The Eshchar Pub opened a year ago, and is one of the best creations of our off-the-beaten-track, pluralist, anything goes, slightly tree-hugging yeshuv. It’s basically an outdoor pub hangout, smack bang in the middle of the Pinat Chai (kiddy animal corner), with a tiny bar (shack) and a load of benches made from old wooden orange crates and tarted up with bits of People’s Old Sofas. (Husband is very proud of the bench he built all by himself for the Pubs opening night. See Pic)
There was a lot of controversy on the yeshuv … should the pub be open just on Thursdays, or Friday nights too? How would money be handled? etc etc. In the end they went with Thursdays and Friday, and drinks are written down and deducted from yeshuv accounts. No money handling at all. The menu is simple – beer, spirits, soft drinks and snacks. Eclectic music, very relaxed. Husband informed me that one of the beauties of the pub was the mixed crowd it attracted. All welcome, all at home.
I had never been before (it opens at 21:30 which is my bedtime for about 6 months of the year), so I was essentially a Pub virgin when they announced their 1st Anniversary Party. The committee decided to do an Asian Themed Party … so logically it made sense to ask muggins here to do the food.
So would I mind preparing my Asian takeout for an outdoor party, no idea how many people are coming, no cooking facilities and by the way it starts about 2 hours after adult after dinner time, so who knows if anyone will be hungry? Oh and the other vendors will be sushi and desserts (the longstanding ever-popular foods of choice for the Jewish community). Oh, and by the way, there will be a hafsakat mayim (water closure) that day. Until 16:00.
Like a fool, I said Yes. Well at the time I didn’t know about the hafsakat mayim, that warning only came the day before… by which time I had already bought all the stuff. Yikes.
We have a tiny kitchen so everything has to be planned carefully, and I had to distribute the curry’s in various people’s fridges because I didn’t even have enough space for one in mine. Then, on the day, the hafsakat mayim, which was supposed to end at 16:00 was EXTENDED until 17:30!! (with only a 2 minute SMS warning, which I missed) and then went on WITHOUT ANY WORD ….
Picture the scene. Around 3 hours to the event. Piles of unwashed vegetables. A sink full of stuff. A dishwasher stopped mid cycle because they only turned the water back on for about 20 minutes. Just enough water in the kettle to make noodles for my family, but the other 5 batches I planned to make are pending … and the rice had to wait until all this was done…
Lets just say it was a bit er. stressful. Around 18:30 when they finally did turn the water back on, I think the entire yeshuv could hear me jumping for joy.
We left in such a hurry we ended up leaving food in the oven and not finishing salads…. and I didn’t even have time to take a jacket and I spent an hour freezing my tuchus off. I kid you not. Only my yeshuv is cold in June. Had to send Husband back for a jacket (and the food).
Happily, the cold weather meant that the punters were up for a nice hot curry, so business was flocking in. People were so cold they frankly didn’t care what they were eating (lucky really as I was in a huge rush) and I think we sold a few hundred portions. The Ottolenghi tofu was very popular (I am very grateful to the man who clearly understands the Israeli palate) and I was left with a bit of salad (which I distributed the next day to all the friends who loaned me equipment) and enough curry for us to eat on Shabbat.
The most amusing part of the evening was when the entertainment (a very talented boy on our yeshuv who sings pop) sat down at his chair, strummed a little on his guitar, opened his mouth to sing the opening line, only to find himself in competition with a Peacock. The wonders of the great outdoors.
I didn’t get to enjoy much of his singing because by this time I was so cold I could barely move so I nipped home and returned with a sweatshirt and UGG boots – yes in Israel in the summer, no jokes. People have no idea that we do in fact have the loveliest sea breeze here all year round unless there is a sharav (desert wind).
Anyway, its always fun introducing Israelis to healthy Thai food. Especially the die-hard carnivores. One lovely neighbour of ours, a big burly bloke who is famous for his annual BBBQ of a high gastronomic standard, peered nervously over my Thai Green Curry and enquired “what’s that?”
“Its tofu!” I informed him, “and vegetables”.
“Oh, never had that”, he says (I assume referring to the tofu although I couldn’t be sure).
Anyway, he braved it.
One up for the plant-eaters!