While Israel is known for its delicious falafel dishes, not all chickpea balls are made equally. The nuances separating the greasy, mushy falafel from the light, fragrant version can really make all the difference. Here are some falafel favorites in Tel Aviv.Read More
By: Lindsay Stein, originally posted on Nom Nom dot Com
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to work for Delicious Israel, a specialized culinary tour company. Creator and guide, Inbal Baum, makes tourists feel like locals by taking them to "off the beaten path" secret hot spots in markets they would have never known about, making sure all traveling foodies and culture-seekers experience authentic Israeli cuisine. I had the absolute best summer in Tel Aviv, thanks to Inbal and my co-workers, and met so many unique people along the way.
The Levinsky Market tour is my personal favorite because of the strong history and personality each vendor has to offer. Shuk Levinsky has tastes from all around the world. Here you can find everything from Turkish burekas to Polish herring to Syrian cured olives. However, the most meaningful aspect to this tour is that almost all of these shops have been family-owned for several decades. You can feel (and taste) the passion and love in each bite.
What are my favorite stops on this tour?
Yom Tov Deli: At this family-owned shop for over 40 years we taste an antipasti plate with Turkish cheeses, olives, roasted garlic, pepper and homemade grape leaves that is made by the family's 93 year-old grandfather. I enjoyed speaking with Eitan- he told me his grandfather made aliyah to Israel in 1969 and ended up meeting his wife in the Levisnky market.
Penso Burekas: This bakery specializes in burekas, the savory filled pastries made out of flaky phyllo dough. The Penso family opened up this third generation shop in 1965 and have attracted many people, even celebrities, by their unforgettable burekas.
Cafe Levinsky 41: Here, Benny Briga concocts a drink called Gazoz, a soft-drink made with fruit preserves, herbs, chia seeds, seltzer water etc. You don't order anything, Benny makes you whatever he feels like. Whether it be apricot, plum or mango, you won't be disappointed.
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After opening just two years ago in the Levinsky Market, Café Levinsky 41 has become an establishment for hipster locals. Walking by the café, one may wonder what they could possibly serve from such a mini stand that resembles a wizardry lab. I urge you to find out. Gazoz...Read More
While the Carmel Market's hipster Meat Market stocks nearly every cut of meat you could possibly imagine (thanks to the massive meat fridge behind the working area), Nati told us that ground meat is the most commonly sold item. “The Denver cut of a ribeye is my favorite cut of meat,” he said.
Israeli cuisine is a culmination of traditional foods from surrounding countries and areas.
Being a “melting pot,” Israel has adopted foods that have arrived from many immigrants,
such as from Yemen, North Africa, Turkey, and Iraq, among many others. Here are some
traditional “Israeli” dishes that you can find while exploring the delicious country of Israel.
- Sabich- a street food made of fried eggplant, hard boiled egg, tahina, and vegetables served
- Pita- a slightly leavened bread used as a sandwich in many dishes of Israeli cuisine. Most often served with falafel and tehina inside of the pocket
- Hummus- dip made out of pureed chick peas and tahina
- Falafel- a Middle Eastern dish made of deep tried chickpea balls
- Schwarma- grilled lamb or meat that is often “shaved” and served in a pita
- “Israeli Breakfast”- typically includes fresh juice, coffee or tea, eggs, Israeli salad, cheese, freshly baked bread, jam, and butter
- Shakshuka- a traditional Israeli breakfast, stemming from North African cuisine. A breakfast staple made up of poached eggs smothered in a tomato sauce with sautéed onions
- Bureka- small Turkish pastry filled with cheese, spinach, eggplant, vegetables, or meat
- Schnitzel- fried chicken cutlets
- Haloumi- a cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk, producing a soft cheese that can be fried or grilled
- Labane- a thick yogurt-based cheese typical in Israeli breakfasts
- Tzfatit- a semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s milk. First produced in Tzfat by Meiri dairy
- Knafeh- a dessert made of shredded pastry, soft cheese and a sweet syrup
- Babka- a dessert made from double and twisted dough which often contains a cinnamon or chocolate filling topped with streusel
- Halva- made out of sesame flavored tahini, halvah comes in many different flavors including chocolate, nut, coffee, and hundreds more
- Rugelach- a Jewish pastry made with cream cheese dough rolled around chocolate, jam, or cinnamon
Spices and Condiments:
- Za’tar- a spice mixture that is popular in the Middle East, served usually on meats, vegetables, hummus, or pita
- Sumac- a reddish spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. Commonly used in Israeli salad and sauteed onions
- Doa/Dukka/Duqqa- an Egyptian spice mixture made of salt, coriander, peanuts, chickpeas, mint leaves, and sesame seeds
- Tahina- prepared sauce of ground sesame seeds (tahini), lemon, and garlic. Tahina is often eaten with falafel and pita
Snacks and Drinks:
- Bamba- a peanut butter-flavored puffed maize. Bamba also comes in other flavors as well
- Lemonana- a drink made up of lemonade and mint that is often served frozen or blended
- Hafuch Coffee- literally means “upside-down” which consists of frothed milk on the bottom and espresso coffee on top. This is a cross between a cappuccino and a café latte
- Gazoz- comes from the word “sparkling water.” Gazoz can come in many different flavors including a combination of various fruits, spices, vegetables, and herbs
- Arak- a traditional alcoholic beverage in the Middle East made from anise
- Sahlab- a hot Turkish drink based on milk and wild orchid powder
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