Cooking vacations - Meah Shearim

Israel Tours in "Meah Shearim"

En route to Jerusalem, right off highway 1, among the turrets and cross-bearing towers,are the bustling neighborhoods of Geula and Meah Shearim. With their endless maze of intricate alleyways and their otherworldly feel, they are a picture frozen in time of a 19th century Eastern European Shtetle. The yells announcing the approaching "Shabbos" bring with them the sweet lusty smell of meat and onions simmering in a saucepan, but the best time to stroll along these streets are Thursday eves, when the Challah bakeries are open all night and you can have a taste of that freshly baked sweet bread…

Starting on Pri Hadash Street, we will find the Avihail Bakery, named after the three generations of bakers of the Avihail family of Jerusalem. This family bakery's pride and joy are their delicious bagels that have been hand rolled here long before the American bagel ever set foot on the holy land. Six delicious flavors, such as poppy seed, garlic and onion, alongside other pastries- fluffy Bureka, warm chocolate Rugelach and sticky-sweet danishes.

A short walk away is Malchei Israel street, the bustling main street of Geula neighborhood. The best delicacies of the dairy Jewish cuisine can be found at the Hungarian-oriented "Hadar Ge'ula". This family-owned delicatessen offers the traditional Kugel, Gefilte fish, Blintzes and Tshulent as well as 55 different kinds of salads, pickles and smoked fish at all hours of the day.

Right next to Kikar Hashabat, at the corner of Malchei Israel Street and Mea She'arim Street is Cohen's Pickles Store that has been in the neighborhood for over 20 years. Granted, these are not the famous pickle men from the Lower East Side in New York, but they still offer an astonishing variety of salt or vinegar pickles and smoked, salted or pickled fish. You should also make sure to try the Ikra, which is freshly made here every day.

Walking along Me'ah She'arim Street, we finally understand the origin of the name (She'arim is the Hebrew word for "gates")- the street is lined on both sides with a maze of small yards, their gates all facing out towards the Old City. Among the tiny stores that line this street we will find Deitsch, a small restaurant serving the traditional meat and chicken dishes- hearty chopped liver, golden chicken soup with Kneidalach and other local delicacies. Seating is for men only, but the prices are a joke and the people-watching here is priceless…

Even at nightfall, Malchei Israel Street is still crowded and busy. On Thursdays there is a bustling night market in the Synagogue yard hosting numerous food stalls serving delicious Me'orav Yerushalmi, meat-stuffed Sambusek, homemade Mellawach and Jachnun with fresh tomato sauce and a hearty Tshulent that could challenge even the best of Borough Park!

Cooking vacations in Israel consist of these special "secret places" that you might have otherwise never heard about.
Written by Lilach Rubin.
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