Tag Archives: street art

Israel, Tel Aviv – The hummus story and other food I enjoyed as I ate my way around the city.

Tel Aviv and Jaffa used to be quite distinct cities but now it’s hard to figure where one ends and the other starts. I am staying in an area of Tel Aviv called Neve Tzedek – which is great for getting to Jaffa Port either by walking along the sea front or cutting through the slightly more inland alleys. It is buzzing and life only really starts here around 11pm so if you are a light sleeper or not a fan of city noise – avoid this area. I like city noise – as I grew up with it and too much quiet freaks me out!

One of the reasons I was keen to visit this city is its reputation for food which seems to be growing by the day and of course as an Ottolenghi fan I have seen a lot of his TV shows plugging Israeli food. So the first thing we did was a five hour walking and food tour with our lovely guide Avi.

There are many local markets but we liked our local one Ha-Carmel – and you can see why. Even I might be tempted to cook more if fresh food always looked this good.

Avi wrote his thesis on the Hummus Wars and believes that while societal values in Israel are often proscribed top down that the impact food has is bottom up and that the local food scene was formed originally from poverty and necessity – you made the best of what you could get.

The hummus wars relate to Israel and Lebanon’s competitions as to who made the largest bowl and whose is best. At one point Lebanon sued Israel in the EU courts for cultural appropriation of their dish and while there is some commentary on the outcome – it is all a bit irrelevant since neither are EU members! I thing they decided it was a category of food rather than an actual dish – the word hummus does mean chick pea and the dish should just be chick pea, tahini, lemon juice and salt – and in Jerusalem they sometimes add garlic.
It used to be the equivalent of breakfast porridge for the farmers and is generally made by Arabs for consumption by Jews – for the Arabs this was something the could eat for free at home so why would they eat it in a restaurant? Also it is kosher, halal, vegan – so everyone can eat and share it.
In more recent times the Jews moved to making hummus a lunch dish and added things in the centre – meat in the middle or mushrooms. We visited Abu Hassan which has been around for years and generally wins the best hummus in the world competitions. As is typical in this part of the world – the father left his shop to his eldest son. The next two sons both opened rival shops opposite each other – the recipe is the same in all three – the sons are all suing each other – Go figure.
One the tour we also ate shawarma and cheese borek and falafel not to mention poppyseed cake, babka, Yemenite pancakes (from a hole in wall place near the market that Jamie Oliver visited recently – watch the show in September if you are in the UK) and Malabi – a kind of panacotta with rose water.

My favorite vegetable is aubergine or eggplant so I was delighted to try one of Tel Aviv’s favorite dishes – Sabich – again from a renowned place. Line outside the door for wholewheat pita with thinly fried eggplant, tahini, hard boiled eggs, potato and loads of spices and salads and pickles. Delicious. I also tasted a very delish eggplant melanzuna (on a bed of fresh tomatoes and tahini) for breakfast one morning. Swoon

We also got to eat at some of the new restaurants in Tel Aviv and particularly liked Kitchen Market at Tel Aviv Port – not cheap but super delicious, well designed food and great view to boot. The pretty appetizer are tiny rolls of raw tuna, carrot, beet root etc with the most fabulous picante sauce on top. The meat is pressed lamb. The dessert is upside down cheesecake.

In Jaffa – where our food tour started we also got to see a lot of the old city and walked a lot which is just as well given how much we ate. The views back to modern Tel Aviv show how close Jaffa Port is to the modern city but it also has plenty of history and a mish mash of Islamic and Jewish architecture – plus a bit of Roman.

It was just after Eurovision too so it was fun to see the posters about the event and a very cool of last year’s winner from Israel made out of beer bottle tops. She is a bit of an icon here and grew up around Jaffa I’m told.

And look – in my neighborhood near the nice boutiques on Sahzabi Street – I found another Banksy. He does get around.
Finally it was great fun to meet up with some relatives by marriage who live in Tel Aviv – that’s Ran bottom right (sorry the waitress chopped off half his face!) and his wife Aliza, his daughter and two grandchildren plus one boyfriend. I definitely had a “blonde moment”:). Lovely to meet this group for the first time.Thanks for dinner Ran and for following the blog.

USA, Miami – My Street Art fix at Wynward Walls – Vhils

Thanks to my friend Beth I have learned to admire the work of the Portuguese street artist Vhils and searched out his work when I was in Lisbon – there is not much as they keep pulling down the buildings he uses!

This artist started by etching into the external walls of large commercial buildings and creating giant faces in the process. No idea how he does that especially given the size of the works. So I was very pleased to find five new works of his at Wynyard Walls which he did for the 2018 Art Basel event and equally pleased to find a solo exhibition of his work on different media including paper and incredibly polystyrene!!

His original works in a nearby Carpark that I saw last year.

These are the new faces on the wall plus faces using the medium of paper.

And finally, who knew you could create with polystyrene?

Bermuda – friends, sea, sand and rum cocktails – and 99th country visited!

Always exciting to visit a new country and even better when you are getting together with old friends – Marjory from Vancouver Island and our hosts Beth and John who I last say 7 years ago.

Bermuda is a charming place to visit – although pricey since everything is imported. First day was a Sunday so the lovely Coral Beach was a must – and it has been ages since I’ve had a beachy lazy day. The weather and sea colours were glorious

Then a visit to St Georges – on another side of the island (which is about 21 square miles). It was the old capital so lots of nice buildings and churches. Also a chance to view some of the pastel coloured houses that are all over the island.

A glass bottom boat tour is a must – we ended up on a huge boat with just six of us – it is the end of the season although the weather was still warm. Shipwrecks and feeding fish were fun – apparently there are a lot of shipwrecks around Bermuda (that triangle had a lot to answer for)

Time in the capital Hamilton enabled us to visit the Hamilton Princess Hotel which has a superb collection of contemporary art – and a chance to see a Kusama pumpkin in a neutral colour.

And then to the Arts Centre which had a Sheridan Fairley exhibit – I have seen some of his street art around the world (Obey campaign) so was thrilled to see this and a very good video with him discussing his art.

And all good vacations include wonderful friends and good food and drinks by the sea – this was no exception. Thanks to Beth John and Marjory for making it extra special.

Spain, Malaga

We took a side trip to Malaga over the past few days. It actually had a nice feel to it and I think it is a town that is evolving into one with a personality and good vibe. We started to see the beginnings of a street art scene, ate at some good restaurants (including the famous El Pimpi where we indulged in the top of the range Iberian ham from chestnut eating pigs! ), we took a ride of the observation wheel, we walked the paseo along the oceanside, saw the impressive fruit and veg market and also visited the more traditional cathedral and the Alczabar. Great place for a short break.

Spain – Old and new on a day trip from Bilbao – Vitoria-Gasteiz

I jumped on a bus and rattled into the pretty countryside outside of Bilbao heading for Vitoria-Gasteiz – which I had never heard of although it is the capital of the Basque Country in Spain.

It was full of surprises. Not too many people. Lovely old alleyways but also splashes of fabulous street art which I always love especially when it is in places that are very old. The pinxtos were pretty good too.

Portugal, Lisbon – last few days – Street Art Walk

My time in Lisbon is coming to an end so I managed to squeeze in a street art tour that took us all over the city – Lisbon is right up there with Melbourne, London and NYC as a street art venue. Although it helps to have someone take you around to find the art.

These are from the Bairro Alto district and include one by Obey (who designed the Obama poster used during the first election campaign)

The first picture depicts the “Carnation Revolution” of 1974 when the dictatorship started by Salazar after the war was overthrown. A very important period for the Portuguese people. The madonna depicts a struggle which has also been a key part of Portugal’s history – the separation of religion and the secular world.

These almost photo quality artworks are of Amalia Rodrigues and a chap whose name I don’t remember – they were both idolized Fado singers (I have become a bit of a fan of Fado while here) and they lived in the Graca area where these are. The one on the bottom right is about the boat refugees (check the image in her glasses). And I love the unknown fado singer in red with her classic lace shawl.

Now here is a brilliant idea. Give good street artists access to a floor in a parking garage and let them do their thing. It makes the place so much more interesting and far less menacing than most car parks and there are plenty of white walls for them to work on – obviously at night only when the cars are gone.

The one at the bottom is another well known street artist from Portugal – Vhils – whose work I saw at Wynwood Walls in Miami earlier this year. This work is done with tiles rather than the etching he is famous for.

Farewell Lisbon, I’m going to miss you.

Next stop Crete.

USA, Shopping in Miami – the Design Distict

In an 8 block location that used to house “Little Haiti” you can now find the Miami Design District. Almost complete it is a shopping experience a little akin to Rodeo Drive with many flagship designer stores in impressive surroundings.

First thing to enjoy are the windows – I was especially excited to see Louis Vuitton and Yanoi Kusama artwork in the same location. As for the orange corridor running along The Fendi store – well that took me right back to the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto last year.

As you wander around the Design District there is plenty of street art to look at too as well as the latest in cool -and easily accessible – hammocks,

Of course in such a swanky area even the car parkades need to be special and different – and as you can see they are that.

Also enjoyed a visit with a my NYC friend Lisa who now lives in Fort Lauderdale so she, Beth and I had a great catch up.