Friday, June 26, 2009

Culinary Tour, Part 2

We woke up this morning and Abbie met us at 9:15 am. We drove about a half hour to Rosh Pina, one of the most western-appearing suburbs I've yet to see in Israel. Upon entering the town, we saw what appeared to be an American strip mall, with cafes and shops and PLENTY of parking (which if you ever come to Israel, and I hope you do, will mean something to you). The only difference was that the signs were in Hebrew. It was a bit disconcerting, actually. So un-Israeli. We drove up into the hills of Rosh Pina and stopped at a house where they hosted a Friday morning brunch. All Thursday evening and Friday morning they bake- savory pastries, sweet pastries, breads, quiches, etc. The whole time as you are eating, people are stopping by to pick up pastries and breads for their Shabbat and weekend. It was really a lovely atmosphere, eating in their garden. We started with fruit and a fresh cheese and a yogurt, cucumber and mint sauce, then they brought out this basket of savory breads and pastries. I really wanted nothing else. Seeded breads, cheese breads, cheese and mushroom and veggie stuffed pastries with crusts so flaky they actually melted in your mouth. Really melted! They also brought out a plate of their farmstead goat cheeses, maybe 5 or 6 in number. All different flavors, ages, and styles. It is hard to decide which place had better cheeses, yesterday or today. When I was stuffed, they brought out the quiches. I could barely move by the time we were done. I was lucky that the dessert pastries were only a few in selection, else I never would have made it out of there,

We were there until about 1:30 pm, and then we made the decision to drive to Sfat. By the time we got there, things were beginning to close down for Shabbat. Ari Ashkenazi synagogue was closed, but as we were looking in one man did stop and offer to teach Patrick how to put on tefillin... I thought that was cute. We did visit a couple of art galleries and one cheesemaker, Sfat Cheese (we bought three kinds of cheese, some excellent halvah and a few stuffed grape leaves). Hameiri cheese closed about 15 minutes before we got there. Too bad. We ended up leaving about 4 pm, and got back to Nazareth around 4:30 or so. Thanks so much to Abbie for an excellent tour, and a wonderful sense of the culinary offerings of the region. I would recommend you to anyone!

We did not have plans for Shabbat, and Nazareth is an Arab town mostly, so I decided to not make a big deal about it and we went out for dinner. We walked to Diana, a well-known Nazareth institution, and when we got there it appeared to be closed! What to do? I called the number, and a man answered, sounding as if there were a lot going on in the background. When I tried to explain where we were, he said there were actually two Dianas, and we were at the one only open during the day. He would come and get us, since we were not going to be able to find it on foot. I could not believe the hospitality!

He arrived in about 8-10 minutes, and drove us to the restaurant. We really never would have found it. Within 3 minutes of our sitting down, 17 small dishes had arrived at the table. All differing vegetable and herb salads, lots of different veggies in tahini sauce, eggplant several different ways, with the most amazing fresh pits bread. Pita bread in America will never be the same for me again. It's flat and dry, whereas the stuff here is fluffy and soft.

We saw the chef making kebabs and it was one of their most brilliant ideas to have him working before a huge glass window. This man can cook. Wow. Can't wait until I can post pictures.

When we were done, the same server brought us back in his car to the Old City, even closer to our hotel than where he picked us up. We asked for a taxi, but he would not hear of it. We gave him a nice tip, but it was still an unbelievably nice thing for him to do.

Not as fulfilling as a home Shabbat, but we are not at home, so for those rare times I will make an exception.


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