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!