Sunday, September 28, 2008
Tel Aviv is hosting it's first Biennale-like event – ART TLV_08.
This international contemporary art event opened to the public on the 27th of September and will continue through the 18th of October. The exhibition spaces are in the heart of historical Tel Aviv and the venues unique architecturally.
Venues include the Mekomon (69 Rothschild Blvd.) a shell of a building that has been transformed into a meeting and performance location where concerts and talks will take place. T in Tel Aviv also visited Mani House, pictured to the left, a preserved building, (34 Yehuda Halevi St.) that will house recent acquisitions of the contemporary art by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The venues create a route that brings together Art TLV's theme, Open Plan Living, an architectural concept advocating the creation of new spaces.
A wide array of art including sculptures, paintings and video art are displayed in spaces not usually reserved for art. When visiting the "Bayit Al Amoodeem" you will walk the narrow hallways before coming to a room (living room or bedroom perhaps) that now displays art on its walls or even floor. Pictured below is a painting by well known Israeli painter, Lea Nikel.
Information is aplenty on the ART TLV_08 website and the map that is distributed at every venue is quite good.
While walking the ART TLV route be sure to stop for a frozen yogurt at YOGO at the corner of Rothschild and Allenby. Soft serve plain frozen yogurt is served with a variety of toppings. Trust T in Tel Aviv – it's DELICIOUS. Another branch of YOGO is opening this week on Ben Gurion Blvd. (cor. Kikar Malchei Yisrael) in Tel Aviv.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Foods made with honey are traditional fare for Rosh Hashana as honey symbolizes the sweetness that we wish for in the year ahead. Below, a young Tel Avivian eats an apple dipped in honey!
The holiday would not be complete for T in Tel Aviv without the traditional honey cake. Below is my version of this holiday favorite.
Enjoy! And may this New Year bring us all sweetness, happiness and good health!
Honey Cake Recipe
1 Cup Strong Brewed Coffee
4 tbls. Vegetable oil
1/4 tsp each nutmeg and ground cloves
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2. Grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans.
3. Bring honey and coffee to a boil and then let cool.
4. Beat the eggs in a bowl and then stir in the brown sugar and oil .
5. Add the remaining ingredients to the egg mixture with the exception of the flour.
6. Stir the flour mixture and honey mixture alternately into the egg mixture until combined.
7. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake for about one hour or until springy to touch.
The honey cakes freeze well and should not be eaten less than 24 hours after coming out of the oven. Chocolate chips or white raisins can also be added to the batter.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The answer of course is yes, but how remains to be seen. In the meantime, click here to see Ester Levanon, the CEO of The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (English and Hebrew site) interviewed on CNBC last week. You might be surprised to hear the criteria one must meet to get a mortgage in Israel.
Ester Levanon, CEO, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Doron Shaziri, Shooting - Shaziri won a silver medal in Beijing. It was his third silver, having won medals previously in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. He also won two bronze medals in Athens 2004.
Boaz Kramer and Shraga Weinberg, Wheelchair Tennis (Doubles) - The unranked duo took the silver after their loss in the finals to the No. 1 pair in the world Nick Taylor and David Wagner (US).
As we bid farewell to the Beijing Olympics....a few of Tel Aviv's Chinese restaurants:
The Red Chinese - 326 Dizengoff 03-546-6347
Dim Sum (Hebrew site) - 120 Allenby - 03-560-4341
Ying Yang - 17 Haarbaa St (Milleneum Bldg) - 03-686-9888
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Part II of T in Tel Aviv's chat with Lisa Foster, Founder and Owner of 1 Bag At A Time
T in Tel Aviv: What were your toughest challenges starting your business ?
Lisa Foster: There have been a few challenges. At first, it was a challenge just to convince other people that this would work. A lot of business people told me not to do it. They said: “it's a lovely idea dear, but Americans just won't reuse bags”. Now the biggest problem is keeping up with demand!
T in Tel Aviv: The plastic bags in the Israel (English and Hebrew site) have recently gotten mysteriously thin. I believe that this will be the determining factor to get me to use the bags on a regular basis. Nothing like having your groceries on the ground after having fallen through a ripped a bag!
Lisa Foster: The reusable bag is actually a better bag. It holds more much more comfortably. I think that accounts for its popularity in large part.
T in Tel Aviv: So how’s business?
Lisa Foster: We sold 2 million last year. By mid April we had orders for 2 million already! We're close to orders for 3 million at this point. When I say keeping up with demand is a challenge, I mean it. We keep doubling in volume about every 4-6 months--I mean doubling what we had done the previous 12 months. We have been shipping 30,000 to 100,000 every week across America since March.
T in Tel Aviv: Can you name drop? Who are some of your best customers?
Lisa Foster: Sure: Ralph's, Ace Hardware, True Value Hardware, Sprouts, Dierberg's, Kashi (a division of Kelloggs)
T in Tel Aviv: How do your bags differ from other reusable bags in terms of design, quality and material from which they are made?
Lisa Foster: There are a lot of PP (polypropylene) bags out there and many of them are similar. Ours are a little taller and thinner than many others, which are a bit more boxy. (Being from LA, we prefer tall and thin) Our fabric is a bit stiffer than some others, and thicker than the really cheap bags that are beginning to show up in places like Target and Walmart. We also include the bottom stiffener.
But what really sets our company apart is the tag and our commitment to sourcing responsibly. I promise my customers that we practice fair trade and that counts for a lot of thinking people. We work with a non-profit company called Verite who does our factory monitoring and makes sure that conditions are safe and workers are paid properly. China is a little like the US was back in the 50's or earlier. People work on a cash payment system, and often on a basic handshake agreement. They don't keep a lot of documents so it's hard to tell what people get. We are working to educate them and require good record keeping as well as good pay. They pay well, in part because workers will just go find another job if they don't. Good workers are in short supply and jobs are plentiful there.
We have a code of conduct on the wall of our factory telling workers that harassment, abuse etc are forbidden and they respect it.
T in Tel Aviv: Are there plans to introduce any new products?
Lisa Foster: Yes, we have new products in development. We are working on a line of fully biodegradable bags, bags clean enough to bury in your back yard when you are done with them and they will biodegrade within a year or two. The first one we will have available is our 100% organic jute bag. We should take that into stock in June and start promoting it. We're looking into sourcing bamboo and other organic fabrics too.
T in Tel Aviv: Interesting idea. Remember when we used to bury time capsules in the back yard?
Lisa Foster: Yes, that was fun! This one would be fun too. I'm probably going to do an experiment and take a brand new one and bury it in my back yard this summer. I'll check it next summer and see what I find. We'll take some pictures, like a time capsule but meant to disappear, not to stick around.
T in Tel Aviv's chat with Lisa came to an end but not before I asked Lisa to share one of her favorite restaurants with me and a recipe or two.
Lisa Foster: My favorite restaurant is probably Giorgio di Baldi at the beach in Santa Monica (CA), a tiny Italian bistro with unbelievably good food. I have had dinners there that I will remember all my life.
I also love The Daily Catch, a tiny street place in Boston’s North End. Those guys get the freshest seafood and seriously know how to cook a soft shell crab
As for recipes Lisa sent me two very easy and quick dishes:
Steam 2 sweet potatoes. Peel and put them in a food processor and add about an equal amount of yogurt. Blend well. The result is surprisingly light and sweet, very different from traditional mashed potatoes or candied yams dishes that rely on sugar. There is something chemical about the combination of sweet potato and yogurt. My family demands it at family gatherings.
FYI: T in Tel Aviv tried this recipe and it was a big hit with those around the table!
Peel a fresh mango and put it is the food processor with twice the amount of yogurt. Add 1-3 teaspoons of honey to taste. Put in ramekins and freeze for about 2-3 hours. Great dessert.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
T in Tel Aviv recently chatted with Lisa Foster, Founder and Owner of 1 Bag At A Time, a company specializing in reusable bags.
T in Tel Aviv asked Lisa how and where her dedication to improving the environment began:
Lisa Foster: My 3 years at the Putney School in Vermont taught me about personal responsibility to the earth, about composting, about living locally, about reducing waste. It was very influential for me.
T in Tel Aviv: Before you went into the bag biz did you ask for plastic or paper at the supermarket?
T in Tel Aviv: I have a couple of your bags (and have given some as gifts)….I live in the city and do a lot of shopping by foot rather than by car. I usually forget to take the bags with me!!! In Israel we use the plastic bags from the supermarket for our trash. We then take the bags downstairs to the building’s communal dumspter. And…when we check out at the market the cashier doesn’t ask “paper of plastic?” because paper bags aren’t an available option.
Lisa Foster: Yes, I'm always encouraged when people complain that their worst problem is forgetting. Changing habits takes time, but that complaint shows you have taken the first step. Mark Twain wrote: " Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time".
T in Tel Aviv: I visited China in 1983. Unfortunately it was in the middle of winter and had to inhale coal for 2 weeks. Shanghai was beautiful but oh, what dirty air. You just returned from China where you visited the factory where your bags are made. What impressed you most about the people working on your bags? Do they realize why you are manufacturing the bags and what they are used for?
Lisa Foster: I had heard about the air quality problems in Shanghai, and no doubt a brownish haze hangs over the city, just as it does in Los Angeles. No worse, no better. I think they have switched away from coal but their need for petroleum is really high and certainly of concern both environmentally and political, not to mention financially. It's not really a responsible choice for any economy any more. I'm not sure what the workers know, but my supplier understands that my product is intended to solve environmental problems. However, the factory owners and my supplier are more interested in business. They are concerned about the environment in a sort of abstract, distant way, like many Americans.
China has just banned thin, single use plastic bags. They are ahead in that respect, though the news in the United States misses the fact that the response there has been to manufacture thicker plastic bags. Without a real incentive program to bring the bag back, the thicker ones will be disposed of like the thin ones, in spite of good intentions for reuse.
T in Tel Aviv: I know that when we go into a supermarket in Italy we have to pay for the plastic bags.
Lisa Foster: Yes, in Italy and in France and most of Europe, that is customary. In Ireland, it is a tax, but in the rest of Europe, it's just a habit that they never lost from before the plastic bag era. California does have a motion pending that would be huge if passed. It's a proposed $0.25 tax on every plastic bag. The state currently bans taxing bags. (thanks to some heavy lobbying from the plastic industry) The current proposal would repeal that prohibition and institute a state wide tax.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Former U.S. President Al Gore was in Israel recently to accept a $1 million check as one of this year’s winners of the Dan David Prize at Tel Aviv University. The Dan David Prizes are awarded annually in three categories: Past, Present and Future. Gore was chosen for “Social Responsibility with Particular Emphasis on the Environment and for his multiple contributions in raising the conscience of the world to the challenge posed to the continuing sustainable function of the global environment and life support system," according to the prize Web site, DanDavidprize.org .
The day after the ceremony Gore was the keynote speaker at Tel Aviv University’s international conference on renewable energy. Considering the average number of sunny (HOT DAYS!!) in Israel Gore remarked that Israel should be at the forefront of using renewable energy. Israeli President Shimon Peres responded "It is better to rely on the sun than oil-producing countries," he added. "The sun is more permanent, more objective; it's not a member of the Arab league, and we have direct access to it - we don't need permission."
FYI #1 – Most homes in Israel use solar water heating which has helped to reduce the national fuel consumption by about 7.5%. Rooftop solar collectors now provide hot water to about 50 million households worldwide; about 80 per cent of these are in China.
FYI #2 - Did you know that Al Gore's favorite food is ICE CREAM????