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Tagami Food Wine and Travel: 2010 in Review

January 2, 2011

Tagami visit: Six lines run 24 hours per day making EVOO in this Tuscan mill

Happy 2011!

Gee, where has Liz Tagami been lately?  After such consistency on social media between March and August 2010 (LinkedIN, Twitter, WordPress) she just sort of disappeared.

It’s true — except for a few Tweets and FB posts, Tagami went silent after August 12th.  No worries, really, it’s just that we found that we were too busy during Autumn 2010 with commercial ventures to put pen to paper or keystrokes to WordPress, that’s all.

We still have many 2010 stories and photos to share ranging from exciting new developments in olive cultivation in Israel, to work (and leisure) at Castello del Trebbio in Italy;  from a chat with Martin Hao at ASC Fine Wines in Shanghai, to the rise of olive oil tasting bars in the US.  We have a lot of great new food and travel adventures lined up for 2011, too. We’d like to start posting a least once per week again in the new year if our schedule allows, and hope you’ll keep following our work.

This morning I received an email from WordPress which I happily reproduce for you nearly verbatim as the stats are sort of fun, and you can see the top five Tagami posts of 2010, too.  Thank you for following! See you again in a few days!

– Liz


The “Stats Helper-monkeys” at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

WP Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2010. That’s about 22 full 747s.  [Hey, Tagami’s favorite plane is a 747, at least until the 787 Dreamliner is launched!].

In 2010, there were 27 new posts, not bad for the first year. There were 210 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 432mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week. The busiest day of the year was August 7th with 183 views. The most popular post that day was Jaffa Gate.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and  Some visitors came searching, mostly for Jerusalem, Suleiman I, Map Jerusalem, Ksar Ezzit, and Tunis Medina.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Jaffa Gate August 2010


The Souks of the Tunis Medina May 2010


Yerushaláyim, al-Quds, Jerusalem: The Christian Quarter August 2010


About Liz Tagami March 2010


Breakfast with Methuselah, part 1 April 2010


Eat Your Colors at Shipudei Tzipora

August 12, 2010













Shipudei Zipora, Kfar Saba (from the designer’s portfolio)

“Most Americans eat far too few foods with any color in them,” says David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Instead, we tend to eat a high-fat, highly processed “beige diet” full of snack foods and refined grains (bread, cake, pastries) that don’t fit the requirements of our genes. The average intake of fruits and vegetables is only 3 servings a day, when it should be 7 to 11 servings a day.

According to Heber, the varied colors in fruits and vegetables indicate “specific beneficial substances that help to prevent the common diseases that affect many of us as we get older.” Damage to DNA leads to changes in our genes as we age that can result in diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Substances found in plant foods protect our DNA.

Heber has coded plant foods into seven colors, all of which have different health-protecting qualities: red, red-purple, orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, green, and white-green. “Colorize your diet” to protect your DNA by eating at least one serving (one-half cup cooked or one cup raw) of a fruit or vegetable from each color each day. Huber also suggests that at least half your protein intake be soy…Though the emphasis is on plant-based foods, most of his recipes are not vegetarian.

The above is an editorial review by Joan Price, taken from’s page for “What Color is Your Diet?  The Seven Colors of Health”.  While I have not read this book, I have been coached to eat my colors for the past five years and this concept came to mind when my colleagues and I stopped in Kfar Saba for lunch.

Where to eat? No question! (Tagami)

Kfar Saba is an upscale suburb of Tel Aviv, and the outdoor shopping center we drove into sported an Office Depot and an Imaginarium as well as many local shops.  Italian food had been popular all week, and the restaurants here included  a sushi restaurant and a McDonalds, but we were in Israel and there was no question in our minds that we had to have Middle Eastern food!!  Fortunately, Shipudei Tzipora was there and fit the bill.

The restaurant has a sleek and cool sensibility in terms of color palette and style, which was very welcoming on a hot day.  The interior of the restaurant is spacious, inviting, and very cleverly lit using pin spots and natural light to create visual breaks without overwhelming.  As we had been inside of the hotel working all morning we asked to be seated outside to dine, and although the day was stifling hot, the generous cafe umbrellas above us and leafy green hedges around us were both cooling and created a sense of intimacy.

Our friend Zohar ordered the salad course, which came in 18 small white square porcelain dishes (plus four round ones) with endless refills.  Great rounds of a chapati-like flat bread came to the table and we gorged ourselves on all of the colors you can imagine.  Bright orange carrots, deep red beets, dark purple cabbage and vibrant green leafy vegetables were varied in texture, temperature, and seasoning. Hummus, tabouli, and baba ganoush — with variations — rounded out the choices as did two types of cured local olives.  Two plates of falafel were ordered to tide us over until our main courses arrived, and the whole thing made a very attractive array before us as we guzzled cold beverages and chatted merrily.

18 Salads to Start (Tagami)

Bread for the Table (Tagami)

Lizzie’s Plate of Many Colors (Tagami)

Grilled Lamb Kabobs (Tagami)

Shipudei Tzipora offers a lot of grilled meat — you can order steak or shwarma or have what many of us had, lamb kabobs.  They were attractively plated and served conveniently off skewers, and they had a very satisfying crust from the grill with a moist and tender inside.  Nothing was over-seasoned to my taste and the table was very quiet as we studiously relished our grilled meat.

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Shabbat Shopping at Shuk Mahane Yehuda

August 12, 2010

Ah, Friday.  After an aggressive schedule all week I was grateful for a late start and a half day of trend shopping on the agenda.  Friday is, after all, the seventh day in the Jewish week, and by sunset it would be Shabbat.  Friday was a perfect day to observe a significant number of shoppers (on a deadline) amongst abundant displays.  It would be sort of like the day before Thanksgiving in America.  Our plan was to visit the big outdoor market and at least one good grocery store.  Moshe and I had a quick breakfast at the Inbal’s buffet and then grabbed a taxi for The Shuk.

Shuk:  a new word for me.  Shuk, just like souk, souq, sooq, suk, and suq.  Market.  Historically, these traditional Mediterranean markets were held on the outer limits of a city where caravans had room to stop and let merchants display their wares.  As cities grew and trade routes became well established the need for permanent places gave rise to central markets.  Shuk Mahane Yehuda is an outgrowth of a late 19th century neighborhood when a Sephardic Jewish family started a small Shuk and Arab merchants and farmers sold their goods.  It evolved through the Ottoman period and in the 1920s the British cleared the space and built permanent stalls and added roofing.  As far as being central, it even has a stop on the new Jerusalem Light Rail  (Line 1).  For a cool map and a local perspective, check out Shmuel Browns’ WordPress article.

The cab rolled to a stop on Agrippas Street, Moshe peeled off a few shekels for the driver, and we started walking.  Foot traffic was heavy and so were transactions — but this was only the beginning.  We turned right and suddenly the road widened into a pedestrian only area and the place was hopping!

First Impression: Shuk Mahane Yehuda  (Tagami)

We were greeted by an abundance of fresh local fruit, and I was amazed at both the quality and selection. There were the expected fruits:  apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, pears and melons — and then there were the unexpected fruits:  dragon fruit, pineapple, lychee, prickly pear.  Vendors were friendly and engaging, and in a tremendous nod to a tradition that seems utterly universal, sang out their wares!  I’ve been to similar markets throughout Asia and Europe and I never tire of hearing the merchants call, and almost never refuse to taste and complement them on their goods.

Prickly Pear aka Sabra with Lychee and Dragon Fruit in background (Tagami)

The Kipa (Yarmulke) seller can be found next to the fruit seller (Tagami)

On the opposite side of this wide aisle was the orange juice man who was very friendly, and who had excellent orange juice, which he squeezed for me while I watched.

The Orange Juice Man:  Good Stuff! (Tagami)

The Halwa Man (Halvah in the US) had the most amazing selection I’d seen anywhere, nearly 2 dozen types, and it was so fresh and moist!  Many countries and cultures make a version of halwa; the Israeli version is sesame based  with Tahini, sugar and flavorings.  It is very likely parve, that is, it doesn’t contain any meat or milk products, so it can be eaten with either meat or milk within Kashrut (kosher dietary) laws.  The dried fruit and nut vendor next store was impressive also.

Dried Fruit & Nuts with Halwa nearby (Tagami

Impressive and varied selection of Halwa (Tagami)

I love to see the big bags of spices, which always seem fresh despite their great volume. Here are images from two competing vendors on either end of the Shuk. There were olive sellers and one olive oil stand who did business in both bulk and bottled.  He was a trader and not a grower which seems like a marvelous opportunity for one of the local farms to have a stall here, or perhaps a specialty vendor who offered a selection of varietal and blended oils from various kibbutzim.  From what I know of the quality and selection available, I’m confident that we’ll see such a development before too long.

There were six bakers here, and fresh bread and pastries, including Challah for the Shabbat dinner, were constantly being shuttled throughout the market.

Spice Vendor (Tagami)

Spice Vendor at the Far end (Tagami)

Olive Vendor (Tagami)

Olive OIl Guy (Tagami)

Top of the Shuk, looking back (Tagami)

Buying Fruit. Foreground: Judaica (Tagami)

Bread Vendor (Tagami)

Challah for Shabbat (Tagami)

Shuk Mahane Yehuda has about 250 shops, including local and imported cheeses, fresh flowers, fresh organic hummus made daily, and a fish monger who makes his own smoked salmon.  There was a lot to see, but we needed to move on to the next market.  Moshe and I emerged from the covered walk onto Jaffa Road and turned left into a crowd of shoppers and rack of pastries, too tempting for this little boy to resist. Good Shabbos, indeed!

Good Shabbos! (Tagami)

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Jerusalem, Ūršalīm: Ramadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak

August 11, 2010

Vintage 3D Postcard, Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, 1899

It seems fitting that I share a post about the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem on this first night of Ramadan, a month-long observance filled with blessings.  The traditional Arabic greetings for this holiday are “Ramadan Mubarak” (Blessed Ramadan) or “Ramadan Kareem” (Generous Ramadan). This is a sacred time for Muslims, and observing Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.  To learn more about the observances, there is a quick guide on the site that is very accessible:  How to Observe Ramadan.

At 76 acres, this is the largest and most populated sector of the four quarters.  The northern boundary is highlighted by the Damascus Gate, also known as the Nablus Gate, which runs south to Chain Street (Ha’shalshelet) and the Western Wall.  I love the vintage image above, and here is a more contemporary view, below.

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

The last day in Jerusalem was a free day, so I walked from my hotel (uphill in 107 F weather) to the Old City and once again entered through the Jaffa Gate and walked down the shop-filled David Street.  If you  immediately turn right you will visit the Armenian Quarter, however if you proceed a few blocks more and turn right a traveler enters the Jewish Quarter.  If upon entering the City through the Jaffa Gate you immediately turn left you will be in the Christian quarter, but walk only a few paces more and you will turn left into the Muslim Quarter — this how marvelously compact the place.

Bab Khan El-Zeit, Pre-1914

My favorite part of walking the Muslim quarter is the Food Souq on Bab Khan El-Zeit, or “Olive Street”, which emerges from the Central Souk.  Did you know that Al-Zeitun is Arabic for olive?  This is why olive oil in Spanish is aceite, not olio olivo — it’s a legacy from the nearly 800 years of Arab influence on the Iberian peninsula.  The Central Souk is comprised of three short parallel streets which once formed part of the Roman Cardo Maximus.

Let me take you through a small part of the quarter via my  favorite images from the Bab Khan El-Zeit to the Damascus Gate, and back again to Ha’shalshelet via the partially covered Bab El Wad, which crosses the Via Dolorosa.

Vendor near David Street, Jerusalem (Tagami)

Spices, Soap, Frankincense and Myrrh – David Street, Jerusalem (Tagami)

Keffiyeh and Pomegranates – David Street, Jerusalem (Tagami)

Spice Vendor – Bab Khan El Zeit, Jerusalem (Tagami)

Bab Khan El-Zeit starts with butcher shops in the Central Souk hung with whole or sides of lamb and goat, vegetable sellers, and many other culinary items for daily use.   In a stall across from the spice vendor (depicted above) you can buy a hot slice of knafeh, which is a sweet from Nablus.  There are several variations, and I enjoyed an enormous slice of the na’ama knafeh type made of small pieces of cooked semolina bound with butter and a sugar syrup / rose-water reduction spread on top of mild Nabulsi cheese, a mild salty sheep’s milk cheese — soft and elastic — reminiscent of mozzarella.  This intensely sweet semolina / rose syrup mixture is colored a bright orange and topped with bright green finely chopped pistachios.

Chewy, sticky, crunchy, savory, floral, sweet — it was strangely compelling.  I ate the entire slice.

Knafeh in the Old City.   I almost forgot to take the photo!  (Tagami)

Pickled Veggie Vendor:  actual colors!   On Bab Khan El-Zeit (Tagami)

Fruit Seller near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem (Tagami)

When I was in Tunisia last March I was privileged to have a traditional Bedouin breakfast in a truly ancient olive grove.  After a dusty march (or bumpy 4WD lift) we were greeted with a terra cotta cup  filled with lagmi or legmi, a sweet drink made from the sap of a palm tree trunk.  Today, as I walked from the Damascus Gate back toward the town center I came upon a lagmi vendor.  Lagmi is the local name in Tunisia, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the Palestinian word for the drink or the vendor, but the light refreshing beverage I enjoyed was the same in any language.  As you can see from these three photos, the vendor carries a large brass canister on his back.  He leans forward to use gravity to dispense the liquid, and he carries cups, change and a big smile in the front!

Lagmi Vendor on Bab El Wad, Jerusalem (Tagami)

Lagmi-man leans forward to dispense the beverage (Tagami)

Smiles and Lagmi, only a few shekels  (Tagami)

Nearing the end of the Quarter, I turned off the Bab El Wad and walked through the Cotton Souq, Al Qattanin Street. I had hoped that this market would be a wholesale market, but it was filled with consumer goods and the entrances to two hammam, although I did not see them. The wonder of this little street is that it ends in a stair that ascends to Haram Esh-Sharif, the Dome of the Rock. Non-Muslims cannot enter this way (only depart), and it is always closed on Saturday no matter your belief.

The Cotton Souq off El Wad – To Haram Esh-Sharif, Jerusalem  (Tagami)

Walking Al Qattanin toward the Dome of the Rock  (Tagami)

After being turned around in the middle of the stairs I headed back to El Wad and then across Ha’shalshelet into the Jewish Quarter to walk to the Zion Gate to make my way out of the City.  After only two hours the intense heat was too much to continue.

Once the decision was made that it was simply too hot to keep walking, all of my attention turned to “home”, in the case the Inbal Hotel.  It wasn’t long before my eye lingered on a doorway, which beckoned.  The dark recesses emanated tranquil and cool vibrations at least ten feet outside of its door, and the faded hand-drawn coffee cup and shisha (hookah) on the sign proclaimed this a spot for rumination and reflection.  I suppose if I were a man I would have gone in and enjoyed one or the other or both, but that wouldn’t have been seemly in this quarter as a single woman, so I took a mental picture and then this digital one instead.

Shisha and Coffee Beckon, Jerusalem (Tagami)


Photo by Toki Cavener, effect by PhotoFunia

I have many more articles to write about visiting kibbutzim, modern agronomy, irrigation, Israeli olive varietals, a Kfar Saba lunch, Jaffa, and much more.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to showing you the vibrant Mahaneh Yehuda market where Moshe and I mingled with hundreds of people shopping for Shabbos.  Until then, shalom, salaam, pax.

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Jerusalem Jewish Quarter, HaRova HaYehudi

August 10, 2010

Refreshed  from a just-squeezed cup of pomegranate juice from the sidewalk café on Muristan Road our group stood, stretched, and trooped en-masse south back toward David Street and into HaRova, the Jewish Quarter.

Walking Uphill on David Street, Jerusalem

David Street runs west to east, from the Jaffa Gate to the Souq Khan el-Zeit, then turns into ha-Shalshelet aka Chain Street, and this is where we crossed to visit two major landmarks, Emperor Hadrian’s Cardo Maximus and then on to the Western Wall.

HaRova rests on land even higher in elevation than the Temple Mount, and was settled from the time of King Hezekiah circa 700 BCE after the original Davidian city outgrew its borders.

Destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar, it took centuries after the Babylonian captivity to rebuild the district.

Leveled once again — this time by the Romans in 70 CE — burnt ruins have been found from this destruction.  The Romans built upon these ruins, and ubiquitous to their rule throughout the Empire in coloniae, military camps and cities, they engineered a north-south oriented colonnaded street which was lined with vendors and shops.  It was Main Street, and it was called The Cardo Maximus, literally, “the Major Line”.  If you click the map for a closer look, you can see the Cardo as two parallel lines on the left, marked  “❶”

Jerusalem Old City: Jewish Quarter

What is remarkable is that the northern end is completely under modern buildings, and there are open spaces and shafts covered with bars which allow one to see how far the land has been built up after each destructive wave of invaders.  Continuing south, a section has been left to the open air where you can see the arches formed over ancient shops.

Cardo Maximus, Jerusalem (Tagami)

A Ubiquitous Feral Cat of the Cardo (Tagami)

Cardo emerges. Arches stand where shops once offered wares. (Tagami)

After the Cardo, we walked through Hurva Square and down hill to the Western Wall Plaza where stands the massive remnant of the Second Temple structure, constructed in 19 BCE by Herod and destroyed fewer than 100 years later by the Romans in 70 CE.  There are 28 courses of stone above ground and another 17 courses below ground.

As twilight approached mothers with young children, some in strollers, crowded into the space reserved for them on the right, and the men gathered on the left.

Western Wall, Jerusalem (Tagami)

Praying at the Wall (Tagami)

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Yerushaláyim, al-Quds, Jerusalem: The Christian Quarter

August 9, 2010

Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University, Michael Zank, teaches a course called Jerusalem in Time, Space, and the Imagination, and on his website you can find 26 maps of the city from a Jebusite/Pre-Israelite conjectural map leading to a 1000 – 586 BCE “David to Hezekiah” map, with subsequent maps through the ages to the present time.

According to his book, Jerusalem Besieged, Eric C. Cline tells us that Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, attacked 52 times, besieged 23 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times — and you can feel it.  3,000 years of  recorded history within 2.5 miles of walls makes for a very intense sensory experience.

Jerusalem Old City Map (WikiTravel)

To paraphrase WikiTravel, it is the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual center of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE, the third-holiest city in Islam, and home to a number of significant Christian landmarks.  The walled area of Jerusalem, which until the late 19th century formed the entire city, is now called the Old City and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

It consists of four sections — the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters.  Barely one square kilometer in area, the Old City is home to several of Jerusalem’s most important and contested religious sites including the Western Wall and Temple Mount for Jews, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians.

After a morning of judging olive oils and an Inbal Hotel lunch, Moshe arranged a walking tour through the Christian and Jewish quarters.  I was fortunate to be able to return to visit the other quarters on my own later.  We entered through the Jaffa Gate and walked along David Street just past the Christian Quarter Road to the Muristan, a small section shops and streets where the first Knights of Malta Hospital was located.  (Muristan comes from the Persian “Bimaristan“, meaning hospital.  Originally founded in the 600’s, today — after much history too detailed for this essay — the central features are the Muristan fountain and a surrounding market, the Suq Aftimos.

Jerusalem Old City: Christian Quarter

As you can see by the map, the Muristan is only a few steps from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the German Church of the Holy Redeemer.

We spent about 45 minutes at the former, and then gathered at an outdoor café at the entrance to the latter for some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice before walking south to the Jewish Quarter.  Here are a few images from the day.  Tomorrow I’ll post some images from the Jewish Quarter.

Church of the Holy Redeemer from The Muristan (Tagami)

Pilgrims in Repose, Chapel of the Franks (Tagami)

The Stone of Unction, Stairs to Golgotha, and Crusader Door (Tagami)

Rotunda above the Aedicule of Christ's Tomb (Tagami)

Characteristic Signage in three languages (Tagami)

Fresh Pomegranate Juice (Tagami)

Boy's Bicycle, Church of the Redeemer (Tagami)

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Hot Day in Jerusalem? Cool Down and Take Five

August 7, 2010

Oooof.  Jerusalem was hot!

Well, it was the end of July and the peak of summer heat after all, so it was to be expected.  We enjoyed clear and sunny weather in the 90s F, and at times we experienced 38 C (100F)!   Spring and Fall are much more moderate, but when you visit this time of year make sure to pack a sunhat and sunglasses and drink lots of water!

It was great to return to our hotel near the Old City each evening to cool off.  The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel is a 5 star deluxe hotel within walking distance to the Mamilla open pedestrian mall, the Jaffa Gate and all of the wonders of the Old City.

Inbal Hotel Courtyard, Jerusalem

It is a hotel built in the round and the central courtyard an inviting place to gather.  While I was there this space hosted a traditional Jewish wedding, a business reception, and a lovely Shabbat dinner buffet.  Tonight the area was free and we sauntered languidly through the courtyard tables  to the swinging sounds of a jazz quartet  playing “My Favorite Things”.

Cool drinks on a hot Israeli night (Tagami)

My nine TerraOlivo conference colleagues and I ordered some cool drinks and chatted amiably about a visit to the Dead Sea — the Mar Morto sounds so much better in Spanish and Italian — and various logistics for the next day.   We ordered some light food; salmon for some and an Israeli salad for others.

I loved the salad, about 3 cups of diced tomatoes and partially peeled cucumbers with a generous mix of a chiffonade of lettuce, dressed with lemon juice, Israeli extra virgin olive oil and salt.  It was simple, cooling and very satisfying.  [Mom, it reminded me a little bit of your namasu].

Salmon in the Inbal Courtyard (Tagami)

Israeli Salad, Inbal Hotel Courtyard (Tagami)

We had just started to tuck in when the band launched into an up tempo Take Five from Dave Brubeck’s classic album Time Out.

Wow!  They were great!  Conversation stopped and we turned around to take a better look. They were so young!  We speculated that they were all teens.  The ensemble was led by a young woman on alto sax with terrific control over tonal shading from sweet-plaintive to grindy-sassy.  Her phrasing, breathing and overall musicality were top notch, and her back up was impressive as well.  [Not to short-change the others — I’m a flute player so was paying more attention to the saxophonist’s technique].

We clapped and hooted and called out to them.  They are a quartet called Four-Fifteen and they are all teenagers.  They play at the Inbal every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 – 10:00, then one of their moms helps them pack up and takes them all home.  We listened to those little cats wail on some great standards until 10:00, each of them taking turns to jam some tight solos.

Yarden Klayman and Four-Fifteen

17 year old Yarden Klayman, soprano and alto sax

16 year old Amir Solomon, bass

15 year old Daniel Povolotsky, percussion

14 year old Moshe Elmakias, keyboards

Yarden started playing when she lived in New Zealand and Australia for 3.5 years, and now she and Moshe study at the Music and Dance Academy High School in Jerusalem.  Their repertoire ranges from jazz and standards to Israeli folk music, Klezmer and their own original music.   Despite their youth, they have gigs all over the city, from private parties and receptions to restaurants and cafes and even the annual Khutzot Hayotzer summer festival.  They also all play with the Klayman Band (no relation), a big band led by Yevgeni Klayman and will be touring in Odessa this Fall.  To book the band you can write to  The Inbal Hotel specials are posted through September which you can see here.  Also check out their great Old City live cam on the same page.

We enjoyed chillin’ with these cool cats in the hot city, I hope that one day you can, too.

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