I promised people who read my story on Michal Ansky that here on the blog they’d find a list of her favorite restaurants in Israel. Here’s the beginning of my piece:
Here’s the first thing you notice about Michal Ansky: She’s beautiful. Tall, with long black hair and a strong, lean Israeli build. In the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, where we meet, people do double takes. She’s not quite famous here yet, though Fox TV selected Ansky from among all the cooking experts in the world to be one of three judges on its hit program, “MasterChef.” Padma Lakshmi, watch your back.
In Israel, however, Ansky is a major food celebrity. She was a judge on the Israeli version of “MasterChef,” one of the country’s most popular shows. She hosts a popular show on Channel 10, “Fresh Cooking.” And most significantly, she, along with Shir Halpern and partner/husband Roee Hemed, founded Israel’s first true farmers markets, giving Israelis direct access to farmers’ fruits, vegetables and products of the land.
I came to talk to Ansky about Israeli food, not the TV show, and about Passover. She is not religious, but she does revel in the tradition of the holiday — it’s part of the land, and it’s part of her roots.
“We live in a cynical age,” she said. “There are no surprises. One day is like the next. But I think it’s very important to have tradition that makes certain times special, and I don’t take it for granted.”
For Ansky, Passover also means the first strawberries, the first greens and herbs, the early peas.
The truth is, I wasn’t that familiar with Ansky before meeting her—as I wrote before, when it comes to TV, I’m mostly an Anthony Bourdain guy these days.
But once I had her, Ansky proved to be passionate, learned, opinionated, and an expert on all foods Israeli. I had to ask her to reel off her favorite places to eat in Israel, especially as I was leaving for a visit there the week after speaking with her. Ansky was jet-lagged, post-partum and a bit harried when we spoke, so she admitted to not having all the names on the tip of her tongue, but here were some of her favorites, in no particular order:
Yoezer Wine Bar
“One of the best.”
Open: Sun-Thu 12:30-1:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-1:00
Address: 2 Ish-Habira St. Jaffa (near the Clock’s Square).
Tel: (03) 683-9115
Pizza Tony Vespa
“Reminds me of Italy.”
267 Dizengof St., Tel Aviv
“For molecular gastronomy.”
4 Heychal Hatalmud. 03-510-7001.
Chef Eyal Shani is one of Ansky’s co-hosts on “MasterChef.” He has a new restaurant as well, Miznon.
8 Maavar Yabuk. 052-703-5888. Open Wed and Thurs evenings.
Beit Thailandi (Thai House)
Ansky raved about the Thai food here, placing it well above most places outside Thailand. The proprietors have their own farm for hard-to-find ingredients.
8 Bograshov , corner of Ben Yehuda , Tel Aviv
Abu Hassan Hummus
1 Dolphin Street
+972 03 682 0387
Sun-Fri 7:45-14:45 (or until the hummus is finished)
Erez Kamorovsky Cooking School
It’s on the Israel-Lebanon border and the site is in Hebrew.
“He has magicians hands,” said Ansky, “and he’s one of the popel who is changing the food reality in Israel.”
Farmer’s Market Tel aviv Slide Show: