A year in food: Israeli Kitchen’s can't miss highlights of 2018
This triumphant food trend is captivating hearts and bellies all over the world. And it's made for quite an exciting year in our Kitchen.
Israeli cuisine was the No. 1 food trend in 2018, Jerusalem is the fastest growing tourist destination, and an unprecedented number of high-end Israeli restaurants are popping up across the U.S. Bottom line: the popularity of Israeli cuisine is a trend that doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down any time soon.
Here at the Israeli Kitchen, it’s been a terrific year as we followed the food and reported on some new and exciting restaurants and food concepts. I attended the Summer Fancy Food Show and met thousands of food vendors from around the world, flew to Israel for a food reporting trip, and chatted with "Our Friend From Israel" podcast host Benyamin Cohen where I revealed why I take food so seriously.
In my own wacky and wonderful test kitchen where sweet and savory aromas compete for my taste buds, I cooked up more than 50 new recipes for readers, including a surprising way to enjoy falafel – made in a mug in the microwave! Other favorites were cauliflower crust pizza (a trendy, delicious, and healthier comfort food), my insane (and not-so-healthy) triple chocolate peanut butter brownies, and the beautiful, bright pink and nutritious tahini power bars.
Even more exciting than developing recipes was meeting and speaking with some of the most passionate people in the world – Israeli foodies. I interviewed some incredible trend setters this past year: Shay Lavi who reimagined Israeli barbecue in Atlanta, Tal Caspi of the vegan Aviv in Portland, Elior Balbul of Alenbi’s in Brooklyn, Gionatan Ottolenghi of Apple and Pear, and Moshe Segev – a presidential chef and restaurateur whose artistic plating is jaw-dropingly beautiful.
At the Summer Fancy Food Show, I found that Israeli manufacturers were producing some of the best foods on the market. Fruit of the Land’s award-winning line of gourmet sauces, jams, nut butters, date syrup, and honeys were a real treat, and I was blown away by the creative concept behind O.Vine wine water. As I strolled the booths at the massive Javits Center in Manhattan, I kept finding Israeli products, techniques, or food trends incorporated into foods from around the world. My taste of Israel at the show led me to schedule a long overdue visit to Israel, where I learned firsthand why people call Israel foodie heaven.
In a two-week whirlwind trip to the Mediterranean country, I toured wineries, visited restaurants, and met with multi-generation family-owned businesses. I went to Machane Yehudah (the outdoor market known as the shuk) about a dozen times, and each time I discovered a new vendor, restaurant, spice, or product I had never seen before. The owners, vendors, chefs, and growers are so passionate about their food, and it truly shows in the end result – what you taste on your plate. But what really impressed me was that even the non-Israeli foods were authentic and high quality.
I swooned over some of the best wine and chocolate in the world, tasted baked goods at the oldest bakery in Israel, cooked a fabulous meal with the former King David Hotel head chef, and toured the best boutique hotel in the world.
Landing back on the ground (literally) after my amazing Israel trip could’ve been a downer. But the energy of the Israeli culture stayed with me, and I’m excited to continue searching for the best recipes, Israeli chefs, food trends, and creative cooking concepts out there. 2018 was magical, and I have a feeling 2019 will have some really fun surprises in store.
You know I’ll follow my nose – so let me know if there’s something I need to chase after and experience personally in the food world (comment below). Have palate, will travel.
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