We are up early as we have to film in the Mahane Yolouda market early before it gets too busy. Its was cold today and had been raining. We needed to be on the road by 11.
Before that we had to film a couple of driving sequences in the old town with me driving.
We then made the short trip and filmed on the Mount Of Olives, then looking back to the main city for a couple of driving shots to end the film here in Jerusalem.
One funny moment. After parting with a few sheckles we filmed with a rather stubborn ass and its owner. It started with me, him and the ass passing with a lovely shot of Jerusalem in the background. It ended up with the ass, stopping dead and his owner wagging his finger in a sort of Mr Bean moment, all on camera, priceless.
From there we trekked back into town to the market to film. Now this really is what excites me. Its as large market consisting of 3 or 4 very long covered walkways crammed full of every sort of food and produce you could imagine. We filmed stalls packed full of every dried fruit you could imagine. 5 or 6 types of date, apricots, prunes and dried figs. An array of nuts like I have never seen before, from pistachios to huge peanuts roasted with salt, to pecans in the shells and many types of almonds.
Bakery stalls crammed with every bread and sweet bread known to man. Challah in many forms golden brown and glistening. Flat breads too many to describe, from pitta to a flat bread spread with green herb and spice mixture. The sweet pastries all stuffed with nuts, dates and many topped with fine strands of filo or fine strands of a sort of pasta. I’m offered a sweet vibrant red delicious cake looking like shredded wheat. Its a food eaten at breakfast or snack. It transpires its stuffed with sheep's cheese and soaked with sugar syrup, not what I was expecting at all.
We move on to olive stalls, again crammed and groaning with so many varieties. We film a piece to camera when I taste the best olive in Israel today (says the stall holder) it was small and packed full of flavour. There are also many varieties of olive oil, thick green and slightly cloudy. Dried and smoked fish, no doubt many years ago brought back from the Jewish travels around Europe. Fresh fruits like there were in Tel Aviv, everywhere huge oranges and football sized pomegranates and piles of Clementine’s. Herbs and veg are big here also; I saw kohlrabi and cardoons, plus huge radishes and stacks of coriander, parsley and mint so important to Israeli cuisine.
On camera I get quite exited and as I say ‘This is an amazing place ‘ a lady walks past me and shouts ‘Its the best in the world’ well, it comes pretty close to it from what I have seem. I could spend hours here, but we need to push on. I buy some yogurt for my cooking slot later and we set off to film looking over the west bank.
We leave the market and proceed out of Jerusalem, arriving at the hill overlooking the west bank. What a view, looking to west bank and far beyond to Jordan across the dessert. Its a spectacular sight. Security is never far away here though. The wall built to keep out terrorists in the distance is a stark reminder of that. Armed police and soldiers are keeping a watchful eye on not only us, but a gathering of local activists, not sure what for.
We set off to drive through the west bank and out into the dessert on our way to the Dead Sea, I fall asleep. An hour outside of Jerusalem, we meet our Land Rover driver Schlomit to film a sequence of driving across the dessert.
We pass Bedouin tribes and drive up and over parched ravines and hills with nothing to see except stones and sand, its a spectacular sight. This was to culminate in a piece where I stop and look out to the Dead Sea in the distance some 30 miles away. As always, we are pushed for time, so did not savour the moment sadly. The drive back was a scary thing, bumpy and very fast.
We meet up with again with Chiam and our other driver and push on to the Dead Sea, only stopping briefly for a quick falafel and a drink. By now we are 45-50 minutes from rendezvousing with our chefs and fixers for the final sequence and cooking strand.
We arrive at the Dead Sea some 75km long and travel around its edge for about an hour. The Jordanian hills across the light blue sea looking fantastic and beautifully lit in the late afternoon sun. Chaim explains that this is where John The Baptist had lived.
We pass through yet another army checkpoint and arrive with the guys ready to go. They have everything all the ingredients prepared and tables set up. JD is worried about time as the sun will be behind the hills is about 40 minutes, so we kick on. Geraint has a wonderful app on his ‘phone that tracks the sun and lets you know the time its going to set and where in the sky, its an impressive piece of kit.
Setting up the quickest cooking sequence I have ever done. The boys are brilliant, everything is spot on. We film Falafel and a yogurt dip, quick and straight to the point. To my genuine surprise they turned out perfect, thanks boys!!
As the sun sets, Sam emerges from the car with swimmers on and wades into the Dead Sea. Yes he floats, all very funny and the bemusement of a few locals, they try and tell us it winter, we all laugh. I taste the sea, its not salty in taste at all, but more like battery acid, its vile. Sam gets out wishing I think he had never gone in realising that he has to puts his jeans back on. His skin is oily and clammy and he has no towel, we laugh..
The last piece is done, that’s a wrap, we pile into the truck and head back to Jerusalem, what a day.
There is a calm in the truck, everybody thinking about another whistle stop tour of a country. I for one have really enjoyed the experience.