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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 

Shakin’ Shakshuka

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When I booked my fare to Israel the very last thing I envisioned was cooking a meal or funnier still, finding myself in front of a hot stove!  But Tel Aviv is full of surprises. Dr. Shakshuka is a culinary treasure in a country where there are so many fabulous meals to be sampled. This was my first taste of the classic egg-based dish and certainly, my first time cooking it – although I had some help from the doctor himself.

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If you’re planning a trip to Israel then this has to be a stop. Travel plans or not, the recipe is simple and satisfying:

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Shakshuka Recipe
Courtesy Shai Deluca

INGREDIENTS
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
• 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 1 tsp chili powder (mild)
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste– spicy!)
• Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 5-6 eggs
• 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.

2. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.

3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne… it is extremely spicy!).

4. Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.

5. Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which can lead to burning.

6. Garnish with the chopped parsley, if desired. Shakshuka can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For breakfast, serve with warm crusty bread or pita that can be dipped into the sauce (if you’re gluten-intolerant or celebrating Passover, skip the bread). For dinner, serve with a green side salad for a light, easy meal.