As a foodie, I am always on a hunt for good food. My palate is heightened when I travel eager to try the local culinary. In March of this year, I decided to take a trip to Israel. This would be my third visit and first trip where I was able to spend more time soaking in the culture. You may ask why Israel and I would say “Why not, Israel!” Beautifully situated by the Mediterranean Sea, the white sandy beaches, the museums and the history. So much to do, many places and lots of eating. Tel Aviv is my first stop and where I spend most of my time.
A holiday without learning how to cook some local dishes would be incomplete for me. So, I make it a point to include a cooking class into my itinerary. I came across Cooking in Israel who specializes in cooking tours in Israel. I signed up for a one-day culinary tour of Tel Aviv. Greeted by Orly Ziv early Friday morning, we started our day with a visit to souk Carmel (souk is market). I had the company of an American living in Be’er Sheva and a Londoner in this tour. I love going to markets to see what fresh produce are available. My eyes were treated with so man colours and smells. Patronized by locals and tourists, souk Carmel is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables vendors to bakeries, butchery and you may even pick up a souvenir or two. Our first pit stop is a bakery specializing in bourekas, a lightfilo pastry filled with salty cheese, typically feta cheese. The smell of freshly baked pastries is intoxicating. Orly bought a few for us to sample. The fluffy pastry was so light and flaky that it almost melts in your mouth. The warm cheesy filling is mildly salted that it complements the buttery pastry. It was rather delicious!
With our mouth still full of boureka, we continued our walking tour into the small lanes of the Yemenite quarter. Orly led us through a door that took us into a family kitchen where they were making pita bread and salouf, a Yemenite flatbread. As we watched the men flipping the bread in their stovetop ovens, we sampled the breads. The warm bread tasted so good that it gives a comforting feeling. I could eat a few pitas quite easily. But I wanted to leave some space to try other yummy food. I wonder what is next.
Still within vicinity of Yemenite quarter, we visited a local hummuseria, Shlomo and Doron to complete our Israeli breakfast experience. A bowl of plain hummus topped with chickpeas and another bowl of hummus with a fava bean mixture and boiled egg in the middle was placed in front of us. The dish is best served with pita and salouf bread to scoop up the thick hummus along with wedges of lemon and condiment of spicy sauces. To round up the wholesome breakfast is a good cup of brew. The hummuseria serves a wonderful Turkish black coffee and kawaitch, a blend of grounded cinnamon and cardamom. The coffee was I needed.
Feeling very satisfied I was ready to move on to the next activity. Orly wanted to give us a flavour of Israeli street food. Falafel is a common snack made out of chickpeas that can be eaten on its own or in a pita with some hummus anytime of the day. By now I was starting to feel full but our sampling didn’t stop here. As we walked into the main street of the market, we stopped by a stand where Druze women were flipping what looks like a huge piece of crepe over a large roundhotstone. The flatbread is often dressed with condiments such as jam, honey, chocolate spread or savoury vegan spread. We tried tabouleh and labne slabbed on the bread and wrapped in a roll. With the flatbread still warm in my hands, I took a bite and it was scrumptious. The thin flatbread was soft and the labne (yogurt cheese) gave the tabouleh a lift to the snack. My taste buds was satisfied and it is only mid morning.
We continued to stroll in the market picking up ingredients for our cooking class later. Stay tuned for my next post where I will write about cooking class
B’tayavon! (That’s Bon Appétit in Hebrew)