Monday, June 27, 2011

We've moved!

The Israel Food Tours blog has a new home, on the company's main website. Please go to www.israelfoodtours.com/blog.html to see our latest posts.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cottage Cheese Revolution

We've just gone through the Arab Spring and everyone's wondering where the next political uprising is going to take place.

The answer, at the moment, appears to be Israel! That Israel would have some sort of political upheaval probably surprises no one. The reason this time, probably will though.

Cottage Cheese.

That's right, Israel is going through a transformational societal revolution because of cottage cheese. Alright, so there is no massive revolution, but people are sure pissed off because of cottage cheese prices.

Upon word that cottage cheese prices would be almost doubled, a Facebook group was created to boycott the product. Word quickly spread, and already stores are reporting a 50% drop in cottage cheese sales. The Knesset is even debating the issue! Cottage cheese is an Israeli staple, with people eating it at any meal. I personally can't stand it, but most Israelis can't live without it. It will be interesting to see how this matter is resolved.

Just imagine what would happen here if hummus prices were to double!

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Would this work?

Would goat cheese and leek patties with orange zest and Jerusalem za'atar taste good?

This would be a vegetarian play on a traditional prasa recipe, making it super Israeli by adding the goat cheese and Jerusalem za'atar.

Jerusalem Zaatar. Copyright Liz Steinberg

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bisli has arrived in Portland, Oregon!!???

My mom recently called me, quite excitedly, to tell me that the local Albertsons is carrying kosher for pesach Bisli in advance of Pesach. I know that stores in New York and LA carry Bisli, but I was definitely surprised to hear that it has now reached Portland, let alone the kosher for pesach version. Anyways, glad to hear one of the world's greatest snacks (you can see in the pictures that Bamba has made it as well) is expanding beyond the huge US markets and venturing to smaller cities.

Here is the evidence. All photos are copyrighted to my Mom's new iPhone 4. 







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Friday, January 21, 2011

Going to Eritrea for Lunch

I went to Eritrea for lunch the other day with my friends Liz and Eitan. At least that's the initial story I've been telling people. Israel is home to hundreds of thousands of "foreigners" from China, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, and a variety of different African countries. Their presence and social issues relating to them are one of the more controversial and divisive issues in Israeli society at the moment.

Putting these issues aside, at least in this blog post, these groups have brought their culinary traditions to the country. The area around the old and new bus stations in Tel Aviv is home to many of these groups, and small ethnic restaurants are starting to pop up in the area. I went to eat at one of these places called Yergelum. I had read about Yergelum in Haaretz a few months back, and this article would play a crucial role in my meal as I would later find out.

Yergelum serves traditional Eritrean food, which is very similar to Ethiopian food. Injera, the Teff based bread, is a staple and it is used to scoop up the various dishes served to us. Upon entering Yergelum I received stares from dozen or so Eritreans who are clearly not used to see Israelis walk in to the restaurant.


You order not by the Amharic only menu, rather by pointing to the picture of the dish you want from the newspaper article.

Ordering was one of the highlights of the experience at Yergelum. The menu doesn't have a word of Hebrew or English, and the staff have poor Hebrew and English themselves. This meant pointing to the pictures of the dishes in the original Haaretz article to order. So while the menu had at least 20 dishes listed, I was only able to order from the five dishes whose picture were take for the article.

We ended ordering Shiro, Goat mutton, another vegetable dish, and two other ones I'm still not sure what their names are. Shiro is a mash of garbanzo beans, onions and the Berbere spice mix. I really liked the Shiro, although Liz and Eitan were not the biggest fans. The goat mutton was easily the best dish served. It has a lot of spicy berbere, and has a very rich and deep flavor. I could have eaten a whole injera filled with the mutton. The other vegetable dish was fine, but uninteresting. We also ordered a kind of dough in the shape of a volcano and some boiled dough with yogurt. They were both fine, but also a bit uninteresting.


The Shiro was scooped from the pot and put on the injera bread

The Shiro and mutton, the dishes with the Berbere really had a great depth of flavor and I would be happy to eat those anytime. I highly recommend visiting Yergelum for the experience and learning about a part of Israeli society that is often ignored or shunned. If you happen to know someone who speaks Amharic you might be able to order anything of the menu too. Who knows what great dishes I missed out on!


The Shiro, goat mutton, and veggies on the injera

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Olive Harvest Update - Olive Waste

This past October I particpated in an olive harvest of my friend Yarden's olive trees. You can read about the harvest here, which ended up producing 50 liters of oil. One thing that intrigued me at the olive press was the huge mound of waste that was created as result of the process. Outside the factory was a massive mount of olive pulp. It looked like dark wood pulp shavings from a distance, but smelled like a great olive tapenade. I asked a few people what became of the olive pulp, but nobody had a definitive answer for me.

I forgot about the olive waste until I recently read an article in Haaretz about an Israel company that is turning the olive pulp waste into a heating source. The olive pellets created, according to owner, do not release harmful gases when burned, and can also be used as a fertilizer. Today, most of the pulp is brought to a landfill or is not moved at all becoming a pollutant.

I don't have a fireplace, but for those of you who do, consider by olive pulp pellets instead of wood this winter.


Close up on tons of olive pulp



The pulp is spewed onto the mound throughout the day



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Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Leftover Matzah Ball Soup

January 1st this year, in Tel Aviv at least, was a cold and rainy day. The perfect day to make a soup out of leftovers around the house. As it was too rainy and cold for even the five minute walk to the store I started rummaging through the fridge and pantry to see what I had lying around. In the fridge I found a veal shank bone from some osso bucco I had made the other day. I had saved the bone to make some stock. I had a few veggies in the fridge too. However, it was only after looking in the pantry that the meal came together. From last Pesach I had a package of matzah ball meal.

Preparing the stock with onions, celery, carrot and veal shank bone.

I immediately started working on the stock. I diced the carrots, onions and celery and started sweating them in a big pot on the stove. I generously seasoned with salt and pepper. After about seven minutes I added the veal bone and thyme sprigs to the pot and sauteed for another minute. At this point I added a few cups of water and let the stock simmer for an hour and a half.

In the meantime I made the matzah balls by beating two eggs and adding the packet of matzah ball meal and a generous amount of spicy paprika. I mixed it together well and let it cool in the fridge while the stock simmered and developed. After the stock had been going for the hour and a half I strained the stock and eliminated the veggies and veal bone. I returned the broth back to the pot and brought it to a strong boil.

The matzah balls cooking away

I gently rolled out matzah balls and put them in the boiling stock. I like my matzah balls large and fluffy, so rolling them ever so lightly and as little as possible is critical. If you roll your matzah balls until they're compact you will have heavy and less tasty matzah balls. I let the matzah balls cook for about seven to eight minutes and the soup was ready.

The soup was really tasty, perfect for a cold, rainy day and a great start to 2011.
Yummm!



Recipe: Leftover Matzah Ball Soup

Ingredients:
1 Veal Shank Bone
2 carrots
2 onions
3 sticks celery
2 eggs
1 package matzah ball meal
Paprika
Salt and Pepper
Thyme

Instructions: See description above

Savor Israel
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