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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Winter Scenes from Tel Aviv’s Outdoor Food Market
Dragon Fruit Carmel Market, Tel Aviv

Winter Scenes from Tel Aviv’s Outdoor Food Market

Carmel Market in Tel Aviv is one of the most vibrant spots in this city of contrasts. No matter how many times I’ve visited, I am seduced by shapely and unfamiliar fruit (winter pomelos!), chunks of stinky goat cheese and nutty pastries in this sprawling outdoor food market.

As bright colors, sharp aromas, piquant flavors and hawking vendors beckon, I’m thrilled by something novel on each visit.

fresh seasonal fruit in farmers market Tel Aviv
Winter figs

Ask and you can taste.

Don’t ask and you’ll be offered a taste anyway.

Don’t love crowds? Avoid all markets on Friday mornings when most folks are off from work and shopping for Shabbat. Looking for some bargains? Shop at the end of the day when vendors would rather sell for a discount than shlep their goods back to storage.

olives Carmel Market Tel Aviv

Head to the market hungry. If you haven’t noshed enough as you cruise the labyrinth of stalls, tuck into one of the home-style (the smaller the better) restaurants on the perimeter or along an alley. Don’t speak the language? Pointing works just fine.

If you’ve had enough of the crowds and tumult, head towards the beach for sea breezes and fresh fish.

We made a stop on our way to the shore and found respite at HaKovshim, a bistro that prides itself on using ingredients from the market. We bundled up and ate outside despite the brisk wind. We mused over  complex spices that were thoroughly seductive.

I had my first taste of mafrum, a tomatoey stew  made with cauliflower and potatoes and seasoned with sharp, warming spices I couldn’t name. It was served over homemade couscous; I only wish I could’ve packed it up for lunch the next day.

My favorite food guide in Tel Aviv is Inbal Baum, Delicious Israel. She has a team of passionate enthusiasts who help her share Israel’s diverse and varied culinary treasures by exploring markets, wineries, bakeries, home cooking experiences and lots more.

market tours Tel Aviv Israel
Inbal Baum (left) of Delicious Israel

Inbal guided me through Levinsky Market a while back. Her rapport with vendors and shopkeepers shows how deeply she cares about small businesses that have deep roots in these markets. Levinsky Market is distinctly different from the Carmel Market and well worth exploring with the experts.

winter strawberries Tel Aviv

Despite harsh growing conditions, Israel’s technology has found ways to keep fruits and veggies thriving throughout the searing heat of summer and despite frosty conditions in the north.

healthy juicing fruit in Tel Aviv
Juicing in TA

We turn to juicing in an effort to combat germ exposure on the long flights.

Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate Juice

More on sufganiyot (Israeli donuts) later in the week, including our walking tour with Jessica Halfin of Haifa Street Food Tours. We covered some great spots in Haifa and could NOT believe that we still had room for more sufganiyot once we hit Tel Aviv.

Believe it.

Israeli donuts in Tel Aviv Chanukah

Among the scores of stalls selling fruit, veggies, a huge variety of cheeses, tehina, and plenty more, one of the most seductive fragrances wafts from the stands selling bourekas. Check out our previous post with this recipe with Turkish origins.

Photo: Paloma Aelyon
Photo: Paloma Aelyon

Coming up later this week: We’ll have great info for you on wine guides and some special cheese producers and olive growers who cure their fruit and press their own oils.

If you have resources that help you explore Israel more deeply, please let us know in comments, below.

Happy New Year! Liz

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