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From Israel with Love

October 20, 2013

bb just returned from a glorious trip to Israel. Actually, bb’s creator went with hubby. bb stayed home – I took a computer-free trip and it was a very good thing to take the techno break. We loved it there. Our Hebew improved. We wanted to stay. The goal that we want to keep returning is what helped us with all the farewells.

We spent most of our time with family in Carmel, Haifa taking in daily life there.

Haifa

We hung out with cousins in Tzipori, a beautiful moshav in the North, with a famous archaeological dig and beautiful hilltop views all around.

20130924_165752

And we spent time with more family in Tel Aviv and the beautiful suburb of Ramat HaSharon.

Going upscale in Tel Aviv

Sea bass fillet

You know I had fun at the small market at the Tel Aviv port.

mushrooms daily specialsTel Aviv bakery -Ma'Afiyah Lachmim

Here’s more of a taste of what I experienced there. This trip was most definitely NOT one of those climb-onto-the tourist-bus at 7 am trips. Instead, it was about spending quality time with family, hanging out with the kids and babies (and there were lots of them) and eating, eating and more eating. I’m really fortunate to have lots of cousins in Israel (and what cooks they are!) and going there felt like home.

Shabbat first courseHow’s this for a first course?
appetizersor this?

What did I learn?

I love everything at the bakery called Shemo Hakonditorei (patisserie) in Carmel, Haifa. It was around the corner from where we were staying and I kept finding an excuse to go back.

Shemo Bakery

ahh, the samples

We can eat lots of my cousin’s poppy seed roll in one sitting. Especially at a picnic in a beautiful forest in the North called Ya’ar Menashe.

last piece of poppy seed roll

There’s nothing like enjoying Shakshukah in the Sukkah.

sukkah

sunlit shakshukah

shakshukah in process

serving shakshukah

Sukkah breakfast

This version included lots of red onion, red pepper and tomato. Don’t tell any Israeli that you  know how to prepare Shakshuka if you’re not willing to get into a lengthy debate. Everyone is convinced their version is the BEST and the only one worth eating.

We love the Israeli rock group from the 1970’s – Kaveret (Poogy in the US). Check out this link hear a sample from 1973. Their reunions draw incredible crowds. Thank you to our cousin Lior who turned us onto it. We’re now hearing the group’s hit, Yo Ya, in our heads all day. Guess we’re a couple of late bloomers. Where were we?

The cheese Danishes from Ma’Afiyah Lachmim are outrageously delicious.

Cheese Danish

Lots of our cousins are now vegetarian and with the abundance of excellent vegetables, there’s no shortage of wonderful dishes. We were treated to some incredible meals in several homes.

vegetarian feast

I thought I didn’t care for Halvah. I’ve just never tried the good stuff. That changed in the small exclusive market at the Tel Aviv port where I asked for several samples and chose the vanilla/chocolate.

loving Halvah

Halvah TIP: Halvah is made from tahini (sesame seed paste) and honey. Sometimes flavorings or nuts are added. My cousin said that for a quick nibble of something sweet at home (provided you have tahini and honey in the house), simply mix a bit of the solid part of the tahini with a little honey and spread it on a cracker or biscuit. Delicious! or Ta’Yim! As you say in Hebrew (believe me, it was in the Top Ten of our most frequently used words while we were there).

If you bake stuffed peppers in a Bundt pan, they won’t fall over. Thank you, typical Israeli ingenuity. Served here with baked pasta and pickled cabbage.

stuffed peppers, baked pasta and pickled cabbage

Thanks to this food blog, I connected with Hanni, one of bb’s followers who runs the Kosher Food Forum for ynet.com. I was so honored that she made the time to drive up to visit with us and have a late breakfast at Café Shani. Not quite. As she posted after our meeting, we connected so quickly and shared so much with each other in the brief time we had, that we forgot to eat! Hanni had to pack up her sandwich and eat it on the way back so she could pick up her youngest (of five) from pre-school. Hanni, can’t wait till we meet again and we loved the Tahini-Date Cake and the Granola you brought us from your kitchen. Maybe recipes to share in the future?

Hotels in Israel, large or small, are known for offering wonderful breakfasts with delicious salads, vegetables, eggs, cheeses and great breads. We stayed at a charming little place in the center of town called the Villa Carmel.Every morning we were asked what type of coffee we would like and how we wanted our eggs prepared. We asked for eggs over medium but had better luck getting an omelet or scrambled eggs. Three days before we left, we saw one of the front desk people enjoying eggs over medium. “Mikael, we’ve been trying to order eggs that way with no luck. How do you say that?”  “These are called Ayin Ha- Foochah,” he answered with a big smile. Delightful. Translated literally, it means Eye, upside-down. That phrase will definitely stick in our heads.

We can get very accustomed to the cafe life. One latte and one Americano, please!

Villa Carmel Hotel patio

We’ll be back soon. Cuz baby, you felt like home.

a patio visitor

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11 Comments
  1. Thank you for this wonderful post! I felt as if I was there with you and it was really fun to hear about all the good things to see and to eat.

  2. I’m SO happy you both had a wonderfully amazing time!! Love all that food you got to eat and try; it reminded me of going to Italy with all my family and cousins, too! Hope your next trip is soon! xx

  3. Judy, what a post!
    Listen, you don’t have to wait much longer for your next visit – if the ministry of tourism sees this post they’ll offer you a job immediately as their spokeswoman and Joel will be grabbed for a photographer position!
    I have to read it again – once wasn’t enough.
    You’ve been to places I, an Israeli, haven’t been to (the Tel Aviv port, The Kaveret concert) and your descriptions and pictures made me want to get into a car (too late for the concert).
    It was an honor, unforgettable pleasure meeting you and Joel – it kept me smiling for many days and I can’t wait till our next meeting, be it on our side of the Atlantic or yours.
    And I will gladly share the recipes.
    Love to you both!

  4. Andra permalink

    Amazing Judy! Sounds like such a wonderful experience 🙂
    The food looks incredible and so fresh. I love all the veggies!
    Definitely one of my favorite posts!
    I’m so happy for you and Joel!

  5. Karen permalink

    Welcome home J+J! Loved this post and can’t wait to hear more. Glad you’re back- my kitchen has been breeze-less for too long!

  6. Judith Weinberger permalink

    Judy,
    Love your blog, but this is one of your best postings. I felt like I was there. So glad you had such a good time!. Berger

  7. Rita Reuben permalink

    DELIGHTFUL!! MANY THANKS FOR TAKING US ALONG…… Love to you both, Rita

  8. Judith Rafael permalink

    I’m so glad to hear that you and Joel had such a lovely time in Israel. What a wonderful trip. What beautiful photos.

    Much love to both of you

  9. Gaily permalink

    Fabulous! I felt like I was there too!
    Beautiful photos, beautiful words to describe your wonderful trip
    Welcome back🍰

  10. Lydia Weisman permalink

    Welcome back… now every day is one day closer to your next trip…. Lydia

  11. Hi Judy,

    These photos of Israel bring back fond memories. They also made me hungry.

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