Author: Ruth Nieman

Crembo….Israel’s National Winter Dessert

Last night I was introduced to the ‘Crembo’….Israel’s winter ice cream substitute and considered to be ‘the best thing ever’ by all sweet toothed Israelis. The Crembo is a thin biscuit base, with a dome of unctuous, sweet, vanilla flavoured cream, with an almost Italian meringue consistency, smothered in rich dairy free milk chocolate and wrapped in foil. It is dairy free and therefore can be eaten after a meat meal. They are exported to the United States to mostly Kosher shops. Being a nation of coffee lovers, the Crembo can too be found in a coffee flavoured cream middle, but it is the vanilla flavoured confection that is still the favourite. Crembo is only found in the shops after the heat of the summer and as autumn begins. It is eaten only in the winter months, usually from October to February when is disappears from the shelves, to make way for ‘real’ ice cream. Once tasted, there is no going back from the national winter dessert….’The Crembo’

still hot for ice- cream….

With temperatures still lingering on in the 80’s, ice cream remains a hot topic with new parlours opening throughout Israel, with flavours to excite everyone’s taste buds. Ice cream, sorbets and frozen yoghurts with a taste of Sicily or Tuscany thrown in to the mix are delighting all of the country, with creative combinations of flavours to cater for all tastes. These new boutique parlours are missing no-one out, with sorbets and granitas for vegans, ice cream that is gluten free using rice flour as their substitute for wheat flour and all are being made with out additives or preservatives and using natural and local produce. Innovative infusions have caused a stir on the palate with the addition of warm spices or nut pastes added to the all the old favourites of chocolate, coffee and vanilla to name but a few…..pure decadence!!

The Coffee Culture…..

The coffee culture is Israel is one to be taken very seriously….. In 2003, Starbucks closed it’s 6 branches, as Israeli’s voted with their feet deciding that the coffee was not to their liking and favoured their own chains of coffee shops, namely Aroma, ArCafee and CafeCafe, as well as supporting independent businesses producing quality coffee for the locals. Coffee names in Israel differ from the UK or America, so when ordering a ‘latte’, you will probably find you are handed a “café hafuch,”, literally meaning “an upside down coffee”, but put simply, it is a rich espresso with creamy hot milk. Try the dark, aromatic Turkish coffee known as “cafe Botz” or “mud coffee”, with a heady cardamom spice or even “nescafe” Israel’s instant coffee, that is enjoyed all over the country and replacing the cafetiere or percolated coffee. Today is the first International Coffee Day, an excuse to enjoy the drink as well as “support the millions of farmers whose livelihoods depend on the aromatic crop”, so whether your drink is a cappuccino, …

a sweet new year….

It is tradition on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year to eat foods that symbolises the hope we have for sweetness in the coming year. Apples are used as a reminder from the times when the Israelites were in slavery, where the giving of a apple became the symbol of hope and from the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ we take our sweetener. Slices of apples dipped into sweet honey has become customary as our way of wishing family and friends a happy and sweet new year…..Shana Tova V’Metuka. Other food customs to bring in the new year include making a round Challah loaf instead of the plaited bread traditional on Shabbat, symbolising the continuity of the creation in the circle of life and the pomegranate, a fruit full of seeds, is also considered to be very special to have on the table as the ‘new fruit’, full of optimism for the coming year.

not enough tomato to be called a ketchup…..

Israel’s health ministry has ruled that Heinz tomato ketchup should be re-labelled and sold in Israel as ‘tomato seasoning’ due to insufficient tomato concentrate. Israel’s top selling brand of ketchup Osem, tested Heinz ketchup and found it contained a mere 21% tomato concentrate which is not enough to call it ketchup by Israeli standards, who require almost double the amount at 41%. Heinz ketchup dates back to 1876, where it made it’s debut in America and has since been accepted as the number one brand for ketchup exporting over 12 million bottles a year, without ever questioning it’s name or tomato content. With the Israeli standard for ketchup yet to be brought in line with the accepted international standards, Israel’s distributer of the Heinz tomato ketchup is reputedly looking into changing these regulations, allowing it’s name to remain unscathed on Israel’s supermarket shelves…..

Parisian style patisserie in Tel Aviv…..

In the newly opened Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, a slice of Parisian patisserie is making an impact with the arrival of Fauchon, French gastronomy at its best!! Established in 1886 by Auguste Fauchon, the French culinary traditions of using only the finest raw ingredients still hold true in his brand of chocolates and patisserie, now selling in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market. Éclairs, millefeuilles, truffles and macarons are just some of the delicacies that are sure to excite the tastebuds of Sarona’s shoppers….

a haven for all foodie’s…..

Inside the 140 year old former German Templar colony in Tel Aviv is the recently opened Sarona Market, Israel’s largest indoor market and a haven for all foodies. The 8,700 square metres of renovated building houses 89 food businesses, attracting the culinary elite with boutique restaurants, bars, cafes and specialty food shops, open seven days a week. The inspiration for Sarona came from many of the world’s wonderful food markets including London’s Borough Market, Spain’s La Boqueria and America’s Chelsea Market, attracting chefs, food lovers and tourists alike. Sarona is packed with local produce, as well as cheeses, pasta and patisserie from France and Italy, celebrating the modern cuisine of Israel. Celebrity chefs including Yisrael Aharoni and Segev Moshe have opened branches of their highly acclaimed Japanese and seafood restaurants here in Sarona, pleasing the locals and tourists alike with their food. Basher’s Fromagerie, the world famous French patisserie Fauchon and Israel’s own Tasting Room are too showcasing their culinary artistry, in a market in Tel Aviv that never sleeps….

the food of love…..

Tu Ba’av, celebrated on 15th Av, is both a traditional and modern celebration of love. In the time of the second temple, this day was a day of ‘matchmaking’ for unmarried women and today in Israel is it the ‘day of love’ likening itself to Valentine’s Day in England. Foods that we most associate with love are rich and unctuous, namely chocolate, honey and figs and there are many ways of serving these aphrodisiac’s on a plate, to show that food can be attractive to the eye and to the palate. The red and pink hearts are out in force in Israel today and menus in restaurants will reflect the mood of love, so whether it is a romantic meal, coffee and chocolate cake or just flowers and delicious chocolates…tantalise the taste buds with the food of love….      

Tel Aviv takes top spot for vegan travellers….

In 2012, Tablet Magazine noticed Tel Aviv was looking to cater for vegans as part of it’s culinary diversity and has now become the top destination of vegan travellers and holidaymakers. More and more Israeli’s are becoming vegans in an attempt to eat a more nutritious and healthy diet, packed full of fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses nuts and grains, yet still wishing to enjoy the culture of eating out. Israel’s national dish of falafel with tahini and salad in pitta found on every street corner is a delight for all vegan’s and now Tel Aviv has become famous for its vegan cafes and restaurants, including Domino’s, serving a vegan pizza. A year ago, Nanuchka opened it’s doors as a vegan Georgian restaurant and with excellent reviews, has become a thriving restaurant for all lovers of good food, vegan or otherwise….  

burnt down facing the sea….מול ים

Anyone hoping to visit the highly acclaimed seafood restaurant Mul Yam, in the beautiful Tel Aviv Port over the summer will be sorely disappointed, due to last night’s fire that saw the restaurant burn to the ground, from a short circuited freezer. Mul Yam was found in 1995 by Shalom Maharovsky, an importer of fine wines and seafood. In this stunning location and with the help of chef Yoram Nitzan, Mul Yam is considered to be an elite dining experience, commanding high prices for top quality cuisine through its use of the freshest ingredients, often airlifting it’s fish straight from ports around the world. Only a couple of months ago, it celebrated it’s 20th birthday, with tasting menu of outstanding quality and beauty, trying to attract a younger clientele who otherwise may not afford its prices. Having had knock backs before, we only hope that Mul Yam can get back on its feet in the very near future and will return with the quality, finesse and beauty of the acclaimed restaurant it is known for.