At the end of every year the same thoughts arise – what did I accomplish this year? Where did I get to? What did I learn? Am I happy? As usual, this year these thoughts arrived right on schedule, but this time I decided not to complain – just the opposite in fact! I found myself sitting and writing a letter to God about what happened this year and I even added a few requests for the year to come. And then, grasping the ready letter, I took a day off work and traveled to the Western Wall.
I persuaded my partner to join by way of his stomach – I promised him that after my letter delivery we’d have a meal at Bein Hakshatot. It was a Monday at the Wall, a day of Bar Mitzvas and much celebration, so it was all I could do to focus inwardly and place my letter amongst all the others and wish it a successful journey. After tucking my note away we headed for the exit and there, less than 100 meters from the Wall, we found ourselves standing at Bein Hakshatot.
At Bein Hakshatot, an Italian fish restaurant founded about 10 years ago to cater to families who come to Jerusalem for bar mitzvah celebrations, along with the many others who come for various Mehadrin kosher events. We sat on the upper floor of the restaurant, under the arches of this more than 700-year-old structure.
We decided to share an appetizer – a platter of mezes served with focaccia. The mezes, nine in total, were placed on the table one after another: cherry tomato salad, avocado and pepper cream, baby corn glazed in Dijon mustard and chili, tehina with herbs, roasted eggplant cream with labane, feta cheese with zucchini, olives, green salad, olive spread, tomato spread – and with it all, a hunk of focaccia huge in size and flavour alike, not to mention its intoxicating aroma. Piece after piece, we spread, we dipped and we spread and dipped some more, licking our fingers when it was over.
Then it was time to choose our mains – a seared tuna steak in red wine and anise, crusted in sesame and nigella seed, served with candied pieces of sweet potato and sautéed mushrooms. My man, who ‘was stuffed on all those appetizers’ chose a respectable portion of salmon steak in teriyaki sauce on a bed of greens, with roasted eggplant and crisp roast potatoes. I alternated between bites of my dish and bites of his, happy with this excellent combination.
Amongst the desserts flauntingly displayed in the glass case, one on the top shelf caught my eye – a krembo filled with espresso and chocolate crème, which turned out to new at the restaurant. We didn’t even manage to debate about the correct way to eat a krembo – first the cookie and then the cream or first the cream and then the cookie – before we were digging in.
I can’t wait for my year-end reflection at the end of the year to come – because along with a note in the Western Wall, I think I’ve found a new tradition.
174 Hagai St., The Western Wall, Old City, Jerusalem