Day 9: Old Jerusalem
Today was a super walking day as we explored the Old City in Jerusalem. I visited Mt. Olives, Mt. Zion, Tomb of David, the supposed location of the last supper, the Zion gate, Jewish Quarter, Cardo, Stations of the Cross, Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter, Davidson Centre, Western Wall Tunnels and the City of David- all on my feet and all in the heat (nope, didn’t even try to make that rhyme). We stopped for lunch in the heart of the Muslim Quarter at a place called Friends Restaurant, a large restaurant that our guide suggested was one of the only establishments with clean facilities. Our guide ordered some shawarma for us to help out with the language barrier and to prevent them from overcharging/overordering for two green tourists who wouldn’t know the wiser.
Dinner was at Darna, a Moroccan themed Kosher restaurant in the bustling neighbourhood of Ben Yehuda. Moroccan is definitely not a typical cultural cuisine for us, so I was really looking forward to the experience. Service was lively and friendly. Our server was fluent in English and was both professional and energetic.
We started with pita and a selection of fine salads that included carrots with cumin, spicy “matbucha” (tomatoes, roasted red peppers, chili and garlic), red beets, potatoes with parsley and vinegar, and fava beans
Each had a distinct and delicious flavour. My favourite was the favas, which had a pleasing bite, and a sweet buttery interior.
Briouat medley: savoury phyllo triangles and cigars filled with meat, fish and vegetables
Another delicious dish. The vegetable cigars reminded me a bit of an Indian samosa, the meat had a warm smokey aroma with lots of cinnamon and spice, and the fish triangle was comforting with a touch of sweetness, kind of reminiscent of a gefilte fish flavour.
Pastilla Fassia: phyllo pastry stuffed with cornish hen and almonds decorated with powdered sugar and cinnamon
Our favourite dish of the night. Like the cigars, the meat was juicy and deeply aromatic, the pastry was impossibly crispy, and the sweet dust on top added another level of comfort. I personally love mixing sweet and savoury flavours and I think Moroccan food really lends itself well to this technique.
Mrouzia: Lamb shanks cooked with raisins, prunes, apricots and walnuts
Again- no complaints here. The lamb was succulent and tender, with no detectable chunks of unrendered fat. Having been cooked with a generous serving of dried fruit, the meat was neither gamey nor musky, just sweet, fruity and perfectly seasoned.
Toubkal delight: sweet pastilla with soya milk, and orange blossom water decorated with cinnamon and almonds
A delicious light finish to the meal. The glaze was neither cloying or too rich, which was fitting considering the light airy texture of the pastilla pastry. Even after 10 minutes of sitting, when the middle of the pastry began to get a bit soggy, the subtle crunch of the almonds provided a satisfying textural contrast.
So for all of the above plus 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of Perrier and 2 teas, the bill came to $130. Incredible value for more food that we could finish and a lovely comforting experience.
After a walk around Ben Yehuda, and our admiration of the night life in Jerusalem, we decided to indulge ourselves in a small self-serve frozen yogurt, decorated with nostalgia and rainbow sprinkles. I don’t know the name of the ice cream shop, but it’s kind of hard to miss as its right on the corner in the centre of the street.