Personally, I’m not a big follower of urban culture, but Lior insisted on trying to convince me that that the city of Netanya has got a special kind of magic. Surprisingly, Lior decided to concentrate her belligerent effort on Netanya’s city centre, rather than the newly redone nightlife area. Netanya’s main pedestrian area may not be considered equivalent to Tel Aviv’s ever-popular Nachalat Binyamin, but it does have one striking advantage – the walkway goes right to the sea – which on this particular morning was a deep shade of blue. In the last few years, alongside the regular stands, various artists have also started to gather, and once in a while a musician will set up shop, painting the street with jazz.
Our stroll around the area went longer than planned and it quickly became afternoon. None of the café’s lining the walkway especially enticed us, so we headed north along the beach boardwalk. After five minutes of strolling and Lior’s non-stop complaining, Lior sat herself down under the vast sky at the first café we came across. The menu indicated that the place was called Ingale (‘boy’ in Yiddish) and we understood that Yiddish culture was playing a role here.
Each waitress had a flower garland on her head. In honour of the Shavuot holiday, we realized! We jumped with joy together and decided to take advantage and have ourselves a traditional festive dairy meal. We started with the generous cheese platter, which included Camembert, Roquefort, Bulgarian cheese, tzfatit cheese, and cream cheese flavoured with chives and dill. Along with the platter came granary bread, which went excellently with the cheeses. Lucky for us the loaf of bread wasn’t too big, because we would have filled ourselves up completely. The cheese platter had piqued our appetites for more, but could also be a great snack alongside a glass of wine or cup of coffee. The waitress (who proved herself especially helpful) recommended that we turn around to face west and suddenly we realized that the café overlooks the boardwalk and the blue sea. Lior fell in love with the fantasy location, along with the shake she had ordered – melon, pineapple and milk. Conservative as usual, I ordered the freshly squeezed orange juice.
When it came to the mains, Lior and I parted ways. Lior was trying to decide on a pasta dish and finally chose fettuccine in pesto-cream. The fettuccine was perfectly cooked and the sauce was thick and creamy, just as you’d expect from a cream sauce. In addition, the pasta was made outstanding by it’s fresh topping of parsley, basil and other herbs. The dish was generous in size and could easily have fed two hungry diners.
I rebelled entirely from Lior’s idea of a Shavuot dairy meal and ordered the tuna roll, which came highly recommended by the waitress. At Ingale, something good happened to the tuna roll. Upon first glance, it is apparent that the dish is playing with the idea of a traditional savory roll and a sweet roll in the style of a traditional Yiddish blintz. Maple syrup had been drizzled on top of the slightly sweet dough. The non-traditional tuna salad inside turned out to be a lovely contrasting taste. Inside the roll, there was also an egg and some vegetables to freshen things up. Along with the roll came a fresh vegetable salad that Lior devoured in a couple seconds. I can testify that she really enjoyed the vegetables and the tart dressing that came with it.
While still eating my roll, I caught Lior and the waitress plotting dessert. Turns out that after I’d chose an entirely dairy-free dish for my main, Lior stopped trusting me when it came to dessert. Together with the waitress, she headed into the café where a tall fridge displayed the selection of cakes and other desserts. She confirmed that we would order cheesecake, of course, and requested that I finish my meal already because it wasn’t fitting with the festive atmosphere.
The cheesecake that arrived was a homemade cream cheesecake, with a soft sweet crumb topping. Next to the slice were two hills of whipped cream and some berry syrup. The cake started a small war between us about every last bite, and especially about the tart berry syrup that went divinely with the soft cake. There is no doubt that this cake makes a list of the top 3 cheesecakes I’ve ever eaten, but I’ll have to wait till I taste it again before I give it a final ranking…
On the way home I noticed that on a full stomach the city looks much nicer and more inviting. It was late afternoon, the Shavuot holiday would be starting soon and the stall owners and shopkeepers were closing up, giving the street a tranquil feel. Something in the lovely sea air that had been blowing at Ingale, along with the magnificent cheesecake, had had left me with the relaxed feeling of holidays.
8 Nitza Boulevard, Netanya