I admit I am a bit of a foodie. I love to taste new things, cook new dishes, and am always trying to learn more. I was so excited to find a cooking tour that I salivated for weeks at the thought of finally learning just what it was that I was missing in my attempts at making Israeli foods at home.
We were fortunate to have a gorgeous day for our tour of the Shuk. I met up with Orly and the group and we immediately headed over to the Yemenite Quarter to a shop that sells fresh pita. I would never have thought to look for this place because there are no signs, and it looks like you’re walking into the back of someone’s apartment, but lo and behold there lies the pita man- Making and selling the freshest pita I have ever sampled.
Next, we head over to another hidden gem for a breakfast of shakshuka hummus. Yes, I meant to put those words together- we had shakshuka on top of hummus. Shakshuka is a very common tomato and egg dish that is served at most restaurants for breakfast. On top of fresh hummus, with Yemenite bread, or Saluf, it was simply divine!
After we ate, Orly took us into the Shuk and we proceeded to visit the stalls to purchase the produce that we would need to create our feast. We stopped at a very clean, English speaking spice shop and tasted the various spices we would need. We stopped to sample falafel, hamantaschen, fruits, and Druze flatbread stuffed with salad and bulgarit cheese.
I have to admit, I was quite full after just those 3 hours sampling so I was eager to head to Orly’s house and start cooking.
When we got to Orly’s house, a short twenty-minute drive included in the tour, we were issued aprons, a menu, and a cookbook. Orly’s charming husband welcomed us into their home and encouraged us to be comfortable, ask questions and above all have fun! “
We set to work chopping, grating, stirring, and tasting! Our menu for the day consisted of nine different dishes including: 2 different kinds of hummus, 2 different baladi eggplant dishes, cauliflower in tahini and silan, Israeli salad, shakshuka, tilapia with green tahini sauce, megadra, and fruits with a tahini crumble. Orly will customize your cooking journey based on your tastes, preferences, and curiosities.
I feel like I got lucky because we had a lot of dishes with tahini and truthfully, I’ve just never been a fan. But I’m glad to say that my world of tahini has broadened!
One of the most exciting parts of this whole day was the eating! As promised, we ate with Orly’s family and were encouraged to ask whatever questions we had about Israel, cooking, Judaism, politics, traditions, anything. I was in a group with an Irishman and a German woman and we had so much fun comparing foods, mentalities, religions, and travel experiences.
We sampled several Israeli wines with our meal and by dessert I was beyond full. Dessert included the yummy seasonal fruit with tahini crumble, Krembo, shredded halvah, hamantaschen, ice cream, Nutella, fresh dates, strawberries, and some much-needed coffee.
Absolutely! Cook in Israel tours are small- Orly really believes strongly in providing a quality experience and personal attention so groups rarely get larger than 6. She’s given tours for people anywhere between the ages of 9 and 90. Orly is a trained dietician so although I was stuffed like a turkey, I was comforted by the fact that the foods were healthy, fresh and good for me.
What you learn by the end of the day is that “Israeli food” is really a mix of the different cultures that have settled here. You are taught the core of these recipes and when you go home you are free (and encouraged) to alter them. Maybe add more garlic, if you like, or less onion, if you don’t care for onions, whatever you like you can do! Orly just demystifies the ingredients and shows you how to put them all together.
Cook In Israel
+972 54 4649706
Tours are in English.
Prices include ingredients, travel to and from the Shuk, a souvenir apron and take home cookbook with the recipes you learned during your tour!