Jerusalem

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Josh and I went to Jerusalem for our last weekend in Israel before we headed back to the US for Christmas. Our Israeli colleagues highly recommended that we go to Machneyuda restaurant, which is on the edge of the very famous market by the same name. We did not know this going in but the restaurant is considered one of the best in Jerusalem, possibly the country! After 2+ hours and 20+ dishes of pure culinary heaven we understood why!

The restaurant pays homage to the city’s eclectic diversity in the elegant dishes. Josh and I were lucky enough to grab a last minute reservation for Thursday night as you typically need to make a reservation 1-2 weeks in advance. The restaurant is small…

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… and Josh and I had a seat at the bar where the bartenders served us some local Israeli beer and other craft cocktails.

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To our left was the kitchen, where the boisterous chefs sliced, diced, and sautéd while banging on the pots and pans to the beat of the music…

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-5999… and took shots…Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6001

At one point early in the evening the people at the table behind us spontaneously started to dance, while 20 minutes later some orthodox Jews came in to light Hanukkah candles… and then the whole restaurant burst into song and dance… here is a video, the lighting is pretty bad but you will get the general atmosphere and energy of the place…

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The menu changes daily and everything looked delicious, so to avoid making any decisions we opted for the 8 course tasting menu – OMG it was one of the best meals of my life! It started with this sweet potato soup – delish!

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Then some assorted fish… the one on the left was truly interesting, a liver pate sufganiyot. Sufganiyot is doughnut typically filled with strawberry jam and is served around Hanukkah. It is no place for liver pate! Josh and I decided we don’t like liver pate despite it being very nutritious. Restaurant-7649

Then some more fish delicacies…Restaurant-7650

A scrumptious mushroom risotto! One of my comfort foods!

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A food-gasmic creamy polenta with mushrooms, asparagus and truffle oil. It was sealed in a jar when we got it and when you opened it there was this rush of aromatics and when coupled with the taste and texture was quite the sensory experience…Restaurant-7648

A beautifully seared filet!!!Restaurant-7647

And then these gems to tame your inner carnivore! Restaurant-7645

By this point we were getting full but we always have room for dessert! A perfectly balanced lemon tart… then a Bavarian Cream with a drizzling of caramel sauce… and then a chocolate torte… SOOO… GOOOD…Restaurant-7644

What a meal! And some more views from the kitchen…

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…and the chef in training…Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6014

So after stuffing our belly’s full of scrumptious food we headed to the Old City in Jerusalem for some late night wanderings. Jerusalem is an odd place because there always seems to be people out and about even at midnight. The busiest place was the Western Wall, which is the last remaining piece of the Second Temple and the holiest site in Judaism.

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Roaming the streets of the Old City around midnight is quite pleasant because the streets are empty…

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…and all of the churches are free of the throngs of people milling around. Josh and I decided it is one of the best times to explore and people watch as they prepare for Shabbat. Here we are at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest sites in Christianity – the site where Jesus was crucified. Note: there was not a church there when that happened, as the church was built in the 300s after three crosses were discovered on the site. Note Note: There is a lot of controversy if Jesus was actually crucified here.Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6085Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6090

Just as you enter is the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial…Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6094Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6098Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6101

Very cool stuff… On Friday… yes that was all on Thursday night… on Friday we explored the Machneyuda Market, which was bustling with activity as people were preparing for Shabbat.

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After spending a fair amount of time at the market eating pastries and other carbohydrate rich foods we headed back to the Old City. Below you see the Western Wall (the holiest site it Judaism) and the Dome of the Rock, the golden dome (the spot at which Muhammad ascended to heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel)… Did I mention this $%&* is complicated?

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A great diversity of hats can be seen in Jerusalem, particularly on Shabbat but more on that later. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6149

Just outside the Old City is this quite underwhelming room but within these walls the Last Supper is said to have occurred. According to my Lonely Planet travel book, “the room is highly unlikely to have hosted the Last Supper but may have been the place where the disciples are said to have received the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost and started speaking in ‘foreign tongues’”. I guess only the big man knows but it is cool to imagine being transported back to that time.

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Okay back to the Old City and there very short doors… Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6184

Here are some pictures from the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. It is the most ancient and important cemetery in Jerusalem dating back over 3,000 years and containing 70,000 tombs including that of the Virgin Mary.

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View of the cemetery with the Old City in the background. The golden dome on the leftish center is the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-6223

Okay last but not least is all of the fun beards people sport and hats people wear on Friday to celebrate Shabbat. I am still trying to figure out the difference between each but they are fun to look at.

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