The Good Life

“We both savor the salty, fresh, and fluffy pastries. I develop an addiction for the taste of the one with the sun-dried tomatoes; she, for her part, thoroughly devours the cheese filled ones until not even a crumb remains…” Daniel Rom discovered anew the joy of Friday, in the “Hemda Ugot” (“Hemda Cakes”) confectionery.

Friday morning is not just another morning. The grand feeling that overcomes you as soon as you wake with the knowledge of the day’s potential is superior and impalpable. The monotony and tired routine of daily errands and commutes to work are replaced with fresh and unfamiliar possibilities and challenging plans, be they scheduled in detail or spontaneous. Last Friday morning began at a different pace than usual. I rose early and went off on a marathon of errands, shopped for food, went over the gifts I needed to buy the family, and stood in a far too lengthy line at the bank. As 11:00am approached, all I could ask for was some peace and quiet. I decided to treat myself and my girlfriend to some good coffee and pastries courtesy of the “Hemda Ugot” (“Hemda Cakes”) pastry shop, located on Karlibach Street in Tel Aviv.

Hemda Ugot is an isle of tranquility. On the one hand, you are at the center of the action, on an intimate bar, across from a large window, and observing the world – the people, the cars, the roads, and the hustle and bustle of the street. On the other hand, you are as disconnected as you could possibly be, sipping a cappuccino, with a newspaper, and enjoying the aromas of home-style baking that fill the space, as you look outside and choose upon what you wish to focus. Simply a D-R-E-A-M. I read her mind: “Why don’t we do this every day?!” If we were only to beat the morning traffic and manage to sneak-in a half an hour just like this once or twice a week, life would seem different. It would be easier to maintain sanity, that’s for sure.

So we sit down in Hemda Ugot – A Euro-French styled confectionery, with some Tel Aviv chic, and the aromas of home. Sharon, the manager, welcomes us warmly and tells us about Hemda, the head confectioner and founder of the establishment, who, with this place, realized her joy of creation and her need to satisfy people’s hearts and stomachs. The place is designed as 2 main spaces: the large pastry kitchen, in which the pastries are labored over, and the space containing that shop and small caf?, which overlooks the street. It is possible to enjoy the magical sight of the preparation of cakes, croissants, and rogalach pastries all throughout the day. Why is it magical? It is magical because the ability to properly handle yeast and dough is a gift from the gods to a select few. Hemda Ugot’s specialties are pastries made from leavened dough and stirred/mixed cakes. The preparation process can be observed through a clear glass pane – all part of the fun. Why? Because the kitchen radiates in its white beauty, polished as clean as a pharmacy, and is perfectly at home within the overall clean and white d?cor. Sweet or salty pastries line the esthetic shelves, as well as homemade confitures based on the seasonal fruit: plums, strawberries, apricots, peaches, and quinces. All products are free of artificial ingredients and food-colorings.

We both sip coffee and savor the salty, fresh, and fluffy pastries: the natural one, the one stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, and the one filled with a mixture of goat cheese, caciocavallo, parmesan, and mozzarella. I develop an addiction for the taste of the one with the sun-dried tomatoes; she, for her part, thoroughly devours the cheese filled ones until not even a crumb remains. Once we are full to the point that we are eating simply for the flavors, we make the transition to the sweet pastries: French ricotta croissant in almond cream with a touch of orange peel; Halva rogalach; Cr?me Patisserie rogalach; and Poppy croissant. The pastries have just come out of the oven, the flakes are crispy, and the stuffing melts in the mouth. We don’t say our goodbyes before getting for ourselves the local flagship cake – the main reason for the constant rush of people to Hemda Ugot – Chocolate yeast cake.

Our mornings to follow all feel like those of a Friday: a sheer delight of hot instant coffee with a piece of yeast cak