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Avi Taranto
Chef living in Tel Aviv, second year MA student in Diplomacy
Interests: Markets, Cooking, History, Languages, Travel, Star Trek
Recent Activity
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Two nights ago I had the pleasure of hosting two dear friends, Kassandra and Levitz. As readers will note, I have been quite lax in reporting on the delectables I've been preparing over the past two months, and a post recapping some of those meals is to follow. Alas, I cannot recall the exact recipes used for all of those, so I shall endeavour to present the most recent meal with the photographs and recipes you've all come to enjoy. I have of late become truly enamoured of the Tel Aviv Farmer's Market which I frequent every Friday. While still... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2011 at From Suq to Shuk
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Another yum! A few days before New Years, a bunch of listened as Gonzalo, a Spaniard visiting Tel Aviv during a break from his studies in Budapest, describe the Spanish tradition of consuming 12 grapes at midnight, one for each gong that rumbled from the church towers across the country and also played on national television. Leemor decided that we ought to replicate that tradition here. We went to the Shuk to buy a number of thing, but alas grapes are out of season in Israel. So we purchased some raisins and I brought them home and after washing them,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2011 at From Suq to Shuk
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Delicious! So delicious in fact that I barely noticed that I was catering to my good vegetarian friend Levitz and left out all the meat products. This meal came after a number of days of not eating very much and I wanted something to fill me up. By the time I decided to do all of this, it was dark, the Shuk was closed and I was forced to do my shopping in the supermarket in Dizengoff Centre. The place is a madhouse. Mega Ba'Ir, the supermarket that I occasionally frequent there, actually has a tremendous assortment of produce, meat,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2011 at From Suq to Shuk
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The week before last I had the pleasure of hosting my friend Roi for two dinners in a row. The first night I prepared a squash Thai pumpkin soup that turned out rather differently than I had planned (in a good way). The second night I made an Indian beef curry with rice and cilantro yoghurt sauce. Each dish was delectable. Normally when I make a pumpkin or squash soup, I purée it. I roast the squash by itself in the oven to bring out or more intense squash flavour while I combine my aromatics and spices in a pot... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2011 at From Suq to Shuk
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A few weeks ago I went to the Shuk with the intent purpose of stirring up some savoury and olfactory memories of Southeast Asia. Having had a thoroughly European culinary education in terms of technique, I was somewhat hesitant to buy a wok. After my trip to Asia, I realised that no mastery of Asian flavours could make up for the lack of Asian techniques. The most tasty specific dish I ate the entire time I was in Southeast Asia was a stir-fried beef and noodles dish that I bought for a dollar on the streets of Phnom Penh. I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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A bit over two weeks ago I turned 24. Last year I made an incredibly elaborate meal for my birthday of roasted duck breast, foie gras, with all sorts of sauces and accompaniments. This year, I decided to return to my favourite meal growing up: standing rib roast. For most of my life, this meal came accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy and an apple pie for dessert. Having consumed far more mashed potatoes than is healthy two weeks earlier for Thanksgiving, and given the fact that my birthday fell on the last night of Hannukah, I decided to make latkes... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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While the last post featured some fresh produce, the majority of the photos displayed were of dried goods. This post will focus entirely on the fresh fruit and vegetables that we found in markets both in Saigon and in the Mekong Delta region. With globalisation on the rise, more and more of the items that were formerly quite exotic are popping up all over the West. The quality of the produce in Asia, however, is simply higher - the colours are brighter, the flavours and smells more intense. We saw myriad varieties of bananas and lychees, green and orange papayas,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Ten days in Southeast Asia, many markets, and not a kitchen for my use in sight! Alas I duly suffered the temptation to purchase (almost) every exotic item I found; with a maximum exertion of self-control, I settled on photographing the items instead. While Southeast Asian cooking is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the many cosmopolitan centres of our planet, the average Western cook has never found most of these products so plentiful, fresh and fragrant as they are in their place of origin. Even much of the produce that one would identify in Western, in its Eastern incarnation it comes... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
I am once again connected at my home to the giant universe that is the internet and what a relief! Alas it will be a while before I process all of the material on which to blog since I have been computerless, but to start, take a look at the video I made with Allison and Judith, in collaboration with TasteTLV. It was shot over two days and offers some good tips on shopping. Much more to come in the next few days. Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
My computer is in the shop for repairs so it will be a while before I get all the pictures up from my recent trip to Vietnam. In the meantime I'm still cooking and will be back soon with lots of material. Good eating everyone! Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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While the last meal I made represented a distinct return to more traditional European flavours, three nights ago I decided to do something a bit more elaborate. With laziness and fatigue as the primary culprits, I have tended to simplify my dishes into two components - a relatively complicated meat dish with some sort of starch to compliment it. While the results are often yummy, they are not demonstrative of the finesse of which I am capable. It takes both inspiration and motivation to create more fantastical dishes outside a restaurant setting and three days ago I had both. I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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I make a lot of Asian food. Some days, you want to forego all of those complex combinations of myriad spices and sauces etc., and all you really want is a nice piece of meat. With new instructions from my doctor to consume more iron, steak and spinach for dinner it was. I've been having intense cravings for meat for about a month. Stewed, stir-fried, in shawarma... doesn't cut it. I wanted a thick steak that I could cook to a perfect medium rare and enjoy for its carnal essence. Allison joined me for just such an endeavour. I had... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Thursday marked two decades of life for my brother Isaac, and an unspecified number for my dear friend Leemor. Alas, I was unable to see my brother on his birthday, but I nevertheless prepared a feast for Leemor and our friends that was truly a delight from beginning to end (save a few minor injuries). Leemor had originally attempted to organise a pot luck. I asked for some co-ordination in the choices of food so that we didn't end up with disparate dishes that clashed. Eventually I offered to do all the cooking and our friends Tami and Dan graciously... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Last Wednesday, I woke up bright and early to start cooking for my lunch date with Judith and her beautiful daughter Shai. I had purchased all the necessary ingredients the day before. I had intended to make dinner that evening but as I was unable to find any company, I settled for peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and saved the Thai food for the next day. I decided to make something with relatively few components but still very flavourful. Surprisingly, osso bucco seems to be the least expensive cut of beef available. Having been rather bored by poultry lately, I opted... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Last Tuesday marked the arrival of my dear friend Judith of TasteTLV. It is indeed to my blog that I owe our friendship. Judith, Kassandra and I became friends in April over a lovely meal that I prepared. They were my very first foodie friends in Tel Aviv and it was with great displeasure that I saw Judith depart for the US only a month after we met. In today's world however, skype allowed us to develop our friendship further over the past months despite the distance and it was with relish that were reunited. As our friendship began with... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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The other day my friend Tami and I each spent the afternoon working on some school work and planned to meet up at 6 when our brains couldn't take it anymore. I had purchased some ingredients that I had intended on using for a salad but as my hunger grew more vociferous, I decided to make a pasta sauce instead. I had a package of pepperoncino infused linguini that I'd bought at KaDeWe during my April trip to Berlin. I figured that now would be as good a time as any to finally eat them. I decided to make make... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Last week I was hit with a terrible craving for Indian and for meat. I am sick of chicken and because stewing is so central to most Indian cuisines, the cheaper cuts of beef matched perfectly with my budget and desired dish. If you've got a kitchen well stocked with spices, this meal doesn't require a terrible number of purchases at the market either. I called Leemor around 2 PM and asked if she'd be amenable to joining me later. We both agreed that a later hour would best accommodate us. I went to the Shuk, got everything necessary and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Last week I had the pleasure of welcoming a friend from university to Tel Aviv. After a year of commuting from Jerusalem, Michal moved to Tel Aviv and was finally able to come over for dinner. She requested Asian food, and with my upcoming trip to Southeast Asia in mind, I decided to consult my Thai and Vietnamese cookbooks for some inspiration. The first dish that appealed to me was a Vietnamese cucumber and tomato salad. Cucumber and tomato salad (usually called "chopped salad" in Hebrew) is a staple of Israeli cuisine, and is normally simply dressed with olive oil,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Before leaving for my month long sojourn in North America, Ilan and I got together to prepare some limes for preservation - a process that takes six weeks. Having done so several days before I left, I need wait little time after coming home taste the preserved limes and incorporate them into my dishes. Although I had originally intended to do this in order to have limes in the off season, preserved limes have little in common with the flavour of the fresh variety. Ilan came over to taste the fruits of our endeavour and both of us were shocked... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Although I neither attended nor prepared a large meal for Rosh HaShana, I decided to make something light but satisfying that was representative of the season and the holiday. At the end of the summer we have the most beautiful tomatoes in Israel, and I was pining for some bruschetta. Traditionally on Rosh HaShanah, we dip apples in honey to commemorate the sweetness of the new coming year. While I forewent the honey, I decided to incorporate apples into my bruschetta. I combined the apples with the usual ingredients for a bruschetta - tomatoes, shallots, basil, olive oil and balsamic... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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After having made a delicious Thai meal a few nights ago, I thought that I ought to celebrate the Shuk for the best produce in season, which at present are yellow dates (less ripe than brown dates with a great crunch), clementines, limes (which are nearing the end of their season here), purslane and pomegranates (as well as guava, mangoes and figs). I wanted to make two chicken legs suffice for three so I decided to braise them and pull the meat. The only parameters given for the meal were "it should be light", so light it was. Despite having... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Sunday morning I arrived back in Tel Aviv with a suitcase worth of ingredients brought back from New York. Some of those ingredients were fresh and I was faced with using them immediately or freezing them for later usage. The Kaffir limes I purchased were holding up but some of the Kaffir lime leaves were turning brown so I picked out some green ones and was intent to use them for the first dinner I made after having returned. My month long adventure in North America was packed with culinary delights, some prepared by me and some by others. Alas,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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It's been a while again but I've got lots of material. Unfortunately I've waited too long in some circumstances and can't remember everything I put into some recipes, so for now we'll have just the photographs. Two weekends ago I went to the Hudson Street Farmer's Market early on Saturday with my mother to buy some produce. Everything was beautiful and here are the pictures. More later. above are lemon cucumbers, not potatoes Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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Saturday morning my mother and I went to the Hudson St. Farmer's Market and picked out some beautiful produce. A post on that tiny adventure is to follow but for now we'll focus on one meal that consisted almost entirely of ingredients from that market - organic duck breast, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, thyme, red skinned potatoes and Japanese kale. Prevalent ingredients not bought at the market were some onions, a some McIntosh apples, the various spices my mother and I used and some Danish butter. I have received complaints in the past from my family members that my taste for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk
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So it's been a million years since the last blog post but I've been busy. First I was busy being sick and all I had to eat was chicken soup. It was about 9000 degrees in Tel Aviv and the last thing I wanted to do was turn on my oven. Then I was travelling. A few days in Vancouver were followed by a few days in Washington state and then another few days in Vancouver. During that time I ate some lousy airplane food, some delicious food from my aunt and grandmother, and some of the best wedding food... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2010 at From Suq to Shuk