Herzl Street and Rothschild Boulevard never sleeps: By day, it's the main business center of Tel Aviv. By night, it's one of the city's hottest night spots. New restaurants, therefore, must appeal to both the suits and the hedonists. The latest attempt is Susha sushi bar, where you'll find sushi with a Western twist, noodles and dim sum (NIS 25-28). The location's versatility means Susha can morph from casual lunchtime hangout to pre-game pit-stop at the start of the evening and then rest station when the late-night munchies set in. Apart from the different types of sushi, a meal here can start with Inari – pockets of rice dumplings, mushrooms, ginger and scallions with a touch of teriyaki (NIS 20). Other options include crispy salmon fingers with spicy mayonnaise and teriyaki (NIS 25), and eggrolls filled with avocado, sundried tomatoes and cashews (NIS 36). When it comes to rice and noodle dishes, there's no shortage of choices ranging from NIS 30-56.
Susha, 12 Herzl St., Tel Aviv
The return of the beer festival
Calling all beer lovers! The annual beer festival returns once again to Tel Aviv on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 8 and 9. Established breweries will unveil their new offerings, and new boutique breweries will also get in on the action, introducing themselves and their suds to the public for the first time. Imported beer from across the globe will also be present; all told there will be more than 200 different types of beers. In the afternoons, the exhibition caters to industry professionals but starting at 5 P.M., the rest of the public is invited for tastings and the opportunity to buy wholesale from producers. The NIS 60 entry fee includes five tasting tokens and a free glass.
Nokia Stadium, 51 Yigal Allon St., Tel Aviv