BREAKFAST: It’s never too early in the day to begin it the taïm way!
Challah with Guava Jam and Butter: Sweet, fruity and faintly exotic guava jelly, a thin layer of fresh salted butter slathered on a thick slice of spongy challah that could well double as cake. It’s a simply sweet way to start your bright sunny morning in the very cool outdoor Shaffa Café in the very hip and authentic neighborhood of Jaffa.
Café Americano: Because “Nescafe” leaves you limp, and “drip” is strictly a plumber’s domain in Israel. The easy choice for those in search of a no-frills jolt of caffeine. Two shots of espresso and enough hot water to fill a mug– leave room for a drop of milk.
SNACKS: Because wherever you are in Israel there’s always something delicious to nibble on
Cheese Borekas: The original hot pocket! A market fave from Levinsky in Tel Aviv. Soft, salty, tangy, creamy filling folded in a steamy-hot buttery flaky crust studded with toasty sesame seeds..
Hazelnut Mushroom Focaccia: A multi-textured savory snack of toasted chopped hazelnuts, slippery umami mushrooms, sharp and creamy Roquefort crumbles, and sautéed diced onions all heaped on a soft and crispy tile of focaccia. Nibbles of this focaccia, between sips of a tall and foamy iced coffee, during a loose and easy hang-out session with your brother and his lovely wife at an outdoor café, on a beautiful summer’s day at Dallal in Neve Tzedek, is really what vacation is all about.
LUNCH: The meal between snacks
Mahane Yehudah Pizza: Definitely the best slice enjoyed in Israel– thin crispy crust with a fragrant herb-blend folded into the dough, sauce that strikes the right balance between sweet and savory, and a layer of string-a-licious cheese baked to just the right doneness. People-watching in the reknown Mahane Yehudah shuk while munching on your slice…? Priceless.
Beet Ravioli stuffed with Goat Cheese: The logical choice at the restaurant on a goat farm. Sweet, deep-purple hued ravioli stuffed with delicious “locally sourced” goat cheese and languishing in a puddle of rich red herb-flecked pasta sauce with a light smattering of grated parmesan. It was metsuyan!
Sabich: The fluffy pita, the crunchy salad, the sliced hard boiled eggs, the slippery slices of fried eggplant, with generous dollops of hummus and tehina, and just the slightest drizzle of bright orange umba (mango chutney)- easy on the fresh parsley. Score another one for Mahane Yehuda Market!
An unassuming storefront tucked quietly into Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv. A vegetarian restaurant turning out inventive and tasty riffs on Middle Eastern fare.
Rocket Salad : Take your tastebuds to the moon! Beautiful, sweet, firm rrripe crimson tomatoes cut into wedges on a bed of peppery rocket (arugula), globs of rich and creamy burrata mozzarella, chunks of buttery avocado, and strewn with lima beans-cooked to this side of al dente. All finished with high quality olive oil and a bit of sea salt and pepper. Bringing home (again) the notion that simple is best when done with excellent ingredients.
Falafel Samosa’s with Sweet Potato Chutney: Bite-sized mashed falafel spiced chick peas swaddled in a tender oven-baked crust. Served with a sweet and slightly tangy chutney dipping sauce.
Roasted Eggplant & Tehina Gnocchi: Soft and sumptuous pillows of exotically flavored gnocchi. An example of fusion food that is relevant and well executed.
FRUIT: Nobody makes candy better than nature
Figs: Palm-sized, smooth-skinned, dark violet on the outside. Sweet, delicate, and yielding on the inside. Another delight available in bulk at Mahane Yehudah.
Watermelon: Everything you’re looking for in a wedge of watermelon can be found in an Israeli supermarket. Color: Deep blush pink that verges on bright flush red. Texture: Offers a wonderfully pleasing snap to the bite. Flavor: Sweeter than the sweetest candy. More refreshing than a gallon of water.
SWEETS: Gotta have ’em:
Nutella Focaccia: La Lasagne in Tel Aviv is known for its lasagna natch, but its Nutella Focaccia definitely rates a mention. The melted nutella that oozes dreamily out of the crunchy toasted focaccia bread with the sprinkling of powdered sugar on top is a gorgeous specimen of sweetness. And another example of how simplicity with a little inspiration can go a long (and delicious) way.
Nectarine Sorbet: Are you sure this is dairy-free? Really sure? Because this sorbet tastes creamy and smooth and like sweet nectarines. And it has the density of ice cream- real dairy ice cream. And licking it while strolling along the promenade at Tel Aviv Beach takes it to the next level of refreshing.
DINNER: One last bite:
Sineya & Fries: A spicy, juicy, sloppy joe-style burger with piquant zig-zags of flavored mayo all enveloped in a custom made pita that is soft enough to the bite but sturdy enough to withstand sogginess. Served up by a scrappy Israeli who had a dream of opening up his own place right off of he main drag in Jerusalem (Ben Yehudah Street). It’s called “Just Meat”- but the fries are pretty damn good too- crispy, stubby, and well-salted!
Duck Burger: No, not a burger made out of minced duck meat (there’s an idea), but still a really good burger topped with a slice of duck proscuitto and a nice sharp shmear of Dijon. Another great chance for people-watching on Dizengoff in Tel Aviv. Popular with brothers, husbands, and sons….