Outstanding! The only way to describe the ever-changing food experience of Israel. Over the years the country has expanded its palate and become more sophisticated, more international, but still steeped in middle-eastern pride. The sensational breadth of food choices for the kosher eater is unmatched anywhere in the world. Once again, we ate our way through Jerusalem with a brief sojourn to Tel Aviv. Join us as we share our food journey...
The Waldorf by Hilton
How fortunate we were to stay at this hotel. We spotted a 2-night online special, and we grabbed it since a stay at this property was on our wish list! From the minute that we arrived and when we were greeted by George, the ever- smiling doorman, we knew it was a superb choice. The service, the room, and the amenities were excellent. The food -- Let us tell you about it!
As in most hotels in Israel, breakfast is included. The Waldorf’s breakfast was absolutely lavish in presentation and assortment. In addition to a served menu which featured omelets, smoked salmon benedict and more, there was an extensive (or shall we say an extreme) buffet with hot casseroles, breads, salads, vegetables, fruits, a coffee bar, a juice bar and anything one can think of as a breakfast food. No need to eat again until dinner, but of course, we did!
And then, we were delighted to be invited as guests by the Waldorf for lunch on Shabbos, where we experienced another outstanding meal. The presentation was even larger than the breakfast buffet -- complete with salads, vegetables, deli and hot meats -- veal, chicken, beef, tongue, and of course, dessert. Do be aware that Kiddush grape juice is included, but wine is not. The dining room area is lovely as is the entire hotel.
Click here for our "conversation" with Waldorf Chef Itzik Mizrachi Barak.
La Régence at The King David
We have previously stayed at The King David, Jerusalem's most historic property which is still the chosen hotel for world leaders and international celebrities. It is also the popular location for "lobby dating" where prospective shidduchim candidates meet and greet. The hotel continues to live up to its much heralded past as an elegant Jerusalem landmark. How honored we were to be hosted for dinner by Haim A. Spiegel, the Director of Food and Beverage for Dan Hotels.
The King David is one of the stars in the prestigious Dan property “lineup” which is found throughout Israel and in Bangalore, India. The La Régence, led by Chef David Biton, is considered one of the top dining rooms in all of Israel. What a meal we had! Chef Biton has been recognized for his imagination, creativity and expertise in using contemporary food ingredients, innovative combinations and lovely presentations. The menu changes seasonally.
We were privileged to be served an appetizer and dessert tasting selected especially for us by Chef Biton, and then we chose our own entrees.
Appetizers included beef and wild rice crackers served with a horseradish aioli, Cacao and sesame crackers with shredded goose liver, Oxtail consommé with marrow bone,
Tomato leather filled with white fish sea bream salad and veal sweetbreads with cabbage. We must admit that some in our party were a bit squeamish about the oxtail consommé and the sweetbreads. Those that ventured a taste enjoyed them!
Between courses we were served a refreshing chilled mint-parsley granita. Excellent!
For our entrees, we selected Fillet of Beef, Lamb Chops, Beef Entrecote, and Wild sea bass schnitzel. Each was perfectly prepared and simply sensational.
Dessert - honestly, we were too full to enjoy the beautiful platter, which included mango fruit sorbet, chocolate olive oil truffles and marzipan cake. The evening was memorable, an exquisite gourmet feast. By the way, The King David's wine menu has been awarded the best of Israel for the 3rd consecutive. The restaurant's sommelier chose one of his favorites to pair with our dinner... Galil Yiron 2014. This wine selection is affordably priced at $27 and is available in the U.S.
Beef Entrecote at the King David Hotel 2014 Galil Mountain Yiron Lamb Cutlets at the King David Hotel
The Eucalyptus Restaurant
When you travel to Jerusalem, do not miss this experience. It is a one of a kind restaurant, created and run by a family steeped in the history of the Middle East. The food is a love letter to the past. The executive chef and owner, Moshe Basson, is the entrepreneur behind this restaurant. He is friendly, outgoing and a talented storyteller. Ask him to sit with you and share his family history.
It all started in 1960, when a child (Moshe Basson) celebrated Tu Bishvat (the new year of the trees) by planting a small eucalyptus plant in the yard of his parents’ home in Jerusalem. Under this very tree the First Eucalyptus restaurant was opened by the Basson Family.
The restaurant thrived, as did the tree, and it focused on local and regional produce. Moshe Basson, utilizing his schooling in agriculture and passion for studying ancient script, has created a menu with centuries old regional dishes. In time, he became an authority on herbs, indigenous edible wild plants and their culinary uses.
As the Eucalyptus restaurant thrived and evolved, it has become a landmark for showcasing delicious local food. The Eucalyptus is a member of the Slow Food movement, creating its menu according to the organizations guidelines. Moshe's son Ronny now works with him as well. In addition to the food, we were impressed by the friendly staff and the excellent service.
We were privileged to be hosted by Chef Moshe, and were thoroughly amazed by the number of traditional dishes he presented. Which was our favorite? We could not choose as each was scrumptious. The menu is truly a reflection of Israel, it's aromas and tastes. If you go, be sure and order some of the house specialties, and don't miss the fabulous Maklubah. The "Maklubah unveiling" presentation itself is a show. The star in (addition to the dish) is Chef Moshe!
Unveiling the Maklubah
Click HERE to visit the Eucalyptus website.
And click HERE to enjoy some Eucalyptus restaurant recipes and our conversation with Chef Moshe Basson.
The very knowledgeable Debra Nussbaum Stepen of Debra Tours led us on a kosher tasting tour of Machane Yehuda. We think that no visit to Jerusalem is complete without a visit (or two or three) to the shuk. Debra is a licensed tour guide, well-versed in the history and highlights of the area, and shared her recommendations on the best places to eat and shop. (She is also a kosher foodie!) Although her fee is high, $280 for up to 6 people, the tour is one of a kind. We enjoyed every morsel we learned and of course every bite we ate...especially our tasting at The Jachnun Bar!
And more Shuk eating...
How we love Fish'en Chips, The Jachnun Bar, halvah from The Halvah Kingdom,pastries from Berman Bakery, and of course rugelach from Marzipan.
Our Celebrity Coffee - One morning when we were having our coffee at Aroma on Emek Refaim, we were so excited to meet "Amare" ...Amar'e Carsares Stoudemire . Embarrassingly, we admit that we did not know who he was... but he was gracious and friendly anyway, and happy to take photos with many of the other coffee drinkers.. Since that meeting, we have done the research and now understand that he is not only a former American basketball star, a player and owner of Hapoel Jerusalem -- the Israeli basketball team, but also a Israeli winemaker . Whew!
More Food Glorious Food (and Drink)
One evening, we did sojourn out of Jerusalem into Tel Aviv, where we attended the KFWE - Kosher Food and Wine Experience presented by Royal Wine and its Israeli importer and distributor Zur World of Wine. The wines of Israel took front and center at this event, alongside outstanding classic and new vintages from around the world. Vintners from France, Italy, Spain, and yes, even the U.S. were represented. Particular favorites included Koenig Brut, Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Champagne Baron de Rothschild both the rose and brut, and the creamy, irresistable parve Walders line of liqueurs. The evening's food consisted of lavish buffets presented by some of Israel's most popular restaurants including Skyline, The Meat and Wine Company and Resto. Needless to say, the experience was memorable and we look forward to further tastes of many of these wines! Once again, we must acknowledge and thank David Herzog and the Herzog family. Due to their vision, hard work, innovation and foresight, the Herzog family changed the taste, availability and perception of kosher wine throughout the U.S. and the world, and redefined the kosher wine industry.
And when we weren't eating...
The most memorable time we spent in Jerusalem on this trip was our visit to Shalva. Shalva serves thousands of people with disabilities empowering their families with an
all-encompassing range of services from the ages of infancy to adulthood. Shalva gives equal access and opportunity to all participants regardless of religion, ethnic background, or financial capability. What began as an afternoon program for eight children in a local apartment, has grown into a national center serving an entire spectrum of Israeli society.
Due to the personal need, generosity and vision of the Malki and Kalman Samuels family, the Shalva facility is now a new, state-of-the-art building.. In addition to a professional staff, Shalva is staffed by trained volunteers, mostly teens and young adults from Yeshivas, schools and seminaries throughout the area. Visiting Shalva was a life changing experience for us. Although we saw young people with heartwrenching disabilities affecting motor skills, speech, vision and brain function, we left with joy knowing that these children have a happy place to spend time and reach their best selves. Shalva also gives their families a break. We encourage our readers to learn about Shalva by visiting the website shalva.org, and perhaps consider a visit or a donation.
Our granddaughter Shira Kalnitz, who is currently attending MMY seminary in Jerusalem, is one of Shalva's weekly volunteers, and she will be running with Team Shalva in the Jerusalem Marathon on March 15. If you would like to support the team (all of the donations go to Shalva), please use this link: http://www.run4shalva.org/my/shirakalnitz
Shira with her special friend
If you would like to hear the amazing Shalva band, visit this link: http://www.shalva.org/new/watch-the-shalva-band-on-the-rising-star/
We say L'Hitraot to Israel. We're grateful for the meaningful, wonderful and delicious time we spent in our homeland, and look forward to "Next Year In Jerusalem"!