Shwarma, Spices and Shakshuka – The Head Brookette visits Israel!
Israel is one of my favorite family vacations.
In addition to an endless variety of adventures, eating delicious food is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s extraordinarily fresh – they’ve been doing farm to table since…well, forever. Our home base is above Tiberias, which is where my in-laws live. A few food highlights:
Straight from the airport we hit the kids fav spot – Little Neimar (yes there’s a Big too). Our family has been going for years. I was pretty out of it so didn’t take too many pics. We had an abundance of salads and meats including Beet, Israeli, Hummus, Tahini, variety of Eggplant salads, shwarma (pictured), schnitzel and more.
That night we hit our first family party for my brother in law’s birthday…such a fun reunion.
For breakfast, my father in law prepared fresh gravlax – I’ve eaten it many times in restaurants, but there’s nothing like homemade…Andrew Zimmern would approve! Gravlax paired with Israeli salad and a selection of fresh cheese and bread…nothing better.
Right near our home are fields with watermelon, lychee, mango, avocado and more. I took a ride in my cousin Yoni’s buggy and picked lychee for the family (don’t turn me in).
Back to one my fav spots, which I wrote about 2 years ago, this time for lunch…Rothman’s, located on the top of a mountain overlooking Lotem. The chef uses fresh ingredients – many of which you walk by as you enter the restaurant. The bread is baked daily; they make their own jam, spreads and more. I had the ultimate Health Salad – mixed greens, bulgur, cucumbers, tomato, nana, tahini, pomegranate & pumpkin seeds, topped with bruschetta and olive tapenade.
How can I not include pics of spices? We hit two vibrant spice farms – one in the Lower Galilee and another in Nazareth. Offerings range from custom blended spices for rice, meat (lamb, hamburger, steak..) and fish to all the usual suspects – za’atar, cumin, basil, cinnamon and countless varieties.
Friends and fam know I LOVE Shakshuka so when I walked by a new restaurant on Ben Yahuda Street in Tel Aviv called Shakshukiya I had to try it. For the brave, they offer a “Shakshuka Challenge.” The owner said he hopes Adam Richman visits one day – I told him I’ll see what I can do….in the meantime, while waiting for my meal, I enjoyed their Mint Tea. In Israel this tea is served with a generous amount of fresh mint leaves…can’t get enough! The Shakshuka came with fresh mushrooms, tahini and salad…best I had the whole trip.
We hit Suzana Restaurant in Neved Tsedick area of Tel Aviv – for those who haven’t been there, it’s like a hip, artsy Soho in the 90’s. We’ve eaten there a few times over the years, but this meal was especially delicious (even with 2 visitors next to our table)…we had Labaneh which was sprinkled with za’atar, olive oil and parsley, Israeli Salad with Feta and Shiskashim (shisksa-bob).
We heard about an up and coming group of restaurants called Chocolulu, and since I’m obsessed with chocolate and ice cream I was on a mission to try it. This pic says it all!! Three scoops of hazelnut, chocolate and peanut butter gelato on top of 2 éclairs topped with whip cream and peanuts…man was I full!
Whenever you need a lift, aside from countless coffee bars, there are fabulous juice bars. This one is in Old Yaffo right near the famous Shuk Ha’ Pishpeshim (Jaffa Flee Market).
Dare I say our best meals were at an incredible hotel in Mitspe Ramon (an incredible town on the edge of the 25 mile wide Ramon Crater which is an extraordinary natural wonder), called Beresheet. Breakfast included a range of incredibly fresh salads, smoked fish, cheese, made to order omelets, shakshuka, breads and more. If you are a Labaneh fan – it was one of the best we’ve ever had.
Till next visit…