Have you ever wanted something that was just out of reach? Sometimes it’s just there, over the horizon, you can almost taste it, but it’s just… out… of… reach! Such is the case with the Carmel Forest Spa. Ju-Boy and I had been wanting to go there for the longest time, ever since we first got married.
We go away at least twice or three times a year. Living in a blended family is not as easy as the Brady Bunch made it seem. Everyone in our family has issues, both pre-and post marriage. Every so often Ju-Boy and I tell the kids we’re disappearing for a while. They either stay with their other parent, or with friends, or they have a bayit rek (empty house), where they invite all their friends to come have an adult-free Shabbat together (can you spell Risky Business?). Believe me, this is much cheaper than marriage counseling!
We’ve been to Eilat (and bicycled into Egypt), the Dead Sea, twee little tzimmers (bed and breakfasts) in the north, even an Alpine cottage on the Lebanese border, but we have always chaleshed (yearned as only Jews can yearn) for the Carmel Forest Spa. I’ve been squirreling away the shekels, and we were finally able to achieve this Holy Grail of alone time for our fifth wedding anniversary.
This place was everything we had imagined. The solarium was peaceful, the massages and treatments blissful, the meditation class relaxing (we both fell asleep and snored in class) and the food… the food was divine! Flying to Venice for the week would have been cheaper, but this was at the top of our To Do List.
When you go to a hotel, have you ever been tempted to take away a souvenier? You know, a towel, a robe, plumbing fixtures, plasma televisions? Come on, fess up! This time I was desperate to take something home with me. Actually, not something, someone! I wanted to make room in my suitcase for Uriya, the spa’s patissier. All the food in the spa was amazing, but the desserts, OMG the desserts! By Day 2 I had started pacing myself at each meal just so I could have plenty of room for Uriya’s handiwork. The pecan pie! The tri-chocolate pyramid! The lemon meringue pie! And most special and delicious of all, the halvah parfait!
Well, I didn’t get to take Uriya home with me, but I stalked him enough while I was there and he generously offered to give me the recipe for the halvah parfait. I don’t think I could have brought Uriya home anyway, I already have Ju-Boy eclipsing my culinary talents on the savory dishes, let me still be the Queen of the Sweet Stuff at home.
Man Plans God Laughs Department: Uriya and I spent about a month emailing each other back and forth, but in the end, unfortunately for me, the Carmel Forest would not release its halvah parfait recipe as it is still in rotation in their dining room. So the story of my Holy Grail has a secondary Holy Grail to it, my search for halvah parfait. It’s taken me all of July and the beginning of August, three different recipes and my own tinkering with the variations, but I think I finally got it. It’s not exactly the intense pleasure I experienced with Uriya’s parfait, but it’s as close as I am going to get without an industrial ice cream machine… or a kidnapping.
Miriyummy Halvah Parfait
- 1/2 pound (400 grams) halvah, any flavor (I used vanilla and chocolate marbled halvah)
- 1/8 cup water
- 6 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups cream (I used a non-dairy version)
- Grate or grind the halvah and heat it over a low flame with the water until melted. Cool.
- Beat the yolks an add the sugar. Beat for about 4 minutes until creamy and light.
- Beat the cream and fold into the yolk/sugar mixture.
- Beat the whites and fold into the mixture.
- Fold in the cooled halvah mixture into the fluffy creamy mixture.
- Freeze according to your ice cream machine or in a Tupperware. After about 3 hours remove the parfait from the freezer and fold it all together again, as this might separate in the freezer.
So what do you do when you’ve achieved the top of your To Do List? Slot in another Holy Grail — what do you guys think of Venice?