So if you follow my blog or me on social media you would have seen that last month I spent an amazing couple of weeks in Israel. I was invited along with a few other international bloggers to sample the very best that Israeli food has on offer and share a few of my stories. It was a once in a life-time experience arranged by Vibe Israel – a non-profit organization that promotes Israel to the world as a vibrant hub of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Of course the culinary scene is a big part of that and why we were there.
I took a huge delicious bite out of Israel and hardly know where to start, so here are a few of my highlights (roughly in the order they were experienced).
1. Hedai Ofaimme
A local culinary expert, journalist and cookbook author, we visited Hedai at his home on a Moshav were they produce all sorts of delicious farm products that they sell in Israel. Goat milk yoghurt, olive oil, honey, cheese and pestos. It was the first taste we got of some of the culinary history of the country and Hedai had us enraptured with his storytelling over a delicious brunch. We also started seeing that salad for breakfast is a thing in Israel.
I found Jerusalem fascinating. From the history to the melting pot of religions, to the food. The whole place has a certain presence about it, and you get a feeling when your are there that is difficult to articulate. I was pleased I decided to stay on in the city for an extra few days after our #VibeFood tour ended.
The Methane Yehudi Market is one ofthe most exciting and vibrant food markets I have ever visited and I took so many pictures I simply had to create a separate post on it. On the day we visited with the group, Lilach Rubin, a local culinary expert gave us a tour of the market and surrounding area which was super interesting.
3. The Sarona Market in Tel Aviv
The Sarona Market is a new and modern indoor market in Tel Aviv – the largest of its kind in Isreal. It links the old world with the new and reminded me a little of Chelsea Market in NYC. It’s a place where you can buy food produce of every description as well as sit and enjoy a meal at one of the many kitchen restaurants while watching the chefs in action. It’s a market that is buzzing with activity and is a must visit destination for any foodie traveling to Tel Aviv.
For all my pictures of the Sarona Market, click here.
4. The Levinsky market
There is no surprise that I loved our Friday afternoon bar hopping adventure in the trendy Levinsky Market. This is not a market as in a traditional market, but rather a neighborhood with lots of food shops and restaurants. I mean who doesn’t love vibey bars packed with jovial locals celebrating life. Guided by David Hirschfeld, a well-known bartender, we sampled a few local drinks including Arak – an anis flavoured spirit, and a unique Medjool date brandy. Israeli’s sure know how to party on a Friday afternoon. I had my first taste of Yemense cuisine too, which was all dough based and all delicious. This is another must-do activity if you visit this vibrant city.
5. Shabbat dinner by Alon Beer
On the Friday evening we attended a homemade Sabbath dinner cooked by Alon Beer on Kibbuts S’dot Yam and it was one of the most memorable meals on the tour. A delicious menu was presented to us with an array of beautifully cooked dishes like
- Isreali style sashimi, tomato seeds, hot pepper, lemon and sour cream
- Roasted beets
- Spanish Mackerel prepared with a salad of parsley, red onion, avocado served with rata potatoes and sour cream
- Zucchini confit and sheeps yoghurt
- Lamb meatballs in chicken broth
- One of the best roast chickens I have ever eaten (Alon told me the secret is in the butter)
6. A trip up North
We drove North on the Saturday and spent the day touring the Tarshiha’s Saturday market, attended an ice cream making workshop at Buza, had lunch at ‘Aluma’ followed by an edible plant picking excursion with Dr. Uri Meir Chissik. A wonderful day.
It was then onto the spa hotel Mizpe Hayamim on a organic farm near Rosh Pina. Dinner at their Muscat restaurant was delicious but overwhelming in that we ate what seemed like the whole menu. I’m going to share more about this meal, along with all the other amazing ones we in joyed in another post. We toured the organic farm the following morning, enjoyed a spectacular breakfast and took in views of the Sea of Galilee.
7. Blogger breakfast and a one on one with Natalie Levin Sapir
On the second last day of Our #VibeFood tour we attended a ‘breakfast supper club’ presented by Eatwith.com with food prepared by Ofir Kaminkovsky at his home venue. It was a lively meal with a good handful of local Israeli bloggers. You also realize that as a ‘sub-species’ we are all much the same. Eagerly trying to snap the food in the best possible way to share across our social media channels. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and the food was delicious.
After brunch I was paired up with Natalie Levin Sapir of the Israeli dessert blog Oogio.net which is sadly only in Hebrew. You will want to figure a way to translate this and bake from Natalie’s delicious recipes I can assure you. I sampled 3 of them so I know. Natalie has written a cookbook too, and she took me on a tour to one of Tel Aviv’s famous bakeries – Lehamim which of course was nirvana for me. We were lucky enough to have Uri Sheft (the founder and owner) give us the tour himself, but more about that later. I have my hands on his Challah recipe which I’m planning on making and sharing with you soon. I’m also going to be sharing one of Natalies delicious cookie recipes.
8. All the restaurants we ate at were a highlight, but there are too many images and details to share here so I will save that for another story on its own. We met so many amazing local chefs and I felt very inspired by them, so expect a few tasty recipes over the coming months too.
Israel is one of the best ‘bread’ countries I’ve ever visited and every day and at every single meal we ate phenomenal bread. I would go back just to eat all the bread.
Check out my Instagram to see all the pics I took and the pics everyone else took under the #VibeIsrael hashtag.
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