These are the must buy gifts for Hanukkah

Experiences these true joys of the Festival of Lights.

 Lehamim (photo credit: DANIEL LAYLA)
Lehamim
(photo credit: DANIEL LAYLA)

Lighting candles with friends and family, eating deep-fried foods and lots of candy and buying gifts for the kids – now this is a holiday we all love. Happy Hanukkah!

HANUKKAH IS a dangerous holiday. No, not because of the candles, open fire can always be dangerous. But I am talking about the danger that donuts present to all of us who are trying not to gain too much during this holiday of deep frying. So every year I vow to pick just one perfect donut (or maximum two), and I savor the flavor, but the problem is which one? Which donut will actually taste as good as my childhood memories?

Bakeries around the country offer rich collections with exclusive additions from Belgian chocolate to gold leaf, alcohol and many toppings in eye-catching designs, but when I think of the one sufganiyah I will eat, the choice is almost always a traditional one, preferably filled with excellent strawberry jam in the middle (not too much of it, just enough), and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Sometimes you hope for just the right flavor and get dough that is too heavy, or full of oil or the jam is nothing but colorings and flavorings, but sometimes you find the exact one and the holiday can start.

This year I decided to mention two bakeries that managed to not only provide aromas and flavors that were anything but disappointing, but actually delivered excellent donuts .

1. The traditional

Lehamim, the celebrated Tel Aviv bakery, offers a donut that’s well fried but not oily, large yet light and filled with excellent jam (there are other fillings too like chocolate and dulce de leche), with vanilla-citrus aromas. Now this is what we dream of when we want a real sufganiyah (NIS 8). 

Also in their holiday collections – look for mini-quiches, they are perfect if you want to have something savory and want to skip the latke-frying. www.lehamim.co.il or in their branches - 103 Hashmonaim, Tel Aviv; 14 Brodetsky, Ramat Aviv; and 23 Ussishkin, Ramat Hasharon; (as well as New York City and Boston).

2. The American

Mr. Donuts is a very popular brand year-round, but for Hanukkah they offer a very special collection. They have many different kinds of donuts, with colorful toppings, from Oreo cookies to Nutella, and our tasters loved them all. The donuts are light and mostly vegan, have the right amount of toppings and are a joy to look at. The fun donuts were a hit in our local neighborhood café, where a group of young foodies loved every one of them and labeled the donuts “extra excellent” (their words not mine).

I went (again) for the simple ones with jam and they were perfect when warm and fresh but also very good the day after. I like the mini ones (fewer calories but every bit of the flavor), and I have to admit the dough itself was the best part. Get a group of kids a box-full of Mr. Donut mini donuts and they will love you until New Year. Available online at mr-donuts.co.il

 Paletas (credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO) Paletas (credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)

3. Donut ice pops

Paletas is a local handmade natural ice pop maker that makes fresh, all natural ice pops in a small workshop in Tel Aviv. Owner and dreamer Naomi Zissblatt creates new flavors on a weekly basis and for this holiday she made a special “donut”-flavored ice pop with jam heart for those who prefer the flavor without the oil. Inspired by New York’s Milk Bar, she managed to insert the childhood flavors into an ice pop that is anything but childish, offering more than 40 changing flavors for sweet-tooth foodies. Available in stores and by Wolt. NIS 12. www.paletas.co.il

4. Chocolates for Hanukkah

Max Brenner introduced for this holiday a special collection of Hanukkah packages. The new limited-edition packages have a mixture of the brand’s favorite chocolates as well as new and surprising ones. As part of the packages this year, they also offer a hanukkia with candles sold as a donation to the AKIM organization for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, dreidels and more. Check them out online at www.max-brenner.co.il or in the brand’s stores. NIS 112-229

5. Candlelighting

Speaking of hanukkiot, Hazorfim, Israel’s leading Judaica and silver brand, introduces their new collection of hanukkiot for 2021.The collection includes new and exclusive designs as well as the classical and traditional ones, all designed by the brand’s artists. Each design has a story behind it, and most of the details are created by hand. I love the traditional designs but the modern ones are stunning too. Available in stores around the country and online at www.hazorfim.co.il

 Max Brenner (credit: Courtesy) Max Brenner (credit: Courtesy)

6. Watching over the kids

When I was a child we got a few coins each day of Hanukkah. These days it seems the popular thing is buying great presents for the holiday, and the companies have new offers on hand. One of the smart toys we are considering this holiday is the new Kidi Watch by Kidi & Friends. Adorned with interfaces showing favorite superheroes such as Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, as well as Hello Kitty and Barbie, the smart watch allows parents to watch over their kids whereabouts from afar, and has functions such as an SOS button, flashlight, camera, chat application, and more. The watch needs a SIM card (included). NIS 149.90 for ages 2-10. Available online at kidiwatch.co.il and in toy stores.

7. Cook and Bake

For this holiday, treat yourself to a package for making latkes. Yes – Hanukkah is not only about donuts but also potato pancakes, and in recent years more and more chefs are offering different latke recipes. To create them easily, Cook and Bake has rolled out a special 26 cm. non-stick pancake pan with a mini spatula and oil sprayer for only NIS 99 (instead of NIS 379). They also add a few recipes for colorful latkes from beets, potatoes and carrots. Available online at www.cook-bake.co.il and in stores around the country.

 Cook and Bake (credit: Ronit Tevron) Cook and Bake (credit: Ronit Tevron)

8. Jaffa oranges

While we are preparing for Hanukkah, people around the world are already preparing for the end-of-year holidays and this is exactly when we think of presents that will bring the flavors of Israel to our friends around the globe. After COVID-19, it seems that keeping in touch with family and friends, which we have been missing so much, is even more important than ever. So we turned to Ben Ezer Plantations for our annual order of citrus fruit and Israeli delicacies.

If ordered very soon, the Ben Ezer premium boxes will reach your friends almost anywhere in the world bringing with them the aromas of Israel to those we wish we could spend this holiday with. We love their rich collections and we know our friends love the fruit, the wine, the chocolates and olive oil, as well as other goodies. From NIS 229 including delivery. Choose your box from their catalog at www.benezer.co.il.

 Ben Ezer Plantations (credit: Courtesy) Ben Ezer Plantations (credit: Courtesy)

9. Pizza for grownups

Think frozen pizza is only for kids? Think again. Ma’adanot just presented a new line of frozen pizzas that appeal to grownups, yours truly included. Topped with 100% mozzarella, the new Market (Shuk) pizza with lots of vegetables joins the Napolitana, Mexican and antipasti pizzas, all excellent, made with a very thin and crispy dough, with good tomato sauce and good toppings. We decided to keep a couple in the freezer for a day when all you want is to get out of the kitchen and crash in front of the TV. 

 Shuk pizza (credit: Courtesy) Shuk pizza (credit: Courtesy)

10. Clever solutions

Using the dryer more during the wet months, the problem for me is how to reduce the static electricity and also cut down on my electricity bills. I don’t usually like to add softeners to my laundry so I look for better solutions, and one just arrived in Israel. 

The tumble-dry woolen balls by Steamery Stockholm is a clever, cost-effective and sustainable option to fabric softeners and plastic dry balls. The dryer balls remove static electricity completely and clothes come out soft and less wrinkled.

The balls are made from 100% organic natural wool and they promise to cut down drying time by 10-30%. Place the balls in the dryer and keep them there for future uses. The balls will keep for three to five years! NIS 119. Available at Hashmal Netto stores and online at steamer.co.il.

 Dryer balls (credit: Courtesy) Dryer balls (credit: Courtesy)

11. Breathe easy

With the weather changing daily no wonder many of us walk around with blocked noses. A new line of natural nasal sprays by Sterimar based on seawater offers help without the dangers of regular nose sprays. With varying salt content, the Breathe Easy Daily seawater nasal spray not only washes away dust and allergens from the nose, to ease symptoms, but also helps to restore the nose’s natural functions. The micro-diffusion sprays are available for different uses including ones for babies, for allergies, colds and more. NIS 49.90- NIS 64.90, Available in pharmacies.

 Nasal spray (credit: Courtesy) Nasal spray (credit: Courtesy)

12. Beer and more

The new boutique Klotsman craft beer was a real revelation. Made by the Alon family of farmers, the sons of the family, third-generation Emek Hefer citrus growers, decided to use their family expertise in growing unique and rare citruses, and they create beers that have distinct citrusy aromas and amazing flavors.

Each kind of beer is made with a different fruit, especially their special lemons and kaffir lime. I love them. Perfect on sunny hot days, these beers are actually best served with great food all year round. Try their eight-bottle introductory package with three different beers – Interdonato 5.2% IPA, Bergamot, 6.2% Belgian-style beer, Kaffir Lime 5.2% bitter and Clemency 4/5% Pale Ale, a Philippine-style light beer for only NIS 169. There are many more options – if you like beer – this is a real treat. For more information go to www.klotsmanbeer.com

 Klotsman craft beer (credit: Ahiad Danziger) Klotsman craft beer (credit: Ahiad Danziger)