Ha’Agas

Ha’Agas 1, Eilyahu Ya’acov Banai Street 11 (at Mahane Yehuda)

As my trip had a day in Jerusalem, I had heard there was good hummus in the shuk. The first place that was recommended to me was unsure if there was oil in their hummus. Not only was I a little taken aback by that (we’re in Israel, not America- where no one knows what the hell is in the food they’re serving or eating), but I knew that I wanted a place that made their hummus fresh and knew exactly what was in it- not just for health concern but for quality hummus (oh God, am I becoming a hummus snob?). My awesome madricha (counselor) Shaked recommended a vegan friendly hummus place, and I am so glad she did!

Though the service was pretty poor and the guy who helped me was  really rude to me (I knew the place was vegetarian but couldn’t tell if it was vegan, and since there was no vegan menu I wanted to make sure the dips he was giving me for my hummus weren’t dairy and had no oil and he refused to answer my question and told me I could either eat there or leave) I still really enjoyed the hummus. It was delicious, extremely fresh, had really great chickpeas on top, and a spicy green kind of salsa that added a lot to it. The pitas were warm and delicious too. I would definitely go back if I was in the shuk.

 

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Okinawa

Okinawa, Levotin 7

Right by Abraham Hostel. Jonathan and I went there one of the first nights.

English menu: http://www.okinawatlv.co.il/english/

There’s actually another Okinawa somewhere, but this one is right by Abraham. The service isn’t great by American standards, but as this usually doesn’t bother me anyway,  I’m also pretty sure service kind of isn’t the great in Israel, so I try to take off my American lenses and acknowledge it.

They don’t have an English menu for sushi at the restaurant, so they’re great at telling you what to get.

I got the special Vegetable roll (and ordered 2 orders of it) ‘The Crunch Vegi”, which is a special roll filled with asparagus (usually tempura, but I obviously asked them to not fry it since I can’t have oil), avocado, kanpy (which is basically like pumpkin), chives, roasted almonds, and I asked to leave out the Aoli-wasabi sauce as that is dairy. And it all comes wrapped in avocado.

I’ve been here multiple times. I came with Jonathan first on what felt like a date- shout out to our lovely fake date until he didn’t offer to pay. Then I came back after getting drunk at Trivia night at Abraham Hostel (love the free shots of Arak for cheering for ourselves more than anyone for having the best name and than winning trivia) with Yoav, Jonathan, Shayna, and Jay the Abraham photographer. I also went with Kailen, where we each got 2 rolls and shared a super delicious drink that had Elderberry liquor and tea in it.

 

 

 

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Gela & Vegan Ice Cream

Gela, Rehov Mahane Yehuda

100% vegan ice cream. Yeah I said it.

This place also doubles as a coffee shop, sells ice cream floats, and chocolate.

I’ll reluctantly admit this picture is from the Gela in Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem, but the one in Florentin in Tel Aviv is perfect. Best ice cream I’ve had here: Snickers.

Can you imagine the dissapointment when after so much vegan Soy Caramel Cookies ice cream aka Lotus ice cream I realized there was oil in it? I emailed Cookeez to ask, who confirmed no oil, and the nicest people at Golda by Abraham told me the same. As did the people at Anita in Sarona. Well yes they don’t add oil, but they add Lotus cookies which are full of oil. For some reason, it doesn’t bother me when I eat it- maybe because there is so little in it. I ate so much ice cream when I first got here- bugging out that ice cream was made without oil. Of course, I know it can be done, since my favorite ice cream in Los Angeles, Yoga-Urt, does almost every flavor (minus maybe one) without oil. Still, Israel does as well, except when they add the cookies in.

Sorbet can be found almost anywhere: the most delicious one being banana date (totally oil free and awesome). But nothing compares to creamy ice cream that isn’t sorbet.

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חומוס הבוטקה Hummus HaBotkeh

Hummus Habutke – 88 Hahashmonaim Street, Tel Aviv

So I have to admit, I have never had good hummus before this trip.

I know, right? How unfortunate. I grew up in the USA- the closest I had to real hummus was sabra. And because of this, I always thought I hated hummus. In fact, I didn’t even really like chickpeas. And I had been to Israel- but I never ate it on birthright, and I hadn’t been back sense. Hummus was an easy dip for veggies, but I always would have rather had salsa or guac. Little did I know that in the Mediterranean, people were enjoying what would turn out to be one of my favorite foods for hundreds of years.

In Israel, people eat hummus by the pound. Just kidding… but not even really. What in America is what you put on a cracker, people eat in a bowl. It kind of reminds me of how I’d go get ‘Italian food’ but really just get a whole bowl of tomato sauce, because I loved it so much. But in Israel, the people eating hummus out of a normal sized soup/cereal/salad bowl don’t look as weird as I did eating tomato sauce from a bowl. Here, everyone does it.

But let me make something clear. Eating hummus here is not like getting a tub of sabra and eating it with a spoon. It’s different for many ways:

  1. Hummus in the USA is processed, not fresh. There are tons of extra ingredients (classic USA move) that don’t need to be added into the food. Maybe some of them are preservatives, I don’t even know. But the more processing, the worse it tastes (in my opinion), and for sure, the less healthy it is. For example, I can’t eat added oils, and I’d be hard-pressed to find any hummus in a store that I could eat because of that. In fact, I went over a month in Israel without trying fresh hummus because I assumed it had added oil in it because I’m so used to the processed hummus from the states. On our way to Nahariya, my group stopped at a mall to get food, but since it was 4:30pm on Friday afternoon of Shabbat, almost everything was closed. Two places were open: McDonalds and a Hummus place. I walked over to Mcdonalds. Yeah. I assumed I couldn’t eat hummus, and figured I could get oatmeal from McDonalds. Thank god they didn’t have oatmeal, because when I went to talk to my counselor, she told me I’d for sure be able to eat hummus. I didn’t believe her, but when the super nice guys behind the counter assured us it was 100% oil free, I was shocked and so stoked. But when I tried the hummus, that’s when I felt like crying. I was so happy. And I LOVED it. And most importantly, I could eat it! Fresh hummus in Israel has NO added oil. Why? Because it doesn’t need it! When I order out, I just ask them to hold the olive oil that they put on top for everyone else’s order.
  2. Hummus in the USA is cold, but in Israel, they make it warm. Think about the way you see pizza places in every corner in New York City. Fresh pizza, being made daily. Than go somewhere in the country without as many Italians, without as many fresh pizza places. You can still buy pizza at a restaurant, or get it frozen from the door, but you can’t get it by the slice. That’s what hummus is like here, and so it’s only cold in the USA because it’s processed, packaged, and refrigerated. When you get it in Israel, it’s warm and amazing.
  3. The texture is different. In the US, it’s not ground up as much as Israel. Here, the hummus is much smoother. And, they add tahini to it (which I’m told they either don’t do or don’t do enough of in the US.

After trying the hummus on the way up to Nahariya, the first place I knew I wanted to try when I got back was Hummus Habutke, which is right under my work. So many times my coworkers would get hummus and I’d stare at it, thinking it looked so amazing. Well, finally, I was able to try.

And I was blown away.

Apparently in Israel, people argue about which place has the best hummus as if there is one truth, instead of opinions. I realized this when I started asking my coworkers where the best hummus places were in Tel Aviv. Some say Hummus Abu Hassan, others say Mashwashe, others will say Humus HaCarmel. I’ve tried a bunch, but I truly think this is the best one (not that my opinion matters: seriously. Who am I, as an American whose never had good hummus before a month ago, to come in and tell others what the best hummus is?? It’s just my favorite; I am not qualified to judge the best hummus). Not only is it beautiful (look at the pink and green on top!) but it’s fantastic and delicious and creative. The tahini on top is tahini mixed with beets and tahini mixed with parsley (or cilantro?). Topped with a little cilantro and spices, and pickles thrown in from the salad bar, I could eat this every day!

For 24 shekels, it’s a great deal; delicious, so filling, and seriously affordable. I sometimes even have leftovers. Also, extra points to the amazing and kind workers for putting up with my questions about oil and my non-ability to speak Hebrew, while still being so sweet to me. I’m taking home good vibes, and a stubborn desire to figure out how to make fresh hummus that tastes even remotely like this one. Oh, and I’m also taking home the ability to say ‘hummus’ and ‘tahini’ in a decently good Israeli accent (if I do say so myself).

TLDR: Try foreign food, cuisines, and dishes- if it’s cruelty free, of course ;).  Even if you think you won’t like it or never liked chickpeas before. Now I’m searching for the most authentic hummus for when I get back to NY for two days, and most importantly, for when I’m in LA.

Lucky me- these place happens to be right underneath where I work (see the glass door on the right? That is the office building I work in- just walk up 2 flights of stairs and I’m in the Anonymous for Animal Rights office.

Not only is the hummus fantastic, the people are so nice.

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