Israelis who haven't escaped abroad are invading the shops and preparing for the Passover seder. Here are some tips from people who hunt down the best raw ingredients every day of the year - valuable information about where to find the best products from vegetables and fruit to desserts and household utensils.
Biala specializes in "healthy fast food." He recommends a shopping trip in Kfar Azar: "At Tuttei Hakfar (Heh Be'Iyar Street) the strawberries of the Angel (Malakh) variety are especially recommended. They are of amazing quality until June. The shop is laden with excellent and special produce; the quality is good and the atmosphere is familial. Also in Kfar Azar: Nahum's Fish Store (1 Tzahal Street), where live bass, gilt-head bream (Hebrew: denise), Australian carp (bermondy) and sea bass (labrak) swim in huge pools. There are also fresh sea fish of excellent quality."
Biala buys utensils at Kitchen Works (115 Nahalat Binyamin in Tel Aviv): chef's knives, high quality pans and more. On Fridays there are demonstrations of the utensils sold there and "it's always possible to find something to nosh," he says. He buys meat at Besarei Hachef (33 Pinkas Street, Tel Aviv) because of "quality, lots of experience, sane prices and a big selection."
She buys meat at Etsel Dudi (17 Heharoshet Street, Ramat Hasharon) for "the professional service and the special cuts" (ostrich fillet, corned beef cured in-house and more). For spices, pulses and baking supplies, it's Doron Shaharabani's (9 Ussishkin Street, Ramat Hasharon) because of "the extensive knowledge, the patience and the variety - from reduced balsamic vinegar to pasta in the shapes of Walt Disney characters."
Almosni buys produce at Shuk Shuk (15 Beit Shamai Street, Ramat Hasharon) because of "the variety, the prices and the service."
Ran Rosh, an expert on French cuisine, buys cheeses at the Tzon El dairy in Tzippori and at Ran Buck's Cheese Cellar (81 Sokolov Street, Ramat Hasharon). For charcuterie, it's Silber at the Shemen beach in Haifa.
"I love shopping - the market in Acre is best," he says. "The old city surrounds it. He recommends the corner vegetable shop at the entrance to the market for local produce and wild leaves. "We buy fish at Khalil Jarahi and Sons - the fish arrive there fresh with the smell of the sea and glistening eyes. White grouper (lokus), red snapper (farida), big meagre (musar), small mullets and white bonito (palamida). It's worth buying spices ar Mahmudi Koradi, a spice and coffee shop, one of the gourmet shops for spices." If you do your shopping on Thursdays, he says, "It's worth going to the weekly market in Kafr Yassif - enchanting and you can buy the wonderful fresh wild greens of the Galilee." Also there are authentic cooking and serving utensils.
(Until recently Michael Grotowski was sous chef at the Herbert Samuel Restaurant in Tel Aviv. He buys meat at Delicious (12 Kehilat Venezia Street in Tel Aviv): "Especially because of the lamb." He buys fish at Dudi Kol Dag (18 Hakovshim Street in Tel Aviv): "They select the best fish that come into the country's shores." He buys wine at Derekh Hayain (93 Hashmonaim Street in Tel Aviv): "It's impossible to be disappointed."
He buys meat at Eidan Habasar (7 Faran Street, Jerusalem: "The best meat in Jerusalem." He buys fish at Avner Daggim (12 Mahaneh Yehuda, Jerusalem). "I trust them with my eyes closed that the fish are fresh." He buys wine at Avi Ben (22 Yosef Rivlin Street, Jerusalem).
Sheetrit says Dagei Chen in the Netanya market (8 Hayahalom Street) has "the freshest fish there are." For meat: Shabi House of Meat (28 Yitzhak Rabin Street, Kiryat Tivon): "A good butcher shop, run by likeable people who treat customers to meat fresh off the barbecue;" wine at the Derekh Hayain chain, which "imports fine wine from abroad and gives value for money."
Biton likes Arba'a Dayaggim (165 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv): 'The fish are fresh and of high quality and the employees are very courteous." He sources meat at Ophir Carmel Ma'adanim (50 Hacarmel Street in Tel Aviv): "They have lamb there and excellent beef. You can ask the butchers for recipes." He buys wine at Anavim (126 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv). He says you can ask the owner 100 questions before you choose a bottle.
He buys flowers and gifts at Holland Haktana in Kfar Azar and at Pluralis in Rishon Lezion (Nahalat Yehuda). Two shops for utensils he recommends are Rogine (46 Montefiore Street in Tel Aviv) and Sharon Brothers (113 Nahalat Binyamin Street, Tel Aviv), which specialize in ecological and recycled utensils. At molecular biologist Dr. Sergio Broido's Internet site (texturot.co.il), he buys gifts for expert cooks who have everything.
Buchester recommends a string of shops in Wadi Nisnas in Haifa. In winter, he goes there specially for the wild greens. "There's nothing like the wadi for local vegetables: cute little cucumbers, pakus - a kind of cucumber-like zucchini, ugly and very delicious tomatoes and vegetables and spices a person from Tel Aviv finds hard to identify."
The recommended places are: Abu Shakara's butcher shop (38 Khoury Street); George Falafel (15 Yohanan Hakadosh Steet), Hazkenin and Michel (18-21 Hawadi Street) and Abed al-Hadi's Sweets (3 Shahadeh Street).
They recommed buying lamb at Lagziel (83 Uziel Street, Ramat Gan): "David Lagziel stocks the finest lamb in the country." They buy fish at Ziko (26 Hatehiya Street, Jaffa): "Every morning the best fishermen of the coastal plain gather there and bring in the best of the night's catch. We recommend the grouper, which stars at this season and is especially suited to the holiday table."
"Special utensils for the seder can be purchased at Iris Zohar's Showroom (32 Yefet Street, Jaffa): This is a shop for those who have seen everything, with gifts like prestigious napkin rings, wine coolers and a selection of silver utensils.
"To stock up on sweets, it's worth visiting Hila Hochman's stand at the farmer's market in the Tel Aviv port. I first became aware of her roaming the market. She is a sorceress of sweets: She has old-fashioned marmalade apples candied in a thin layer of caramel. These are classic desserts for anyone trying to figure out what to serve at the end of he Passover meal. Anyone who has tasted her hand-made marshmallow will never be able to eat its industrial brother," says Ayalon.
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