I'm a jelly doughnut

The traditional Hanukka treat is revisited by local chefs, showing off in the deep-oil end.

doughnuts 88  (photo credit: )
doughnuts 88
(photo credit: )
It's three a.m. as I write this. This is not due to my arch nemesis procrastination. Actually, I still have another whole day till my deadline. I'm writing it now because I can't sleep. You see, Hanukka is coming. And, with this most oily of all Jewish holidays arrive hordes of sufganiyot - traditionally jelly doughnuts doused with powdered sugar. Suffice it to say, these are my Jewish ethnic food. The only problem is the way they sit in your stomach. Thus, my insomnia is unfortunately coupled with a nasty stomachache. To eat one is divine; two is piggish and three or more, simply vile. Pastry chefs, of course, don't care about such things. Each year, they devise more and more variations on the theme. But even just one doughnut a day is not enough to eat them all, which begs the question, "How do you choose?" We, the good people at Billboard, have donated our bodies to solve this dilemma. As such, my stomach is filled with not just one or two doughnuts, but six or seven - and various bites of numerous others. My late night pangs stem from my daytime condition - unable to move or speak beyond grunts. The typical result of over-indulgence of carbs, that coveted sugar-high that every young kid adores, left us in a waking coma. And then we ate some more. Donuts are subjectively rated on a scale of one to ten. Sinful Sweets (Hetayim Metukim), located in Tel Aviv's Neve Tzedek neighborhood, had terrific doughnuts. All were fluffy and soft, not too oily and amply filled. The best of the four sampled was the traditional jelly-filled with their halva variety also earning many smiles and "mmm's." The dulce de leche and mocha-filled were too sweet for us. Since they are small, you can easily put a couple away and not feel too bad, making for a perfect holiday treat. 7 - dulce and mocha; 9 - halva and jelly. 67 Shabazi St., (03) 516-2708 The Roladin chain seemed to have the largest variety. Their problem is in the filling - there's just not enough of it. The dough was a little dry as well. Their burekas, however, were savory and terrific and worth checking out. 5 - chocolate; 6.5 - Brazilian (filled with Kahlua and espresso); 7 - Ouzo cream, pistachio; 7 - chocolate-filled kids doughnut, though mainly because the Billboard editor seems to have a thing for colorful sprinkles. Located everywhere, roladin.co.il Mickey Shemo offers chocolate and jelly-filled doughnuts - though not in the same doughnut. The former was nice and the latter, great. Each had a good amount of filling within spongy dough. Their size made them just right to eat for breakfast, something I'm told is popular in the good ole US of A. 7 - chocolate; 8 - jelly. Also available but not tasted are Moroccan-style sfinje, American-style doughnuts and sugarless doughnuts. Located in Ramat Aviv and Haifa and its environs, shemo.co.il Bellina had three interesting offerings, all of which occupied a doughnut of fluffy dough. First is mekupelet, filled with a chocolate cream, based on the tasty folded chocolate bar. Oddly enough, there was a strong coffee flavor. The M&M doughnut was topped with three M&Ms perched on a hard chocolate coating with a hard chocolate inside. As in, not icing or cream filling but melted chocolate then re-hardened. This one was best when revisited the day after. Finally, there was the Bazooka cream. Think it was weird? You're right, but it was still, somehow, tasty. 7 - mekupelet; 8 - M&M and Bazooka. 8 Herzl Rosenblum St., Tel Aviv, (03) 699-6088 GoNoodles, an Asian, well, noodles bar, had the craziest offerings, all of which had a decently light, fluffy and not too oily dough. The wasabi cream-filled was really nice with a strong, well-rounded flavor - much better than one would think a wasabi doughnut would taste. There wasn't enough of the filling, though perhaps this was a good thing considering that it was coated with a spicy white icing, crisscrossed with a green wasabi icing that made me wanna jump, jump. The ginger cream was great with a lot of candied ginger on top. Their chocolate and chili was my least favorite. The chili was too spicy, overpowering the sweet and doughy goodness it accompanied. It was very chocolaty though, with much filling oozing from the center and plenty more on top, giving me reason to lick my fingers with ambiguous pleasure. 8.5 - wasabi; 8 - ginger; 7.5 - chilli. 54 Ibn Gvirol St., Tel Aviv, (03) 696-4040 Additionally, many restaurants celebrate Hanukka with crazy, deviations of the fabled doughnut, presented here, unrated. The beautifully designed Benjamin Siegel (60 Herbert Samuel St., (03) 516-6224) on the Tel Aviv promenade is serving loukoumades, Greek doughnuts (NIS 42). Consisting of five very small balls of fried dough, they are accompanied by a sauce of spiced honey, white chocolate and pistachio. And, they were great - very soft and spongy. We devoured them in seconds, as we did with the cheese ravioli with truffle oil and the terrific, pretzely homemade bread we had prior to dessert. Carmela Soprano (37 Begin St., (03) 562-2121) is a Tel Aviv pizzeria with a special sweet variation for Hanukka. Topped with fig jam, cherries and mascarpone cream, it's actually a great dessert after dining on their delicious mushroom and truffle pizza, the smoked cheese pizza or, even, their mixed salad (lettuce, cherry tomatoes and apples). Over in Herzliya, Meat and Wine (16 Shenkar St., (09) 956-7006; kosher) has a candle lighting every evening at 6 p.m. with free champagne cream and cabernet sauvignon filled doughnuts served to the diners. Frida Kalo (43 Lilenblum St., Tel Aviv, (03) 566-0481), a Billboard favorite, is serving churros - the Spanish doughnut. These hot, fried rolls of dough are served alongside three sauces- English cream, dulcedulce de leche and chocolate chili (NIS 31). The Ethiopian restaurant Habash (2 Alenby St., Tel Aviv, (077) 210-0181) serves up the Ethiopian doughnut ungoocha. Take note here friends cause this one is baked, then brushed with oil and served with honey on the side (NIS 23). Tel Aviv's Dialna (89 Ben Yehuda St., (03) 522-2535), a Moroccan restaurant, has special Moroccan sfinje (NIS 7) made by the in-house momma Rihan Ben Hemo. Sender (54 Levinsky St., Tel Aviv, (03) 537-1872), which serves traditional Jewish food, has set out to honor the savory Hanukka food - latkes. The restaurant holds an eight-day latke festival with special variations on the traditional potato theme, including zucchini, sweet potato, carrot and potato. Over in Jerusalem, the kosher chef restaurant Scala (7 King David St., (02) 621-2030) serves a doughnut on a stick. This carny-inspired treat is filled with raspberry marmalade and will be served to all diners, free of charge, from Dec. 22 till the end of the holiday.