Capture the Culinary Magic of Israel – With a Class
BY Lee Saunders DATE 12/12/2019
“Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming, interesting and intoxicating to me,” said Anthony Bourdain, the late American chef, author and travel documentarian. In Israel, the diversity of the food reflects the diversity of its society – and can there be a more charming experience than returning home with tales and recipes from some of our favorite cookery courses around the country?
Tel Aviv – ‘The Most Exciting Place to Eat’
“Tel Aviv is the most exciting place to eat in Israel,” confidently stated one of Israel’s most well-known chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi. Indeed, while he and his team now run six restaurants in London, Israeli food continues to make waves around the world and is on the tables of many of the top chefs. In Tel Aviv, there are many hugely talented chefs offering enjoyable and personal cooking classes and workshops, so that you too can become an Ottolenghi! The Dan Hotels has also been at the forefront of the food revolution since it launched the incomparable Dan Gourmet Cooking School. Running for 5 years, Dan Gourmet, which recently underwent a significant expansion and refurb, offers a fascinating selection of cooking, baking and confectionery workshops, culinary tours, wine trainings and culinary lectures. From meat to fish, bread to confectionery, the skills taught at the Ort Dan Gourmet Culinary Center are hard to find elsewhere and one of the first kosher cookery schools around the world.
Among others – Delicious Israel offers you the chance to experience the taste and history of this diverse food culture. You can enjoy guided walking tours of the local markets – the famous Carmel Market, the spicily aromatic Levinsky Market, as well as nearby Jaffa – while the ‘Shuk and Cook’ tour takes you through the spice sacks and fresh fruit stalls to learn about the fresh and dried ingredients critical for Israeli cooking before cooking in a nearby local kitchen studio. Whether it is fresh tehina or sabich sliders, Israeli chopped salad, chicken shawarma or Moroccan style fish, you will value this insight into the tricks of the trade.
Another of the city’s most popular classes is offered by Orly Ziv, the author of Cook In Israel. After starting with breakfast in Carmel Market, she will take you on a historic tour, tasting different ethnic foods and spices along the way before shopping for the cooking class at her home. Learning a range of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, you will cook around six fresh plates, returning home, armed with a booklet filled with recipes.
Jerusalem’s Chefs Dazzle You
While Ottolenghi indeed loves Tel Aviv, his native Jerusalem is also filled with talented local chefs, ready to dazzle you with their recipes and keen to showcase the best local food available. Among them – Tali Friedman, a Jerusalem native chef with over two decades’ experience in professional kitchens in Israel and abroad. Her stomping ground is the iconic and captivating Mahane Yehuda market, home to a kaleidoscope of fruits and vegetables, mountains of spices and addictive smells. Her 5-hour experience draws visitors from around the world, eager to explore Israel from a different perspective. The 90-minute tour of the market samples the range of flavors leaping out of its nooks and alleyways, takes in anecdotes from the vendors, before returning to her charming nearby Atelier Culinary Studio to prepare a meal. Another highly recommended Jerusalem-born hostess and chef, Atalya Ein Mor offers culinary tours in different areas of Jerusalem and her village, bread baking and pastry workshops and also the possibility of preparing a fresh and delicious meal in her home in Ein Karem – a charming, historic, hillside village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Passionate about the culinary heritage of the region, she champions local ingredients and takes you on a food and wine journey, with the stunning backdrop of the Judean Hills. The popular Eat & Meet Jerusalem will take you on a private culinary tour in the Nachlaot neighborhood, as well as Mahane Yehuda, before an exciting cooking class at a nearby kitchen. You will peel, slice, chop, grind, bake and fry a delicious and colorful feast of the local cuisine, including falafel, shakshuka, the classic Israeli dish of eggs cooked in spiced tomatoes, and the twisted traditional bread known as challah.
Galilean Hospitality Leaves You Breathless
In the north, you can experience Galilee’s rich flavors and legendary Druze hospitality in a village cooking class near Haifa, with Galileat. Head off from one of two Dan Hotels in Safed or Nazareth and explore the taste of the Galilee. Join a Druze, Muslim or Christian family for a traditional coffee then prepare a seasonal menu, while learning about how people live in the rural Galilee. Local favorites include maqluba, a meat, rice and vegetable dish flipped upside down, rolled grape leaves, smoked green wheat and regional vegetables that give the dishes with a distinctive Galilean flavor.
While thousands of restaurants in Israel can ensure that you eat well. Culinary tourism and cookery courses, though, allow you to explore the tales of the locals, inhale their flavors and taste their history.
Written by Lee Saunders