Okay, fine... I've been home for a few days now, but it's been pretty go-go-go from the moment we landed safe and sound (and one hour late) at Lester B. Pearson on Friday night.
The go-go-go part was all my fault, though. We'd invited absolutely everyone we know and love for a big end-of-summer BBQ on the Labour Day weekend just a couple of days before I learned I was about to be dispatched to Israel, and I wasn't about to let a little jetlag scare me into rescheduling. I'm glad, because it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon/evening filled with good friends, good conversation and good eats.
You're probably not all that interested in little BBQ party, though, are you? So let's skip to the good stuff and save my feats of Extreme Hostessing for another day.
So, how was the back half of my Israel trip? In a word, wonderful.
I wandered the Carmel Market for the better part of a day, took a quickie tour of Jerusalem, smeared myself from head to toe in Dead Sea mud, ate the best falafel and shawarma I've ever had in my life, developed a mild addiction to fresh mint in my tea, sank my teeth into some delicious oven-baked fish at a beachside cafe while sinking my feet into soft white sand, explored the boardwalk for as far as my feet would carry me in either direction, and generally tried to cram as much as I could into the few hours a day I could call my own.
I ate hummus and baba ganoush by the barrelful with soft pillows of pita bread, devoured what must have amounted to an entire school of grilled and baked fish, was defeated by a chicken breast laffa wrap, sucked back fresh smoothies made from dates and figs and bananas, learned that deep-fried cauliflower and date honey play very well together indeed, and nearly burned my fingers on a cheese pie fresh from the wood-burning oven of a seaside bakery stand.
And then I came home, bringing with me a fabulous cookbook, a huge bag of za'atar, a big jar of date honey, and a head full of inspiration.
So brace yourself, there will probably be an onslaught of recipes over the next few weeks and months that draw on what I've brought home with me - especially since I'm sure I'll be craving anything that reminds me of sunshine and warmth once it really starts to cool off.
Oh, and I'm experience severe chickpea withdrawal. Send hummus, stat.