katzefet & salads… how I ate my way through Jerusalem
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This is the reason I really go to Israel! Coffee Con Panna with extra katzefet (whip cream) .
My family thinks I drop everything for a few weeks to fly 11 hrs (in a cramped economy seat with a 2 yr old on top of me) out of my love and desire to just spend time with them. My husband thinks my visits to Israel has to do with what he calls my small “skirt shopping addiction” (can you say cheap, tznius and best darn denim skirts ever..). I tell my friends I am going for the spirituality and the awesome ability to pray at the Kotel almost every day (true, but I am quite sure g-d hears me just as well in good ol Lakewood).
But NOPE – I GO FOR THE FOOD!
I have been here in Israel for almost three weeks and I am stuffed!! Not just from Yom Tov, but because I am alone this trip, me and my 2 yr old daughter Tunie B. (dad had work obligations ) I get to spend my days entertaining myself – FYI -so awesome having no worries about hubby checking his watch as I take my time strolling from store to store.
My taste buds go into over drive the minute I walk out my mother’s front door in Rechavia. Centrally located in the heart of Yerushalyim, 15 minute walk from Kotel/Mammila, Ben Yehuda, Aggripas Street Shopping (shuk market place) and Geula (ultra othrodox area) the choice is mine to journey any where.
Hot “homemade” syrian delicacies -kibbeh, leh majen, cigars, pastels in a food kiosk on Rechov King George
It is truly overwhelming the sheer amount of eateries that are packed into almost every street. Unlike any other city in the world (Paris might be the one exception) 90% of them are KOSHER, making this foodie girl feel like she went to food heaven and feeling supremely grateful she remembered to pack her elastic waist band skirts! (no joke -it is official – ELAL will be charging me a fee for my extra poundage!)
With my very handy-dandy excuse that I am now officially a “food blogger”, I decided this trip, I was going to explore any eatery that caught my eye and looked like they had something truly awesome and delicious for me to try.
My daily goal – spend less than $60 a day for 3 meals – and INDULGE in all things YUM that Israel has to offer.
Here is my typical food day in Israel as I stroll the streets of Yerushalyim.
A typical Israeli Breakfast on the menu : whole grain or white bread, choice of eggs any style, 7 + spreads & cheese, Granola w/ yogurt, israeli salad, & fresh squeezed juice or coffee (this one cost about 48 shek = $13 (Cafe Greg in Mammila)
On the Menu for Lunch or Dinner: A fantastic salad whose combined ingredients when eaten together in one savory bite, was just deliciously satisfying on all levels.
When I had my restaurant, I would get divine salad inspiration for tastebuds menu every visit I made to Israel. Items like the Talandi salad or the Grilled Portabella Salad that were huge tastebuds cafe hits – all originated here in Israel.
I have had at least 2 salads a day since I am here, so you can do the math, as far as how much I have eaten – but here are my favorite ones that I have eaten thus far this trip.
(prices for these salads ran around 36-52 shek = $12-$18)
Sweet Potato Salad @ Cafe Aroma in Ramat bet Shemesh – I had lunch with some of my newly adopted “sister’s” friends the other day & this salad was surprisingly delish. Not normally a huge fan of lentils, this salad had all the best elements of a great BRUNCH salad; lightly sauteed sweet potatoes, fresh creamy goat cheese, crunch al’dente lentils, dried banana chips, sliced red onion, a little chopped pecans, crasins and honeyed granola all on a bed of mix greens & sprouts. Topped with a really subtle light lemon honey vinegarette type dressing, this salad was too good to share
The Sesame Salmon Salad@Cafe Cafe in Mammila
My favorite combination of hot & cold salad. Perfectly grilled baby salmon marinated in a garlic ginger teriyaki sauce, hot sauteed vegetables cooked in the same marinate; peppers, zucchini, carrots, onions & bok choy all served on bed of a cold mixed arugala & baby spinach with a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds as garnish.
My obsession with hot & cold salads continues with these other similar but yet sooo different mouth-watering salad concoctions:
The Hot Pan Salad @ cafe Hillel on Rechov Yaffo , no lettuce in sight – just a delicious hot sauteed vegetable salad that had
cherry tomatoes, cabbage, sprouts, onion, baby portabella mushrooms, walnuts, pine nuts, carrots and red pepper all cooked in a tangy sweet teriyaki sauce. Topped with shredded bulgar cheese that slowly melted into your salad as you started to eat.
The Asain Peanut Noodle Salad @ Greg Cafe in Mamilla Mall 2nd floor. Starving because I had skipped breakfast I had a late brunch that included this savory salad. Not really a salad, but not really a pasta dish either this salad combined the best of both worlds. Cooked Asian style noodles, combined with sauteed green beans, red & green pepper, baby corn, cabbage, sprouts, shredded carrots, scallions, champagne mushrooms, all dressed in spicy sweet garlic heavy teriyaki sauce. Finished with the perfect crunchy garnish of chopped peanuts. I highly recommend this cafe if you are in Mammila – skipping totally over the very overrated Cafe Rimon. Great kids menu 36 shek for kids meal – pizza or spaghetti (as large as adults), with drink & ice cream. Great atmosphere, and best view if you sit on the balcony.
The Fried Mushroom Salad @ TOF KAV Cafe in the Tachana (Central Bus Station) As I was waiting for the bus to Kever Rachel I needed to kill some time – I was hesitant to try the food from any of the kiosks in the food court (I am not a fan of “create-your-own” salads or sandwiches and none of the buffet style food that was being offered look appetizing). So I decided to take a seat at the one “commercial” type cafe that sits on the 2nd floor. To my delight they had the tastiest hot/cold salad and was all of a sudden very happy I had a 90 minute wait for my bus.
The salad included; grilled tomatoes, fried onions and champagne mushrooms that were smothered and sauteed in a red wine reduction, sprouts, black olives on a bed of baby spinach topped with my favorite shredded Feta cheese, and finally garnished with garlic sauteed spinach – YUMO!!
Fried Panko Cod Salad @ fishnchips in the shuk in Machne Yehuda (I loved loved this food kiosk and have gone back 4 times since I discovered it – watch for my post “shukgasmic” tomorrow.) Coated panko and toasted black sesame seed fried cod fish on a bed of fresh romaine lettuce, topped with some spicy fried sweet potatoes strings. All dressed in light sweet chili- soy based vinagrette – OMG so GOOD! Hands down the best salad I have eaten in Israel thus far..
With almost every meal I indulged in the most decadent of treats - the Israeli katzefet – there is nothing that I have ever tasted in the US that can compare to the thick, creamy, sweet heavenly whip cream that you get here. I can not begin to tell you why or what they are feeding those cows to produce such milk – but all I can tell you is that I keep myself dairy to the last possible minute most days, just so I can have my “good-night” decaf con panna – topped with extra katzefet to top off my day and end with sweet dreams.
As I travel with my daughter from cafe to restaurant to food kiosk I realized the apple does not fall far from the tree. And my little Tunie B. is becoming a gourmand in her own right, eating like a seasoned pro tasting and testing all the different pizzas, chips and creamy delights that this country has to offer!
And for all of you who are wondering if all I did was eat salads and whip cream while here in Israel? The answer is are you kidding? those were just the appetizers!