Friday, July 31, 2009

Everything But The Kitchen Sink - Israel 09 Edition, Part Shtayim

After the tour part of my trip ended, I headed to Tel Aviv with CD to visit SB and OY. We went straight from the bus to the club, and, suffice it to say, woke up the next morning in dire need of some good food. We headed to a cafe on the beach, got a table, stuck our feet in the sand, and relaxed as we waited for our food to come. I had shakshuka (an awesome egg dish with tomato sauce), and CD and OY both ordered a Boker Yisraeli (aka Israeli breakfast). Definitely hit the spot!

SB took us to one of his favorite restaurants, Noa Bistro. Chef Nir Zuk created this eclectic restaurant in an alley in the old port city Yafo. He combines local ingredients with a French style. It was an incredible, very unique dining experience.

A variety of goat cheeses with olives, apples, and honey all from a farm in the Galilee

Had to try this authentic dish called chigga. Similar to bulgar, this dish was our favorite of the night. It was nutty, hearty, and very tasty!

CD and I took a day trip up to Haifa, where we toured the gorgeous Bahá’í Gardens.
To add to an already great day, we stumbled upon what would become our favorite falafel of our entire 2 weeks in Israel! The falafel was fresh, the hummus was great, and the toppings were endless and each so flavorful. Ridiculous view + ridiculous falafel = one happy girl!
For CD's last night, the four of us headed to Honey Beach for dinner...a picture-perfect farewell...

Couldn't have timed dinner with the sunset any better!
Possibly the largest schnitzel I have ever seen!

And, possibly the best Israeli salad I've ever had!
As if that wasn't enough for us to share, we got a "toast" as well...Israel's version of a panini or pressed sandwich
SB and I wanted a lowkey night and ended up going to a Cava bar (aka Spanish Champagne, I came to learn) called La Champa. It really felt like we were in Spain, with cheeses and olives in glass cases at the bar, and cured meats and sausages hanging behind the bar. Definitely did not expect to see so much pork in Israel, but it made the place feel very authentic.
It was such an amazing trip, and I was so sad to come home and get back to reality. Thanks for being such great tour guides, SB and OY! Can't wait to get back there ASAP!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Everything But The Kitchen Sink - Israel 09 Edition, Part Echad

So, apparently the following analogy holds true: Miss Menu postings is to Summer as oil is to water. I can't believe that it's been 2 months since my last post. I am officially a foodie slacker! But, I'm back from another amazing trip to Israel, and I'm hoping that this post will get me back into the swing of things.

Like my trip last summer, I met an incredible group of people, I learned so much, I saw great sights, and I also managed to eat my way through the country! Here's a brief photo recap of some of the culinary highlights of the first leg of my trip...

Falafel/shawarma places are a dime a dozen in Israel - like pizza joints in NYC. Some are just average, but when a great one comes along, it's definitely picture-worthy! Enjoying a falafel laffa with RT and MB at Falafel HaMelech (The King of Falafel, so apropos) in Jerusalem:

The entire trip, everyone kept talking about this bakery called Marzipan. I always envisioned it as a place that sells marzipan as I know it. Boy, was I wrong! This Marzipan is a bakery that specializes in chocolate rugelach. They are constantly cranking out huge baking sheets of this chocolatey, gooey goodness, but also sell fresh challahs, bagels, babkas, and other breads and baked goods.

They sell the rugelach by the kilo, and will even freeze containers for you to take back to the US. EG was nice enough to share a few with CD and me :)

Fresh-baked focaccia at Focaccia Bar in Jerusalem...so simple, yet so delicious. All it had on it was a little olive oil, sea salt, fresh garlic, and basil.

CD, AM, KK, RL, RT, and I spent an afternoon exploring the shuk (market) in Jerusalem and saw some great foodie sites!
Olives...Israel's symbolic, miracle fruit:
Pitaya (aka dragon fruit) is definitely the most unusual fruit I've ever seen. The photos don't do its colors justice!

Shrooms, anyone?

Zatar pita


Crazy selection of nuts and dried fruits

RT picked a fantastic restaurant called Mona for our last dinner out in Jerusalem. A 20-person dinner doesn't always go smoothly, but this one could not have been better! Had to get a Reloaded '08 girls pic...so cute!
RT and MB ordered a whole fish...tastes so good, but looks so gross!

I kept it simple with grilled chicken and veggies, and it was delish.

More of the crew...MR, AM, MB, me, and RT
I am always blown away by how incredible the produce and other foods are from a tiny country smack in the middle of the desert. And, I'm not even talking hummus or falafel...although I had PLENTY of those too! Stay tuned for Part Shtayim with a Tel Aviv/Haifa recap!