Monday, January 28, 2013

3 things to do in Tel Aviv and 3 things to do in Jerusalem

Katrina (born in Tallinn) of The Gastronomical Me blog (written in London) dropped me an e-mail few days ago. I quote:

I'm flying to Israel tomorrow, for a week, will stay in Tel Aviv and Jeruselem and the Deadsea. I know you went there during summer through that social group. I've read a bit on your site already but if you were to pick say 3 places that surprised you the most, perhaps the places you don't think people are likely to discover just by wondering around, what would you recommend?

I had the pleasure of visiting Israel last June in the honorable company of David Lebovitz and Ms Marmite Lover as well as two lovely young American food writers. I haven't managed to blog nearly as much about the trip as I would have wanted, but here's my TOP 3 recommendations for both places. I have met Katrina on a couple of occasions, and think I have a vague idea of what would interest her - hope I'm not too wide off the mark, Katrina :D


1) Drinks and nibbles at the rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel. Wonderful views across the city during sunset, excellent modern Israeli food. We had nibbles there on the first night in town, just getting to know each other and our wonderful hosts Adi and Joanna (hi there!) and our packed itinerary.

View from the rooftop of Mamilla hotel, Jerusalem, Israel

Focaccia with roasted vegetables @ Mamilla rooftop café, Jerusalem, Israel
(More Mamilla photos here)

2) A tour of the Mahane-Yehuda Market is a must - and I've actually managed to blog about that.

Mahane-Yehuda market, Jerusalem, Israel
(More Mahane-Yehuda photos here)

I also think Katrina would enjoy a quick khatchapuri at the Georgian café Hatchapuria (5 HaShikma St, just outside the market). Here's their lovely Adjarian cheese khatchapuri with soft egg:

Adjari khatchapuri @ Mahane-Yehuda market, Jerusalem, Israel

3) Hummus and falafels, mint tea, cardamom-spiced coffee, mutabbaq - all on Via Dolorosa. We popped into a hummusia somewhere between the seventh and eighth station. Excellent first hummus indeed! We then followed up the stairs and just on the right at the end of the last station, stopped for mutabbaq, the super sweet Arab filo pastry, mint tea and cardamom coffee.

First hummusia stop, Jerusalem. Photo by David Garb

Mint tea and cardamom coffe. Jerusalem (Photo by David Garb)
Both photos by David Garb, one of the photographers on our tour


1) Haj Kahil is an Arab/Palestine restaurant in Jaffa, and the lunch we enjoyed there was probably one of the tastiest and most memorable during the trip full of really excellent food. The mezze table alone was ten points out of ten, a wonderful selection of fresh and delicious vegetable dishes.

Arab lunch @ Haj Kahil, Jaffa, Israel

Here's the waiter with the main course - just before our "argument" whether I should have a huge portion as I was eating for two (pregnant with bebe number three, remember :)) - his view; or whether I should only have a small portion of that beautiful 8-hour-lamb, as there was a good-sized baby taking up all that free space in my belly already - my idea:
Arab lunch @ Haj Kahil (Photo by Noa Magger)
David Lebovitz has written a beautiful post about that restaurant and I would definitely go back for a meal or two when in Israel again. This is my Number 1 recommendation for Israel!

2) Eyal Shani's The Salon only opens twice a week (Wednesday and Thursday), 8 Ma'avar Yabok, Nakhalat Yitzhak, Givataim, telephone 052-7035888. Apparently it's hard to secure a table and it's pretty pricey, and definitely not a place if you want a quiet place to enjoy a meal. But I trust Katrina would enjoy the rowdy and positively crazy atmosphere of the place. The food was delicious as well, of course :)
Salon (chef Eyal Shani), Tel Aviv, Israel
Eyal Shani in action.

3) A leisurely breakfast at Manta Ray at Alma Beach. The food was good, but I have especially fond memories of having breakfast at the relaxing seaside café - the vibe and the atmosphere were great.  
Breakfast @ Manta Ray, Israel

Remember - there six recommendations are posted here with a specific food-loving girl in mind - might not be the same places I'd suggest to a retired couple or a young family with three small kids :)


Katrina said...

I know I can always rely on you Pille. Huge thanks (will report ;)

David said...

Loved the post! That was a great trip, a highlight of 2012 for sure xx

Adi said...

Another great post, Pille - miss u tons!!!

J. said...

Great post! And actually gave someone who lives in Tel Aviv some new ideas, so thanks for that :)