Israel, the fruitful land of milk and hummus, where the Israeli salads flow like Kosher wine and tender balls of fried falafel grow on trees. After I fell in love with Israeli food porn for the first time, our relationship has blossomed in a deep and meaningful way. Just like Tim Whatley converted to Judaism for the jokes, I might just move to Israel for the food.
A traditional lemon juiced cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley dice; a chopped tabbouleh salad, or a more elaborate sweet potato, nut, feta cheese mountain – no matter what type of salad tickles your taste buds, all are ideal for picking up a spoon and shoveling plates of Israeli salad freshness in your boca.
Dumpling “Pillows of Heaven” Soups
Vibrant crimson reds, sour snotty greens, coconutted curried yellows, the soups in Israel are mighty fine. My favorite would have to be a Red Kubbeh Soup made with beets, other root vegetables and plump kubbeh dumplings stuffed with lamb or beef (from Magic Carpet in Jerusalem). The Green Hamousta Kubbeh, aka sour dumpling soup, is made with swiss chard, celery, onions zucchini and dumplings made from CRACKED wheat stuffed with lamb (from צופיה in the Mahane Yehuda Market). And finally, not traditionally Israeli, this bombbombbomb curry squash coconut dumpling soup had ultra rich cococreamy soul-warming flavors (from Puah in Jaffa).
A major reason I fell in love with Israeli food: Shakshouka, the breakfast of champions. Ultra healthy, flavorful in rich spices, Shakshouka is traditionally made in a cast iron pan where the eggs are poached in a tomato, chili pepper, onion and cumin sauce. Shakshuka number one was from Fattoush in Haifa and Shakshuk number two from Shosh Café in Jerusalem.
Hummus & Pita
What do you order in a hummus restaurant that offers more than 30 different types of the good stuff? It’s an extremely hard choice. I generally keep it classic with a tahini hummus or maybe get a bit crazy with some sort of fava, pine nut, or vegetable-flavored version of the creamy goodness. Just get me a piece of pita for dipping, and I’m a happy girl. I had fab hummus at Magic Carpet on Emek Rafaim, Lina in Jerusalem’s Old City and Abu Hassan in Jaffa.
Pop these Jerusalem bagels around your neck like a lifesaver and gnaw away. The ultimate jew bagel.
Some may think it’s on the sweet side, but this cold cup of iced coffee and sugary nectar is the cure for any hot day in Israel.
Falafel & Shawarma
What makes a good falafel sandwich? Freshly baked chewy and soft pita bread, crunchy well seasoned falafel balls, and a plethora of fresh packed fixin’s like cucumber, onions, tomato, yogurt sauce, smoked eggplant and spicy peppers. If it didn’t make my complexion look like I just came out of the falafel frier, I’d probably eat this every day. Shawarma, you know I love you too – lamb or chicken, I wish you were more part of my daily life.
Baked Goods & Pastries
The Market & Street Food
When asked what I like best about Israel, the answer is easy: The Markets (Shuk). My version of the holy Western Wall, the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem and Shuk HaKarmel in Tel Aviv offer unbelievable produce, meat, poultry, cheese, hummus baked goods and street food like fresh juice, shawarma, falafel and meat-stuffed pita. The freshest fruits and vegetables of the utmost quality, affordable and always in stock, it brought a smile to my face just walking through the winding market, finding goodies around every corner.
The Israeli markets and the Mediterranean, I might just move to Israel because of you.