Jerusalem Cafes: Round 6

I haven’t done a Jerusalem Cafes post in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been accumulating visits to blog-worthy cafes! I have a lot to catch up on…but here are recaps from four cafe visits that I’ve really enjoyed! Most of the places are repeats of places I’ve been before (it’s nice to have been in Jerusalem for so long that I have favorites!), but there is a new cafe as well!

1. Caffit

An Emek Refaim classic, I’ve already blogged about Caffit once…okay twice. But it is oh, so delicious. Maybe I should really make a “best of” list instead of only honoring one “best breakfast in Jerusalem.”

Caffit has it all, but the assortment of dips/cheeses/spreads that accompanies their Israeli breakfast is the prime winner in my mind.

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2. Cafe Hillel

Cafe Hillel is a coffee/food chain around Jerusalem somewhat in the vein of Aroma. I’ve posted about Cafe Hillel before, but I gave a recap of some lunch items in that post. On my more recent visit, I ordered a breakfast dish: focaccia topped with 2 eggs. My dining companion ordered the Israeli breakfast.

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Everything was delicious! The focaccia was so tasty…probably because of the copious amounts of butter that seemed to be dribbled on top.

3. Kalo

Again, Kalo is somewhere that I’ve visited in the past – once and twice. Again, Kalo is so good that I want to show you more mouth-watering photographs.

Pictured below is an eggs benedict dish with smoked salmon (which I loved because they didn’t smother it in hollandaise as so often happens in the U.S…) as well as an Israeli breakfast.

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4. Cafe Yehoshua

Last but not least, Noah and I branched out from our typical digs and went for breakfast at the new-to-us Cafe Yehoshua in the Rehavia neighborhood. Friends had raved to us about Cafe Yehoshua for months, so we were eager to try it. They had a pretty extensive menu, serving all meals of the day. I went for the basic breakfast which was great (and even included a small piece of grilled cheese with a tomato soup shooter!), and Noah ordered a steak sandwich.

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The food was yummy, but the restaurant isn’t kosher which makes me feel less inclined to re-visit. If kashrut isn’t your thing, though, you would probably enjoy a visit!

If you missed them, check out my other Jerusalem Cafe posts here:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
Round 5

Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader

As mentioned in my previous post, the Shavit Family Guest House is both a lodge and a restaurant, and we were fortunate to be able to enjoy some of their delicious food during our stay there. The first night, we ate dinner at the family restaurant, ordering the signature dish of lamb casserole – cooked all day and stewed with potatoes and various vegetables. We also had breakfast at the restaurant both days and it was delicious! Like any good Israeli breakfast, there was an abundance of dips, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and beverages.

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After breakfast, we made a stop at Capernaum (where Noah and I have now been three times!) and looked at the ruins of a synagogue from approximately the 4th century (don’t mind the fact that the men in the photo below are actually looking at another camera…):

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After Capernaum, we began to drive north further into the Golan region, stopping at a lookout point along the road for some incredible views of and around Lake Kinneret. The area is called Offir lookout, and it is off of Rt 789:

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The lookout was a great find – we weren’t planning to go there and only happened to notice it off the road. In fact, we had to drive along a long, muddy trail to get there, and we almost turned back, thinking the path didn’t lead to anything. I’m glad we forged ahead!

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Given the slightly cold and rainy weather during the trip thus far (as you may have noticed from the photos), the group decided that this would be a great day for a refreshing activity. So, we headed to Hamat Gader, a hot springs spa located right by the Jordanian border and only a few miles from the point where Jordan, Israel, and Syria meet. Despite its slightly suspect location (and the fact that this is an Israeli spa, read: you need VERY different expectations than what you would expect from an American spa), visiting Hamat Gader was a lot of fun. When we arrived, we ate a quick lunch of salatim at a casual family eatery within the park and then headed to the main attraction: the hot springs!

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The hot springs basically look like a big public pool, but it is filled with thermal hot springs. Also, the natural sulfur in the water is said to have a healing and renewing effect. I am not so much of a water person, so I was content to sit by the side and watch the fun:

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After the hot springs, the rest of the day included more driving, gazing at lookout points, and a dinner on Mt. Gilboa before heading back to the Shavit Guest House for one more night (and breakfast!). Naturally, there was more rain – this time with a bit of hail!

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And I thought there wasn’t supposed to be rain after Pesach?!?!

The following day was again busy with exploration, visiting the Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginnosar, more ruins, and a very rainy trip to Tzfat (sound familiar?!).

The day ended with a drive back home to Jerusalem, where Noah’s parents would spend the rest of their visit. We went for dinner at one of Noah’s and my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Kalo. Noah and I shared a camembert cheese sandwich and salmon/cream pasta, both of which were delicious:

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Noah’s parents stayed only a few blocks from us at the Little House in Baka – a small and casual hotel that has been very popular with the visiting parents of students in my program this year. Be careful, though, not to confuse it with the building next door: NOT little house in Baka:

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I guess those people have had one too many tourists try to come into their living room…. 🙂

Although Noah’s parents spent another 5 or so days in Israel after coming with us to Jerusalem, I could only spend one more day with the group because classes at Pardes were resuming. During my last day with the family, we went to the Israel Museum. Although Noah and I had been to the Israel museum before, it is a HUGE place and there were a lot of exhibits we didn’t get a close look at the first time. In particular, I wanted to look at the archaeology exhibit and the sculpture garden. I really enjoyed walking through the sculpture garden and, in particular, seeing a piece called Space that Sees by James Turrell. The piece is a large box of sorts that you enter through a walkway…

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Inside, it is a large square where you can sit and look up at the sky through the open ceiling:

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Very neat! I imagine it could be quite beautiful to see in the nighttime:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Zichron Yaakov – visiting Ramat Hanadiv gardens and Caesarea
Ein Hod Artist’s Village and Acre (Akko) – Crusader’s Fortress and market

 

 

Running the Jerusalem Marathon

Today was the Jerusalem Marathon – 20,000 runners strong!

I ran the half marathon, and on Wednesday night, Noah and I went to the race expo at the Jerusalem Convention Center to pick up my race packet:

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Picking up my race packet was a breeze…

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…and then we explored the rest of the expo! There was a nice collection of running and health vendors set up:

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We had a good time walking around and looking at all the merchandise/race excitement:

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Of course, no running event is fully complete without some beer (Alexander Beer had a stand here):

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It was also fun to see the particular quirks of a Jerusalem marathon, such as this technical running tee with built-in tzitzit being sold at the event shop:

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And since we were in the neighborhood, how could we resist a trip to Cinema City?!?! (the Convention Center is next door to the Cinema City). We saw the movie Selma which was FABULOUS and I highly recommend it to everyone. Also, Cinema City has a new indoor ice rink…pretty cool, huh?

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Today, the morning started bright and early as I headed to the start line at Gan Sacher at about 6:05am (the start time for the half marathon was 6:45):

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ton of roads around the city were closed for the marathon, making transportation a nightmare (Noah and I stayed at a friend’s house because it would have been hard to get to the race start from our southern neighborhood). The closed roads did, however, make walking to the race start traffic-free:

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Pre-race photo with my running buddy, Dan:

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Waiting at the start line:

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After a few brief safety announcements, we were off! The course was amazing: through the Old City, by the Sultan’s Pool, along Yafo Street, Emek Refaim, the rekevet, the tayelet, and more (full race course map here). Noah, my number one race fan, saw me at four points along the route and then met me at the finish line! (thanks, Noah!!!)

While the course was beautiful and – as is the race’s tagline – through 3,000 years of history, the downside was the hills. Oh, the hills! Jerusalem is a hilly city, and this race course definitely made that fact well known. As a result of the hills, this was a tough race, and I seriously struggled at times. The worst was a steep uphill towards the very end of the race throughout almost all of kilometers 18 and 19 (the total race distance is 21.1 kilometers). Nonetheless, I MADE IT!

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The finish area in Gan Sacher was buzzing with people and various race service tents (such as this synagogue tent – oh, Jerusalem!):

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There was also a fitness area with a group fitness instruction and various types of equipment:

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After about 30 minutes milling around the finish area, we managed to find a taxi home without too much trouble. I quickly took a shower and then it was time for a delicious recovery brunch at Kalo:

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Yes, please. 🙂

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Jerusalem Cafes: Round 5

Continuing my Jerusalem Cafes series, here are a few more places I’ve been to in the last several weeks. Enjoy the pictures of delicious food…where do you want to go out to eat next?

First, I tried a cafe on Emek Refaim called Ben Ami. I had heard several times that Ben Ami serves allstar drinks and desserts and also has a nice ‘real’ food menu. To drink, we ordered sahlab (an Arabic drink made with flour from a orchid, rose water, milk, often topped with coconut, cinnamon, and nuts, and popularly sold during the winter months in Israel) and a hot apple/wine cider.

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For the meal, we shared toast (in Israeli menu jargon, this means an open-faced sandwich) with pesto and mozzarella and a potato dumplings dish:

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Next up was Colony. Colony is a restaurant tucked off of Derech Beit Lechem near the entrance to the rekevet. The burgers coming out of their kitchen looked amazing, but I ended up ordering homemade gnocchi instead. How could I resist this?!

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My dining partner ordered a pesto stuffed chicken breast, and we shared a dish of mushrooms in puff pastry:

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Since I’ve been living here long enough to have some *favorites*, I also returned to a couple places I’ve posted about before.

Kalo on Derech Beit Lechem is only a few short minutes from my apartment, and it is delicious for any meal of the day! You can see my post from a previous visit to Kalo here. Their outside patio area is bursting every Friday morning (and most mornings besides!), and I am personally a huge fan of the delicious grain bread they bring to the table with every meal. Noah and I went to Kalo for dinner a few weeks ago and ordered an eggplant focaccia and salad (with fried cheese, beets, apples, and walnuts) to share:

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I also returned to Caffit on Emek Refaim. I think Caffit is now tied with the Grand Cafe for my most-visited restaurant. I posted about Caffit before here, and Noah and I liked it so much we went there for Noah’s last breakfast before he left for a big trip a few weeks ago (yes, I have been ALONE!!!). Noah went for the Israeli breakfast:

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Classic.

I ordered a toasted bagel sandwich filled with hard-boiled egg, cheese, zaatar (a mediterranean spice with a distinctive green color) and veggies:

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I also ordered a lemonana (a blended lemonade and mint beverage that’s popular in Israel – nana means ‘mint’ in Hebrew):

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If you missed them, check out my other Jerusalem Cafe posts here:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4

Cafe Life

Cafes abound in Israel. Walk down any main street in Jerusalem, and you are likely to see a smattering of cafes – often with both indoor and outdoor seating areas – busy with customers at any time of the day. Popular for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as just a coffee or dessert, meals at cafes are often long and leisurely, fitting with the Israeli taboo of bringing the check before bringing directly asked.

In the last few weeks I’ve been to a few cafes (also see posts about The Grand Cafe and Fresh Kitchen). The weekend here is Friday-Saturday, aligning with Shabbat. In Jerusalem, nearly all stores and restaurants close down for Shabbat, so I’ve enjoyed going out for a Friday midday meal at a cafe to enjoy getting out around the city during the weekend before settling in for a restful Shabbat.

Two Fridays ago, I went with friends to Kalo. Kalo is another Baka neighborhood establishment very popular with both Israelis and visitors. While some cafes may be known for a particular dish or inventive menu item, the overall food line-up at each cafe is very similar: shakshuka, an assortment of omelettes, salads, cheese/eggplant/tomato/egg sandwiches, and the classic Israeli breakfast. Ordering an Israeli breakfast is a (deliciously) filling experience, and the meal typically comes with two eggs, cheese, salad, jam/cream cheese, a small serving of tuna, and bread. Something that I’m not used to from the USA is the inclusion of a hot and cold beverage with a breakfast meal. Typically, juices and basic coffee options are included for this option, and if you want to upgrade to a smoothie or shake there’s a small upcharge.

At Kalo, I ordered their version of the traditional Israeli breakfast and chose orange juice and a cappuccino for my beverages:

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Other noteworthy items at the table included a fruit smoothie and a ‘green burger’ salad:

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We enjoyed a relaxing couple hours at the cafe chatting and eating before asking for the check and heading out to do some Shabbat shopping and preparations. We especially got a kick out of watching a very human-like dog at a nearby table:

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This past Friday, I went to Tmol Shilshom for lunch (with my brother, Samuel, who is also here in Jerusalem!). Tmol Shilshom is near Ben Yehuda street. The restaurant is both a cafe and a bookstore and has become somewhat of a cultural establishment due to the fact that many Israeli writers have conducted readings of their work at the cafe. In fact, the cafe was mentioned in my Ulpan book! I also read online that their Shakshuka was voted ‘top 10 breakfasts in the world’ by Lonely Planet Travel Guide – a fact which was reiterated on their menu. 🙂

The cafe itself is on the second floor of a building, and the entrance is tucked away in a back alleyway so we followed a series of signs from the main road to get there:

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Eventually, we found our way to the stairs and made our way into the cozy cafe interior:

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BIG bonus points to them for quoting Joni Mitchell on the placemat!!

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It seemed like the right occasion for a luxurious meal, so my brother and I both got milkshakes…

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… and Noah got a decked out version of the Israeli classic: ice kafe. Unlike iced coffee in the USA, ice kafe in Israel is more like a frappuccino – a blended sweet coffee drink. To get the American version of cold coffee with ice, you would need to order a kafe kar, literally, cold coffee. Noah basically got the super version of ice kafe which added ice cream and whipped cream:

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After all the buzz about it, we obviously all ordered the shakshuka.

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Delicious!