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 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.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.