A Feast Through Northern Israel and the Beautiful Casa Caesarea

Posted on by on June 12th, 2012 | 31 Comments »

We called it our ‘babymoon’. Not my husband and I, but rather my best friend Katherine and I, because as we saw it, best friends need time before baby arrives too. We had a little two day adventure up to Northern Israel to discover Caesarea, Acre and Tsfat, three spots that steal my heart each time I visit. And, we spent the night in the most lovely bed and breakfast, Casa Caesarea.

We joked as we pulled into the large gated community that we had somehow been transported to Florida. Neatly manicured properties with gorgeous homes and the only full sized golf course in all of Israel, reminded me of the sunshine state which I spent my University years. Pulling up to Casa Caesarea, we were greeted with the big beautiful smile and open arms of our host, Anne Kleinberg. Anne, a former New Yorker and interior designer turned writer and major foodie, has a novel, Menopause in Manhattan under her belt as well as a cookbook, Pomegranates: 70 celebratory recipes, and another one in the works. Anne is now living her dream of having a boutique bed and breakfast in her home in the most gorgeous of locations, Caesarea, Israel.

The wrought iron gates opened and Anne handed us the key to the guest entrance. Up a flight of stairs a living area with french doors on either side let light shine in. A bottle of wine and homemade cookies that were simply divine, sat waiting for us. Talk about a warm welcoming! A small kitchen nook equipped with everything you could need for a comfortable stay sat outside the bedroom. The bedroom was fit for a princess. A huge inviting bed and a large door that opened up to a huge wrap around balcony with glorious views of the golf course. Downstairs, a beautiful patio overlooking a large pool was serene, peaceful and inviting and where we were to have a leisurely breakfast of yogurt, granola, croissants, lemon curd, cheeses and fruit before trying to tear ourselves away from our little oasis before continuing our travels.

Besides being a perfect little getaway for friends or families, a romantic retreat for a couple and a golfers paradise, Casa Caesarea is a foodies dream (even if you just spend your time drooling over Anne’s amazing kitchen!). Having your B&B host be a foodie and cookbook author not only means delicious meals, fabulous restaurant recommendations and wonderful food talk, it also means having the opportunity to be apart of the gourmet culture club where foodies, photographers, writers and bloggers  alike can enjoy courses like the upcoming wine and dine shoot. The wine and dine shoot is a food photography course with Dan Lev where not only will he be teaching invaluable food photography but where you will actually be cooking (and eating) the food you photograph! Seriously, what more could a foodie want out of a bed and breakfast? Oh and it’s only 5 minutes from the beach!

Casa Caesarea: casacaesarea.com, tel: 04 610-0228 or 054 543-0228

Peeling ourselves away from the peaceful paradise of Casa Caesarea was no easy thing, but we made our way to the beautiful ruins that Caesarea is famous for. Set on the shores of the Mediterranean this ancient port city was built by Herod the Great in 25-31 BCE and many people have come through leaving their mark from the Roman Empire to the Byzantine era to the Crusaders and the Ottomans. What’s left today are remarkable ruins to explore, including beautiful mosaic floors, ancient bathhouses, a huge Roman amphitheater where concerts are still put on to this day and a large hippodrome. Take a stroll on the shores and you are likely to find some Byzantine glass pieces and ancient pottery remains.

Steps away from the ancient ruins of Caesarea sits an array of seafood restaurants. Taking a recommendation from Anne, Katherine and I sat overlooking the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean at the Crusaders Restaurant. The menu was large and filled with every type of seafood imaginable. Our eyes went to the mixed seafood platter that was filled with crab, shrimp, mussels and calamari covered in a light buttery garlic sauce. We savored every bite of the delicious and fresh shellfish. It has been a long time since we have delighted in these sea creatures as it’s hard to find fresh seafood in the desert and living in a country that is mostly kosher, it’s always a treat to be able to enjoy a good platter of crabs and shrimp.  As if this seafood platter wasn’t enough, we had a side of mezze which included everything from tahina to eggplant, olives to a mayonnaise and roe mixture, all served with a beautiful foccacia bread, perfect for dipping in that buttery garlic sauce our shellfish sat in!

Crusaders Restaurant: Old Caesarea Park, Tel: 04-636-1931

North of beautiful Caesarea lays the ancient crusader city of Acre (or Akko). This fortified old city sitting on the Mediterranean has been conquered by everyone. The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Egyptians, Crusaders, Ottomans, and Armenians have called this city home and the massive stone walls that were built to keep invaders out still stand today and is a beautiful place to take in the scenery. An ancient Templar tunnel connects one part of the city to another, a gorgeous mosque stands tall in the center of the city and each turn reveals more hidden treasures. Fishing boats and small sailboats line the port, glistening in the late afternoon sun. We wandered through the cobblestone streets through the labyrinth of alley ways until finding the small shuk with stalls selling aromatic spices to syrupy Arab pastries, fresh sugar cane juice to beautiful copper cookware. A trip to a new city is never complete without a visit to their shuk.

One of my favorite restaurants sits in a 400 year old Ottoman building in the old city of Acre, Uri Buri. Walking by this modest restaurant one would never think that is the top restaurant in the area. Seafood is the focus of the menu and chef and owner Uri Jeremias never disappoints. Katherine and I sat down and forgoing the chefs tasting menu where servers keep bringing out dish after dish until you say stop, ordered 3 half portion main dishes. Our first was cod in a lemon butter and sage sauce cooked beautifully with a perfectly crispy skin, served with a creamy cauliflower puree. Next was a plate of shrimp and artichokes bathing in the most delicious lemony turmeric sauce. Lastly we dined on sea bass smothered in the most creamy porchini mushroom sauce, served with a bowl of vibrant roasted vegetables. Each dish divine and getting better as they came. Next time we will surely be coming with an empty stomach and indulge in the tasting menu. We passed on dessert as our stomachs couldn’t handle another bite, however, visiting Uri Buri in the past I must recommend trying their kanafeh as it was some of the best I’ve had.

Uri Buri: 93 Hagana, Akko, Tel: 04-955-2212

Our last stop on our small adventure up north was the mystical city of Tsfat. Home of Kabbalah, this small city is the highest city in all of Israel and is filled with artists selling their paintings and Judaica along the touristy main pedestrian street. The rest of the city is quiet and sleepy. Walking up and down the hilly narrow cobblestone streets lead way to tiny Tsfat cheese shops, old synagogs, gorgeous stained glass windows and doors, an ancient Mikva and the tomb of Hannah and her seven sons. Some of my favorite places in Tsfat are the overlooks that give breathtaking views of the Sea of Galilee.

Katherine and I stopped into my favorite cafes in the city, Mr. Lachuch, a Yemenite restaurant in the heart of the artist colony. This tiny cafe is owned by the chef, Ronen. He cooks up what he calls “spiritual soul food”. We munched on Yemenite bread  called lachuch filled with different cheeses, vegetables and spices served with a spicy sauce and olives. Always comforting and never disappoints after an afternoon of wandering around this magical old city.

Mr. Lacuch: The main street of the artists colony

 

 

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31 Comments

  1. Posted on: 6-12-2012

    Wow Beth!

    You touch me with your fabulous description of Casa Caesarea and me. I’m honored.

    You and Katherine were such fun guests – I hope all future food & travel bloggers that we’re lucky enough to host are as are delightful as the two of you.

    Thank you for your VERY kind words. Come back soon to Casa Caesarea!!!

    Love,
    Anne

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Aw thanks Anne! It’s all true! We had such a great time. I cannot wait to come back!

  2. Posted on: 6-12-2012

    What a serene place this is, we would all be in so much better spirits after spending time in Casa Caesarea! Also, I think it is pretty cool that it was a baby moon, with everyone’s busy lives we do not spend enough time with our friends. Also, it looks like you really had some great food and fun running around Tsfat. Thanks for sharing your babymoon, great post!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      It’s so true Tina! I think making time for good friends is so super important. We had a wonderful time and such yummy food!

  3. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    Oh BEAUTIFUL pictures!!!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Thank you so much! It’s hard to get a bad photo in such beautiful locations.

  4. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    I am so envious right now. I’ve never been away alone with a friend before. I’d love to do something like this with my sister. Fabulous setting for a great memory making trip.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      There is nothing like taking a small trip with your best girlfriend! I feel very lucky to have been able to do so!

  5. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    Beautiful post.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Thank you Christine! So glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    Oh my! Your pictures are truly beautiful! Loved your post, Beth. Surely you had a magical time. :)

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed the post. We had such a wonderful time.

  7. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    Saw some of the pictures on Katherine’s post yesterday. Sounds like you two had AMAZING time together! I love the seafood and wrap dish in the pictures. Are you ready for the baby yet? You will have amazing time with the baby!!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Thanks Nami! Katherine and I had a blast. Great food and even better company. Cant ask for anything more.
      Getting ready for baby. We cant wait to take her around on all our adventures!

  8. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    What stunning photos my friend – I love the concept of a Babymoon :D
    How exciting!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Thank you! You really cannot get a bad photo in any of those beautiful cities!!!

  9. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    Oh how beautiful, your pictures are incredible, I feel like I am right there. I love the babymoon!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      Thanks do much Shari! It was a wonderful ‘baby moon’!

  10. Posted on: 6-13-2012

    Gorgeous place with a splendid array of food plus the wine which kept there for you. Looks like my list on places I want to travel to is getting longer after looking at the lovely pics you have attached.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-13-2012

      You should most definitely add these places to your travel list Nava! They are so beautiful with great food!!

  11. Debbie
    Posted on: 6-14-2012

    Dear Beth,

    Thank-you so much for your beautiful pictures of Caesarea. My friend and I went to Israel last year for the first time for as Christians because our hearts are for Israel and the Jewish people. We were only there for 10 days but the land and the people stole our hearts. Caesarea was one of my favorite places in Israel and I will never forget walking along the remains of King Herod’s sea port and getting some fresh Mediterranean sea spray on us. The accommodation you mentioned looks really good. After getting back to Australia from Israel, I decided that I would subscribe to your food blog because it so much reminded me of being in Israel and each time I get your email, it’s like I’m there again! I really miss Israel so much and really appreciate your blog. Shalom from Melbourne, Australia!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-14-2012

      Thanks Debbie! Israel is an easy country to fall in love with!! I am so glad you can relive your time here through my blog. If you ever make it back here be sure to let me know!

  12. Posted on: 6-14-2012

    I love your post, Beth! Casa Caesarea sounds incredible and truly an oasis. You visited some of my favorite spots! The last time we were in Israel we ate lunch at Uri Buri and had the chef’s tasting menu…what an afternoon of delicious eating. I also love Mr. Lachuch – we had a kabbalah teaching while we ate. What a terrific time for you and Katherine!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-15-2012

      How amazing is Uri Buri?!?! Im so jealous that you did the tasting menu! I am for sure leaving enough room to try that next time I am up there. Sounds like you had such a lovely lunch at Mr. Lacuch too! Must have been so interesting. I just love Northern Israel, its just so beautiful is it not?

  13. Debbie
    Posted on: 6-15-2012

    Hi Beth,
    Thank you so much for your lovely reply to my post on your blog. I would love to be able to meet you when I come back to Israel – that would really mean so much to me. It is actually my heart’s desire to be able to come to Israel and meet all my Israeli food bloggers and go out and have a meal with them. I really do hope to meet you one day Beth because your blog means so much to me! Shabbat Shalom!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-17-2012

      Its always fun to dine with food bloggers!!!!! Thank you so much for all your kind words Debbie!

  14. Posted on: 6-18-2012

    Sigh, what a great trip! Just perfect.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 6-18-2012

      Perfect!

  15. Posted on: 6-21-2012

    What absolutely beatiful photos and terrific post – it looks like such a wonderful place to visit and the food looks so healthy and delicious – I wish I could go visit one day…

  16. Posted on: 6-25-2012

    Lovely photographs and descriptions. You’ve been to a couple of places I’ve never seen yet and would love to visit. Casa Caesarea sounds like a perfect getaway.

  17. Posted on: 8-16-2012

    Looks wonderful! I’m dreaming of having a bed and breakfast as well.

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