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February 27, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 27, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 27, 2009 By Tamar Snyder New York Jewish Week NEWYORK--. Eli Halili gets what he wants. And he has a wooden bench with his name on it to prove it. The 28-year- old Israeli was determined to rent out a storefront on Mott Street in NoLita. (the down- town Manhattan area north of Little Italy). Problem was. there were no stores available. So he chose a bench across the street from the Old St. Patrick's Cathedral and hunkered down there every day for about a year. While sipping coffee, he took note of the number of customers heading in and out of the stores and analyzed their purchases. That's how he de- termined that a handbag store he was watching wasn't doing brisk business. So he called up the landlord."I know your ten- ant isn't paying the rent, "he said, taking a gamble. "How do you know that? "the landlord responded, taken aback. Halili told the landlord about the market research he conducted while seated on the wooden bench that happened to have the name "Eli" etched into it (he swears he didn't do it). The iandlordwas impressed. "Well, we're in the process of getting ridofher,"the landlord replied, speaking of the tenant selling handbags. "Once she's out, the store is yours." In September, Halili moved in. In the Mott Street space, he opened the first American storefront for Agas & Tamar, a high-end jewelry store based in Israel that specializes in semi-precious stones, ancient coins and one-of-a-kind gems, mostly in 22- and 24-karat gold. "I love the area, "he says. Israeli jewelry finds NoLita benchmark "It reminds me of TelAviv. with its cafes." The small storefront is a gem unto itself, especially when it comes to dcor. Halili put down Stained mud-black floors and stripped the exposed brick wall of its shiny veneer. "I wanted to create a place that looks old yet timeless. he says. On the sea-foam green walls, he put up metal, laser-carved Hebrew lettering in Rashi script meaning, "I put a ring on your nose. earrings in your ears. and a beautiful crown upon your head. " A 60-year-old scale sits on the rustic barn-wood counter. A wooden mirror that Halili bought from a homeowner in India (it had been the guy's window) graces the wall. Refurbished medical supply cabinets feature the jewelry collection--with bracelets draped across tree branches and gold rings nestled in metal netting typically used for drains. "I don't like black velvet, " he says. An empty leather trunk, a gift from Donna Karan, completes the rustic, anqient-looking dcor. Haliti's Agas & Tamar story begins three-and-a-half years ago, on avisit to family in Israel, when h came across a jewelry store named Agas & Tamar in the Neve Tzedekneighberhood of Tel Ayiv. He boughthis friend apair of earrings and returned the next day to purchase a necklace for himself. "I loved every piece of jewelry in the store, " he said. "And that's rare ."At the time he was work- ing for abig diamond company. But he was getting sick of the sparkling glitter of diamonds, preferring to work with more natural-looking stones. So he approached the owners, Einat "His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl..."-- Song of Solomon, 5:14 Eli Halili's NoLita store, Agas & Tamar, is fiUedwith jewelry treasures from Israel. Agassi and Tamar Harel Klein, about bringing Agas & Tamar to the U. S. He wasn't the first to come up with the idea, but he was the most determined. You see, Eli Halili doesn't take no for an answer. In the fol- lowing months. Halili worked with Agas & Tamar to modify the jewelry line to suit the American market. That meant longer earrings, bigger stones, and more pizzazz. Yet before opening a store and investing capital on rent, Haliliworked on building buzz. Gradually, his jewelry line gar- nered mentions in the major fashion glossies--Vogue, ElJe, Vanity Fair--as well as trade magazines and even the New York Times. Then top fashion designer Donna Karanbecame a fan. In April 2007, Halili got a call expressing interest in his jewelry line. He had a feel- ing the caller was associated with someone famous when bodyguards greeted him at the door and escorted him to the elevator. The doors opened and For a lifelong love of food, start with one terrible apple pie By Gabi Moskowitz the two are a match made in 2 Bosc or Bartlett pears, cored When I was a kid. my favorite thing to do was make apple pie. I never especially liked eating apple pie--rather. I lived for the slicing, mixing, rolling and baking involved. I never employed a recipe in my pie making, so it was convenient that I declined to taste my creations, because they were probably awful. In fact. my parents recently told me that after taking the req- uisite bite in front of me, they would wait until I fell asleep at night and then shove the remainder down the garbage disposal. I always believed that they were simply overcome by how tasty it was that they ate the whole thing. I am thankful that they waited until now to tell me, because the confidence that making those pies instilled in me as a young chef has contributed significantly to my love of food and cooking today--and now I'm actually pretty good at it. Growing up in Sonoma County and living as an adult in San Francisco have contributed significantly to my love of all things culinary. The importance that this area places on local, fresh food that is prepared mindfully and creatively is one of the most spectacular parts of living in Northern California. Giventhe emphasis in Jewish culture on well-prepared food, it seems heaven. Over the years, my infatu- ation with cooking combined with a deep desire to connect with my community via food and with my continued prac- tice in the kitchen. I eventually honed my skills. The following tart recipe is the result of this practice--and it stems from my original garbage disposal apple pies. Rustic Whole Wheat Crust 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour 1/8 tsp. salt 4 Tbs. chilled butter, cut into small pieces 3 1/2 Tbs. ice water Lightly spoon both flours into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water. Stir to combine, just until moist. "Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place each dough portion between 2 sheets ofplasticwrap; roll each dough portion, still covered, into an 8-inch circle. Chill 20 to 30 minutes (until the plastic wrap peels easily away from the dough). Pear Tart Serves 2 to 4 1/2 recipe Rustic Whole Wheat Crust (8-inch circle) and sliced thin (leave skin intact) I tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice I egg white, lightly beaten 2 Tbs. raw sugar Preheat oven to 350 de- grees. In a bowl. toss the pear sliceswithcinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and lemon juice until thoroughly coated. Set aside. Uncover dough and place dough circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the pears in a layered pinwheel pattern on the dough, starting in the middle and forming concentric circles, leaving a 2 -inch border. Drizzle any of the sugar-lemon juice mixture remaining in the pear'bowl over the slices. Fold up the edges of the dough circle over the filling, crimping to seal. Lightly brush the exposed dough with the beaten eggwhite. Sprinkle the folded crust with raw sugar. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Gab i Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Fran- cisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog, www.outofthepantry. Her columns run in the j. the Jewish news weekly of northern california, from which this article was reprinted by permission. PAGE 3B "Behold, thou are fair, my love... "--Song of Solo- mon, 4:1 hewas in DonnaKaran's office. "In just two to three minutes with her, I felt her energy, "he says. Donna Karan liked the collection smuch, she chose to include the Agas & Tamar collection in her Urban Zen boutique, benefiting cancer patients. Halili's friendship with'Will & Grace" star Debra Mess- ing developed from a chance encounter. He was at Vogue, showing off his new collection to the editorsthere.whonMess- "Thy cheeks are comely with rows ofjewels, thy neck with chains of gold.-- Song of Solomon, 1:10 ing strolled by. She gave a quick glance at the jewelry on display and smiled at Haliti. Then she rushed into the waiting eleva- tor, her eyes still pasted to the jewelry. In classic Halili style, he contacted Messing's publicist the next day and offered to stop by to show her samples of the newest Agas & Tamar jewelry line. Messing loved the jewelry, calling the pieces "gorgeous... like a talisman." Now, Halili picks out jew- elry for Messing and other celebrities to complement their dresses on the red carpet. ...... photos courtesy of Eli Halili "How fair and how pleas- ant art thou, 0 love, for delights.t"--Song of Solo- mon, 7:6 Messing loves yellow gold and gravitates toward corals and sapphires, Halili says. "She's a lovely person," he says. "She'll actually buy the jewelry. Most celebrities just rent it." Halili also picks out jew- dry for the stars of TV shows, movies, and Oscar parties. He recently outfitted Sarah Jessica Parker and friends for the upcoming "Sex and the City" film. He's thinking about opening another store on the Upper East Side and then expanding the Agas & Tamar chain throughout Europe and Asia. Leave it to Halili to find a few more benches with his name etched onto them. Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, For your Real Estates needs, call someone you know& trust. "Honestly...Better" Watson's 2008 Presidents Award Graduate Of Real Estate Institute Paula Kotzin RealtorO @ Watson Realty Corporation Cell (407) 407 468-2686 Email: Web Site: www.paulakotzin.eom BOSCH wh00LN00o00 Kltchenlkid i" ()g! ; .JJ :, 00FRIGIDAIRE