It feels like just yesterday that I was announcing my e-cookbook! Well, I’ve had a good few months. I am now excited to announce that the app I wrote for Rama Food Tours has finally been released! Tasting Mahane Yehuda is a self-guided food tour of one of my favorite places in Israel: Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market. It includes stops at five of my all-time favorite places to eat and graze in the shuk, from the best halva you’ll ever eat (seriously, even halva haters can’t resist), to a hidden gem of a restaurant with Israeli comfort food. For only $0.99 it’s worth buying even if you’re not planning on visiting Jerusalem. You know, because you like me 🙂 (download it here)
One of my good friends very sweetly wrote that the app is “pretty much what I’ve always wished I had when wandering the alleys of J’lem’s Yehuda market; a mini Katherine Martinelli in my pocket to point out all the good eats and secret treats!” Aw, shucks.
I love the way Rama apps are set up. For one, once the tours are purchased they can be viewed offline so that visitors from overseas and users without a 3G connection can continue to explore with the map after the tour is over, without being connected to the Internet. Each tour includes helpful maps so you can find your way to each location. In the case of my tour I give detailed directions to some of the more confusing locations in the labyrinthine shuk. The tours also feature language tips (complete with a pronunciation guide) so you can order in the local lingo. Or, you can just show waiters your iPhone screen, where it is written out.
It was difficult to select just five places to include in this tour, and I definitely left out some amazing spots. So how did I choose? Even though it is $0.99, I wanted users to get their money’s worth, so as much as I love places like Marzipan bakery, chances are you’ll read about it in your tour book so I didn’t include it. Also, as much as I adore Basher Fromagerie or various spice stores, this app is geared towards tourists to Israel who probably don’t have access to a kitchen. It’s an eating, not a shopping app, so that made it easy to cut a few. I also wanted the places to all be approachable enough for even the shy tourist, so I omitted a few of my favorite hole in the wall places where they have no menus and no one speaks English. That’s for the advanced tour.
Instead, the five places I have selected should give the visitor exactly what the title promises: A Taste of Mahane Yehuda. You can probably find most of these places on your own, but a first time visit to the shuk can be a little overwhelming so it might be nice to have a digital Katherine Martinelli offering advice on where to stop. I tried to include a range of experiences and meal types that really make up the fabric of Israeli cuisine. The truth is I had a ton of fun putting this together. Huge thanks to my dear friend Beth Michelle for accompanying me on the various tasting trips!
The app is currently only available for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad download (note that it is optimized for the iPhone). Android users will have to wait (should be ready for you soon as well). To get it, download the Rama app for free here, then select my app to download for $0.99. You can search by author or location. While you’re at it, check out the awesome Nazareth food tour by Abbie Rosner! I’m excited to say that Rama Food Tours have gotten some great press already – check out these write-ups in Serious Eats and Gadling for examples.
If you happen to be in Jerusalem and want a more in-depth food experience, here are a few tours that I HIGHLY recommend: