Vibrant, Young, Proud and Loud, 10 Do's and Don'ts of Tel Aviv by Gili Brenner

We keep climate, culture and country hopping. After 10 do's and don'ts of St. Louis (Missouri) and Stockholm (Sweden) we head for the middle east with 10 do's and don'ts of Tel Aviv.

They come our way courtesy of Gili Brenner.

Gili is a commentator on Middle East social and cultural affairs, and serves as the Middle East Communications Associate at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies . Before returning to Israel, she had studied Politics at Cambridge University and headed the Israel education organization StandWithUs UK.

10 do's and don'ts of Tel-Aviv

Tel-Aviv is vibrant, young, proud and loud. Don't Mess. You may poke though.

1.  Strolling along Rothschild Avenue with its chic cafes and restaurants, you may confuse Tel-Aviv for a Middle Eastern version of Berlin. Except that Tel-Avivi hipsters sweat (when no one sees). If you are feeling for a special chocolate treat try Max Brenner restaurant and chocolate store.


2.  The southwestern neighborhood of Neve Tzedek dates back to 1887 and is the first that was built outside the walls of Jaffa. It is dotted with charming streets and beautifully-restored old houses. Check out the Chelouche House, a delightful small art gallery, for exhibitions and The Suzanne Dellal Center for dance performances. Opposite the Center you can enjoy Mediterranean-style dishes at the atmospheric Café Suzana.

3.  Dining lovers would marvel at the seemingly endless culinary options of the city. For seafood and fish, book a table at Mul Yam, Pier 23, Dallal, Manta Ray or Basta, to name a few. Meat lovers would appreciate Dixie, Hatraklin Bistro Meat & Wine and The Place for Meat in Neve Tzedek.

Mul yam

4.  Breakfast lovers behold: Tel-Aviv offers excellent options for hearty breakfasts. Benedict serves only breakfasts and is open 24/7. Do not miss.

5.  The Old City of Jaffa, Tel-Aviv's older sister, is a definite non-miss for visitors who want to experience the place's multiethnic feel and learn about its long history. The narrow passageways are dotted with art galleries, archeological ruins, cafes and artisans shops. The stunning port offers beautiful sunsets and seafood restaurants, and is also the home of the Na'Lagaat Center, a unique deaf-blind acting ensemble. Nearby in Jaffa, visit the flea market (open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm and on Friday from 10am to 2pm),and the Mayumana  House, where a unique performance troupe skillfully combines dance, song and percussion.


6.  No discussion of Tel-Aviv is complete without Hummus. Where one can find the best Middle Eastern chickpea paste in the city is a topic of much debate, but a famous few include Abu Hassan in Jaffa, Hummus Masabacha at the Carmel Market , Hummus Abu-Dabi, and the Hummus House on Hahashmona'im St.

Abu Hassan humus 1

7.  Tel-Aviv is known as the City that Never Sleeps, and rightly so. The place is packed with cocktail bars and dance clubs playing music until dawn, during weekdays too. Have an elegant drink at the Brown boutique hotel. For the hipster vibe, check Port Said and the Pasaz on Allenby. Music lovers would appreciate Rothschild 12 which houses free performances. Fancy dancing? Check Shalvata at  the Tel-Aviv port and the ultra-hip Radio E.P.G.B. club on Shadal St.


8.  Tel-Aviv is proudly gay-friendly and is known as one of the world's gay capitals. Check the next Pride Week which starts on June 8th 2014, which will have events throughout the week until Saturday June 14th. The parade will take place on Friday, June 13th, 2014

9.  Despite its hedonistic feel, Tel-Aviv offers traditional attractions for sophisticated visitors. Art lovers should visit the Tel-Aviv Museum of Art which houses a permanent collection of 20-th century leading artists and movements, and also presents temporary exhibits. Note the giant two-panel mural created by the American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. To learn about the history of the State of Israel, visit the Independence Hall on 16 Rothschild Avenue, the Palmach Museum and the Diaspora museum.


10.  Last but definitely not least – for some, Tel-Aviv's beaches alone should suffice to make it a top destination. From May to September bathers in Tel-Aviv enjoy the Mediterranean sea and sun. Gordon and Frishman are two of the most popular beaches in the city, offering a lovely stretch of sand where each can take their pick between lounging chairs, sunshades or sand only. To maximize the experience, rent a city bike Tel-o-Fun ("Telofan") and cycle along the seafront from Jaffa to Tel Baruch

A couple of Don't's should be taken to consideration:

1.  Do not expect camels at the airport. True, Tel-Aviv is no Geneva but it's a highly modern city and the heart of a thriving high-tech industry.

2.  Do not go sea bathing without a lifeguard on duty.

3.  If walking a dog, do not leave its feces on the street. Tel-Aviv is dog friendly and as part of a municipal effort to keep the streets clean, dog-walkers are encouraged to collect their waste with special poop bags.

4.  This is up for debate, but the central bus station area in the southern part of the city is generally known for its urban neglect and relative sense of insecurity.

5.  Do not be shocked by the sight of people smoking indoors. It is legally forbidden, but this is still the Middle East…

6.  Unless absolutely necessary and provided with a parking space, do not rent a car to get around this jammed city. Walk, cycle, take the bus or a taxi instead. Locals are still awaiting the Metro/light train promised decades ago.


7.  Do not get on a taxi before making sure the meter is switched on and that the driver knows the way. Do not take this for granted…

8.  Do not forget your bottle of water, hat and sunscreen when staying outside in the summer. It gets very hot and sunny and you might become dehydrated before noticing it.

9.  Don't be offended. Tel-Aviv, as part of Israel, is known for the direct (and often loud) manner of its people. Embrace it and don't be shy. No one else around you is.

10.  Don't worry. The sun is shining.

Gili brenner id2

Thanks Gili... (pictured above)

Listen to Minimal Compact while reading...

(* Photo credits, Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater from Facebook page, Mul Yam dining room from their site, Nalaga'at Center from their site, Abu Hassan Hummus restaurant from Hungry in Tel Aviv blog, Port Said from their Facebook page, Diaspora Museum from Wikipedia, Telofun from Telofun Facebook page, Gili Brenner by Gili Brenner)

Boozy Greezy Pork Fat Beignets with Bourbon Caramel, Concussion Free Recipe for Big Game

Who goes light and healthy on Super Bowl Sunday?

This third excerpt from from Pickles, Pigs and Whisky (Andrews McMeel, October 203) by John Currence is boozy greezy yet concussion free. It also brings back memories of my grandmother's brain beignets.

Pork Fat Beignets with Bourbon Caramel

Though dessert beignets could absolutely not be any more New Orleans, you rarely catch them on anyone’s menu in the city. Considering the line that builds up almost every night at Cafe Du Monde (it’s the only item on their menu), you’d think they’d be on every menu around. This is a simple twist on that classic. The pork fat adds a little depth of flavor, and the cayenne helps cut through a little of the richness.

Bourbon Caramel

1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons bourbon


1½cups lukewarm water (100° to 105°F)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 (¼ -ounce) envelope active dry yeast
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 tablespoons lard (see page 136)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Peanut oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners’ sugar


Serves 6 to 8

To make the caramel: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and 3 tablespoons water over medium heat. Swirl the sugar as it begins to boil (do not stir it). Continue swirling the sugar until it begins to change color. As it approaches a medium amber color, remove from the heat and whisk in the cream.
Be careful: This mixture will bubble up furiously at first, but it will settle. Whisk in the butter, salt, and bourbon. Set aside.
To make the beignets: Mix the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes, or until it foams.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt, cream, and milk together. Mix the egg mixture into the yeast mixture.
Add 3 cups of the flour and the cayenne to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.
Add the lard and butter and continue to stir while adding the remaining 4 cups flour. Remove the dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Lightly rub a large bowl with vegetable oil. Put the dough into the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat 2ó inches of peanut oil in a deep fryer to 350°F. Roll the dough out to about a ¼ -inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Carefully place a few pieces of the dough in the deep fryer at a time, flipping constantly and frying until they turn golden. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve immediately, dusted heavily with confectioners’ sugar and drizzled with the caramel.

Suggested song pairing: “The Sharpest Thorn” —Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey' by John Currence -October 2013- published by Andrews McMeel- all rights reserved, Photography by Angie Mosier)

Velvet Wine Festival 'La Dive Bouteille' Underground 15th Edition, Saumur, February 2-3

Wine and music, what's your perfect pairing?

For its 15th Edition La Dive Bouteille wine event puts on Velvet Gloves and goes underground for 2 days (February 2-3, 2014) in Cave Ackerman in Saumur.

Dive 2014

Cost is 10 Euros per person.

Nashville in London, Hatch Show Print Exhibit at Chelsea Space, Closes December 14

Fans of Vintage Posters (and more recent ones) who might also like country music and happen to be in London this week will want to check Hatch Show Print Exhibit at Chelsea Space between now and Saturday as the show closes on Saturday, December 14, 2013.

"CHELSEA space presents the very first UK exhibition dedicated to the American letterpress art of Hatch Show Print based in Nashville, Tennessee. This exhibition will represent a rare opportunity to view archive material and stunning posters from one of the world's greatest producers of letterpress design and explores the importance of the art of the poster in the history of communication.


Originally established in 1879, in a world before TV advertising and the internet, Hatch Show Print used strong design to convey information to the widest possible audience – a visual ‘shout’ across the American landscape.

Hatch Show Print is owned and operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum."

Besides country music artists, Hatch Show Print created posters for Elvis Presley, Neil Young, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Aretha Franklin to name a few.

Event is FREE

(* Image of Exhibit Poster from Chelsea Space Twitter Page)

Rock'N Roll with Touch of Licorice, Black' n'Roll at She's Cake in Paris

I wonder what rock'n'roll with a touch or licorice would sound like.


At She's Cake, a tea shop and sweet treats shops in Paris by Sephora Saada who I discovered thanks to Twitter updates from Salon du Chocolat in Paris, rock'n' roll looks like a cheesecake with graham crust base garnished with licorice stick (reglisse).

(* Photo from She's Cake Facebook page)

African Bush Portraits 63-78 by Oumar Ly, Exhibit at Comptoir General, Paris, Until December 1st

Celebrating Africa past and present, Le Comptoir General 'Ghetto Museum' takes humorous look at good, bad and ugly side of France ties with Africa with Le Petit Musee de la Francafrique, celebrates African music, and on fashion side hosts a barber shop and a thrift shop La Piece Rapportee.

Le Comptoir General hosts Oumar Ly 'Bush Portraits 1963-1978' photography exhibit until December 1, 2013.


A Franco-African take on General Store with an Arts Center twist.

Discovered thanks to L'oeil de la photographie, a daily dose of what's happening in the world of photography.

Indie Music at Ze dos Bois, Old Style Cafes like Pastelaria Versailles, Explore Miradouros, Lisbon 10 Do's and Don'ts by Luisa Santos

After one of the rare 10 do's and don'ts reports from Latin America (we are working to correct that) with Buenos Aires by Vanessa Camozzi, we cross the Atlantic and head for Portugal with 10 do's and don'ts of Lisbon by Luisa Santos an art curator who divides her time between London and Lisbon.

10 do’s and 10 don’ts in Lisbon 

Lisbon is the city where I was born and raised. I have lived in some different cities, as Linz, Copenhagen and London in my 20s and was lucky enough to get to know cities in different continents as the USA, Europe and Asia. I cannot name a favorite city but if I would have to name a city “home” that would certainly be Lisbon, where I find my roots in the sea and my dreams in the bright white light. 


10 do’s: 

Go to old cafés like Pasteleria Versailles in Saldanha and Pastelaria Mexicana (it’s not a Mexican café) located Avenida Guerra Junqueiro 30 C, founded in the 1940s, with its amazing tiles and a sort of aquarium full of colourful birds. 

Visit Gulbenkian. It’s composed of two Museums, a traditional one and a Contemporary / Modern Art Center and it has the most beautiful gardens in the city. It was planned and designed by architect Ribeiro Telles. The exhibition programme at the Modern Art Centre is impressive and there are always good concerts if you like classical music and jazz; 

Save time for Miradouros as Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte and Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Lisbon is the city of the seven hills and the views are amazing. From each point, the city is visible almost fully and the view to the river is always quite refreshing and somehow, makes you feel like getting into a boat, like the Lisboners of the 15th Century did in the discoveries. 


Get lost in the narrow streets of Alfama , eat some fish and bread and sit with the locals by the square of the Museu do Fado (above) honoring this Portuguese music style. 

Pay visit to Bairro de Alvalade, a neighborhood from the 1950s (which is something rather recent for Portuguese terms), the architecture is very different from the one in the old town (as Alfama and Bairro Alto) and there are many local shops selling way nicer and cheaper products than in the touristy areas as downtown (Baixa). 

Have lunch at Martim Moniz , a sort of a melting pot of cultures. There, you can easily eat a Chinese meal together with an Indian Mango Lassi. It’s very vibrant and it’s being renewed as it used to be a quite dodgy area.

Go to Estação do Rossio , it’s a beautiful train station located in Restauradores on the end of Liberdade Avenue, a very posh avenue with shops like Louis Vouitton, Prada and the like. Restauradores is very near to Rossio Square, in the Pombaline Downtown (18th Century, built after the 1755 earthquake and tsunami which wrecked the whole city) of Lisbon. 


DO go to Largo do Intendente. Most people will tell you it’s the equivalent to the red district in Amsterdam. That is partially true but it’s also wrong as it’s been subject to a huge renovation and the Largo (square) is now full of artists, the Mayor has moved there, you can find a residency for artists and there are always live concerts in the Summer as well as performances and site-specific artworks which are changing a lot the perception people have towards this area. 

Visit Belém (take the tram 15 at Cais to Sodré) and have a Pastel de Belém at the Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém. The queue is long and full of tourists as well as locals. A Pastel de Belém is not the same as a Pastel de Nata, it’s always warm, and the Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém is filled with beautiful traditional Portuguese tiles. Once you’re in the area, have a look at Mosteiro dos Jerónimos , Padrão dos Descobrimentos  and stop to watch the river. On the other side of the river you’ll see Almada, which is also worth a boat trip from Terreiro do Paço... 

Make an evening stop at Zé dos Bois if you are into alternative / indie music. It’s a very peculiar space, an old building in the old town (Bairro Alto) with an exhibition space, a bookshop, a bar and a concerts’ room.

10 Don’ts:

DON’T go to any Starbuck’s café. Lisbon is filled with traditional cafés, why would someone pay double for an expresso (an expresso in Lisbon costs roughly 0,60 Eur and at Starbuck’s costs around 1,20 Eur), which tastes bad? And it’s a chain that you can find anywhere in the world.

DON’T go to any Padaria Portuguesa. To a tourist, at first sight, might look as something traditional but it’s not. It’s a chain and the quality is poor.

Stay away from Hard Rock Café. The music is not terrible but there are so many nice concert and music places in Lisbon that this one is the one to be missed.

Skip Colombo, Vasco da Gama or any shopping mall. Please support local and small shops. You are in the city of the white light, please don’t spend your days in a closed space.

DON’T visit Lisbon in August, it’s way too hot and there are many shops closed for holidays.

DON’T go to a Fado House where there is a person giving you a leaflet at the entrance and pushing you to enter. The best Fado Houses don’t need to ask for clients and are usually located in narrow streets and corners in Bairro Alto (old town) and Alfama.

DON’T forget to try a Port wine. It’s from Porto but if you are in Lisbon you’ll find it as well.

DON’T rent a car if you are staying in the city or even if you want to go to Cascais or Sintra. Take trains and metro instead. The traffic in Lisbon is unbearable and it’s very difficult (and pricey) to park.

No need to take a cab from the airport. Lisbon has just built a new metro station in the airport and it takes you everywhere in the city for 1,50 Eur (a cab can cost you from 10 to 50 Eur, depending on where you want to go).


No need to choose the cheapest hotel or the most expensive (as Tivoli or Sheraton). There are very good deals in areas as Alameda Dom Afonso Henriques, Saldanha and even the Old Town (Bairro Alto). There are some new hostels that might be a good option but it’s also nice to rent a flat from a local. 

Thanks Luisa!

(* Photo credits: Pastelaria Versailles pastry box from Eating the World piece on this Cafe, Museu do Fado from Museu do Fado Facebook page, Rua Augusta in Pombaline by Osvaldo Gago via Wikipedia, Hotel DAH in Alameda Dom Afonso Henriques from Hotel DAH website, 

Zidane, the Movie with Mogwai Playing Soundtrack Live, Manchester International Festival, July 19-20

The Manchester International Festival (July 4-21, 2013) offerings range from Martha Argerich to Urban Farming.

I wish I could witness Mogwai playing soundtrack live while Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait (a film directed by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno) rolls off the screen.


There are 2 performances on Friday, July 19 (currently sold out) and July 20 at 8 pm at Albert Hall.

(* Zidane image from Manchester International Festival program pages)

25th Fronton Wine Tasting, Fronton Saveurs et Senteurs 2013, August 23-25, near Toulouse

A short bus or car ride from Toulouse is Fronton.

From August 23 to August 25, 2013, the city of Fronton showcases wines from Fronton appellation with Fronton Saveurs et Senteurs now in its 25th edition.


Production is 30% Rose wines and 70% Reds, no white wines, anchored around native variety Negrette.

Open air concerts add to to the festive atmosphere.

D Minus 2, Viva Voce, Fete de La Musique-Make Music 2013, June 21, Music is Free

On D minus 2, Fete de la Musique 2013 program map shows 53 events for Americas and Caribbeans, 28 in Asia Pacific, 15 for sub-saharan Africa, 16 for North Africa and Middle East and 94 in Europe.

Celebrate Summer's arrival with Free Music.

Theme for 2013 is Viva Voce.

For Americas, top 3 is USA with 18 happening followed by Mexico and Columbia with 5 each.

Checking mexican list gave me a chance to discover Xalapa

In Colombia the fiesta in Pereira takes place on Saturday, June 22.

USA events can all be found on National Music Day site.

US site descibes event as "music in the streets, music in your church, music in the cafes, the parks, and wherever you feel like playing."


Many US cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Santa Fe and Denver use Make Music moniker, so does Kalamazoo.

Will there be a Silent Man- Viva Voce thread?

(* Illustration from National Music Day site)