A foodie trip to Majda

Inspiration for my latest foodie adventure was Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown – the West Bank and Gaza.” A couple of weeks ago, two friends and I took a mini road trip to the Arabic village of Ein Rafa outside Jerusalem and had dinner at Majda, which features in the episode. Majda is owned and run by a couple, who are also both cooks; she is Israeli and he is Palestinian and at Majda they combine their two culinary traditions with those of the Middle East and North Africa region and add a delicious twist.

Welcome! The reception at Majda.

Welcome! The reception at Majda.

Majda is a perfect oasis of green and calm and the place to enjoy lunch and/or dinner al fresco. Sit in the beautiful leafy garden, look across the rolling landscape and enjoy delicious food.

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Welcome to Majda. A red front door in a beautiful green leafy garden.

Herb garden on a yellow table

Herb garden on a yellow table

Equally adorable is the interior at Majda. With an artistic and unique collection of chairs, paintings, silverware and tablecloths, the place makes you feel welcome and right at home. There is a genuine sense of hospitality and warmth.

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One beautiful, unique dining room at Majda

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Every table has different table linens (and even a matching flower!)

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Letters and postcards sent by diners. And a second dining room in the background.

However, the most important thing at Majda is the food. Every dish is based or inspired by a Middle Eastern classic or tradition.

We had falafel shrimp as a starter (and I had to fight the boys for my share), a modern take on a fattoush salad, as well as selection of yummy dips with home made bread.

My main course was my absolute favourite (and one of my all-time-favourite Middle Eastern dishes), based on a Moroccan classic pastry dish, with wafer thin pastry stuffed with saffron chicken, cilantro, almonds, and cinnamon. At Majda they topped it all off with apricots and a fresh slaw and salad. DELICIOUS!

For dessert, we enjoyed a perfect apple, berry crumble and …. Arabic coffee!

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Sitting down at Majda. All tables are colourful or decorated with a mosaic.

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A delicious fresh “fattoush” salad

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Best part of the day! Sweet and savoury Moroccan pastry filled with chicken, almonds and apricots.

The perfect dessert! And the perfect end to a perfect diner!

The perfect dessert! And the perfect end to a perfect diner!

The verdict…the delicious food and a charming location make for a great dining experience! I will be going back!

*Note the website is in Hebrew only. For reservations call 00 972 (0)2 579 7108.

Mosaic Guest House

A couple of weeks ago, the entire office headed up north to Sebastiyya in the West Bank and enjoyed a mini retreat. We had the pleasure of staying at the Mosaic Guest House, which opened last year and has been perfectly refurbished, with a modern kitchen, bathrooms, and beautiful rooms.

The Guest House is made up of a number of different adjourning houses that have been joined and create a lovely intricate complex. Trees planted throught and a number of different terraces give the whole place a perfect sense of happiness and hospitality, that makes you feel right at home. The Guest House gets its name from and is associated with the Mosaic Centre Jericho, which in an non-profit organisation that aims to protect and promote Palestinian cultural heritage in the Palestinian Territories. There are a number of beautiful mosaics throughout.

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One of the many mosaics found throughout

There are five bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, all decorated in a different color and unique pieces of furniture. Done with care and attention they make it difficult to choose which bed you want to sleep in. Some rooms have two single beds and others a double bed.

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The turquoise bedroom

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I loved the attention to detail and play with colours

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The red bedroom …

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… with matching bed linen.

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Everything is beautifully tone-in-tone

If you like, breakfast and dinner can be provided. We enjoyed a simple and delicious breakfast, with toast, fresh fruit and nuts, yoghurt, fresh juice and delicious omelet. For dinner, we organised a fabulous barbecue and enjoyed a glass of cold beer, while looking across the beautiful views.

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A great view across Northern Palestine

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The brand new kitchen. Perfect to cook!

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Details in the dining area

I highly recommend coming up here. Enjoy the beautiful Mosaic Guest House, the fantastic roman ruins in Sebastiyya and relax a weekend away from everything. Perfect to go with a group of friends or family.

Travel Inspiration #6

Europe is once again engulfed in a heat wave, which is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the Northern coasts of Europe that are usually neglected for their hotter sexier southern relatives.

My favourite is Cornwall! The British coast is the perfect solution for a quick weekend getaway and the perfect opportunity to escape the heat and cool-off.

A couple of years ago my girlfriends and I headed down to Padstow and Rock in Cornwall and enjoyed the beautiful coast and beaches, the great surfing opportunities and, most importantly of all, great British culinary traditions! The beaches are endless and beautiful. Perfect for long walks and surfing. Then there are an endless number of tea shops, pubs and chic cafes that offer delicious tea, scones and clotted cream. I couldn’t get enough! For something savoury in between, there is always the famous British classic Fish ‘n’ Chips. We tried Rick Stein’s Fish & Chips and loved it!

The combination makes for the perfect weekend getaway. So escape the heat and explore Cornwall!

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Beautiful, long, sandy beaches perfect to escape the heat

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The perfect sea side village!

The Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

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I have been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award! Thank you very much Jenn, better known as travelgrl47, for nominating me! (Check out her fantastic blog The Inspired Traveler) It is so rewarding to hear people are enjoying my blog. I am particularly excited about this nomination because its allows me to recognize a number of great female writers out there.

The nomination is based on a pay it forward concept. Having been nominated, I answer the 10 questions travelgrl47 has asked me. I then go on to make my own nominations and ask my nominees 10 questions. My nominees go on to do the same … paying it forward!

So here we go…

My answers to Travelgrl47’s questions:

1) Who is your favorite Superhero?

My favourite superheroes are XMen! I love all of them, no favourties.

2) What was the last picture you took on your phone?

The last picture I took with my phone was of the flight details of my next trip…sent the picture to my boyfriend, who I will meet there. Very excited!

3) What is one of your pet peeves while traveling?

I can’t just eat anywhere when I travel. I love exploring new restaurants and research where the best of local cuisine  can be tasted. This sometimes means I drag you half-way across town when actually you’d really just like to have dinner at the place next door.

4) If you had to take dance lessons in a certain country, what style of dance would you choose to learn and where?

I would love to learn how to dance the perfect Waltz and I would go to Vienna to do that.

5) What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

I have had dinner at a medieval restaurant and everything on the menu was cooked according to medieval recipes. It was a truly unique meal!

6) Who would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with?

I would love to meet Senator Elizabeth Warren. She is a truly inspiring person!

7) What’s the worst injury you have had while traveling?

Thankfully I have been lucky. My most severe “injury” was a stomach bug in Lebanon.

8) Where is your dream vacation?

A road trip through the U.S. The U.S. is so huge, with so many different cultures, landscapes and culinary traditions to discover.

9) What is your favorite genre of music?

I love classical music.

10) What is something that inspires you the most?

Travelling and a good book

My Nominees:

Imik Simik: Cooking with Gaul – Annie Gaul writes fabulously and smartly about food in the Middle East

The Modern Proper – Natalie and Holly provide delicious recipes and a visually beautiful website

Food Globeuses – these three girls share their restaurant discoveries from across the world.

The Slow Pace – These two ladies have created a lovely lifestyle blog about food, travel and style that delivers quality ideas and inspirations

Paper Doll Parade – Sasha writes creatively about food, travel and museums, always adding her personal touch

My ten questions for my nominees:

1. What inspires you?

2. Your favourite female writer?

3. Your female role model?

4. Your male role model?

5. A book you would recommend?

6. And a movie?

7. What is your favourite restaurant?

8. Your favourite cookbook?

9. And your favourite spice?

10. A life lesson you would like to share.

Congratulations to y’all!

Best,

Julia

A Jerusalem Tradition – The American Colony Hotel

The American Colony Hotel‘s history dates back to 1902 and as such represents a unique part of Jerusalem. Staying there is not only a luxury experience but a historical one too as you join the list of individuals and dignitaries who have came through. I was lucky enough to enjoy the hotel when my grandmother came to visit me in Jerualem and treated us both to a fabulous stay.

Welcome to the American Colony Hotel

Welcome to the American Colony Hotel

Entrance_American Colony My favourite part of the hotel, and probably also the most beautiful part of the hotel, was its stunning courtyard. It exudes that sense of calm and peace that a courtyard ought to have. Surrounded by beautiful flowers and sitting under ranks of green and hearing bird chatter from above, you can’t help but feel perfectly at ease and happy. Whenever we weren’t exploring Jerusalem we rested our feet and minds in this utterly beautiful space. Courtyard Courtyard_II The other extraordinary thing about the American Colony Hotel is the food. It really is spectacularly delicious. Having lived off falafel and salad the previous weeks I could not get enough of the divine, delicious, mouthwatering food. I ate my way through the entire menu, top to bottom. Favourites included the puy lentil salad with spinach and pan seared salmon, the roasted lamp cottletes and the breakfast buffet with muesli, croissants, freshly baked bread, fresh fruit and (my favourite thing for breakfast) bacon. Breakfast_Buffet Breakfast

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You can also enjoy breakfast in the sunny courtyard

And my favourite desert, apple pie with vanilla ice cream (which I had to have several times!!) ApplePie The rooms are beautifully decorated. Particularly special are the rooms off the courtyard with great vaulted ceilings, balconies, and beautiful tapestries. Everything is imbued with tradition, making it both unique and comforting. There also is swimming pool, giving you the chance to relax and cool down during Jerusalem’s hot summers. BedroomOne Our time at the American Colony was perfect. To top of all the luxury and delicious food was the kind staff who made us feel right at home. I highly recommend!

Travel Inspiration #5

The island of Palma de Mallorca is one of my favourite places in the world! You should go and see it too!

There are hundreds of beautiful places to visit and see, especially if you travel beyond the mass tourist spots Mallorca has become known for. There are beautiful landscapes, roaming sheep, olive trees. There are the mountains, the oranges and the views. There are white sandy beaches, clear blue water perfect for swimming and boat trips, local harbours and fishermen.

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There is bustling Palma, with delicious  restaurants, great tapas bars and chic stores. There are the harbours, glitzy and quaint. There’s culture, museums and monasteries.

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You get it, Mallorca has it all. And now’s the perfect time to go. The weather is warming up and the throngs of tourists have yet to arrive.

Hotels that are perfect for a long weekend are the La Residencia in Deja, tucked away in the mountains, north of Palma, and the La Reserva Rotana a luxurious country finca hotel near Manacor. If you want to stay in Palma, try the chic and cool Sant Francesc. If you are staying longer, consider renting a finca with friends and soaking up island life.

Mallorca also has great restaurants. A family tradition of ours is going to Hostal d’Algaida, where you can enjoy some of the tastiest local cuisine and wine in a 400+ year old building. Note that the restaurant may change slightly and offer a different menu, as the two sisters, who own and run the place, are entwined in a longstanding feud that has resulted in two separate alternating restaurants! But don’t worry both restaurants are fantastic! In Porto Colom there is the elegant and very fancy (and very pricey) Restaurante Colon. The beautiful setting, tasteful interiors and delicious food make this place perfect for a lunch and glass of wine. It’s neighbouring restaurants are less pricey and serve some great local cuisine. Otherwise, have a break on one of the many town squares and enjoy a cortado and a fantastic Ensaïmada de Mallorca. For my favourite restaurants in Palma have a look here.

Travel to this beautiful island and enjoy!

The Montefiore 36

Last week I had the pleasure of spending the night at a perfect little boutique hotel in Tel Aviv! It was sleek, chic, elegant, with attention to detail, personality, a great location, and perfectly encapsulated everything you expect of Tel Aviv! Let me introduce you to the Montefiore 36!

The rooms are perfectly designed with modern decor and flair. What makes everything so special is the attention to detail. Paintings, statues, a fantastic wall of books, a beautiful carafe with mineral water, and a welcome treat. The bathrooms feature a luxurious rain shower and comfy, soft bathrobes. Also, the location is great, ideal to go out and explore the hip Nevetzedek neighbourhood and stroll along the Rothschild Boulevard.

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I loved this sculpture!

What’s even better is the restaurant and bar downstairs. Like everything else in the hotel they exude chic and cool.  There was beautiful porcelain and silverware, stunning bouquets of red roses and soothing Jazz in the background.

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Dinner_MontefioreWhat I found particularly cool (and which I will totally do at home) was the use of silver trays, baskets and pots to serve food and beverages. I enjoyed my Earl Grey that much more poured from the beautiful silver teapot.

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Perfect presentation and great use of beautiful silver trays, pots and baskets

Just as noteworthy was of course the food. We had breakfast and lunch at the hotel and both tasted just perfect! The restaurant is Asian fusion and I enjoyed a miso soup, raw tuna with yuzu sauce, and Chinese greens. It was perfect and light and just what is needed for lunch.  The breakfast was a treat, especially as it was served outside. I stuck with my favourite breakfast combination of granola, yoghurt, fresh orange juice and tea and treated myself to a basket of delicious pastries! Those pastries were some of the best I’ve had in a quiet some time!!

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So, if you are considering a weekend trip or mini escape to Tel Aviv, the Montefiore 36 is your place to stay! Enjoy the luxury it has to offer and let yourself be absorbed by the hip and vibrant city!