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Words by Shai DeLuca-Tamasi

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I am a dying breed. I admit it. My generation of Israelis is global-minded, well travelled and sadly, in the last decade or so, often looking outside our borders for design trends.

Not me.

Though an ex-pat, I am also a proudly patriotic citizen of Israel and I am astounded by the homegrown art and design scene that’s flourishing today. Local artisans are pulling inspiration from 5,700+ years of history, leaving international companies desperate to break into the booming scene.

TEXTILES
Israel’s textile industry used to be a vast one with fabrics produced by hand. As the world turned to mass production, manufacturers looked East for less expensive alternatives and, until recently, the industry was nearly abolished.

Thankfully a new generation of fashion and design artisans is embracing craftsmanship and the textile industry is recovering.

Mika Barr is a textile designer who stumbled on a process for manipulating and reshaping fabrics into striking new geometric shapes. Mika’s textiles now cover lampshades, furniture and hand bags.

Shai’s Buy: I couldn’t resist purchasing a new floor lamp (adapted to North American voltage) from Mika’s line of textile enhanced goods.

www.mikabarr.com

FAP throw B&W

FURNITURE
As a designer, I’m forever looking for functional items that have a new and interesting twist. In my experience, bar/counter stools can be somewhat utilitarian. But not at the hand of Ushki Design Studio.

Shai’s Buy: I love these birch veneered, coloured paper, steel framed works of art…or, seating. I’ll be placing my order tomorrow morning!

www.ushkidesign.com

Israel - 16_3

SODA STREAM
Importing goods to Israel was traditionally very expensive, so it was rare to spot North American staples like Coca-Cola and Pepsi on store shelves. Not to be left out, Israel invented the Soda Stream. Years ago it allowed the locals to fit simple soda gas canisters into standard bottles and infuse the beverage with bubbles. Today, of course, you’ll find every type of soda imagined on local shelves and Soda Stream has rebranded itself to a worldwide audience.

Shai’s Buy: My fave is the new design line in blue. It’s fully automated—one press of a button and voilà, custom carbonation.

www.sodastream.ca

Israel - Source Black side drop bottle

THE HAMSA
Some refer to this traditional relic as the hand of Fatima. In Arabic, Hamsa means five. Everyone agrees the elegant icon is a symbol of good luck and, in some cultures, a protector from the evil eye.

Shai’s Buy: Travellers to Israel will be spoiled for choice as most shops carry at least a few versions of this favourite memento. I picked up two at Irit Goldberg Ceramics.

www.iritgoldberg.co.il

Israel - Hamsa Irit Goldberg copy

 

From Issue 15 – May 2014 

Coca-Cola Ancho Chili Pulled Brisket Soft Tacos

Recipe Courtesy Annette Joseph

Entertain Me - Cinco de Mayo2

Photo courtesy Annette Joseph

BRISKET AND BRAISING SAUCE
1 (5- to 6-pound) beef brisket, trimmed of fat (I like to leave a little fat)
1 tbsp sea salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, plus 1 tsp for rubbing on the brisket
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with their juices
1 cup ketchup
2 (12-ounce) cans Coca-Cola
1 medium red onion, sliced
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup ancho chili powder
1/4 cup chili powder
10 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup red wine vinegar to serve
16 flour or corn tortillas
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups crumbled queso fresco cheese
1/2 cup sliced fresh jalapeños
4 limes, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Rub the brisket all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat and sear all sides of the brisket until browned, about 5 minutes per side.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the remaining sauce ingredients and season with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Pour the braising sauce into a large roasting pan, then carefully add the seared brisket to the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and tightly seal it around the edges. Bake the brisket in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300° F and continue to bake for 6 to 7 hours, until fork tender.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove the foil, and allow the brisket to rest in the pan at room temperature for 1 hour. Using 2 large forks, shred (or “pull”) the brisket apart. Reserve 2 cups of the sauce from the pan and transfer it to a large mixing or serving bowl. Toss the pulled brisket in the sauce before serving, or serve the sauce on the side.

When you are ready to serve, wrap the soft tortillas in aluminum foil and warm them for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200° F. Serve the brisket alongside the warm tortillas and bowls of the assorted toppings

Serves 6 to 8