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Tastes like Jerusalem

by michael September 15 2008
FoodFor the kidsThings to do
Jerusalem knows slow food
In Ma'adanei Tzidkiyahu, pepper stuffs you

The unrefined swamp dwellers in that grungy little port town down the highway like to claim they offer the best food in Israel, but up here in the mountains, where the clear air is not choked with the smog of heavy industry and heavier pretentiousness, we know the za'atar-sprinkled truth. From hummus to kubbeh to nouveau-Mediterranean haute cuisine, the real local epicurean culture is in Jerusalem.

And if you need evidence without the hassle of choosing among dozens of restaurants (although our restaurant guides spare you at least some of that), hie yourself down to the Ta'amei Yerushalayim (Tastes of Jerusalem) festival taking place from Tuesday to Thursday this week in the Old Train Station Plaza.

One of the Train Station's signature yearly events (since 2006, anyway), Ta'amei Yerushalayim gathers representatives from dozens of Jerusalem's most beloved restaurants in one central location, each restaurant crew manning a booth overflowing with authentic kosher Yerushalmi cuisine. Whether you get South American from La Boca (or, uh, at El Gaucho or Vaqueiro), kubbeh from Mordoch, olives and grape leaves from famous Machane Yehuda deli stall Ma'adanei Tzidkiyahu, Italian from Pera e Mela, hummus from beloved workingman's lunch joint Rachmo or French-Med fusion from Eldad V'Zehu, you'll leave with your belly full and eyes opened.

The festivities start each evening at 18:00 and run until 23:00. Children's performers entertain during the early evening, and at 19:00 the stage is yielded to B- and C-list musical performers, including crunchy-religious reggae band Acharit HaYamim, rock outfit Sigma, and the Jerusalem Blues Band. Come hungry.

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