Best Ice Cream Shops in Israel (Part 2) – Vaniglia and Shaked

Vaniglia Gelateria

Brothers Nitzan and Itay Rogozinski opened their first branch of the Vaniglia ice cream boutique in 2001 at Basel Square in Tel Aviv. Anything that goes into the ice cream is made on the premises, from cheesecake to poppy seed cake. They use pistachio paste from Sicily, truffle oil from Umbria, orange flower petals from Turkey, camomile flowers from Egypt, tonka beans from Guinea and vanilla from Madagascar; to mention but a few.

Vaniglia in a Cup

Vaniglia offers a nice selection of sorbets with a very high percentage of fruit (over 70%). The dairy ice creams are delicious too, and they are also producing a new line of 100% organic ice creams made with rice milk or soy milk, and a line that is sugar-free.

I visited the new Hod HaSharon branch that is located in a cute little “house” that was built for the ice cream shop. It might look small from the outside, but this branch offers a good selection, such as the following highly recommended flavors:

  • Yogurt with orange flower water, Sicilian pistachios and apricot compote
  • Yogurt with honey and pine nuts
  • Plum sorbet
  • Valharona chocolate with an infusion of cocoa beans and chocolate crunch
  • Sicilian pistachio
  • Coconut
  • Mango sorbet
  • Blackberry sorbet
  • Oh, just try them all!!!

Vaniglia has several locations:

22a Eshtori Hafarchi Street (off Basel Street)
Tel Aviv

98 Ibn Gvirol Street
Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

18 Derech Ramatayim
Hod HaSharon

Shaked Gelateria

Shaked Gelateria (pronounced Sha-Ked) was originally started as a pizzeria in the leafy town of Ramat Gan, just next to Tel Aviv, then turned into a cafe, and eventually branched out into homemade ice creams. Today, Shaked also has a branch in the entertainment zone of the old Tel Aviv Port, which is also a cafe, even though it is better known for its ice cream (something which obviously appeals to the patrons of the toy shop strategically located next door).

Shaked in a Cup

Shaked offers some interesting flavors of ice cream, such Kremschnitt, sabra (prickly pear) sorbet, olive oil and za’aatar (hyssop), tehina and humous. They also produced a special for the World Cup, which is no longer available: beer ice cream with sunflower seeds! Unfortunately, they didn’t have some of these flavors on offer when I visited the Tel Aviv Port location, but I do recommend the following:

  • Frutti di Bosco (Forest Fruits)
  • Chocolate sorbet
  • Cheesecake
  • Mango
  • Limoncello

Shaked Gelateria has two locations:

Hangar 7, Tel Aviv Port
Tel Aviv

40 Aluf David
Ramat Gan

Best Ice Cream Shops in Israel (Part 1) – Iceberg and Doro

I am on a mission to find the best ice cream in Israel and it is a task that I do not take lightly, at least not around my waist. I have a confession to make: I am an ice cream snob and am not embarrassed to admit it.

Ice cream is in my blood. My earliest memory is eating peppermint ice cream at the Howard Johnson’s Restaurant on our way to the annual family vacation in Miami, Clearwater or Daytona Beach, Florida. Howard Johnson’s ice creams were the best and when I got older I graduated to eating their pistachio ice cream which was considered an exotic treat. In 1980, my father and my uncle opened a ice cream and game room shop, called the Cream Machine, in the neighboring university town where I grew up. I worked there on weekends making black pepper brownies for our hot fudge sundae brownies and selling ice cream. Our gimmick was our ice cream sundae bar. You could put as many toppings on as you like and you paid by the weight.

After living in a Swiss town on the Italian border and travelling around Europe, I can say that I have tasted some of the best gelato in Italy and France. I also like to experiment making ice cream and sorbets at home. So, when I moved to Israel over 10 years ago, I had to make sure I was moving to a country with some form of ice cream culture and I was happy to find out that there was one. There wasn’t as much experimentation in some of the older shops as there is now, but by 2007, the boutique ice cream shops started appearing. Now, I am happy to say, Israel can compete with the big boys and I am going to show you the best-of-the-best in this series.

Iceberg Storefront

Since Iceberg first opened in Tel Aviv, its shops have become known for some of the best boutique ice cream in the country. They have a variety of water-based and cream-based ice creams to choose from and are happy for you to try-before-you-buy. I went to the newly opened Iceberg and Vulcano Cafe in Hod Hasharon. This is a new concept cafe that has the ice cream shop on one side and a pizza and pinchos restaurant on the other.

Iceberg, which has been open since 1999, markets itself as “100% Low Tech Ice Cream”. It is a clever statement that really means they make all natural ice creams. According to Haaretz, whose restaurant reviews and articles on food and cooking have contributed considerably to the development of a more sophisticated food culture in Israel, “when Dalit and Ilan Bar decided to go into the ice cream business, they took it very seriously. The journey in search of the perfect ice cream included Italy, France and the United States. They took from here, they took from there, they adapted the percentages of fat, the flavor and the texture to the Israeli climate and character.”

Iceberg in a Cup

What I like about Iceberg is that they are not afraid to experiment and even take ideas from others, such as their new chefs’ series. They also have Israeli-, Middle Eastern-, and Jewish-fusion flavors on offer. Along with their interesting home-grown offerings such as halva & pistachio, guava-mint, apricot-amaretto & almonds and lychee-ginger-pecan, they went to some of Israel’s well known chefs and asked them to come up with interesting flavor combinations:

Vanilla Ice Cream with Lavender and Lavender HoneyIsrael Aharoni (chef, restaurant owner, TV personality, food writer, cookbook author, eyebrow style model, and part-time DJ)

Poppy Seed Yeast Cake with Crème Pâtissière Ice Cream – Aviv Moshe (chef of Messa Chef Restaurant)

Mascarpone Ice Cream with Caramelised Pistachios, Baharat and Rosewater – Ronen Skinzes (chef of Manta Ray)

Black Coffee with Cardamom and Date HoneyChaim Cohen (chef, TV personality, owner of Dixie Grill Bar and consultant)

Cream Ice Cream with Forest Fruits, Nougatine and MeringueAyal Lavi (chef of Rokach 73)

My favorite of the chef ice creams were Israel Aharoni’s, Ronen Skinzes’ and Chaim Cohen’s. Iceberg will not disappoint you. Make sure you try their sorbets; the lychee-ginger-pecan is delicious.

Several locations in Tel Aviv: Ben Yehuda 108, Rothschild 31 and Ibn Gvirol 24
Iceberg Vulcano Cafe: Tel Aviv Port, Rishon Letzion, Ramat Hasharon and Hod Hasharon
Not kosher

Doro Gelateria

Doro, who markets itself as “Chef’s Ice Cream”, is the creation of pastry chef Doron Fishel and his business partner Oshri Azulay, who manages the shop. Doron studied the pastry arts and learned his craft in France, was pastry chef at Chloelys, custom-made ice cream for Herbert Samuel restaurant, and was also a manager of Arlekino (it should be spelled Arlecchino (harlequin), but Israelis are famous for mangling foreign names and words) ice cream shop before opening Doro.

Doro Gelato

Doro was recommended to me by one of my blog fans, and now I have to thank her and hate her at the same time for introducing me to some of the best ice cream I have tasted so far in Israel. Run, do not walk to Doro and try EVERYTHING!! The owner/manager, Oshri Azulay, is passionate about what he sells. So much so, he let me taste a few flavors that were not on offer that day. What I really like about Doro is that they are not afraid to experiment, they use fresh, all natural ingredients, and they do not skimp on anything.

Doro Gelato2

They make water-based and cream-based ice creams and rotate their flavors on a daily basis. So, you have to visit there more than once to really get a feel for all they have to offer. One of his regulars, who stops by three times a week, passed through while we were there.

Doro in a Cup

Some of the most interesting flavors we tried were:

  • Black sesame
  • Apples in cream with kadayif
  • Brazilian coffee with coffee beans and coconut
  • Pears in Merlot
  • Pear sorbet with arak and mint
  • Finchi — vanilla ice cream with salted chocolate
  • Kadayif

I think their passionfruit sorbet is some of the best I have ever had. Frankly, everything I tried was delicious.

Doron and Oshri had the bad luck to open Doro a short while before a big building project (to build a large underground car park, much needed in Tel Aviv) started almost touching distance from their front door, and as a result you have to walk down a narrow and crowded pavement, with a big corrugated wall blocking off one side of it, to get there. The result, Oshri told me, was that business dropped drastically. Even so, he said, people are coming specially from towns outside Tel Aviv because the place’s reputation has spread so rapidly. They are also thinking about opening additional branches, but insist on having a limited number of branches under their own management rather than more branches under franchise in order to ensure that their quality isn’t compromised.

Doro – Chef’s Ice Cream
Rothschild Boulevard 8
Tel Aviv
Phone: 03-5106664
Not kosher

Trains and Balkan Water Börek

I used to love to go to the train station in my hometown. My father would take us there every once in a while to see the trains and we would always try to get there early so he could put a penny on the rails and have the train run over them. As soon as the train was safely out of harm’s way, he would retrieve the misshapen pennies for us to take home as souvenirs of our adventure.

So when I found out that the Tel Aviv municipality had painstakingly renovated an Ottoman-era train station, now unoriginally called HaTahana (The Station) near Neve Tzedek, I couldn’t wait to go and see it. And I must say, they did a beautiful job with the restoration.

The train station was inaugurated in 1892 and was the first railway line in the Middle East. The rail line went from Jaffa to Jerusalem and the length of the journey took 3-1/2 to 4 hours. The line was eventually extended to Lod and Haifa, and in 1921 the train travelled to Al Qantarah El Sharqiyya, Egypt, approximately 160km (100 miles) from Cairo. The station was closed in 1948 and only reopened as an entertainment complex this year.

There are several restaurants and cafes to choose from to sit and have a leisurely coffee with your favorite someone, such as Cafe Tahana in the original railway building.

Or sit on the roof of Shushkashvilli Beer Bar and Tapas, which is in a beautiful old Arab house that stood in the neighborhood called Manshiya, built by the Turks in 1892 to house Egyptian laborers working on the new railroad.

The Wieland Villa, built in 1902, was owned by a German Templar named Hugo Wieland, who built his home and a factory building and agricultural materials next to the railway station with the intention of shipping the goods throughout what was then Palestine and around the Middle East. The family remained in the house until the 1930s when they left and eventually moved to Australia.

HaTahana also has some lovely boutiques and art galleries in the surrounding stone buildings that will appeal to all sorts of shoppers.

The train tracks are quiet now, but HaTahana is abustle with people enjoying the lovely cafes, restaurants, art exhibitions every Thursday evening, and the real reason Mr BT and I got up early to go there: the Orbanic market, which is the new organic farmers market, open only on Fridays.

After visiting the old Ottoman station, I was inspired to make a Water Börek, which is a cheese or meat bureka, made with boiled warka leaves. Instead of going to all the trouble of making my own warka, I bought Moroccan cigar wrappers at the supermarket. Since most of my readers in the US and Europe will not be able to find cigar wrappers so easily, you can use egg roll wrappers. You can serve this for breakfast, afternoon tea, or a light supper with a big salad.

Water Börek - Su Böregi

Serving Size: 6 to 8

1 pkg (500g or 1lb) Moroccan cigar wrappers (thawed) or large egg roll wrappers

100g butter, melted or 1/4 cup olive oil

250g (1/2lb) Bulgarian or Greek Feta

1 log of plain goat's cheese

1 egg

1 cup fresh parsley or 1/2 cup parsley and 1/2 cup dill, chopped

2 green onions, sliced thinly

Several grinds of black pepper

Butter a 22cm (9 inch) deep-dish pan.

Mash the feta and goat's cheese together until well combined. Add the egg, parsley, green onion and black pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

In a large pot of boiling water, place one cigar sheet or egg roll wrapper in the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Scoop out the sheet with a wire mesh skimmer and place in the pan. Don't worry if you can't straighten the sheets out, just try to smooth a few out so they will go up the sides of the pan. Repeat until you have one layer of the sheets.

Brush butter or olive oil on the sheets and cover with half of the cheese mixture. Place another layer of boiled cigar sheets, brush them with butter, and add the rest of the cheese mixture. Place a final layer of cigar sheets, fold over any sheets that are hanging off the side of the baking dish, and brush with butter. Bake for 1 hour or until lightly brown. Serve hot or a room temperature.

Israeli Food Bloggers Event at Mazzarine Patisserie Artisanale

This past Thursday, six of the some of the more interesting (okay, I am biased) Israeli food bloggers got together:

Irène of Irène Sharon Hodes
Liz of Cafe Liz
Miriam of Israeli Kitchen
Sarah of Foodbridge
Yael of Apples and Honey

We had fun learning about each other. Some of us talked about whether we should only focus on one genre of food such as raw food, kosher, vegetarian or Middle Eastern/Kurdish, others talked about concentrating on the promotion of their food writing for professional gain, and some of us just enjoy writing and learning about cultures they are not familiar without thinking about whether it will turn into something like a cookbook or freelance articles. The most important thing we all agreed on was that we want to try and meet once a month at a different locations, and also arrange field trips to wineries, shuks, dairies, and other interesting food-related jaunts.

We met at the lovely Mazzarine Cafe on Montefiore 42 in Tel Aviv. When you walk into the cafe, you feel like you have  just walked into a chic Parisian cafe. I love the way they designed the space, with several different rooms to choose from: the front of the cafe with a constant view of the beautiful pastries on offer; the main room with a lovely view to the garden room, which gives you a feeling of sitting in a botanical garden; and the private room, with a beautiful wooden table that reminded me of my cousin’s French farm table in Holland. We had reserved the private room.

The cafe was founded by Chef Pâtissier Alon Goldman who started his culinary career working at the legendary and sorely missed Keren restaurant owned by one of my favorite Israeli chefs, Haim Cohen. There he fine-tuned his pastry skills and after a year he decided to move to France to expand his professional knowledge. He studied at the famous Lenôtre Culinary and Pastry School in Paris. While in France he worked at several Michelin starred restaurants such as the beautiful Burgundian restaurant at the late chef Bernard Loiseau’s Relais Bernard Loiseau and at the famous Ladurée pâtisserie. He also studied Mediterranean pastry at the famous and mouthwatering Karaköy Güllüoğlu (some of the best baklava I have ever had!) in Istanbul, Turkey, and was head pastry chef at Taboon restaurant in New York before fulfilling his dream of opening his own cafe.

The staff at the Montefiore location were very nice and excited about the food bloggers visiting their cafe. They all understand the items that they are selling, which is very refreshing for an Israeli cafe. But, really, how could you not be enthusiastic about selling beautiful looking cakes and pastries.

The menu has an array of sandwiches, salads, pasta, and main dishes to choose from. Most of us ordered from the specials on offer:

I choose a delicious soup made from a mushroom and vegetable base with perfectly pink-centered salmon and pasta designed with flat-leaf parsley.

Yael chose a vegetable quiche and salad.

Sarah and Irène chose a grilled tuna with Chinese pancakes, jasmine rice and a soy reduction. The tuna was also medium rare as I like it. My only issue with it is that the soy reduction was a little too salty, but I would definitely order it.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of Liz’s Caesar salad and Miriam’s gnocchi with artichokes and roasted cherry tomatoes, but I did taste Miriam’s and the gnocchi were light as they should be and the sauce was very nice. Another dish I will have to order.

Mazzarine’s very charming chef, Sharon Artzi, who only joined the restaurant a week ago, came to greet us with one of his new and very interesting dishes, gnocchi stuffed with prunes and served with roasted eggplant and a tehina-portabello mushroom sauce.

I know that it sounds quite strange and maybe too many flavours, but it worked and I thought it was delicious. He explained that he is going to change the entire menu in the coming weeks. I think there is great promise from this chef and I look forward to dining there again.

Of course we couldn’t leave without trying some of Chef Alon’s lovely pastries:

Sarah and I chose Zen – a tart filled with chocolate crème brûlée and covered in dark chocolate, which is perfect for a chocolate lover.

Miriam chose the eclair with cream and strawberries.

Irène chose Ebony, which is topped with 70% chocolate mousse,  filled with chocolate crème brûlée and covered in dark chocolate with an almond macaroon on the side.

The truth is that although the tarts and cakes were, or looked, wonderful, I would have liked to see more of them based on fruit, which is certainly not lacking in Israel during the winter. For that matter, I would have liked to see more Middle Eastern influence in the traditional French and Austrian pastries in the confectionery cabinet, which would have been a good marriage to the new chef’s main dishes. I highly recommend a visit to Mazzarine: where you will not be disappointed.

If anyone would like to come to our next event in March, please send me an email on my Contact page above and I will add you to the list.

Neve Tzedek – Old Tel Aviv

Neve Tzedek, which means Oasis of Justice built outside of Yafo’s walls. It was founded in 1887 by Aharon Chelouche, 22 years before Tel Aviv was founded.

Many of the neighborhoods turn of the century houses can still be seen and it has retained much of its old charm thanks to a re-gentrification of the neighborhood in the 1980s. The Nobel prize winning author and poet S.Y. Agnon lived there, as did the famous artist Nahum Gutman.

Neve Tzedek’s narrow winding lanes, colourful plaster walls and tile roofs have become one of Tel Aviv’s latest fashionable districts. If I could afford property there, I would move there immediately.

They have some beautiful galleries and boutiques there; my engagement ring and wedding band came from Agas v’ Tamar Jewelers. The make beautiful 22k gold and silver jewelry.

And, there are some really nice cafes, such as Caffe Tazza d’Oro, Michelle Bar and Ninawhere you can sit and relax as you people watch in this charming neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

Or you can go to Bellini restaurant across from the Suzanne Delal Center and try their delicious antipasti buffet for lunch.

Since Neve Tzedek is so close to Yafo, we usually go and eat at one of the fish restaurants on the seaside. We usually end up at the Arab-owned Succah Levana (The White Pergola). It is a casual restaurant, reasonably priced with a nice choice of grilled fish. The meal comes with a large assortment of meze which are made in-house. You can have your meal al fresco with a view of the Mediterranean Sea.

The White Pergola, 72 Kedem Street, Yafo. (03) 682-6558. Open Sun – Sat 12:00 – 01:00.

First, they bring a table full of mezze. The salads are nice and fresh. The pita is prepared on-site, so they are nice and warm when they come to the table. One was covered in za’atar.

Hummous and eggplant with mayonnaise salad

Syrian olives and pepper salad

Another eggplant salad, carrot salad and matboucha and labane with cucumber

Israeli salad

Then, grilled Gilt-head Seabream. They also have trout, seabass, drumfish and a few others. And, they also serve shellfish. The food is simple, but delicious.

Israeli Salad

Serving Size: 4

The sad thing is that I am allergic to raw tomato, so my husband always has the Israeli salad all for himself. This salad is dead easy to make, but the key is to have the freshest, tastiest ingredients possible and to finely chop the vegetables like in the picture above.

2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

Juice from 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon of za'atar (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a non-reactive (not metal) bowl, combine chopped vegetables. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, za'atar, salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables and toss. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Keeps for two days.

Related Posts with Thumbnails