David and I take off for London tonight but before I get packing, I want to tell you about how I marked International Women's Day (March 8). Thanks to the busy and imaginative staff of the Israeli Consulate here in New York City, and Gabriella Gershenson, the ascendant writer, editor, (and 24-Hour Restaurant Battle judge) , I was on the invite list for a program that featured three of my favorite activities: eating, talking about food and eating, and listening to music.
Roughly fifty women gathered for a late breakfast at Balaboosta, a celebrated restaurant on Mulberry Street that's owned by the indefatigable Chef Einat Admony, who also owns Taim in the West Village and the award-winning Taim food truck. These establishments take Israeli food up a notch or ten so if you find yourself in NYC, put them on your must-visit list.
After Israeli born jazz clarinetist Anat Cohen and guitarist Dida Pelled warmed up the crowd with Benny Goodman's "Lullaby of the Leaves" and Charlie Parker's "Au Privave," Gershenson and Chef Einat took over with a brief interview about what it means to be a "balaboosta" and the challenges of being a busy chef in NYC. Like many Yiddish words, there is no difinitive English translation, yet Gabi and Chef Ainat agreed that a balaboosta is the individual in charge of the domestic realm and that she carries out those responsibilities with grace and integrity. Chef Einat aims to embody those qualities and to create a restaurant that celebrates the idea of "strong tough Jewish women." ( When David and I talked about this later, he reminded me that yes a balaboosta is all of those things, but that "she might yell at you too. And when she does, you better listen!")
Admony is a veteran of the Israeli army as well as the globe-spanning kitchens of Tabla (India), Danube (Austria), and Bolo (Spain) in NYC, She remarked that unlike in the USA, it isn't unusual to find a women at the helm of a professional kitchen in Israel but cautioned that whenever one gets to a new place, you must "forget everything you know and put your ego aside."
If you've never had an Israeli breakfast, it's time to pass on the blueberry pancakes and shake things up with tomato and cucumber salad, hummus with za'atar topped pita, and Shakshouka a spicy tomato concoction topped with poached eggs: