Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tiberias, Israel - The largest freshwater lake in Israel, sitting 209 meters below sea level, it is also the lowest freshwater lake on Earth. Tiberias has several excellent restaurants right on the water, which also includes a fabulous boardwalk for nightlife and shopping. We stopped at this restaurant, recommended by our bus driver. He was absolutely right, it was delicious. I wish I new the name of the place, but alas, it escapes me.

As every Israeli dinner, it always starts with the salads. This of course included hummus, pickled carrots, pickles, olives, a cabbage salad in a oil and vinegar dressing, eggplant with a tomato base, corn, and fresh pita bread. One of my favorite salads was the eggplant in a tomato base sauce. I hadn't seen this yet at any places and it was filled with flavor. Eggplant has a distinct flavor, and it was complimented with the sauce and spices.

For the main course, the restaurant sits adjacent to the lake, so what better dish to have is Tilapia caught that day. Several people didn't realize that it would be served whole, so they were taken back by the appearance. However, those of us who didn't mind seeing the whole fish, really enjoyed it. It is lightly pan fried and lightly spiced for additional flavor, but not too much to mask the flavor of the fish. It is served with chips, which were just standard fries, but when you dip it into some of the Israeli salads, the fries no longer taste like ordinary fries, I recommend doing this.

For desert, was fresh fruit. I'm not sure if they grow watermelon in Israel, so it might be imported, but I really don't know. It was nice to have watermelon given it was turning into winter at home and there was no chance to have it there. The highlight of the fruit desert was the dates. Usually, dates are dehydrated, when served, but these were not. These were served fresh and although they have the same flavor and texture as the dehydrated dates, they are much more juicy on the inside. It's not too much were it squirts out when biting into it, but it contains more moisture. Different and delicious.

After every Israeli meal, either tea or coffee is usually served. They offered us Turkish Coffee. Usually I don't drink coffee, but since I'm in Israel being served Turkish Coffee, I thought I would try it. I was pleasantly surprised! It was delicious. It was strong as Turkish Coffee should be, but they also sweetened it up. The coffee I've had in the past was bitter, so I'm not sure if it was prepared incorrectly the first time I had it or if this places prefers to prepare it differently, but I would rather choose this style any day. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - I decided to go back to the hotel after a very long and exhausting day. I rarely get hotel food, unless I'm complete out of it. This is "Handmade Pizza" from the hotel Dan Panaram. It comes with basically the works, tomato, olives, mushrooms, spinach, onions, and not necessarily my favorite, anchovies. I asked for the pizza to be vegetarian, but apparently there was a language barrier. So, in the spirit of not having it go to waste, I ate it. It wasn't as bad as I remember, but it was still pretty salty. Overall, it was a pretty good pizza, better than I expected. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tel Aviv, Israel - We finally have some free time for lunch in Tel Aviv and we're out looking for a good place to eat. As we were walking around, I saw a trend of juice shops. Juice stands seem to be very common in Israel, so of course I can't turn it down. One of my favorite juices is mango and this was fresh mangos juice pressed right in front of you. It some pulp in it, so if you don't like that, I would recommend another juice, but if you don't mind, then man was it delicious. Fresh and cold mango juice, you can't go wrong.

Next we found a random place to eat as we were meandering through the streets of Tel Aviv. I wish I could remember the place of this restaurant because it is worth going back. I had a Feta and Eggplant Baguette. It came with a small salad with vinaigrette dressing. I love feta an the saltiness of the cheese compliments the eggplant beautifully. Excellent combination.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tel Aviv, Israel - This was our first morning in Israel and the hotel, Dan Panarama, had a very very large breakfast spread. Tons of choices everywhere. So, I decided to try their Shakshuka. Now in the previous blog entry, we went to Dr. Shakshuka's restaurant and I described how that was. The Shakshuka at the hotel, well, they only wished it tastes like Dr. Shakshuka. This is where I saw it for the first time, therefore, it wasn't bad, pretty good for the first time. However, after having it from Dr. Shakshuka, it's no contest. It was much dryer than the other place, so I would only get it out of necessity.

However, the two things on the plate that I would fill up on is the sweet potatoes in a cheese sauce on the right-hand side of the picture. Wow. It was so good. I could get a whole plate of it and probably die of a heart attack, but the cheese sauce went so well with the sweet potatoes. It was a very nice dish. On the far left-hand side is chocolate Rugelach. Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry and this was particularly delicious. Traditionally it is a pastry that has various fillings such as cream cheese, different kinds of jellies, etc... This time, it's chocolate and it was worth every calorie. I could also get a whole plate of this Rugelah and probably die of obesity. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tel Aviv, Israel - If there is one restaurant you try in Tel Aviv, it's Dr. Shakshuka. It is an alley way converted into a restaurant, so the atmosphere is very creative and most of the cooking is done right in the alley with you able to watch this amazing stove. When the chef removes the pan from the stove, the flames will reach three to four feet! The food is like nothing else. Some places try to reduplicate shakshuka, but it's nothing like Dr. Shakshuka.

Just like every Israeli dinner, it always starts with small salads. It started with a delicious assortment of dishes that included a green salad, tomato salad, hummus, carrot and radish pickled salad, and marinated eggplant.

Next course was a delicious soup. It was an outstanding potato and lentil soup that had such an impactful flavor that you didn't want to stop eating it. However, you knew there was more food coming. Along with the soup came freshly made couscous. I don't remember having such amazing couscous. It was extremely fluffy and complimented the soup perfectly.

The entrees started coming out and the dish on the left is stuffed potatoes with meat inside. The meat and potato's was cooked very well and basically melted in your mouth. The sauce was the kicker. We almost wanted to lick the dish. The dish on the right is beef that was boiled and served in a curry bean sauce. It wasn't my favorite dish so I moved on to the ones below.

This is why people come to Dr. Shakshuka. The dish is called Shakshuka, which is traditionally a morrocan dish. These are eggs fried into a tomato base. This is the highlight of the whole evening. It has a delicious sharp tomato flavor with all kinds of spices. This is the only dish that was completely gone by the end of the night.
Fish goes shakshuka style. I'm not sure what kind of fish it was, but it was similar to a whitefish. It's prepared shakshuka style, stove-top fried in the same tomato sauce, but they use a slightly different collage of spices to change it up.

The food just kept coming. This is chicken in the same tomato shakshuka flavor. If your a chicken fan, it was a very good dish.
This is one of my favorite dishes. It's a very close second to the shakshuka dish. This was beef, sausage and potatoes in a green pea shakshuka sauce. The best part of this entree, was the sausage. I didn't expect how much amazing flavor the sausage had. I was so full at this point, I still forced myself to keep eating this one.

Now they brought out desert. I couldn't eat more, but I had to take a bit to try it. It was a nice sweet raisin cake. I thought it was good, but I wasn't sure if I didn't want to eat it because of being so full or didn't care for it much. I only had a few bites.

Lastly, they brought out tea, a unique tea. One that I've never had before. It is served with a single peanut inside it. You can briefly see it in the picture, floating on top. It gave the tea a touch of peanut flavor. Very interesting


Monday, November 17, 2008

Nazareth, Israel - The restaurant Diane's was recommended to one of my friends and it was worth seeking it out. It was a very nice restaurant with excellent food and decore. Their freshly baked bread is served immediately out of the oven, hot and delicious. Of course, they bring out many many little side dishes. This is only some of them, but they were so good. The most memorable dish was this yogurt they made with something nice and spicy in it, but not sure what it was in it. Typically you eat yogurt when you're eating spicy food to help cool down your mouth. This is the beauty of the dish. The dichotomy of eating something spicy and immediately cooling your mouth off with the yogurt. Get it when you go there. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - This is at a very small restaurant in downtown Jerusalem, that's very well hidden called, Tmol Shilshom Cafe. It is basically a restaurant and book store. But don't mistake it for a book store with a cafe. Very different than that. I think the food was good, but the ambiance was the best part. Dinner was buffet style, probably because we were in a very large group, with Salmon (prepared well, but with not a lot of flavor), potatoes (seasoned well), pasta with cream or tomato sauce (I choose the tomato sauce, which was very savory, but my friends said the cream sauce was better), and probably the best part of our selection, a portabella vinaigrette salad (excellent dressing complimenting the mushrooms).
Desert was chocolate cake, cream cake, and a latte. The cakes were okay, nothing really special, and the latte was very good. I would get the latte again for desert, sit back, and now read a book. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - Joy Restaurant

Just like any Israeli dinner, it always starts with small side dishes. We started with pickled carrots, an onion and tomato salad, ground lamb, liver pate, and sweet potato chips. I usually don't like liver pate, but I thought I would try it again to see if my pallet has changed. It hasn't. I enjoyed it as much as I remember. Having cooked liver, I can do, but liver pate, it's one I may have to stay away from. All the sides are absolutely delicious, one in particular that is not in the picture is their chicken wings. I rarely eat wings, but I could have had them for dinner her, it was so delicious. Therefore, when you're there, get a big plate of them. Lastly, the other side dish that was out of this world, was the sweet potato chips. The chips were very good, prepared very well, but what added extra flavor was maple syrup on top of it. It really helped to enhance the sweet potato flavor.

For my main entree, I had the lamb kabob. The meat was prepared well, however, I don't think they seasoned it enough. It was somewhat bland and the sauce on the plate was a very think strong peanut sauce. I ended up avoiding the sauce because I thought it was to over powering and actually masked the flavor of the meat completely. I would definitely try something else if I went back. I would just go for the chicken wings!

Chicken wings or desert, I could have continued eating those wings, but I had to save room for dessert. This is molten chocolate cake. Just from the looks of it, it looks good. It's as good as it looks. Of course, it's served warm and the middle just melts out when you cut it open. Definitely a keeper. Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - We had to go back to Little Italy, the food was far too good to pass up the opportunity. All new dishes on this round.

We started with our Bruschetta appetizer that came with these toppings (in the picture from left to right), chopped black olives, marinated eggplant and sprouts, and artichoke and tomato. They could have brought the olives and the artichoke all throughout the night, it was so delicious. We scrapped those two clean, but the eggplant, well, that wasn't our favorite. I think it was more texture than anything though. It was very mushy and really didn't hold enough flavor.

The Brushetta that we smothered those toppings on is the Garlic and Rosemary Bruschetta in the next picture. It was prepared very well and what I liked about it was that it had enough flavor to sustain itself without the toppings, if you wished. The toppings only enhanced the experience.

Lastly, I had the Pasta Arrabiatta (in Italian it means angry pasta). Just from the title, I knew I was in for a treat. I was very full after the meal, still had some pasta, and of course I forced myself to finish the plate. It was that good. My roommate actually came back the next night and got this dish. The pasta was prepared in a nicely spicy tomato sauce, which also contained pesto, onions, peppers, and olives. It had enough spiciness to compliment the saltiness of the olives and the creaminess of the tomatoes and the pesto. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - This is one of the most unique dishes I had in Israel. We went to a restaurant called Imas, which means Mom's in Hebrew. They had the standard Israeli salads that come before the meal, which you can see above with the cucumber salad and chips (fries). The first is the pepper. I have no idea what kind of pepper it is, but it was hot, real hot. The Israeli I was with told me to just eat it, but neglected to tell me to eat it in small pieces with other food. I learned my lesson after two big bites by itself. I thought my mouth was going to melt. I literally ate or drank anything within reach. It wasn't a habanero, but it felt like it.

More importantly, the food to the right of the pepper is called the Jerusalem Mix. We started eating it, but no one told us what it was. It turned out to be chicken in a curry sauce, with some extra bonus. It had sauteed onions, chicken kidneys, and hearts. I was shocked, but it didn't keep me from eating it. Some people in the group couldn't eat it anymore, but I was happy to have more to myself. It was my first time eating kidneys and hearts. I thought it was very good. Much of the flavor was diluted by the curry sauce, but it still had a very good flavor , little grainy, and a small irony flavor. I would definitely get it again! Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - Why not try some Italian in Israel. A small restaurant called Little Italy was not far from the hotel. It turned out to be a great place to eat and so, I went multiple times!

Some of the items on the menu have less than unique names and some are not exactly spelled correctly in Italian, however, the food makes up for it. The main dish is called Dave's Ravioli Mix. Little Italy makes their own pasta and you can taste the difference. It doesn't have the processed texture to it. The yellow'ish ravioli are filled with smoked goat cheese and the pink'ish ones have sweet potato. I wonder how long they played with the combination of fillings to find the right ones to compliment each other. I loved going from one flavor to the other and how well they matched each other. The ravioli is in an olive oil base with rosemary and topped with brown sugar. The caramelized sugar on top made me save the ones with the most for last, it was so delicious.

For desert, we thoroughly enjoyed molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. When we opened the cake, it was still steaming inside and the chocolate just poured out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Golan Heights, Israel - As we were driving through the Golan Heights, you begin to travel through a Druze town. These are people who were formally Syrian citizens, but after the war, are now in Israeli territory. This was my first time ever having drewish food and it was worth the drive and stop.

We start with pita chips. Pita wonderfully deep fried with a basil-like spice on top. I had to help myself to a few of these and probably would have eaten many many more if my sandwich wasn't ready. The sandwich is called a Labaen and is a very thin pita, more like a tortilla, that has goat cheese mixed with yogurt spread thinly on the inside. After the goat cheese is spread on, then they spread another layer of olive oil mixed with basil and garlic to give it an extra wonderful flavor. It is wrapped up and then grilled slightly, just to basically heat it up. Then there is a self-serve bar to add what ever toppings you wish. I added cabbage, cucumber, peppers, and a relish (marinated baby celery, nothing like the relish you put on hot dogs here). It is a little greasy and messy, but I devoured it. I really enjoyed the excitement of a new dish like this and how good it was. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Central Galilee - Israel - I recently returned from a work trip to Israel and for the next month or so, all the pictures will be dedicated to that fantastic voyage. We had the luxury to have dinner with a host family, which they prepared in the picture. Not only did they open their home to us, but they prepared an amazing meal. She prepared two main courses, one for omnivores and one vegetarians. The dish on the bottom left is sirloin steak. She admitted that she doesn't usually prepare meat, so so warned us, but it was very good, and prepared well. It was a little dry, but she also had an excellent homemade gravy to top it off. The other main dish was the lentils. I actually loved this more than the meat dish, hands down. She prepared it from scratch. It reminded me of Mujdara, but it actually had more flavor than that and really any other dish on the table. The potatoes cooked to perfection and basically melted in your mouth. I had a variety of spices and just enough salt to make you want more. No surprise, I had seconds of almost everything on the table. Every Israeli meal comes with a fresh fruit or veggie salad. This time it was a grape tomato salad. Most salads are prepared with just a little bit of oil and vinegar and scallions. I usually despise walnuts, but she also prepared a walnut cabbage salad. I admit, I did pick around the walnuts, however, the rest of the salad was seconds worthy. Lastly, the fruit salad made of primarily pummelo, black beans, scallions, and toasted pine nuts. It is a very light flavor dish, which I didn't expect. I was expecting a grapefruit like sharp flavor, but it was much more mild and pleasant to eat. Thanks to my co-worker who is posing in the picture! Enjoy!

Not shown in the picture is after dinner tea. The best part of it, the rosemary was picked while we were sitting there from the garden and placed into the hot water. Amazing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Clawson, MI - I've been asking around for an authentic Filipino restaurant and it was recommended that I try out Royal Kubo. I am told it is the only Filipino restaurant in the area, so without a doubt, I was on my way. The recommendation was to try two of the most famous dishes, Lumpia and Pancit. So, I first tried Lumpia. It is the Filipino egg roll, if you will. However, you can see, it not only looks different from an egg roll, but it also tastes differently and better. You can get it deep fried or pan fried, I choose to try it pan fried this time. It is similar to a pancake in texture. Inside, it is loaded with all kinds of fresh vegetables. One of the best parts is the sauce on top. The sauce is made of soy sauce and brown sugar. I scrapped the plate clean.

Onto the main dish, Pancit. It is typically cooked with small thin noodles and sauteed in a soy sauce. I expected it to be saucy, but to my surprise, it was not. It was dryer than I expected. It is loaded with all kinds of vegetables and different meats. In this case, it came with beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp. However, I saw on the menu that you can get most of the dishes vegetarian style.

Now that I've tried these two, it has enticed my pallet and I would love to try more Filipino dishes. The one that I've heard about is Balut, but I haven't found a place that has it yet. Stay tuned for that one! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Battle Creek, MI - I have only had fried pickles twice, but both times, I LOVED them. I'll rarely turn down pickles and when you fry them, they are getting devoured. I happen to be in Battle Creek for a wedding and this is from the hotel restaurant, which I apologize, I don't remember the name. It is a creole style restaurant. I didn't leave one fried pickle on that plate. I eat every single one. If you have a chance to order fried pickles, get them, you'll love it.

I also ordered the spicy crawfish wrap. I thought it was prepared well, the crawfish was good, but it wasn't the best crawfish out there. I didn't have extremely high expectations because of the looks of the restaurant, but it still was very good. It was better than getting a hamburger at an Applebees. I would still get it again if I had to choose between the two. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mvuu, Malawi - Even though the resort did not serve traditional Malawian food, they still did an excellent job of presentation and flavor. We first started with a vegetarian spring roll. It was deep fried and packed with all kinds of veggies. It was an excellent start, but it was a little heavy to begin. I was slightly worried if I was going to be able to eat the meal as well. As you can tell, it was definitely not a tiny, wimpy, spring roll.

The entree was sauteed eggplant in a spice I don't believe I've had before. I didn't recognize the flavor, but it was very good. I could not allow myself to waste any of it. It was served with potatoes au gratin, which were good, but I primarily focused on the eggplant. The meal also had a two little condiment side dishes, one being fried pairs, and the other is sauteed cabbage. Over all it was an excellent dish.

We then finished the meal with a lemon meringue pie. I was very eager to start it, I actually took a bit and then realized I didn't take a picture yet. It was wonderfully sweet and delicious, but after all that food, of course I couldn't finish it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mvuu, Malawi - The Mvuu resort feeds you very well, very well indeed. Malawi's staple food is Chambo (fish) and chips (fries). They prepared a very delicious version of Chambo, deep fried, and standard chips. The Chambo is typically served whole, but the clientele at the resort may not like it very much, so they serve fillets. Either way, it's still quite tasty. It was also served with a side of vegetables and macaroni and cheese. The macaroni and cheese was surprisingly very good and cheesy! I didn't expect it to be very good, just some basic mac and cheese, but it surprised me. The chef added some spices for flavoring that really enhanced the flavor of the dish.

The desert was a fruit plate, that to me, looked a lot like a little bird. Don't you think? Anyhow, it was very fresh and a nice little dollop of cream on top for some extra sweet flavoring. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mvuu, Malawi - While staying at the Mvuu resort, they fed us very well, very well. They get all their fruits and veggies from very close by local villages, which are basically right across the river. We started with Bruschetta, a very nice lightly toasted piece of bread with wonderful mozzarella and tomatoes and green peppers on the side. It's a nice little starter dish.

We then had our main course, Potato Curry. At first glance, it probably doesn't look all that well. On the contrary, I wanted to lick the plate clean. This is roasted potatoes in a very delicious curry sauce, by the way not spicy at all. It came with sauteed carrots and green beans. I am not a green bean eater, however, I would have gladly eaten another portion of it. It was prepared in a way I have never had before. I'm not sure if it was the spices they used, but it was fantastic.

We finished the meal with one of the best deserts at the resort the whole time we were there. This is a banana fritter. I miss this dish and would fly all the way back to Africa for it. A thirty-two our plane ride, worth it. This is a banana lightly deep fried, covered in powder sugar, and a light drizzle of caramel. The apple helped provide enough citrus to help compliment it. Well done to that team! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birmingham, MI - Food stands are the best. If you see one, chances are, the food is going to be very good. This is a Chicago style hotdog from Hotdog Carl's stand on the corner of Adam's and Lincoln. If you're driving by and see the cart, hit the brakes. This was quite tasty. It is a hotdog in a sesame bun, topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish (usually neon green), a dill pickle, tomato slices, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. I also added jalapenos to give it a little extra kick. This goes without saying, the hotdog has lots of flavor and surprising enough, it compliments each one very well. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

West Bloomfield, MI - Dim Sum Time! I've gone several times to a place called Shangi-La for lunch for Dim Sum. Dim Sum are similar to tapas, where these are small Cantonese appetizers where you order several of them and share with your group. Sometimes your eyes will want more than your tummy though, I speak from experience. Below are pictures from different lunches, but still so delicious. Enjoy!

This is shrimp in a noodle wrap in soy sauce. This is probably one of my least favorite. I thought it was going to be very good, but the noodle part turned out to be disappointing. It overpowered the shrimp and soy sauce.

These are one of my favorite. They are shrimp and chive dumplings, slightly sauteed. They are packed with flavor and the shrimp and chives really compliment each other. I get this one every time I'm there.

These little guys are shrimp puffs. They are quite tasty, but they are not as healthy as the others since they are deep fried, where as most are steamed. Put a little hot sauce on them and you have a nice little dish.

These are simple shrimp dumplings, however, their taste is far from simple. They are delicious. They have shrimp and cilantro inside, which works well together. They are wrapped in a rice noodle casing that doesn't take away from any of the flavor. This one is a staple as well.

Pork noodle dim sum are pretty good, very nice flavor, but not at the top of my list. I usually get these if I'm running out of choices, but I don't shy away from them. If you've never had one, definitely try it.

The notable dishes here is the eggplant in the center. Oh, it's a must. I didn't want to share them at all. The mussels on the right, prepared very well in a nice soy sauce base, shrimp in a green pepper at the top which was very good, and the shrimp pork dumplings on the far left. Shrimp and pork are a great combination. The dish at the bottom is hot chili peppers that you put onto all the dishes to give it a great zing!

Well, I thought this was desert. It looked like some small little lemon pastry. Well, it turns out to be an egg-drop pastry. I personally didn't like it and will not get it again. Maybe it was my expectation of it being lemon. Who knows.

The new dishes here is the beef puff at the top, which I thought was ok, but not fantastic. I think it is prepared well, but I prefer the steamed options over the fried. It also gets a little doey too. On the right is pork noodle. That was very good and helped redeem itself from the beef puff.