Snapshots of Food in Israel

Falafels are both common as well as unique across the Middle East. The spices, texture all vary but the freshness of the ingredients is one thing that run common while making it so intensely different from those available in the West. This one was in a small stand in a side road in the main Carmel market in Tel-Aviv.

Falafels are both common as well as unique across the Middle East. The spices, texture all vary but the freshness of the ingredients is one thing that run common while making it so intensely different from those available in the West. This one was in a small stand in a side road in the main Carmel market in Tel-Aviv.

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As a guest of the Israel Ministry of Tourism, I was invited to spend a few days around this country sampling the culture and food. What I experienced was unexpected, amazing and deeply curious. While I stay in the road and continue my journey through Turkey, I find that I am able to put my experiences in Israel in wonderful relational perspective.

I intend to write a longer and more detailed post on the week here when I am back home and able to sort and arrange all the photos I took. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the scenes I captured through my handy iPhone.

Across the board I was impressed with the leaps the country has made in becoming self-sustaining in agriculture. Blessed with a year round warm climate, they have tamed nature's eccentricities by draining swamps and irrigating arid lands to grow a variety of produce within. Several of the restaurants boast using local ingredients and have a heavy hand with fresh herbs with definitely adds to the allure of the food.


TEL-AVIV

The View from Herod's hotel on the beach. It is the start of the promenade that runs all the way along the shore to Jaffa. Makes for a great running track.

The View from Herod's hotel on the beach. It is the start of the promenade that runs all the way along the shore to Jaffa. Makes for a great running track.

Talk about fresh. In every hotel in Israel, there was a whole honey comb waiting to be scraped onto breakfast yogurt and fruits. Delicious and addictive.

Talk about fresh. In every hotel in Israel, there was a whole honey comb waiting to be scraped onto breakfast yogurt and fruits. Delicious and addictive.

Keeping Kosher I found time again was being leveraged to advantage by Israeli chefs. Although Tel-Aviv is secular in its approach to Jewish cuisine, the culinary school in the city stays strict to the religious rules. That means no cheese with meat. The alternative, Tahini foam on this Lahambajin

Keeping Kosher I found time again was being leveraged to advantage by Israeli chefs. Although Tel-Aviv is secular in its approach to Jewish cuisine, the culinary school in the city stays strict to the religious rules. That means no cheese with meat. The alternative, Tahini foam on this Lahambajin

I have never seen so many different types of cured olives! At Carmel Market

I have never seen so many different types of cured olives! At Carmel Market

Communal lunch at Three Brothers. Run by three brothers this family establishment is an Israeli steakhouse updated to 2014! The ambience is warm and welcoming and the food exasperatingly good. By that I mean, despite being stuffed to the gill with market food, I did fair damage to the spread here!

Communal lunch at Three Brothers. Run by three brothers this family establishment is an Israeli steakhouse updated to 2014! The ambience is warm and welcoming and the food exasperatingly good. By that I mean, despite being stuffed to the gill with market food, I did fair damage to the spread here!

Perhaps one of the highlights on my dining experiences in the country was in the company of chef Eyal Shani at North Abraxas. Case in point, this family style dish of charcoal grilled and oven finished fresh sea bass that was served with flaming sage and a simple, yet, finger licking good sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and fennel.

Perhaps one of the highlights on my dining experiences in the country was in the company of chef Eyal Shani at North Abraxas. Case in point, this family style dish of charcoal grilled and oven finished fresh sea bass that was served with flaming sage and a simple, yet, finger licking good sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and fennel.


AKKO and Tiberias

Lunch at Uri Buri was a revelation. Sitting beside the breaking waves in Akko on a stormy day while relishing a multi-course experience of the finest seafood presented in refined and clean dishes was a meal to remember.

Lunch at Uri Buri was a revelation. Sitting beside the breaking waves in Akko on a stormy day while relishing a multi-course experience of the finest seafood presented in refined and clean dishes was a meal to remember.

Fresh squeezed juices are rather the norm in the entire region, I am finding out. In this season of Pomegranates and citrus, there is nothing more refreshing!

Fresh squeezed juices are rather the norm in the entire region, I am finding out. In this season of Pomegranates and citrus, there is nothing more refreshing!

Israeli cuisine is not ethnically original but rather is a confluence of its immigrant. Like the Shawarma, an originally Arabic import, it is not rather commonly found in every market in the country. Yet, it is decidedly different in flavor from the ones I taste in Turkey. 

Israeli cuisine is not ethnically original but rather is a confluence of its immigrant. Like the Shawarma, an originally Arabic import, it is not rather commonly found in every market in the country. Yet, it is decidedly different in flavor from the ones I taste in Turkey. 

Although Israel produces a ton of Olive oil (pun intended), it is still a net importer. Here is a traditional olive oil press run by a miller. This being olive harvest season, he is rather busy crushing and pressing. Curiously, the currency of transaction is the oil itself! Harkens back to the age approved system of barter. 

Although Israel produces a ton of Olive oil (pun intended), it is still a net importer. Here is a traditional olive oil press run by a miller. This being olive harvest season, he is rather busy crushing and pressing. Curiously, the currency of transaction is the oil itself! Harkens back to the age approved system of barter. 

Perhaps my highlight of cultural experience in this trip was Tea in a Druze home. A breakaway subset of Muslims, their culture and cuisine is a unique fusion Islamic traditions and local environment.

Perhaps my highlight of cultural experience in this trip was Tea in a Druze home. A breakaway subset of Muslims, their culture and cuisine is a unique fusion Islamic traditions and local environment.


Jerusalem

The old market of Jerusalem is a sight to behold. Much like any other old city, it has its fair share of junk shops. But ensconced amidst the touristy vendors are genuine purveyors of spices, sweets, as also, several peddlers who sell the produce either from their backyard or foraged locally. This is surprisingly a heavy Arab settlement. 

The old market of Jerusalem is a sight to behold. Much like any other old city, it has its fair share of junk shops. But ensconced amidst the touristy vendors are genuine purveyors of spices, sweets, as also, several peddlers who sell the produce either from their backyard or foraged locally. This is surprisingly a heavy Arab settlement. 

Chef Moshe Basson was an interesting man to meet. Hailing from a line of seers, he has an almost mystical approach to his food. Focusing on Biblical food, he is highly knowledgeable in many esoteric wild herbs and their roles since time immemorial in the fortunes of mankind. The food at his restaurant, Eucalyptus, was decidedly ethnic but yet had the freshness of being Original.

Chef Moshe Basson was an interesting man to meet. Hailing from a line of seers, he has an almost mystical approach to his food. Focusing on Biblical food, he is highly knowledgeable in many esoteric wild herbs and their roles since time immemorial in the fortunes of mankind. The food at his restaurant, Eucalyptus, was decidedly ethnic but yet had the freshness of being Original.

While the Old City market commands most attention, for a food lover, there is no better place than the Machanae Yehuda. Nestled amidst its several raw food, halwa and other stores are small restaurants that have delicious and varied bites. This is triple cooked potato pita from Dwini. Essentially a pita of fresh fries, it is really anything but pedestrian.

While the Old City market commands most attention, for a food lover, there is no better place than the Machanae Yehuda. Nestled amidst its several raw food, halwa and other stores are small restaurants that have delicious and varied bites. This is triple cooked potato pita from Dwini. Essentially a pita of fresh fries, it is really anything but pedestrian.

I did indeed save the best for the last. A true revelation in this religious city. Kosher cuisine. I'll confess, I find it appalling. In the best of the Kosher restaurants in NYC, the food is barely palatable. To someone with a fairly advanced palate, it tastes bland and restricted. Yet, Chef David Bitton at the Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem, definitively changed that stereotype. Working within the strictest rules of Kosher cuisine under the nose of the priests he turns the limitations to his advantage. During a meal in his meat restaurant, you barely notice that there was dairy missing, or indeed, spices! A credit to his skill and as much to the ingredients.

I did indeed save the best for the last. A true revelation in this religious city. Kosher cuisine. I'll confess, I find it appalling. In the best of the Kosher restaurants in NYC, the food is barely palatable. To someone with a fairly advanced palate, it tastes bland and restricted. Yet, Chef David Bitton at the Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem, definitively changed that stereotype. Working within the strictest rules of Kosher cuisine under the nose of the priests he turns the limitations to his advantage. During a meal in his meat restaurant, you barely notice that there was dairy missing, or indeed, spices! A credit to his skill and as much to the ingredients.


For more of my food experiences captured as I travel, follow my Instagram feed.

To see what and where I am eating in Turkey, catch me on Instagram.

For a lighter note and one that is more about the sights, follow Ted as he globe trots!