Gourmet Traveller: Israel

Israel is an immigration state, collecting its people from four corners of the world: Eastern and Western Europe, Arabia and the countries around the Mediterranean. Its cuisine is based on the culinary traditions of all of these cultures, in addition to local Palestinian cooking.

The Israeli cuisine is a melting pot. Israel is an immigration state, collecting its people from four corners of the world: Eastern and Western Europe, Arabia and the countries around the Mediterranean. Its cuisine is based on the culinary traditions of all of these cultures, in addition to local Palestinian cooking.

The immigration culture has produced a great wealth of flavors, color and aromas: from the shakshouka, an egg dish originating in Tripoli, to the European chulent stew, the Turkish shawarma meat wrap and the Moroccan tagine stew – all have a place of honor in the Israeli cuisine and all take on new interpretations in the hands of young promising chefs.

Until recently, most tourists’ culinary greeting in Israel took the shape of falafel – fried balls of chickpeas inside a pita bread, an overrated dish that had become the national dish. But in the last decade or two Israel – and particularly Tel Aviv, its cultural capital – has formulated an impressive culinary offering.

The current generation of Israeli chefs were brought up in traditional kitchens, and are giving classic dishes their own twist. Meir Adoni, for instance, the chef of Catit, one of Israel’s finest high-end restaurants, was brought up on his mother and grandmother’s Moroccan cooking. Adoni studied classical French cuisine and specialized in molecular cooking. Today he creates innovative dishes with echoes of his mother’s kitchen, like Bruschetta of veal brain with harrisa (a Moroccan spicy pepper sauce), lemon, lettuce and parsley butter. Meanwhile, Rafi Cohen, in his prestigious Rafael, serves couscous with spicy fish kebabs, and in Aviv Moshe’s Messa you’ll find shawarma.

The Israeli fusion phenomenon is also found outside of the fancy restaurants. One of the hot trends in Israel is the “return of the pita” – the flat Middle-Eastern bread that embraces foods from completely different worlds, like steak and egg, fish and grilled vegetables or stir-fried shrimp. On of those responsible for this revolution is celebrity-chef Eyal Shani.

Tel Aviv is the culinary capital of Israel. In this cultural epicenter you’ll find fancy restaurants alongside French-style brasseries, Italian-style trattorias, tapas bars and sushi bars. For a glimpse of what Tel Aviv can offer, check out Carmel market – as well as a huge variety of fresh fruit and vegetables you’ll find food stands, from kebab to sushi; and in the surrounding streets there are wonderful restaurants to be found.
An hour’s drive from Tel Aviv you can experience a whole other world of flavors in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Pay a visit to the market – Machane Yehuda market – where in recent years, chic cafés, small taverns and upmarket restaurants have popped up next to the meat and spice booths. Restaurant Mahneyuda, offers excellent food, dazzling colourful design, great music and wonderful atmosphere.

For more information check out: www.goisrael.com

Top 5 dishes




Shakshouka 

Shakshouka is a dish originating from the Tripolitan (Libyan) kitchen, a rich breakfast-dish of eggs cooked in thick, spicy tomato and pepper sauce. The dish is eaten with simple bread and can be found nearly everywhere, from common eateries, to neighbourhood coffee shops and chic chef restaurants. It is served in many variations – with cheeses, sausages or vegetables.




Hummus

Israelis take their hummus very seriously. This paste of pureed chickpeas mixed with tahini (sesame puree), herbs and spices, is usually eaten with a pita bread. The best hummus is found in Arab restaurants, in Jerusalem and in Galilee.




Israeli Breakfast

Israelis love their breakfast. The classic Israeli breakfast includes fresh vegetable salad, very finely chopped (with olive oil and lemon juice), an egg in various cooking styles, freshly-baked bread and cheeses. The food always comes a glass of fresh orange juice. This is served in lots of different ways at every coffee shop, hotel or restaurant.



Sabich

This Iraqi sandwich has evolved into a popular street food in Israel. Sabich is made up of a soft pita filled with slices of fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, potato, fresh vegetable salad, parsley, onion, tahini and amba – a spicy yellow sauce with a very distinct smell. You’ll find it as street food as well as more sophisticated versions in restaurants.



Grilled Eggplant

Grilled eggplant is a dish you’ll find in many variations all over the country, from local coffee shops to high-end restaurants. The eggplant is placed whole on the grill, thoroughly grilled from all directions and then stripped from its skin. Tahini or yogurt is then poured on it, as well as various additions: chopped vegetables, meat, seafood or spices.


Travelors’ tips

Try

The trend for farmers’ markets is now worldwide, but it only caught on in Israel two years ago. For the past year, Tel Aviv’s farmers’ market has been housed in the renovated port marketplace. Growers come to sell their fruit and vegetable in the marketplace alongside stalls selling meat and fish, a bakery and a tapas bar.

Eat

Itzik HaGadol (Itzik the great) is a great example of the popular  Middle-Eastern formula-restaurants. The method is simple: sit down and the table is immediately filled with dozens of little plates filled with fresh salads: eggplant salads, eggs salad, zucchinis, pickles, roasted and fried vegetables, hummus and tahini accompanied by huge pita breads straight out of the oven. For the main course it is best to choose a cut of meat that benefits from time spent on the grill. The place is huge and always buzzing with activity (a sign of freshly cooked food), service is great, just be sure to leave room for the main course after the abundance of starters.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…