A country rich with some of the most fascinating historical sites in the world, Israel is also a fantastic destination for hedonistic pursuits — food especially.
The cross-cultural nation offers visitors a heady mix of Mediterranean and cosmopolitan fares. Here are some of the best ways to explore the Israeli gastronomic scene.
Israeli markets offer mouthwatering displays of locally grown produce, colorful spices and dried fruit and enticing cheese, breads and other delicatessen.
To help you make the most of your visit to some of the most popular markets in the country — Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda, Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel and Levinsky Market — a “bite card” is the best way to sample food throughout the alleys following a suggested itinerary, get discounts on your shopping and meet the lively and talkactive stall owners.
Similar cards are available for the charismatic Jaffa flea market, Nazareth shuk and Jerusalem’s Old City.
With your own culinary tour guide you’ll be able to delve into the distinct features of Israeli cuisine, following tailor-made suggestions.
Wandering through markets and tasting typical food along the way, you’ll unravel the stories of the cities you are visiting, whether it’s Jerusalem’s enchanting Machane Yehuda market and Nachlaot neighbourhood or Tel Aviv’s “White City”.
Your guide will be an invaluable source of recommendations and addresses for further food explorations.
For those looking for a unique cultural experience and an opportunity to come into close contact with authentic traditions, we recommend a tasting tour around the ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Bnei Brak on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Here the inhabitants’ strict respect of religious laws can also be seen in their keeping recipes dating back to the shtetl on the menu.
Meanwhile a visit to the Yemenite neighbourhood in Tel Aviv, an atmospheric area of small and meandering streets with low-rise houses, offers an immersion into the flavoursome and spicy food of the Jews from Yemen.
Fancy learning some of the local culinary tricks in a relaxed atmosphere?
Join a hummus making workshop to find out how this middle eastern staple is made or a challah baking workshop where the secrets of the traditional braided bread eaten during the Jewish Shabbat will be revealed.
You can also take part in a cooking workshop following a tour of the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, where you’ll have sourced all the ingredients to cook up a feast.
Israeli wines have been winning international accolades for years thanks to the country’s fine vineyards. Wineries like Dalton, Tishbi, Tzora, Golan, Recanati and unique boutique wineries like Margalit, Clos de Gat or Domaine Du Castel are not to be missed for wine lovers, while visiting Israel.
Going on a private winery tour to the sites where these outstanding productions are made is a great way for connoisseurs and amateurs alike to explore beautiful landscapes, such as the Judea Hills, Napa Desert or the Golan Heights.
There are options to combine leisurely wine tasting with cycling, jeep tours or to create itineraries around boutique wineries, too.
Words: Sonia Esther Soltani