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Why do we eat cheese on the Jewish Holiday Shavuot?
By: Rebecca Kazhdan
Confession: I don’t know much about Shavuot. I do, however, know that I can get behind anything that celebrates cheese. Cheese is one of those guilty pleasures that I could eat all day long. Therefore, when a golden opportunity arises to have a non-stop dairy celebration, we all need to partake and honor the delicious goodness of cheese.
So what is Shavuot really about? To maintain some Delicious Israel blogging integrity, I sat down with my know-it-all friend (Google) to figure it out. Turns out it is a very important occasion and worthy of celebration. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people and they became a nation committed to serving God. The reasons for eating dairy include:
- Dairy is associated with the nurturing and love of a mother nursing her baby, representing the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai
- When the Jewish people received the Torah on Shavuot, they were commanded to only eat meat that was ritually slaughtered. The Torah was given on Shabbat when it was forbidden to slaughter animals, forcing them to eat dairy for the rest of the holiday.
- The Gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew word for milk (chalav) is 40, which corresponds to the 40 days and 40 nights that Moses spent on Mt. Sinai before bringing down the Torah.
There is no better time than Shavuot to introduce a recent obsession of the Delicious Israel staff, burrata! Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made up of mozzarella and cream. It has been around for some time, but only recently has been gaining popularity here in Israel. An article dedicated to the cheese was recently featured in Time Out Tel Aviv and is one of the most popular pizzas at De Peppe Pizzeria, a Delicious Israel favorite. Burrata can be found at specialty cheese shops - including in the Carmel and Machane Yehuda Markets - and is easily identifiable by a blue string tied around it. We recommend incorporating it in your Shavuot dishes this year!
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In honor of Tu B'Shevat, it is tradition in Israel to eat fruits and grains that come from the land of Israel, particularly of the "Shivat Minnim," the seven biblical species. The Israel Forever Foundation posts to remind us of the traditions and link to some holiday recipes, including the seven species salad - simple and delicious!Read More
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Thanksgiving came at a very fitting time this year. Generally, I am cynical about most American holidays. In past years I viewed Thanksgiving as an excuse to overeat and represent the official kick-off to the Christmas season, with Black Friday becoming a more anticipated day than Thanksgiving itself. But after a week of rockets bombarding the country, tens and thousands of soldiers being called to reserve duty and a bus being bombed right here in Tel Aviv, nothing seemed better than to come together with friends and express our gratitude. As the ceasefire was announced on the night before Thanksgiving, a collective sigh of relief was let out. Despite political differences, we were thankful to return to some sort of normalcy and a Thanksgiving dinner (celebrated here on Friday because we need all day to cook a turkey!) with delicious food and good company was the perfect way to ease back into that normalcy.
My friend Stephanie and several of her college friends who made Aliyah have a six year tradition of celebrating the holiday together. As the years have gone by, the number of attendees has grown and it was my first time joining the hosts and their forty guests at Stephanie’s apartment. The potluck style dinner gave me the chance to enjoy all of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes and then some. My personal favorite was the turkey, a collective effort of the organizers. Other tasty dishes included mashed potatoes, corn bread, sautéed green beans, quiches and a wild rice salad. My personal contribution was a cranberry-pomegranate sauce and upside pear and cranberry cake. The atmosphere was warm and friendly as we sat, ate and talked.
The unsettling events of the previous week made me appreciate this more than I could have imagined. I was thankful to be safe with good friends, living peacefully in my favorite city.
The same cannot be said of those in the south of Israel. If you’re interested in helping out, you can donate to our Sweet Support Initiative which provides delivers chocolates to the soldiers risking their lives on a daily basis to protect Israel and our democracy.
Written By: Delicious Israel Blogger, Rebecca Kazhdan.
Recently, I was given the treat of joining Inbal at the opening of the Dan Gourmet School of Kosher Culinary Arts. The high-class hoteliers have branched out to open a $2 million center giving aspiring chefs and home cooks the opportunity to take out their knives and sharpen their kosher skills.
Arriving at the entrance of the ORT Trade School in Yad Eliyahu, we were greeted by several well suited security guards and equally well dressed guests – not something I often encounter living in Tel Aviv. Correction, something I have never encountered living in Tel Aviv. After receiving our security clearance we walked into a nicely decorated white entrance room where a chef was preparing a very tasty mallard and sweet potato salad. We continued on to a hip outdoor patio that housed the bar and some well graffitied walls. Another chef was serving pastry dough filled with lamb, quince marmalade and a sauce of wine and silan – unusual flavors that came together to create a delicious bite.
Wine glasses in hand, we headed inside where a podium was set up for the various speakers that had come to support and help unveil Dan Hotel’s latest venture. The room had several additional chef stands and I learned that all of these chefs had come from Dan hotels all over Israel to share their talent and make the delicious food we were lucky enough to taste. The security clearance started to make more sense as speakers such as Stas Misezhnikov, the Israel Minister of Tourism, and Ami Hirschtein, President of the Dan Hotel Chain, expressed their excitement and wished success to the school and its future students. The speeches were concluded by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel, who provided his blessing as he hung the mezuzah.
We continued our culinary tour of the school and entered a huge room where a number of chefs were spread across stainless steel stations working with state of the art equipment. We filled up on tasty bites like Jerusalem artichoke, beef filet and ravioli, goose confit accompanied by Asian flavors and black tea smoked salmon.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the memo that dessert would be served. Stepping into the dessert room was like walking into every child’s fantasy. Over fifty desserts were beautifully displayed across the room. Being true foodies, Inbal and I took up the daunting task of trying each and every one. My favorite was a tart with figs, dragonfruit, raspberries, kiwi and pineapple. Inbal favored a decadent pastry with chocolate and pistachio.
The sweet end note left us happy and satisfied. The night showed me that the Dan Hotels have used their impressive reputation and brand name to create a Kosher friendly culinary wonderland that is waiting for culinary students, foodies and anyone interested in cultivating their skill!
A glimpse into Tel Aviv’s “off the beaten path” market - Shuk Hatikva - which is nestled in the Hatikva (means Hope) neighborhood. Renovated in 2005, the market is wide and airy, and is filled with locally grown produce and authentic ethnic cooking.
Brunching at Bakery 29 in Tel Aviv.
Delicious Israeli breakfast (chopped Israeli salad, healthy cheeses, dips, frittata(s), fresh baked breads, juices, and more) and salad. AND 100% of the profits goes to a fund to assist soldiers’ education. Eating and doing good.
In celebration of Yuval’s 17th birthday, Delicious Israel took four incredible ladies on a “Yom Kef” in Tel Aviv. The girls rocked up to the city in their private van to start the day - as any fun day should - people/doggy-watching on Rothschild with juice and breakfast at the kiosks.
After some shopping therapy, we headed to the market to buy some goodies for our lahoh and cooking workshop in the Yemenite Quarter. The “workshopping” continued to Neve Tzedek for bracelet making with designers Dave+Esty, followed by chocolate-making with Ika.
Pampering, delicious food, shopping, jewelry and chocolate with best friends - seriously, is there anything better in life!?
Heidi and Brian - Delicious Israel Hummus Crawl troopers, set off on a wonderful birthday mission for Heidi. To gorge on an excessive amount of yummmmmmy Tel Aviv hummus.
Four bowls of creamy masbacha, ful, Yemenite style and even Darfurian hummus later still left Brian’s stomach growling. Quite impressive actually.
I have been procrastinating the Delicious Israel blog for all too long. Thanks to Rebecca (my savior, seen below) I had a little fire under my tushie and she helped me get this moving. I decided to give Tumblr a try because so often I have a quick pic or update to share. Yet, I still have the sense that Wordpress will be more suitable for the long-run.
Will love any thoughts/opinions on this!