This Israeli Fizzy Drink is the Best Way to Use Up Summer Fruits
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(The Nosher) – For locals, one of the only things that makes Tel Aviv summers bearable is Cafe Levinsky 41. It’s a tiny store in the Levinsky Market that’s instantly recognizable by the pick-up truck parked outside housing multiple planters full of edible herbs and plants. Inside, the store looks like a mad scientist’s lab, shelves crammed with glass jars filled with various concoctions: liquors, kombucha, macerating fruits, and sweet syrups.
Levinsky 41 is known for its take on gazoz, a soda that was popular in Israel’s early years when it was sold from street kiosks. The original gazoz consisted of lurid-colored artificial syrups in fruity flavors like raspberry and lemon, topped with soda water. The Levinsky version is a breathtaking upgrade.
The brains behind the biz is the lovable Benny Briga, who initially intended to serve coffee before he realized that his chef’s background, love of foraging and community gardens, and the market’s focus on pickles lent itself to preserving, fermenting, and celebrating seasonal produce.
Benny’s gazoz is miles away from the chemical-laden offerings of yesteryear. But he follows the same process, topping a syrup made from fresh fruit with soda water. Along the way, he adds macerated and preserved fruits and garnishes with a riotous bundle of local herbs, picked that morning.
At Levinsky 41, there is no set menu, and no two gazoz are the same. Reasoning that seasonal produce will always complement each other, Benny and the team add a little of this and a little of that at whim. The results are always fresh, floral, and very Instagrammable.
By the end of August, I always have a surplus of summer fruit in my fridge that I couldn’t resist buying at the farmer’s market, despite the fact that I’ve had a constant bellyache since June due to an excess of fruity fiber. At this point, the summer straggler fruits are past their prime — overripe, mushy, or wrinkled. So I use them to make my own three-step gazoz. It isn’t as complex as Benny’s, but it’s delicious all the same — particularly when you add a splash of gin.