I was warned about Israeli breakfasts. That they would be a glorious groaning board of cucumber & tomato chopped salads, farm fresh eggs, citrus fruits, rich cheeses, velvety yogurts and fresh espresso coffee in all its variations. And they were every bit as wonderful as promised. But no one told me about the bread. The BREAD. OMG, the bread was fantastic everywhere we went.
Israeli breakfast in Haifa
Rugelah from Abulafia
Yemenite Bread in Safed
Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem
With such bounty at each Israeli breakfast spread, you’d think we would have gorged every morning. But no. As our two week vacation went on, our breakfasts became simpler and simpler. We tired of the endless buffet. We were happy to just have fresh baked bread and coffee.
Israel got the memo. Crusty bread is
essential. We had the most delicious whole grain breads, seed-splattered loaves , light but chewy baguettes and exotic arab flat breads. All were crisp, crunchy and earthily delicious when spread with creamy cheeses, honey and jam or dipped into the endless variety of bean and vegetable dips. We couldn’t get enough.
I walked all over Paris to pick up my iconic loaf from Poilane, I dream of the perfection of S.F’s Tartine’s breads and joyfully gobble whole wheat loaves and dense challah made by our Burlingame friend, an attorney turned brilliant baker. I lust for crust…and Israel delivered.
Here’s a couple of stand-out bread spots you can find on your travels through Israel tho everywhere you eat you’ll find yummy breads & crackers at your table.
Yemenite bread in Safed. There are no good restaurants in Safed so don’t even try. Just go to the Alkabetz Steet ( an outdoor marketplace of shops, galleries and more) and stop at Ronen’s food stall Almost like pizza, this aromatic bread is quickly cooked with spices and cheeses. It’s so good, it even has a tripadvisor review!
Haj Kahil in Jaffe. This elegant arab restaurant served extraordinary small plates of lyrical arab fare. But what had us at hello was their crisp flat bread coated with a wild array of toasted seeds. We tore it apart as we dipped into various egglant, hummous and vegetable preparations. Best. Bread. Ever.
Farmers markets throughout Israel. Make your own picnic lunch or just munch your way through the kaleidoscopic bazaars in Jerusalem at the Machane Yehuda food market (Don’t miss the halvah stall!) and the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. Buy some bread at one vendor and cheese at another and some fresh dates, figs and other tasty treats.
Finally, as those who know me, this woman cannot live by bread alone. She must have sweets! Best chocolate rugelah ? Go to the legendary Abulafia bakery in Jaffa. It’s worth the trip to Jaffa and has a wondrous array of breads and pastries but I only had eyes for rugelah (and you can do lunch or dinner at nearby Haj Kahil while you’re there).
If you are big on honey-based desserts (i’m not but S.O. is ) you should also try some backlava or honey/pistachio pastries that are stacked high in every marketplace. And at every marketplace, check out the cookie stalls with all their glorious crispy variety. I found some wonderful chocolate chip cookies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv markets.
Need something to wash your carbs down with? Cafes and espresso bars are everywhere in Israel. This is a highly caffeinated country. Israelis love their coffee, the stronger the better.
Bread, Chocolate and Coffee. In my book, that’s the epicurian holy trinity. And sacred eating experiences were found throughout our two week journey.
And a big shout out to superstar food blogger David Lebovitz whose fantastic photos and posts on his recent culinary tour to Israel got me pumped about all the great food we’d find on our own trip. We did indeed.