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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reinventing the grilled cheese sandwich in Tel Aviv

Known as ‘toast’ in Israel but more commonly called ‘grilled cheese’ by Americans and ‘toasties’ by the English, this popular kiddie fare is growing up and reinventing itself with tasty and innovative adult versions.

No one knows when the craze for grilled cheese took over the world, but it’s pretty clear why: everyone can make it and it’s pretty difficult to muck up.
The classic version requires just two slices of bread and melted cheese, but innovative restaurants prove there’s no limit to what you can throw in between.
Tel Aviv cafes have taken the grilled cheese sandwich, known in Israel as “toast,” and revamped its image. Moreover, this savory staple isn’t just the province of coffee shops anymore – it has moved into the elevated sphere of bars and restaurants too.

The chef’s version: “Bikini toast” at Tapas Ba’Shuk

Tapas Ba’Shuk is one of the best things to happen to the Tel Aviv port. It initially served Spanish food, then gradually adopted a more Mediterranean style thanks to the personal touch of chef Barak Aharoni. Most of the acclaim thus far has focused on its local ingredients, but little fuss has been made about its toast.
The dish:The Bikini toast – four perfectly crisp triangles of bread filled with bacon, mozzarella and a touch of truffle. Simple but devastating. The irony of course is that after a few of these, you can forget wearing a bikini. But such is the price of Tel Aviv’s best toast.
The cost:NIS 40 (and innumerable hours at the gym)
Goes well with:The sea view, a glass of cava and grilled artichokes.

Tapas Ba’Shuk, Tel Aviv port

Go for the filling: Goose breast and scrambled egg toast at Lilush Panini
Long before the trend of elaborate sandwiches hit these shores, Lilush Panini was the first neighborhood bistro to bring the hot Italian sandwich – the panini – to the Holy Land.
The dish: The goose breast and scrambled egg toast – the most surprising filling we’ve come across. It starts with slices of goose breast fried with honey and brandy for a touch of sweetness and a slightly smoked flavor. Add a scrambled egg, some spicy date paste and hard cheese then let sizzle in the toaster. The sublime result deftly navigates the sweetness of French toast with a tantalizing saltiness.
The cost:NIS 39
Goes well with: The accompanying side salad with citrus vinaigrette dressing and a glass of wine.
Panini Lilush – 39 Frishman Street, Tel Aviv