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February 24, 2022

A Taste of Israel

Ayala Sender  CC BY 2.0 Malawach

Ayala Sender  CC BY 2.0

Tasty Israel

It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Perhaps, then, the best way to let Israel into your heart is to get a taste of the local Israeli cuisine. A culinary tour cuts right to the chase in giving you the fullest flavor of this holy – and wholly enigmatic – land. See the Baruch Haba Restaurant site for more about Israeli restaurants, coupons and deals.

Perhaps you thought Israel to be the land of the Jewish mother who stuffs you with heavy Eastern European delights? You might be surprised, then, to visit Blackout Restaurant in Jaffa, where it may prove difficult to get even a single bite of food from plate to mouth. As its name suggests, this restaurant is in the dark. Blind waiters escort diners to their seats. Pistachio gnocchi in a creamy poppy-seed and almond sauce or Barramundi fillet with black lentils in curry and garlic-dill yogurt dressing may sound delicious, but it isn’t easy eating in complete darkness. On the other hand, where one sense is missing, the others are strengthened. Textures, scents, and flavors are heightened for the fullest dining experience possible.

Nalaga’at Center

Blackout is just one part of the Nalaga’at Center experience, where work opportunities are available for those with hearing and vision disabilities. See a performance by the Nalaga’at Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble at the Nalaga’at Theater, followed by dinner at the aforementioned Blackout, or have a light dairy repast at Café Kapish, where the waiters are deaf or hearing impaired. The Nalaga’at Center also hosts workshops. The Center’s philosophy is to change the way we feel about people with disabilities, which also speaks reams about the loving nature of Israelis toward those who struggle with various challenges.  Make reservations online, Phone 972-3-633-0808, Fax 972-3-682-3715, or Email

Gila Brand  CC BY-SA 3.0 Standard Shakshuka Breakfast

Gila Brand  CC BY-SA 3.0
Standard Shakshuka Breakfast

Authentic Israeli Cuisine

The population of Israel is perhaps even more of a melting pot than that of the United States, with each immigrant culture bringing its own culinary traditions to the mix. You can sample any cuisine you choose or even some interesting fusion food, but at a certain point you might wonder: Is there an authentic Israeli cuisine? Is there a unifying factor to food in Israel?

Chef Moshe Basson decided to find out. At Eucalyptus  in Jerusalem, Basson uses only indigenous ingredients to offer authentic Holy Land cuisine. Diners get a taste of the kind of food that may have been eaten by Abraham or perhaps King David. This is the place to try Stuffed Jerusalem Sage Leaves, made with a variety of sage found only in the Judean Hills and Jerusalem, and Aubergine (eggplant) in Pomegranate Syrup. Phone 972-2-624-4331, Fax 972-2-625-3090, or Email

From the hummus and salads to grilled meat in a flat bread, Marvad Haksamin in Jerusalem has remained a local favorite for over 45 years.  A mix of traditional and trendy, Marvad Haksamin offers delicious grilled meats in kebab style, inside a flat bread, or a classic steak. An assortment of  homemade Israeli salads, ‘salatim,’ and fresh hummus topped with zatar, the unique middle eastern spice, are a great way to experience traditional Israeli cuisine. The restaurant’s new location on Emek Refaim in the upscale German Colony neighborhood  is filled with local Israelis who love their favorites at a great price. Phone 972-57 -934-5559.

Victor Grigas  Public Domain Variety of Dried Fruits at Market

Victor Grigas  Public Domain
Variety of Dried Fruits at Market

Virgin Olive Oil -Unifying Staple

Having sampled several Israeli food philosophies, it’s important to bear in mind that there is a unifying staple in all Israeli food, and that is olive oil. Once upon a time, the Italian oils stole the show. Today, Israeli cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oils are winning international awards and acclaim. Why not wind up your culinary tour of Israel with a visit to The Golan Olive Oil Mill’s Visitor Center in Katzrin? Here you can view a short film about olive oil production and then indulge your taste buds with a gourmet tasting of several flavors of local olive oils. Phone 972-4-685-0023, Fax 972-4-685-0142, or email

Did You Know?

Falafel is considered Israel’s national food and falafel shops can be found all over the country. Falafel ground chickpeas rolled into balls and fried with spices served hot and fresh in a pita with  hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, spices, and tahina sauce is simply delicious!

Category: Food, Jerusalem, Golan, Tel Aviv