Search for the Perfect Knafeh

by Brian on June 25, 2010

in Just For Fun,Only in Israel,Travel

Must-have knafe

I’ve never eaten it, but I’ve just got to have it. Kanafeh, that is. It’s an Arab pastry somewhat like baklava, but with the addition of soft goats cheese, an orange coating and sprinkled pistachio nuts.

I first learned about kanafeh from a friend who was guiding us through East Jerusalem. He pointed out a bakery near Damascus Gate called Eiffel that he says serves the best kanafeh in town. We were on a tight timetable and weren’t able to stop, but since then I’ve been hankering for a taste.

Our next opportunity came as we were heading up north from Jerusalem for a hike in the Carmel Mountains (see this post on Israelity that I wrote about that tiyul). Our route took us through the Druze village of Daliat el-Carmel and there, on the right side of the street, was a restaurant advertising fresh kanafeh, My taste buds fired up.

But this was a Friday and, unbeknownst to us, that’s prime shopping time and the traffic at noon in Daliat el-Carmel was bumper to bumper. There was no way to pull over, let alone anywhere to park. As we nudged forward, my kanafeh receded sadly into the background.

My search for kanafeh reminded me of another dessert obsessively sought. Back at the height of the mid-2000s donut craze in the U.S., I was traveling on the East Coast with the family. My goal: to find a Krispy Kreme store with the red “hot now” light on, indicating that original glazed donuts were rolling fresh out of the oven.

On highways from Toronto to Cleveland and Chicago, past rest stops and strip malls, the Krispy Kreme proved elusive until the last day of our road trip. Unlike with the kanafeh, my love for Mr. Krispy was ultimately requited. And it was worth it.

On the way out of the Carmel, we skipped the Daliat traffic, but also our opportunity to pick up some kanafeh for the ride home. Still, it’s only a matter of time before I find the time to head back to the Old City. I just hope that after all the anticipation, I actually like it!

My search for knafeh in print began on the Israelity blog.

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