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News  /  29th January 2021

Seven things we learned from Travel Geeks – a culinary tour of Israel

Travel Geeks event

Seven things we learned from Travel Geeks – a culinary tour of Israel

On 19 January, National Geographic Traveller teamed up with the Israel Tourist Office to host Travel Geeks – a culinary tour of Israel, an online event bringing together an expert panel to discuss the heart of Israeli life: food. Travel writer Emma Thomson, food entrepreneur Inbal Baum, food and travel writer Debbie Kandel and celebrated Israeli chef Uri Navon joined National Geographic Traveller commissioning editor Connor McGovern to talk about everything from the vegan hotspots of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv to the cool bars, restaurants and lively atmosphere at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, the thriving wine estates of the wild north, Arabic and fusion food in small towns around the country and everything in between. Over 1,000 people joined us at the event — here are some of the key things we learned:

1 It’s not fusion food
Better to describe Israeli food as a “mosaic”, said Inbal Baum. “You’ll find every flavour, every texture, every ethnicity in the cuisine. Like a mosaic of pieces that come together in a beautiful picture.”

2 Don’t go for a meal
Debbie Kandel said she always tells first-timer visitors to Israel start with the markets. “I always recommend that people graze – don’t go and sit down for a meal straight away.”

3 Put it all in a pitta
First Israeli food to try? “Sabich,” said Inbal, and the panel and attendees on the chat enthusiastically agreed. “It’s a great representation of Israeli cuisine,” she said. “You bring so many flavours together and pack them in a pitta.”

4 North for wine
Inabl’s top tip for getting off the beaten track was visiting the wineries in the north, as they’re some of the best in the world. Attendees in the chat recommended Tishbi winery in ZIchron and Stern Wintery in Galilee.

5 Where to eat
Asked to choose just one restaurant to try in Israel, Uri Navon plumped for Chakra in Jerusalem. “It has a great vibe, and you’re always made to feel welcome,” he said. “It’s more than just a restaurant.” The question provoked much debate in the chatroom too, with recommendations for Uri Buri seafood restaurant in Acre, breakfast at Anastasia in Tel Aviv, Lux in Haifa, fantastic kebabs at Tel Aviv’s Jasmino, falafel at HaKosem in Tel Aviv, Chakra in Jerusalem and of course Uri Navon’s own Machneyuda in Jerusalem among the many places to eat our attendees were eager to vouch for.

6 Make it at home
The chat among our attendees turned to cookbooks so they could try some of the dishes discussed at home — on top were Yottam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur, The Galilean Kitchen by Ruth Nieman. Debbie recommended Sabababy Adeena Sussman, Zahav by Mike Solomonov and Steven Cook, Balaboosta by Einat Admony and Uri Scheft’s Breaking Breads. Lots of votes also went to The Palomar Cookbook, by our panellist Uri Navon.

7 At the end
Emma Thomson raised the very important topic of desserts, putting forward a strong case for her favourite sweet treat. “I love rugelach. It’s like a mini croissant made with chocolate and cream cheese. When you put it in your mouth it just melts.”

Watch the full discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1017128965476662

If your destination or company would be interested in partnering on a future online event, we’d love to discuss any ideas you might have, or help you come up with the best way we can work together. Contact [email protected] or call 020 7253 9909.