On my second morning in Israel, I went for a walk around Old Jaffa, just a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv and my hotel. I felt excited to be in a foreign country, delighted to be shooting photos and content browsing the flea market. The market was spread along street fronts and cast upon the ground. Sellers offered five and dime trinkets and lots of old junk, but the surrounding stores had better merchandise. To me, the ancient port had an exotic, Old World type feel, unlike anything in Florida.
Around the corner I came upon the most extraordinary bakery. Abouelafia , a baklava bakery. Oh my!
I was overwhelmed by the trays and trays of intricate designs and artistic shaped baked goods. I’d never seen goodies like these before. One pan was decorated with nuts, others with colored sugar, some resembled tiny bird’s nests and others were rolled. I saw balls coated in what looked like shredded wheat and triangular confections layered with pistachios and super-thin phyllo dough, and oozing honey. I cannot imagine the dedication and skill necessary to make these delicacies.
The Arabic employee said all the pastries were baklava, but I really didn’t know, nor did I care. My photography friends and I purchased a few samples in order to taste the heavenly snacks. “Indescribably delicious.” Isn’t that what the Keebler’s elves say? These treats were sweet, smooth, busting with flavors like cinnamon and cloves, very dense and filling. Utterly wonderful.
In doing a little research from home, I found a quote stating,” Aboulafia is rumored to be the best bakery in Israel and the number one reason to visit Jaffa is arguably the food.”
An Israeli folk song describes Jaffa as possessing a “mysterious and unknown” element. I absolutely agree.
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