By Vanessa Packer
Photography By Libby Gray
“WHEN YOU SIT DOWN FOR BREAKFAST IN ISRAEL THEY SERVE
ISRAELI SALAD, HARD BOILED EGG AND THE STRONGEST COFFEE IN THE WORLD,” stylist and creative consultant Danielle Nachmani explains over the Israel-inspired breakfast she’s prepared for her sisters and bonberi in her picturesque home overlooking Washington Square Park. Danielle’s sisters Arielle, Something Navy blogger, and Michaela, aspiring make up artist, are sitting at the long wooden dining table enjoying chopped Israeli salad, hard boiled eggs, hummus and tahini, french bread, fresh berries and a selection of borekas (a flaky breakfast pastry typically filled with feta, spinach, or potato), inspired by their safta. The concept and practice of sitting down to a hearty breakfast runs deep in the Nachmani clan, harking back to their childhood in Long Island. “For our mom, food was always really important. If we miss breakfast now, it’s almost like we aren’t taking care of ourselves,” explains Michaela. In topics ranging from breakfast to beauty, bonberi caught up with the sisters for fun-filled conversation and delicious meal.
How important does the role of breakfast play in your family?
Danielle Nachmani: When you sit down for breakfast in Israel, they serve Israeli salad, hard boiled egg and the strongest coffee in the world. It’s my favorite meal. I would have that breakfast everyday if I could. In Israel, breakfast and lunch are the biggest meals, dinner is the lightest. Growing up breakfast was the biggest meal. Lunch was probably the most underrated in our house.
Arielle Nachmani: It’s my least favorite. I like American breakfast more. I like to have a hearty meal when I wake up.
Michaela Nachmani: I’m not a breakfast person.
When you were growing up, what was a typical breakfast?
MN: Arielle and I would have chocolate chip pancakes every morning. Even before school. Danielle would have like coffee and an egg.
DN: I would have cereal or a bagel.
MN: She’s a bagel girl.
Now what do you eat for breakfast?
AN and MN: Chocolate chip pancakes! If not everyday, at least twice a week.
DN: A bagel.
What is your on-the-go breakfast?
AN: Before I workout, I eat a Nutrigrain bar. Afterwards, I’ll have a bagel with an omelette.
DN: Our mom has two breakfasts too. She does cereal before working out and then cheesy eggs after she works out.
MN: I always have fruit in the morning too.
What kind of fruit?
MN: Grapes, strawberries, melon, pineapple. Whenever I make eggs, I have fruit on the side.
DN: I carbo-load in the morning. I can’t function without a carb for breakfast.
You all like eggs, how do you make them?
DN: I’ll do and omelette or eggs sunny side up, really dry with a scooped out bagel
AN: I like to have an omelette with peppers, onions, mushrooms.
MN: My go-to is mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and spinach in an omelette.
Why do you all do big breakfasts, was it conditioning from growing up?
MN: I feel like our mom always did that and we took after her.
DN: There was no running out of the house, breakfast was a must.
AN: That was our parents way of getting Michaela and I out of bed. If there were chocolate chip pancakes there was a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
MN: For our mom, food was always really important. If we miss breakfast now, it’s almost like we aren’t taking care of ourselves. She’s like, “You’re an adult, make yourself breakfast.”
DN: Some people eat to live, and others live to eat. She is the latter for sure.
AN: She talks about what she is going to do based around her meals. She can’t grab a bite because she plans out when she is going to eat.
MN: We would call her from school to find out what she was making for dinner.
AN: We also grew up in a home where every meal was a home cooked meal. It was so rare that we brought in from somewhere. and every night was different. We had our favorites like Moroccan chicken and eggplant parmesan, she would make Turkey a la King, that was my favorite.
It sounds like dinner was a big deal in your family too?
DN: Shabbat dinner every Friday is still a ritual.
What does she make?
AN: Skirt steak, eggplant parmesan, chicken cutlets, string beans with mushroom sauce, linguine with oil and garlic and salad.
What about your dad?
AN: He brought in the whole Israeli component in. Our mom is not Israeli.
DN: He flew his mother in and was like, “Watch her and learn to make these recipes.” We joke that after 30 years, she’s now finally got it right.
MN: Our grandmother makes an incredible Dover Sole with a spicy pepper sauce on the side, and rice. Everyone dies for it.
AN: She makes everything with tahini too.
Your Safta sounds like she is like the matriarch cook of the family?
DN: Yes, she is the best cook in the family.
DN: She literally flies in from Israel with a suitcase of Borekas, it’s a pastry with feta, spinach, or potatoes stuffed inside.
MN: She makes Borekas by the hundred. She makes so many that she freezes them.
DN: When we were growing up we had a fridge in the garage and the entire thing was delegated for the Borekas. That’s why the fridge was there.
MN: Our mom is very selective when she takes them out because they are that good.
DN: The water in Israel is different, it just makes them taste better.
Does she ever make them here? She always makes them in Israel and brings them over?
DN: She flies in with them. Sometimes, she will make them here but you can tell the difference between the trays from Israel and the trays from New York
How can you tell?
DN: The way the pastry falls apart. She also does the sesame seeds on top of the pastry from Israel.
MN: The ones from Israel are flaky like a croissant.
New York water is good water for pizza and bagels, breads that need to be a base. You’re saying the water in israel is better for pastry and flaky things?
DN: Definitely. Also, my dad makes hummus and tahini on his own. Having the two together is really the best
What is the secret to great hummus?
DN: My mom says it’s the heart that goes into the cooking. When she makes the dishes for Friday night dinner, which have become such staples in our lives, it’s the same meal every time and it’s probably my favorite meal and best memory of food.
Tell us about your fitness regime, you are all pretty active.
MN: I’m doing a squat challenge right now. My boyfriend has been getting up and going to the gym every morning for an hour at 7am and it inspired me to get into something. I wanted to do something to tone my body, and I heard about this squat challenge, I follow it on Instagram. Now I’m obsessed with it. It’s a 30 day squat challenge. You start at 50 and then it just continues going up. There are days you rest in between, but I notice how my strength has increased since I started. I can do so many now, it used to be so hard. I do my squats everyday throughout the day.
DN: Growing up, our house was an active house and still is. Our mom works out everyday and our dad will run 9 miles every morning. He used to run the New York marathon for many years. I have so many memories standing on the sidelines watching dad run. It wasn’t an option to not work out. Working out was like brushing our teeth.
Did you play sports?
AN: I played soccer until I got kicked in the face.
DN: I got kicked off the cheerleading team.
MN: No, not really.
DN: I was on the diving team too. Michaela was a dancer, we went to see all Michaela’s dance shows.
What is your fitness regime like now?
DN: I feel like I’m sporadic. I go through phases where I’m working out all the time and then phases where I’m just not interested at all. I’m in a not workout phase right now but I still walk a lot and my job is very physically active, I’m never just sitting at a desk.
MN: My squat challenge is going on now but otherwise I like classes rather than going to a gym. I like a structured class.
AN: I’ve become a workout freak. I switch it up a lot. I go through a lot of phases. I started working out when I got engaged, and after we got married we both took a month off just to relax because we were working really hard. That was nice and we are now getting back into it. For me, I’m not trying to lose weight, so I don’t do much cardio. I just like to tone and seeing a trainer is really the best thing for my body. I have a bad back so I need someone who is always checking and making sure that I’m doing the right exercises.
Do you guys have any non-negotiables in your day when it comes to living well?
AN: I take a bath everyday.
MN: Yea, me too
Where did that come from?
DN: Our mom takes a bath everyday.
AN: I will sit for 45 minutes on my phone in the bath with a candle burning. It’s so relaxing.
DN: Mentally, I need it.
AN: Our mom would always put things in the bath too. All her salts and things.
DN: There was something about growing up and hearing mom’s bath running and knowing that was her time. I think that stuck.
DN: I went to Sephora with Michaela the other day and everyone knew her by first name.
MN: I just love makeup and beauty stuff. I’m always trying new things. I just bought the Murad starter kit which I’m also obsessed with. Nars is another company I love. I have a 10 step ritual I do at night before I go to bed.
Take us through the ten steps.
MN: First it’s the Murad face wash and then a Nars cleanser. Then I use a Murad topical cream on problem spots, and then another topical cream that goes all over the face. After, I do a Nars brightening serum and a mattifying moisturizer. I also use a toner and the Kate Somersville drying spot treatment. It works.
DN: End Zit. It’s the best. It just makes everything disappear. I have insanely sensitive skin so I keep it simple. I use Cetaphil cleanser and Kiehl’s moisturizer and that’s it. I really like Lancome eye cream. I feel ike it’s an OG eye cream. Sometimes I use the Kiehl’s midnight recovery serum. On Sundays I use a Korean collagen mask.
AN: I use Cetaphil and Kiehl’s too. I like makeup though. Danielle used to write me letters when she went to college on what to use on my face and how to do my hair.
DN: I did. I told her what products to use when and how to blow dry her hair by separating it into 10 sections.
MN: Growing up, Arielle and I worshipped Danielle. She was the oldest, she would be getting ready to go to sweet sixteens all dressed up with a blow out and her nails done and we were little. We would just watch her in awe.
AN: I kept the letters for a long time and always followed whatever she said and did
DN: Now things have changed, haha. She outdid me with the makeup thing though. I don’t wear much make up on a regular basis.
AN: I don’t leave the house without doing my hair and make up and getting dressed nicely. I don’t believe in leaving your home not dressed up.
DN: I think it’s interesting because we are all different levels of maintenance. Our dad used to say you never know who you are going to run into so you want to look your best.
AN: I have to make sure I’m presentable now because people come up to me while I’m walking my dog. People that follow me on Instagram or follow my blog. I have to look nice so if they want to take a picture and post it, I’m prepared. It happens.
Take us through the hair rituals.
AN: Hair is everything to me. If Michaela is beauty, and Danielle is style, I’m all about hair.
DN: Our mom always had beautiful hair.
MN: Arielle cut all her hair off and then it grew back and it’s just different now. It’s like a mane.
DN: I cut my hair off a million times and it never grew back like that.
AN: I always had really thick and curly hair. I would blow it out, but now I’ve just gotten really good at it.
MN: I straighten my hair everyday.
DN: I’m like the Herbal Essence commercial where it’s like, “Bad hair day?” And it’s the girl with the frizzy big hair. I regularly take a photo of myself like that and send it to my family.
AN: Japanese straightening changed my hair forever. It just broke off. Since I cut it, and it’s grown back, it’s not as curly as it used to be. Underneath the top part of my hair it’s loose ringlets. Danielle has tight curls.
If you blow it out everyday how do you keep it healthy?
AN: I blow it out every other day, and I use hair masks. I don’t iron it anymore. I just use a blow dryer and curling iron.
MN: I always use heat protectant.
DN: I feel like as women your hair changes as you get older. I had a two year period where my hair didn’t grow and wasn’t healthy.
Do you notice a different in your hair with what you eat and your lifestyle?
DN: I think that hormones have a lot to do with it. It’s the same as your skin or anything else.
It’s interesting because your all at different stages in your life.
DN: Definitely since I turned 30 there are things I find I need to do like facials every month to keep the texture of my skin nice.
AN: I never get facials. I think about all the things I want to do to get my body into a healthy space before getting pregnant like lowering Mercury levels and making sure my system is clean. Clearing out Candida and yeast and taking probiotics everyday.
What do you guys indulge in?
N: Pretzel M&Ms
MN: Coffee Hagan Daaz.
DN: Alcohol, I guess. I love a good martini. I’m not much of a sweets person.