Food has always been a passion of mine, as I wrote about in an earlier post, Cheesy Hasselback Chicken, and when I travel it is definitely no exception! Usually, I plan all of my trips around food reservations. While I didn’t really make any reservations on this trip, I still had my list of what I must eat in each country.
In Israel, I had a LONG, LONG list of everything that I had to eat!
- Hummus DUH!
- Pastries, Kanafe
- Giraffe, no not the animal!
- Fresh fruit
- Kitchen Market
- Tamara Juice Stand
While I didn’t get to all of the places I wanted to go, I definitely crossed a lot off of the list, and of course, they all have a story. 🙂
Kitchen Market: Nemal Tel Aviv St 12, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel Price: $$$
The first time I went to Kitchen Market was with Jen Gutman and her now husband, Yotam, who you may recognize from my post, It’s Just the Beginning. I asked her if we could go to a fabulous and unique restaurant, and she recommended Kitchen Market. On a side note, this restaurant isn’t kosher, so if that is important to you, I obviously wouldn’t go here. Jen was right, of course, the food is phenomenal! I went back again on this trip, and it didn’t disappoint. A few of the dishes that stood out were the slices of tuna, yuzu vinaigrette, Asian aioli, wasabi peas & coriander (photo below),
the buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, mint labane, onions, and olives (second photo), and lastly, the chocolate oyster pearls (dish not listed on the menu). I also tried the salmon, which was the my least favorite dish.
One of my favorite things about Israel is the freshness of the fruit and vegetables. Honestly, the produce doesn’t taste anything like the produce in the U.S. because they don’t have to sit in a box for days on end traveling across the country, or world, to get the grocery store. Instead, most items literally come from down the street, or you know what I mean, a few hours north or south. 🙂 Because of that, my favorite dish at Kitchen Market was the mozzarella/tomato dish. It was incredibly refreshing, and if you have never tried labane cheese, imagine a sour tasting cream cheese, its absolutely delightful and
most middle eastern restaurants should have a dish with it. As for the chocolate oyster pearl things, that isn’t technically the name, I just made it up myself, as I do with a lot of things in life, 🙂 these aren’t on the menu. Apparently it’s for ‘special people’ and Jen, being the special person that she is, was able to snag us a few to try. Usually its for their VIP clients… if you know what I mean. 😉 This dessert was unlike any other I have ever tried, and trust me when I say, I have tried A LOT! It was literally a very unexpected chocolate explosion in your mouth. -Insert your inappropriate comment here- JK JK And it was awesome!
Falafel/Hummus/Schnitzel/Pickles/Israeli Salad: Price: PRICELESS!!
Thanks to Jen’s amazing family, I was lucky enough to experience a homemade Israeli meal. OMG WORDS CANNOT EXPLAIN HOW EXCITED I WAS, not only to meet the rest of Jen’s family, but also to eat a REAL Israeli meal. They are SIMPLY THE BEST! So fresh, so flavorful, and always wonderful conversation and company. Some of the amazing food included:
- Fresh fried falafel: NEVER eat falafel that isn’t freshly fried or has been sitting out. It’s just not the same! I have yet to find falafel in the U.S. that even tastes remotely like the ones in Israel.
- Chicken schnitzel: Thinly pounded chicken, then friend with breadcrumbs (I think?)
- Israeli salad: Everyone has their own take on Israeli salad, but typically it is composed of tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Some people add in feta cheese, cilantro, or onions. It is a very refreshing and easy dish to make for all occasions!
- Pickles: OK, you might b thinking, pickles?! BUT OMG, Israeli pickles are unlike any other. They are usually skinnier than the ones we have in the U.S. and I think they are fully sour, as opposed to half sour ones. Some places in the U.S. have similar ones, but they honestly don’t taste the same as any of the ones you would get in the Middle East.
- Hummus: YOU CAN’T PUT A PRICE ON GOOD HUMMUS. People, the hummus in the U.S., for the most part is well, disgraceful. Sure, I eat it, but man, when you have the real thing, you see what you are missing! When I lived in Israel, I ate it all of the time with a light and fluffy pita bread.
- Cauliflower: I have absolutely no clue how she cooked this, but it was amazing and seemed pretty simple. I’m guessing, some olive oil, maybe salt, and baked. It was simple, healthy, and tasted great.
- She also had a few sides such as rice, potatoes, and of course, fresh baked pita bread.
- I feel like I’m definitely missing a few dishes, but I think you get the gist, it was simply a feast of incredible food!
AND WE CANNOT FORGET DESSERT.
- Homemade cheesecake
- Apple cake
- Other baked Israeli goodies and cakes
- Fresh Nana (mint) tea
I can’t say it enough, it was truly such a treat for me and I was SO privileged to be able to spend time with such a welcoming family.
Keep in mind, that while you mind not be able to have a traditional home cooked Israeli meal, there is awesome falafel, hummus, and all of the Israeli staples, all around Israel, BUT I can’t guarantee they will be as good! 🙂
Giraffe: There are a few locations, but this is the one I went to: Ibn Gabirol St 49, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel Price: $$
When I posted this photo on Facebook, one of my best friends, who happens to be Asian, commented, “IS THAT CHINESE FOOD?!” Yes, it was! At one of my favorite Asian restaurants in Israel, called Giraffe. As most of you know, I lived in Haifa in the northern part of Israeli for a year, and that was where I was first introduced to one of my go-to restaurants in Israel. My wonderful friend, Elissa, and a few other friends, used to go here regularly, and there were times that we even had it delivered to the university. Going back to eat there always reminds me of Elissa! 🙂 I also took my mom to eat there when she visited, and she loved it! This particular dish, also my favorite dish, called Chieza, is comprised of beef, eggplant, and a sweet bean sauce. Eggplant is a staple in Israeli cuisine, and you see it prepared in a variety of ways, including in your Chinese food. Also, every dish I have ever had there has been quite tasty, so I definitely recommend trying it out if you are in Haifa, Tel Aviv or Eilat.
Tamara Juice Bar: Dizengoff St 171, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel Price: $
While wandering around Tel Aviv, you are very likely to come across this brightly colored juice stand, with an abundance of fresh fruit, and most likely, a line in front of it! This is very typical for Tamara, my favorite juice stand in Israel. This time, I ordered a smoothie with nectarine, strawberries, orange juice, and banana. You can make a juice or smoothie with literally whatever you like in it, and it is fresh squeezed right in front of you. As I mentioned previously, because it’s from within the country, it is incredibly fresh and sweet, and tastes nothing like what you would get in the U.S.
Which foods are you excited to try when you visit Israel? Leave a comment! 🙂
These are just a few of my foodie finds in Israel. Keep an eye out for Foodie Files, Travel Edition Part II, including must haves in a shuk (market), Israeli breakfasts, and a few of my other restaurant recommendations! Don’t forget to subscribe! 🙂