Saturday, September 4, 2010

Northern Eats

Whenever we go up north, we find that there are really only two options for eating out. We ignore all those "wannabe-south-of-France-home-in-the-countryside-style" restaurants that usually serve sub-par uninspiring dishes with elaborate names and instead go for either local Arab restaurants or Uri Buri.

The first option can be found everywhere around the Carmel, Galilee and Golan mountains. In recent years the simple highway hummus/kebab joints have made some changes to their menus, and some now serve traditional vegetable and meat stews and incorporate local herbs and spices found in the mountains. Perhaps one of the best (and also the most famous) of these spots is El-Babur, a family owned restaurant from Um-el-Fahem, that now has a new and tacky branch in Yokneam. The food, unlike the decor, is absolutely amazing. They offer a large variety of traditional salads such as garlicky cauliflower in tahini, labane goat cheese with mustard grains, finely chopped tabulleh salad with pomegranate seeds, the list goes on... Their kubbeh is one of the best in the country, fresh, tasty and with a pinch of cardamon that really gives it an interesting kick. We also ordered delicious sauteed chicory and okra in tomato sauce. The El-Babur kebab is their specialty, made from ground lamb cutlets, baked in spicy tomato sauce in a hot oven covered in a lid of bread. Top it off with some sweet yet refined knaffe, some black Turkish coffee and you're good to go....

The kubbeh
Sauteed chicory and onion
El Babur
Star of Yokneam Mall
Yokneam Intersection
tel 04 9891619

If we don't want to stuff our faces with endless arab mezze, we head up to Akko (Acre), have a quick go through the historical sites and head straight to Uri Buri. Uri Yermias, a fisherman with a long white beard and mustache is a self taught chef who creates miracles in the kitchen with fish and seafood. The fish are seasonal and the dishes are precise. For starters, thai fish soup in a coconut milk base (pic here) was a favorite dish. It had just the right amount of spice but still maintained a delicate feel with seasonal fresh sea food. An appetizer of baby St. Peter's fish fillets (pic here) was the perfect blend of a sweet Asian flavoring and tangy pickled beetroot. The smoked forell was rich with smoky flavor and served with baked root vegetable and tangy sauce. The grilled amberjack was simple, but grilled exactly to make it crisp and tender at the same time. Even the gluten free bread, made of almonds, was fantastic. A stroll around Akko, with it's beautiful alleys and ancient monuments is always even better after a meal at Uri Buri, so far we think it's the best fish restaurant in the country.
Smoked forrel with baked rot vegetables
Grilled amberjack

Uri Buri
Ha'Hagana (Lighthouse square), in the old city
tel 04 9552212

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