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!
The Awl has an interesting post up about a cookbook called Political Pot Luck: A Collection of Recipes from Men Only, published in 1959 by the Peninsular Publishing Company in Tallahassee. The recipes range from sounding pretty good, to sounding obscenely sexist. There’s some good spoon bread, some racist turkey, and a “recipe” for chicken that will make your blood boil.
It got me thinking about Israeli politicians—is there a cookbook of their recipes? I vaguely remembered reading that Golda Meir loved to spend time in her kitchen. Are her recipes available for aspiring politicians and chefs? Turns out…not so much. She was kind of private with her gefilte fish recipe, and mostly drank coffee and smoked a lot. But I did find an article that gives her recipe for “Kibbutz Breakfast.” It doesn’t look particularly exciting to me, but it’s still kind of cool.
Incidentally, it’s hard to google search for recipes by Israeli politicians, because when you search “[Name of Israeli Politician] recipe” you get lots of hits that say “[Name of Israeli Politician]’s plan is a recipe for disaster.” Doesn’t matter which politician you use, they all are apparently recipes for disaster.
For the dressing:
3 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp oil
1 tsp mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper to taste
Head of lettuce,
1 green pepper
3 green onions
1 hard boiled egg
Chop up the green onion and tear the lettuce.
Grate the carrots and the egg and chop up the rest of the vegetables into small pieces.
Put them all in a large salad bowl.
Whip up the dressing ingredients and pour on the salad before serving. Toss gently.