A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry (Ecclesiastes 8:15).
So said Solomon – one of Jerusalem’s more notable personalities from the past two millennia – and so was the case during my visit to his hometown a couple of weeks back.
I believe I only began to scratch the surface of the good food scene in this ancient city. Whatever the case, here’s the scoop on some of the yummier discoveries from my time in Jerusalem.
As I said in an earlier piece, I really loved the included breakfast at my hotel and found it to be a highlight of my stay there. But I did manage to get out one morning and try brekkie somewhere else. I chose well too as my “Hearty Morning House Shakshuka” at homey café bookshop Tmol Shilshom was delicious and filling.
In an old house filled with an eclectic mix of furniture and shelving stacked high with books and tschotskes, Tmol Shilshom is situated down a tiny covered alleyway in a quiet courtyard and has a cosy “in the know” feel to it. Looking to finally getting around to writing that novel? This would be a splendid place to draft several chapters (in the mornings anyway as in the evenings the venue has been known to host events with well known writers reading their works).
As low key as Tmol Shilshom seemed on the Wednesday when I went, this café came very highly recommended. Indeed, it’s listed among the best spots in Jerusalem for breakfast in many a guide and online resource. In fact, Lonely Planet rates Tmol Shilshom’s shakshuka as “one of the ten best breakfasts in the world.”
How someone can make such a claim is beyond me (especially when I’m certain no Lonely Planet writer has ever eaten my momma’s breakfast). Still the shakshuka was an excellent and amply portioned morning meal served with sides of labaneh, tahini, salad, bread, jam, olive oil, balsamic, and especially tasty fresh grapefruit juice. And at 48 sheckles (about $£7.60 or $12), I reckon it was reasonably priced too. Tmol Shilshom’s coffee (in my humble opinion) was just okay though.
Tmola Shilshom is located at 5 Yoel Moshe Salomon Street, 9463305.
Mahane Yehuda Market
I really enjoyed the afternoon I spent strolling around the bustling Mahane Yehuda Market. Treats I liked the most from my Mahane Yehuda forage included scrumptious and cheap falafel stuffed in a pita with all sort of other morsels at the super popular shop on the corner of Mahane Yehuda Street and Ha-Tut Street; an also very cheap shot of “Royal Drink” (with cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne and more) from Uzi Eli, “The Etrog Man” on Ha-Egoz Street; picking up a bag of za’atar for cooking back home; generally just bumbling around taking lots of photos.
Located at the First Station – Jerusalem’s now defunct original railway station which has become an open air shopping centre with a great variety of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops – elegant yet approachable Adom is a smart restaurant for a fantastic meal. I’d go back! Dishes I sampled worth keeping in mind when you dine at Adom included the schnitzel with fries and tartar sauce; long cooked ossobuco with mash, and seaweed risooto with calamari and split blue crab. So, yeah, not kosher but very Mediterranean in a contemporary kind of way.
Find Adom at 4 David Remez Street, 9354102.
Barkan Wine Experience
My last few hours in Israel before getting dropped off at the airport were spent at Barkan Wine Experience. About halfway between Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, I thought it was an ideal relax for a few hours in the sunshine before hitting El Al security – and, of course, sample some local wine.
Israeli wine isn’t held in the highest esteem, and certainly much of what hits the market is very much of the plonk variety. But there are quality quaffs coming out of this tiny country with eons of wine-making tradition behind it (even if the industry there is fairly new) – and Barkan seems to be bottling a good number of them.
I was impressed particularly with Barkan’s Altitude range which highlights the altitude of the vineyard where the grapes are grown as a “main influential factor” affecting a wine’s characteristics. Well structured with a long finish and bit of oophm, the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Altitude +720 with grapes from vines in the Upper Galilee at an altitude of 720 meters above sea level was a true delight to sip.
I’ll wrap up my Jerusalem City Break miniseries with one more post to be published soon. Thanks!