Monday, October 21, 2013

The Best Things I Ate in Israel

Just returned from another epic trip to the Holy Land. Been three years since I'd checked in and yes, things have changed. Jerusalem is still the chaotic-lovely-congested-quiet-filthy-picturesque bag of contrasts that I love. But it's definitely gotten a bit more posh in certain areas, like the revamped "Tachanah," or Old Train Station with its industrial-cool restaurants and artisanal food market. The once-seedy Mahane Yehuda produce market is now on its way to being a cosmopolitan nosh-nexus similar to Seattle's Pike Street Market and San Fran's Ferry Building. Now amidst the stalls hawking nuts, pickles and figs there are trendy pasta restaurants and even a fish and chips place. I tried Georgian food for the fist time and was impressed with the strong flavors and hints of Eastern spices and influences. And while this trip was by no means an exhaustive tour of all that is current and trending in Israeli cuisine (I was traveling with two toddlers, meaning, I drank about a gallon of wine every night and it was a miracle my iphone was not covered in hummus and phyllo grease by the end of the trip), I was able to taste some spectacular things.

Herewith, my culinary adventures in pictures.
The menu at Azura, a Slow Food-approved spot and the first stop on my Sephardic soul food pilgrimage. It's a no-frills spot hidden inside the Mahane Yehuda market..
Nanuchka, Tel Aviv, home to Georgian cooking and funky decor.

Fantastic Khinkali - meat dumplings at Nanuchka.

Lunch at Hamotzi restaurant - owned by Avi Levy, winner of Israel's Master Chef (like Top Chef in the US).

Fried battered fish in a spicy Moroccan sauce at Homotzi.
Oh, just a little feast our Aunt Shoshana whipped up (while recovering from knee surgery no less!) consisting of homemade techina, fried eggplant, tomato salad and kubbeh soup (semolina dumplings, beets, lemon)
Fresh-pressed pomegranate juice at Mahane Yehuda market.

A salad topped with fried haloumi cheese - this one needs to make it on to the next Saffron Supper Club menu!
The beer garden and food court at the revamped Old Train Station in Jerusalem.

Epic baklava selection at the Old Train Station.

Look! Paletas in Israel.

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