I am back from Israel after three wonderful, sometimes challenging weeks. And while I am not missing the sirens the country is currently experiencing daily, I am missing my friends and, of course, the food.
Each time I visit Israel I am more inspired by the Israeli way of daily eating as well as the culinary innovation I see happening all over: Swedish-Israeli fusion food; the most beautiful and delicious nondairy pastries I have ever experienced; and even some type of “exotic” Jewish food I have never before heard of or tasted.
My most recent trip was no different, and despite daily sirens in Tel Aviv, life continued and so did fabulous food consumption. I ate a Yemenite bread called “lachoch” for the first time, which I would describe as a cross between a fluffy pita and the spongy Ethiopian injira bread.
I ate halva ice cream and frozen yogurt topped with chunks of halva; we definitely need to add that as a topping at American fro-yo joints.
But there were three stand-out eats that I just couldn’t stop thinking about.
Stuffed croissants at La Gaterie, 97 King George Street, Tel Aviv
Have you ever had a mascarpone and chocolate stuffed croissant at 2 am after a night of drinking? Well I hadn’t either until I stopped by La Gaterie in Tel Aviv. La Gaterie doesn’t just crank out authentic, buttery, French croissants round the clock. Oh, no no my friend. They are also stuffing these flaky croissants with a variety of sweet and savory fillings to satisfying any craving. There are two locations, and while it wasn’t cheap, it was one of the most outrageous things I have ever eaten.
Malabi and pomegranate lemonade at Malabiya, right next to Carmel Shuk, off of Allenby Street, Tel Aviv
Have you ever had Malabi, a Middle Eastern pudding made with rosewater? You can find this sweet treat everywhere in Israel, including often on the street. And just recently two friends who met in the IDF decided to open a Malabiya “bar” together, offering several flavored syrups and crunchy toppings for the customer’s choosing. Almost like a Middle Eastern version of a fro-yo bar. They are also offering a pomegranate lemonade. And hey, who doesn’t want to be served up a sweet treat by some authentic Israeli eye-candy like this? Enjoy some pudding and a lemonade outside at their small stand, or get it to-go.
Kubbeh soup dumplings at Kubbeh Bar, 10 Malkhei Yisrael Street, Tel Aviv
Many people have heard of kubbeh, the Iraqi dumpling-esque treat filled with beef, lamb and other deliciousness. But never before had I heard of, never mind tasted, such a unique hybrid: the kubbeh soup dumplings at Kubueh Bar. You get your choice of around 6 different broths as well as several different kinds of kubbeh. You can also choose the number of kubbeh you want in your soup, and we immediately regretted only getting 2. But the meal didn’t end there: we were also treated to a heaping plate of rice, beans, Israeli chopped salad and tahini. It was unlike anything I had tasted before and absolutely delicious. Ha’aretz has a full write-up of all the places to enjoy kubbeh in Tel Aviv if you find yourself on a kubbeh-tasting adventure.
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I am headed to Israel today for three glorious weeks of working, traveling and what else: eating.
Last summer I was also fortunate to be in Israel for three weeks during which time I got to spend an afternoon with Inbal Baum of Delicious Israel. Inbal is American, born and raised outside of Washington, DC, who also happened to grow up with several close friends of mine. She moved to Tel Aviv five years ago and though she is a trained lawyer, she started Delicious Israel to satisfy her passion for food and travel.
Inbal doesn’t run your typical food tours. Of course, you will taste some of the best hummus, baklava and other delicacies while walking and traveling with her. But it is Inbal herself and her approach to storytelling that made our time so unique. During our Levinsky market tour I learned about the history of Tel Aviv, how oranges played an integral role in the economic development of Israel and the different culinary influences of Greek Jews. And let me share: I loathe anything history-related, but I loved this.
Walking around the Florentin neighborhood with Inbal felt like walking around my own neighborhood, where everyone waved as we walked past. We stopped at stalls and stores on every block, tasting this, trying that, with friendly faces that greeted us everywhere.
At one of our first stops, a small cafe and restaurant, one of the other patrons shared a plate of sausage with us and then insisted on taking shots of Arak together. I mean, who am I to say no to a shot of liquor in the middle of the afternoon with a complete stranger!? I said yes.
We sat on benches outside of Benny’s shop, simply known by its address Levinsky 41, where he mixed us up a refreshing, artisanal soda concoction. Made with one of his homemade crab apple syrups and several other delicious (though unknown) items thrown in, it was the perfect treat on a humid Tel Aviv afternoon.
We spent time at Yom Tov Deli where I tasted house-cured meat, homemade marinated olives and brought home feta-stuffed peppers for my husband.
But above all else it is Inbal’s storytelling that makes the deliciousness of her tours come alive. I learned so much about food, Israel and the people who make this neighborhood such a unique culinary destination.
When I knew I was headed back to Israel this summer, Inbal was one of my first phone calls. I will get a chance to spend time once again with her in the next few weeks and I can’t wait to eat and learn with her. So if you are headed to Israel, definitely check them out. Delicious Israel offers culinary walking tours, shuk and cook classes, regional winery tours and tasting and even Shabbat dinners. Not to mention the amazing cast of characters you will get to meet wherever she takes you.
Inbal Baum can be reached to arrange tours through her website, Delicious Israel.
In our home there is a clear division of labor when it comes to the kinds of meals we both cook. The husband is in charge of meat and fish. I am in charge of soups, sauces and salads. (And dessert too of course). .
Salads are really so much fun to throw together. I love experimenting with seasonal ingredients I find at my local farmer’s market and also using ingredients I have hanging around in my house. And above all about salads: I love that you can improvise.
The salad calls for arugula but all you have is spinach? Just substitute! Have some apples in the house that you want to use before they go bad? Chop them up and throw them in! This is actually how some of my best salad creations came about in the first place including one of my favorites, this Spinach, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with edamame and cucumbers. It was literally what I had in my fridge and it happened to combine together for a delightful and delicious result.
I have found that traditional Israel salad is just the kind of salad that can be made into multiple variations, each one slightly different. For a little more spice you can add a pinch or two of sumac. You can leave out the peppers, leave out the cucumbers, or even add a few things, like chickpeas, feta and mint.
This salad came about like so many of my other favorite salad combinations. It was Saturday afternoon, my daughter was playing at the park with her dad and I was given a few moments to enjoy lunch by myself – glorious. Wine might have also been involved. I looked in the fridge, and threw together what I had: tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, chickpeas and feta!
And by adding chickpeas and feta, this classic side salad becomes a light but hearty main dish packed with protein, fiber and most importantly, flavor.
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 scallions, sliced
1 ½ cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, red onion, scallion, chickpeas and feta cheese in a medium bowl.
Dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle fresh mint on top.
Whereas the much acclaimed cookbook Jerusalem by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi feature stunning recipes that sound delectable but require 27 steps and a chef’s degree to execute properly, Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration by Orly Ziv is a new cookbook featuring basic Israeli fare for the home cook. And that’s a good thing.
Everyone loves the variety of salads, or “salatim,” that traditional Israeli cuisine offers, and Cook in Israel dedicates its first three sections to eggplant and tomatoes, salads and vegetables. Included are simple classics like baba ghanoush, hummus and Moroccan carrot salad. But there are also some innovative twists on tradition like Israeli salad with pomegranate and avocado and shakshuka with eggplant.
I also like the Holiday section which includes recipes for several kinds of latkes, honey cake and apple jam among others. Top on my list of recipes to try? The chocolate and halva babka. Delish.
The ingredient list for the recipes is refreshingly short, and there is nothing that seems daunting.The book is truly filled with everyday, accessible recipes for the cook who loves to bring the flavors and warmth of Israel into their kitchen.
Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration, Orly Ziv
Hi everyone – I am back from Israel! Hope you have been enjoying all the amazing guest posts while I ate my way through Israel the past few weeks!
We landed yesterday morning at 5:30 am, and the first thing I am missing? You guessed it – Israeli breakfast! Is there anything more delicious to the eyes (and mouth) than a huge spread of salads, freshly baked breads, cheeses and fruit!? The Israelis sure know how to do breakfast.
Coming back from Israel always has a bittersweet feeling to it. On the one hand, you are eager to return home. And on the other hand, you feel like you are leaving the other part of your ‘home’ and family behind. In some ways this is an appropo feeling to be carrying with me for the next 24 hours, as we commemorate a number of tragedies that befell the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av.
I will be missing the beautiful beaches and sunsets of Tel Aviv; and missing the rhythm of a Jewish week: the excitement and busy-ness before Shabbat, and the quiet, calming atmosphere that takes over even Tel Aviv. And most of all, I will be missing the wonderful food of Israel.
So what did we eat? I imagine you have been waiting to find out. More accurately? What DIDN’T we eat!? I will share the highlights.
With the Summer Israel heat, keeping cool and refreshed is a top priority, and so one of my favorite uniquely Israeli treats I enjoyed was an iced limonana. Limonana is a minty lemonade very common throughout Israel. But the iced limonana was so refreshing, I just couldn’t get enough – it was like a slushy! Thankfully The Shiksa has a recipe so I can recreate it at home soon! Want to take it up a notch? Add a shot (or 2 – hey I won’t judge) of Arak, also known as Raki, an anise-flavored liquor.
Since it opened, I have heard so much about the famed restaurant Mahane Yehuda, inspired by and close to the Mahane Yehuda market (shuk) in Jerusalem. The restaurant is not kosher, in fact, there are many obviously treif (or non-kosher) items on the restaurant’s menu. But it’s actually one of the things that I think is so cool about it. Not everything in Israel is kosher, not all Jews keep kosher, but we can all be inspired by the same culinary influences of Israel.
The food itself is incredible and diverse. And equally stand-out is the atmosphere – an open kitchen allows you to experience the food from start until it hits your plate; loud, lively music pipes through the restaurant while the host and waiters dance along smiling; and the décor inside includes baskets full of fresh fruit and vegetables, reminding you precisely of the shuk nearby that inspired.
There were so many dishes to choose from, but we chose three items that were either highly recommended or seemed a bit ‘different’ from typical Israeli fare, including creamy truffle polenta, sautéed sweetbreads with malawah and a Persian stew similar to gormeh sabzi, made with swiss chard instead of spinach!
Heading to Jerusalem and want to check it out? Make sure to make a reservation well in advance! We actually got lucky, showed up early for lunch and they were able to seat us. They may have regretted that decision after our daughter ran around the restaurant and I kept snapping photos. But we enjoyed, so thank you!
When I was in Israel a year and a half ago, a friend recommended I visit the Olia stand at Ha Carmel market in Tel Aviv – and wow was I happy that I heeded that advice! I came across their Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette which is addictive as a salad dressing. So on this trip, I made sure to send the husband to stock up some of our favorite products including three different kinds of olive oil, the fig balsamic and a pomegranate balsamic. Hoping this will last us, at least until the next trip! But you don’t need to go all the way to Israel to enjoy – you can actually order Olia products online too.
There are so many other amazing treats we enjoyed on this trip, but they will have to wait for now. For those fasting during Tisha B’av, I wish you an easy fast. I will definitely be thinking about Israel in the coming days as we reflect on Jerusalem.
Well, I am off to Israel tomorrow for THREE WEEKS. Yes, I know, very exciting. And perhaps most exciting is that I am bringing my one year old daughter.
I didn’t get the chance to travel to Israel until I was 21 (ten years ago!) when I went on a Taglit Birthright Israel trip. It was an amazing experience for which I am grateful and I have been back many times since, both for work and pleasure. But it feels like a true privilege to be able to bring my daughter at such a young age.
It probably goes without saying that by far one of my favorite parts of traveling to Israel is the FOOD. I love the fresh fruits and vegetables, the breakfast, the array of salads, the outdoor markets and the numerous bakeries offering dream-worthy pastry and breads. Rugelach, hmmmmm.
As it so happens, some of my daughter’s absolute favorite foods are quite Israeli: cucumber tomato salad, hummus, pickles and white cheese. I am excited to see my little lady enjoying her favorite foods in Israel during the next few weeks. And hopefully trying a few new ones too!
I am sure that I have some great foodie adventures in store while I am away, which I look forward to sharing with you. Want to share in my food adventures? Don’t forget to follow me on instagram and twitter for real-time food (and baby) photos and updates.
And in the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of my friends and fellow bloggers who will be sharing recipes, stories and all kinds of cooking tips while I am away including strawberry rhubarb ice cream, grilled artichokes and a slew of veggie-friendly dinner ideas to get you through the nine days.
I love to travel. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do in my spare time, or whenever I can carve out time to take a trip; but going on vacation for me has become more about the destination, what I can see and do and less about the food. Don’t get me wrong as an avowed foodie I absolutely love to eat, but as a kosher keeping orthodox Jew many of the places I’ve traveled too severely limit my options on what I can and will eat.
That’s why Israel is one of my favorite foodie destinations. Everything from the street food, to the most high class restaurant can be found with a teuda (kosher certification). This makes traveling to Israel a kosher foodie’s dream come true, but with so many kosher options how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
On my most recent trip to Israel ( I just got back to the states a little over a week ago) I was lucky enough to sample a whole new array of delicious food. Which is why I jumped at the chance when Shannon asked me to share with all of you my top 5 Israel foodie destinations from my most recent trip.
On your next trip to Israel I hope you’ll give these places a try; also do your own exploring, eat and taste your way through the country. In my opinion there’s no better way to see the land!
Jem’s, Petach Tikvah, http://www.jems.co.il/
Jem’s is a really unique place that you would never find in the American kosher scene – a beer factory that is also a kosher pub! They serve all sorts of traditional, greasy bar food that pairs great with their microbrews. Things you must try: beer battered onion rings, sausages, and meatball hero. And don’t forget to wash it all down with one of their refreshing microbrews. For more info check out a full review from YeahThatsKosher.
Hambuerguesa, Ibn Gvirol 22,Tel Aviv
Hambuerguesa is a great spot featuring a hamburgers and fries-only menu. They have an array of unique burger combinations including the Spanish burger which is topped with guacamole, salsa, red onions and lettuce; and the Hawaiian burger topped with grilled pineapple. If you love hamburgers, leave Burgers Bar behind and give this place a try!
Odelia, 89 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv
If you are looking for authentic Sephardi-Israeli food try out Odelia, which is a mix of Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian cuisine. It’s a very family friendly place where they even have special kids plates and utensils – pretty cool. The couscous with marak-soup and vegetables is delicious as is the potato mafrom – potatoes stuffed with ground meat and spinach and cooked till tender in an allspice, and coriander tomato sauce.
Tokopaya, Nes Ziyyona, http://tokopaya.rest.co.il/he/home/
In Israel there’s a difference between a regular restaurant with a cook and what they call a “chef restaurant” – literally that a trained chef does the cooking. Our cousins took us to Tokopaya, the place where they go for special occasions. It’s an elegant meat restaurant with beautiful (and delicious) presentation of food. The standouts for me included the focaccia bread that gets placed on each table served with roasted garlic cloves and a lemon garlic aioli; the pesto salmon; and the chocolate soufflé and créme bruleé dessert combo. If you’re in the Rechovot neighborhood and looking for a “special” meal, then definitely try Tokopaya.
Grand Café, Baka Neighborhood, Jerusalem
Looking for an excellent dairy restaurant? Then you must try Grand Café in Jerusalem. They have a full menu of dairy delights that good for breakfast, lunch or dinner! If the weather permits, sit outside with a coffee and one of their delectable pastries and enjoy the people watching. Some standouts: the Fried Pesto goat cheese; raw shaved beet salad with lemon vinaigrette; and the homemade pasta with rose cream sauce.
Last week at this time my husband and I were busy scrambling to get our suitcases and 7 month old out the door as we departed on our first proper vacation since she was born: we were headed to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, for 4 days of relaxing in the sun.
It was lovely – beautiful weather, gorgeous aqua colored water, friendly people and an exceptionally well-behaved little girl. Everything was great, except for one thing: the food!
Someone once said to my husband that normal people travel and enjoy eating along the way, but that he travels with the purpose of having good food. And to a certain extend that is true for both of us. One of the happiest days on our honeymoon was spent hopping from bakery to bakery all day in Venice sampling each local version of the “fritte venezia,” or the seasonal fried donuts they serve before Carnivale. We might have also sampled some espresso, pizzette and other pastry along the way…
There was nothing bad about the food we ate in St. John, in fact there were a few fantastic morsels – cinnamon bun bread pudding, plantain-coated mahi and a refreshing blood orange margarita. And one of the stand-outs was a coconut rice cake made with chunks of fresh coconut that I am eager to recreate this weekend!
But the majority of the food was geared towards American tourists – club sandwiches, chicken caesar salads, hamburgers and french fries – items you could get at any restaurant here.
This most recent vacation was not about eating or even traveling persay, but about taking a break from our busy lives to rest and relax together as a family. And so it was a success! But I know we look forward to planning our next trip where will food will place higher on the agenda.
Stay tuned next week for a recipe for the coconut rice cakes we had on St. John and also for a guest post from Arielle Singer, who is recently back from her latest trip to Israel where food was top of the agenda!
Shabbat Shalom, and happy eating wherever you are this week.
It’s almost time for Purim, so no better way to start Shabbat than with this creative recipe for Hamantaschen Challah!
I love classic roasted chicken for Shabbat dinner, but sometimes you need something a little different. Try this Spinach Stuffed Roasted Chicken from Overtime Cook as a new twist on classic Friday night chicken.
No matter how many times I make brussel sprouts, or how many recipes I come across, I simply cannot get enough! This week I came across this simple, tasty recipe for Zesty Fried Brussel Sprouts, which makes a perfect veggie side.
Shabbat Shalom and happy cooking!
This past week I was lucky enough to travel to Israel on behalf of my (other) work, for a short and productive trip. Of course, I had to get some eating done along the way…and after a few meals, I noticed a recurring theme: vegetables!
No sooner had we landed than I found myself at a meeting in a Tel Aviv Cafe where the menu was filled with interesting, and delectable looking veggie options. I happily ordered a rich mushroom soup served with a pesto toast point, and cauliflower cakes with tzatziki and cucumber salad.
After finishing this meal, I realized that I had not chosen my usual sandwich, or pasta – but two small dishes using a variety of veggies. And so I began to take more careful notice of my vegetable and fruit choices at each meal. The next morning came, and Israeli salads and fruits abounded at the breakfast buffet. For lunch, six difference salads and veggie filled sandwiches awaited me at another meeting.
After these series of meals, a light bulb sort of went off about Israeli cuisine, and the way Israelis are using produce in appealing and accessible ways. And I realized that here in the U.S. the influence of Israeli cuisine is also starting take hold, as I thought of two restaurants on the East coast where vegetables feature prominently and creatively on the menu.
Balaboosta in New York City is one of my new favorite eateries, and each time I go, I cannot get enough of the crispy cauliflower, and patatas bravas with zatar. When was the last time you ate a meal and said, “I need more of that cauliflower!”
I have yet to visit, but I hear from reliable culinary sources that Zahav in Philadelphia is a similar experience – the menu is filled with interesting vegetable dishes, including their own crispy cauliflower, as well as simple, traditionally prepared fishes and meats. I am thinking about a trip to Philly soon just so I can check it out!
So now that I’m back, I guess its time to start incorporating some more innovative veggie-centered dishes to my weekly repertoire. Would love to hear some suggestions for your tastiest, healthful veggie-focused dishes!