Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Israel Food

When it comes to food in Israel, I think the best way to tell about it is through pictures.  These were taken by both me and my friend Tamara who traveled with me. We'll both insert a few comments with the photos.

Loaves and Fishes Lunch on the Sea of Galilee

This day we had a very special lunch at a restaurant on the Sea of Galilee.  We took a boat across the lake to the restaurant in Tiberias and our bus driver drove around and picked us up afterward.  They told us the fish was called a "St. Peter's fish."  I looked it up later and it's a tilapia from the Sea of Galilee.  The cost of this meal was included in our tour so I couldn't tell you how much it was. There were several courses.

Deep fried ice cream and date balls

You can work up a good appetite for lunch by folk dancing on the boat
Pastry Shops



Nazareth.  I sort of wish I had bought some of these.  This was from our first full tour day and I thought I'd have another chance but didn't.


Fresh Juice Stands

Along the market streets you can find stands where vendors will make a fresh glass of juice to your liking on the spot. I can't say that I took advantage as we seemed to always be rushing by them with only enough time to take a photo.

Street Vendors

Via Dolorosa.  Israeli sesame bagels.  The vendor will put yours in a plastic shopping bag that has a tablespoon or so of either ground hyssop and salt or zaatar seasoning in the bottom of it.  Just tear off pieces and dip the fresh bread into the seasoning.
Fruit and nut vendor near the Zion Gate and the Last Supper Crusader Church in Jerusalem.  Our group mobbed him.

Samples were given

Don't pass up the figs and dates
Through the Zion Gate in Jerusalem


Sesame bagels are everywhere - take advantage
Abu Gosh Village Dinner

Most nights we had a buffet dinner at our hotel after a long day.  On our last night in Israel, however, we went to a village called Abu Gosh for a special meal which was included in our tour price. Abu Gosh is a combined Muslim and Christian village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The table was set with small plates of many types of salads and appetizers

kabobs - the main course

Preserved lemons in sauce - I could have eaten my weight in these
Hotel Buffets

Israel grown wines were available for purchase with dinner at our hotel dining rooms or lounges.  Also, Tuborg, a Danish beer, is apparently very popular in Israel although not available in the USA.

Well, we were indeed in the Land of Milk and Honey!
Fresh honey dripping from comb at our hotel on the Sea of Galilee

We had breakfast and dinner buffets at our hotels. It's a wonderful way to try many new dishes.
Dead Sea

Dead Sea
Dead Sea. This is breakfast.  Salads, pickles, olives, fish and other food that the western world might not consider to be breakfast foods are served and it is easy to get used to it.

There were also many various yogurt selections to enjoy with your choice of fruit, oats, salad or other delectable toppings.
Labne Lunch at a Druze Village
View from a roof at the Druze village.  We ate here on a Saturday because Jewish restaurants are closed on the Sabbath. The Druze religion is composed of an ethnic group found mainly in Syria, Israel and Jordan.

Labne - grilled flat bread with creamy goat cheese spread, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with zaatar seasoning inside

Olives abounded!

Lunch companions

Almost every day lunch would be a pita filled with a choice of two or three fillings.  Falafel (flavorful, seasoned chick pea paste formed into balls and deep fried) was available daily.  There was usually also Schnitzel (pounded, breaded, deep fried, chicken breast). Sometimes there was Shwarma (grilled meat - think gyro) or even kosher hot dogs. Salad and pickles were added to the pita and choice of filling by the restaurant or we lined up for a salad bar to add our own. Tahini-yogurt sauce or hummus was added and sometimes even french fries were stuffed into the pita.  The pita filled lunch was a quick way to have a tour group of 30 people fed and on their way again.  Our guide often took our orders on the bus and called ahead so they would be waiting for us.  Lunches averaged $10-12 USD per day although you could certainly spend more by adding a pastry or coffee.
Lunches usually included a choice of soft drink, juice or bottled water.  Many on our tour found the readily available bottled grapefruit juice to be a perfect, not too sweet, accompaniment.

Turkish Coffee:  a special treat for Sue!  We searched with  both eyes and noses for cardamom coffee but did find anyone selling it during our outings (although one of the shops our group  passed by as we journeyed through Nazareth did smell suspiciously of cardamon)  However, Sue did find a wonderfully strong cup of Turkish coffee at Mount Bental.


It would have been nice to have more time to browse the markets, but even with two weeks in Israel, there is far too much to see and do. So we took quick photos into shops along the way to view at a later time.


We agreed that it would have been great fun to go to an Israel grocery store, but time did not allow.

Special Buys

Silan, or date syrup, I purchased from the gift shop at the bottom of Masada. I did rip part of the label off opening it. The date syrup is mildly sweet and flavorful.
The sales lady at Masada told us to drizzle the date syrup over toast spread with straight tahini (sesame paste) in the morning. It is also wonderful on cream of wheat with nuts and dried fruit.

Zaatar or Zatar seasoning is made with different recipes, but it's basically a mild blend of herbs and spices which is used as a condiment to be sprinkled liberally on food at the table.  Whereas in some countries it is a blend of either thyme or oregano, ground sumac (for a lemony flavor), salt and sesame seeds, in Israel it seems to be mostly ground hyssop, salt and sesame seeds.