Israel's winter rains are still going strong, and the trees are thrilled about it. The flowers are blooming, the fruit bursting through, and Israel is gearing up to celebrate Tu Bishvat, the Jewish Arbor Day.
Just like every Jewish holiday, Tu Bishvat is about food. It's traditional to hold a seder for this holiday – similar to the festive Passover meal - complete with the four cups of wine, but with a focus on the fruits and nuts native to Israel.
Restaurants across Israel are already preparing to greet Tu Bishvat, which begins Tuesday at sundown, and many have whipped up a special feast just for the occasion. Here are a few of our favorite options.
All specials are being offered on Wednesday, February 8.
The Hataim Metukim (Sweet Sins) sweet shop, in the heart of Tel Aviv's Neve Tsedek neighborhood, will offer a Tu Bishvat-themed brunch every Friday over the course of February. Eat all you want at this hedonistic meal: heap your plate with a rich bulgur-wheat salad containing cranberries, walnuts, and dried fruit, or grab a taste of the cookies and pastries baked specially for this holiday (phyllo pastries with dates and nuts, apricot and fig cookies, and banana chocolate cake are just some of the sinful sweets available!)
Shabazi 67, Neve Tsedek, Tel Aviv
The bistro-bar CENA, on Tel Aviv's Montefiore Street, has cooked up a seven-course meal in honor of Tu Bishvat, with a menu based on the best local fruits, including apricots, figs, oranges, almonds, pears, and a bottomless pitcher of Sangria! Fill your belly on an herb salad with cashews and dried cranberries; bruschetta topped with spring chicken marinated in an apricot/chicken broth; the chicken liver tart with caramelized figs and goat cheese; shrimp steeped in orange butter and topped with flakes of Saint Mor cheese, almonds and croutons. Finish your meal off with chocolate-almonds muffins, or 'drunk' pear mixed with an assortment of nuts, or maybe the lavender cookies and a cup o' joe.
Montefiore 42, Tel Aviv
Montefiore 7, an acclaimed chef's restaurant also located on Tel Aviv's Montefiore Street, is offering a robust menu in honor of the holiday. Special dishes include cream of potato soup with purple carrot, served with a side of hot chestnuts for you to peel on the spot; seared red tuna with wild pansy blossoms and pistachios; beet meringue with a cream of lavender, lemon, endive, yogurt and dried figs; and the best of Israel's cheeses with dried fruit.
Montefiore 7, Tel Aviv
If you want to get out of the city, celebrate the holiday at Meshek Barzilay in Moshav Yarkona, and bring your kids, because this is the perfect chance for them to learn how to plant a tree and tour the blossoming green gardens and orchards. But first, you have to eat! Try the fruit and nut granola, the garden calzone, the spinach salad with citrus fruit and avocado, the root vegetable stew, beet carpaccio and more.
If you're in Jerusalem for the holiday, check out the kosher Scala restaurant, in the David Citadel Hotel. Order culinary delights from the regular menu, or try the array of special dishes cooked in the spirit of Tu Bishvat: Slow-cooked Lamb Osso Bucco, with pumpkin, black prunes and sweet spices; pan-seared chicken breast with thyme, onion marmalade and brandy, chestnuts and dates in a chicken stock; goose liver cutlet with caramelized green apples, chestnuts and moist dates; caramelized bananas with hazelnuts; and a chopped dried fruit salad in wine.
King David Street 7, Jerusalem
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