Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Trip to Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem

Mahane Yehuda
The weather was beautiful yesterday so we decided to visit Mahane Yehuda, the bustling outdoor market in Jerusalem.  It takes about an hour by car to get there from Ra'anana but we had to make some special deliveries anyways, so we  thought it would be nice to take a walk through and buy some fresh fruits and vegetables.

Visiting on a Tuesday, it seemed that it was quite a bit quieter than it might be on some other days.  The market was still hopping, filled with sounds of marchants calling out their daily produce specials and crammed with shoppers making their way through the winding stalls.  But it wasn't quite "wall to wall" as it has been on other occasions.

Mahane Yehuda Jerusalem - Pomellas
One of the interesting contrasts about shopping for produce in Israel is the seasonality.  Unlike Canada and the U.S., most Israeli produce is seasonal.  This means that the fruits and vegetables, that are in season, are very fresh, usually local and reasonably priced.  You will generally not find watermelon in November, strawberries in August,  or fresh figs in April.  But the strawberries that I have eaten  in Israel during strawberry season (between November and April) are among the juiciest, sweetest strawberries that I have ever eaten.  The same applies to the watermelon, fresh figs, and melons.  Tomatoes are more readily available but are generally much fresher and tastier than the tomatoes available in most places in North America.

As we were walking through the market yesterday, we coudn't help but notice that it was Pomella season.  Many of the vendors were featuring huge juicy green pomellas.  There were also many different types of apples, some remaining figs, some oranges and a variety of vegetables. 
Mahane Yehuda Pineapples
The cherry tomatoes looked particularly appetizing.  A few vendors were also selling locally grown pineapples.  But unlike the pineapples from Mexico, the Dominican or Hawaii, these Israeli pineapples are tiny - almost bit-sized, and are very expensive.

We then decided we would visit Itchikidana, the well known, Kosher vegetarian Indian restaurant in the Machane Yehuda area.  Unfortunately, as a news article last year had suggested, the restaurant wound up in a battle with the Kashrut authorities over the certification of the various vegetables that it was using in its recipes and wound up closing. This was a real shame.  I had never actually eaten there, though I had heard much about it and I was anxious to try the food.  The opportunities to get Kosher Indian food in Israel are quite limited.
Ichikidana - Last Look...

Later it was time to drive back to Ra'anana.  But it was close to rush hour and we knew traffic would be horrendous.  So we flipped on Waze, an Israeli invented traffic program that combines maps, GPS and up to date traffic monitoring based on peer usage.  It took us on a winding path, through a number of different side streets - and then to Hwy 431 instead of exiting Jerusalem through the main route - highway #1.  We bypassed much of the traffic and managed to make it back to Ra'anana in about the same amount of time as it had taken us earlier, despite the much heavier traffic conditions.

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