Good morning from winter
chilly warm and sunny Jerusalem. Who could imagine such a sun shining on Jerusalem in February. We seized the day (and the weather) and drove east to pay a visit to Mahane Yehuda Market and have a taste of some of the many street food joints in and around the market.
The first stop was at Ishtabach. It’s located in one of the alleys alongside the market and is famous for its Shamburak – a savory Syrian-Kurdish pastry. This bread pastry is prepared in a taboon oven that dominates the room, and stuffed with a variety of meats and vegetables. There are 8 different Shamburak filled with slow cooked meat and one vegetarian option. Since we were aiming to sample a few places, we shared a pastry – Siske ($13 / 45₪), slow cooked beef chops, kubbeh hamusta filling, Indian puree, caramelized onions and chimichurri.
Each pastry is made to order so you’ll need some patience but it is well worth it – you get a steaming hot pastry, which is crispy on the outside and full of flavors and spices on the inside. The amount of meat is very generous so the high price is forgivable. You also get an assortment of salads on the side and a tahini and curry that add some extra flavor to the bread. Other pastries often do not include any filling at the edges, leaving you with some bland bites. That’s not the case here – What I especially liked about the way they make the dough is that the the filling goes all the way to the edges. No boring bites! Kuddos.
The second stop we made was located in the Iraqi Market. A small hole in the wall called Argento, which serves only a few empanadas, sandwiches, soup and some sweets. The place was opened by one of the chefs in Machneyuda and Hasadna (from Machneyuda group), after he decided he wants to open a place where people can eat with their hands.
There are 4 types of empanadas – Asado and Olives ($4.5 / 16₪), Spicy Chicken ($4.5 / 15₪), Lamb, Peanuts and Dates ($5 / 18₪) and Roasted Vegetables ($4 / 13₪). I was very curious to try the unique combination of lamb with peanuts and dates, which I’ve yet to encounter. It was so special! The lamb was moist and juicy and it had a sweet and salty flavor courtesy of the dates and peanuts, which turned out to be a perfect match. The asado with olives was also great, but no matter what you order here, please don’t skip the lamb – it’s simply out of this world. This, in fact, was the tastiest thing we had that day (including the dinner we had at a restaurant).
Our third and last savory stop for the morning was, surprise-surprise, another bread-based dish. Cornerie offers freshly baked croissants with interesting combinations of cheese, fish and vegetables. It’s located on a corner inside the market serving as the ultimate place for people watching. They also have a coffee printer that spews out selfie-lattes, not unlike an experience we had in Singapore.
The menu is divided into three – Morning, Criosandwich and Really Sweet. I really wanted to order one of the Really Sweet ones, but since I knew we were getting some ice cream afterwards, I managd to restrain myself. We got the Surprise Croissant ($10 / 35₪), which was a nice snack due to the fillings, but I think it would have even been better if they were more generous with the jam and figs. As for the croissant itself – I think that La Gaterie croissants take these ones big time – they are bigger, flakier, airier and much more buttery. Conerie’s croissants felt more tired.
Since we passed by Etrog Man, I thought it would be a good change to find out what’s all the rage is about. This place has all kinds of juices (as well as lotions and sprays?) that are somewhat of a home remedy and “are said to help prevent sickness and will bring you health and happiness”. I’m not entirely certain who said that but oh well. I tried The Rambam’s Drink which is made of dates and almonds and “is said to help the immune system and prevents high blood pressure”. (Who keeps saying all these things?) The taste unfortunately wasn’t very much to my liking. The amazing thing here – there are various sizes of cups, the smallest ones containing just a taste for only a few shekels.
Time for desserts! We stopped at Mousseline for some ice cream. It’s a boutique ice cream parlor offering an assortment of French ice cream and sorbet. In addition to the classic, Mousseline also offers some pretty wacky flavors for the brave of heart, such as Wasabi, Saffron, Basil and more. I tasted the basil, and it was surprisingly nice, but not something I was willing to commit to a whole scoop of.
Unfortunately they are no longer selling a 1/2-1/2 ball, so we each went with ice cream scoops in a cup. The consistency of the ice cream is great, and does not melt straight away. It is very rich in flavor and texture so absolutely a great option for a dessert when strolling the market.
Our last stop in this tour is the legendary Marzipan Bakery. I heard many things about it, but really nothing could prepare me for how good, amazing, gooey, decadent, incredibly addictive, their Rugelach would be. They are absolutely the best I’ve ever had.
They sell them by the boxes, and it’s not rare to see people picking up a bunch of boxes. Unfortunately I wasn’t as smart as these people, and only bought one tray. On their website they say that tourists even fill up their suitcases with their rugelach before they head home, so they started exporting them to the USA! Needless to say, I spent the entire weekend, and the week after, missing this unforgettable flavor and promising myself next time I will be much much smarter.