Being a long-term expat gives a person a unique perspective, as you well may imagine – an outside eye with insider access – and in the case of these bloggers, the ability to be ambassadors to the world at large. It’s been a while since I focused on food myself, and I want to highlight to whoever may be reading, a review of some incredible blogs – AND – their very special qualities. I’ve chosen and linked some specific posts to shed a light on the diversity of boutique dairies and cheeses, markets, spices, comfort foods, and out-of-the-way corners/villages/eateries that guidebooks would never even know to mention. Enjoy!
Milk, Dairies, and Cheese
Israelis love their cheeses, eaten (much to my chagrin, actually) very fresh. For fresh cheeses, however, they’re extraordinary. A huge variety of cow, goat, and sheep cheeses are produced by the largest and smallest boutique dairies all over the country. Baroness Tapuzina told us about her visit to the Ein Kamonim goat far recently. Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge posted about a comparison between camel, cow, goat, and buffalo milk, oh my! To add my recommendations on Israeli cheese, I adore the Markovitch Dairy – run by a sweet couple, on their own, with their goats, near Petach Tikvah – they make a cheese very similar to Camembert, with a blue center – during events they cater, they stuff big majoul dates with a softer goat cheese – to die for. A bigger better-known artisanal cheese-maker is the Jacobs Farm – they make a hard cheese with pimento and caraway seed that is so incredibly different – it took me a while to like it, but I adore it now.
Markets and Places
My friend Liz, of Cafe Liz fame, is truly a market connoisseur. Actually, most of these bloggers probably are, but I as know Liz well and we hang out in Tel Aviv quite a bit – she has been my personal ambassador to some gems. Here, she tells us about Ramle, an out-of-the-way melting pot of a little town near the airport with an incredible history. Here, a foray into the Levinsky Street market, undoubtedly the best place to buy spices in Tel Aviv – a bizarre 2-3 blocks of storefront if you’ve ever seen one. And in a post I highly recommend, Where to Buy Food in Tel Aviv, Liz compared the prices of several basic food items at the shuk (market), and several commercial and organic stores around town – with very interesting findings for the consumer.
Sarah has a whole page devoted to shuks (markets), that you should really check out. She’s written about Nazareth on a couple of occasions, somewhere most of us urban-folk would never venture. The food scene is incredible there, and the New York Times recently featured it in an article, “Nazareth as an Eating Destination.” A great pictorial is Spice Up Your Life in Nazareth, and a more complete anecdote is Nazareth Shuk: A Kaleidoscope for the Senses. Another great post is by Miriam Kresh, the veteran blogger of Israeli Kitchen, also littered with fabulous photographs. Miriam’s knowledge of the natural foods around us and the making of such basic (yet to us, complex) processes such as wine-making, soap-making, lotion-making, olive-pickling, and much more is astounding.
Comfort Food Around Us
The new Jerusalemite among us is Ariella, of Ari Cooks. A trained pâtissière, I love reading through her recipes. A recent post of hers focuses on soups, Soups for Thought, and it was so so so good. So apt for the winter, so cold this year, making up for last year’s heat wave. She links to several other soup recipes, so it’s an excellent resource. Miriam has a great post on pickling olives at home, a local staple, olives are. Sarah is hands down the kubbeh expert among us, and if you don’t know what these lovely semolina dumplings stuffed with meat are, do click her link. Here is also Sarah’s excellent, beautiful, and brief journey through Israeli foods, including the ubiquitous falafel, foreigners so know us by.
I have skipped so much and focused on too few blogs — the amount of recipes, the innovation of this cooking, this east-meets-west, foreign-domestic, old-new, always fresh outlook displayed by the food bloggers of Israel is inspiring. If you live here, I hope you choose to eat well and eat interestingly. If you don’t live here, when you visit, make food a priority. It’s so special and vibrant and fresh here.
Have a great week, all! Here’s to getting through the winter!