Go West – Taste Testing the Western Galilee

Since the Jewish high holidays were finally over, and like everybody else I spent them eating way too much food (what else is new), I decided I needed a short break away from hustles and bustle of it all.  Unfortunately, even though the holidays were over (at least according to my calendar), the travel industry claimed otherwise, thereby nixing the flying abroad option.

Sooo…. I decided on romantic jaunt up north… with my sister.  Since we hadn’t quite had our fill during the holidays, we decided we should follow our noses and eat our way through some of the Western Galilee.  Here are some of our favorites.

Adelina: Unfortunately we were so hungry when we got here that I didn’t even think about capturing an image of the beautiful food.  This place was lovely, set in an old stone building in the Cabri Kibbutz, but not cheap.  We feasted on some of the biggest seafood I have ever seen in Israel (yay, proximity to the sea!) – shrimps wrapped in Kadaif, a Spanish seafood stew (the restaurant has a Spanish-Galilee fusion thing going – whatever that means it tastes good) and a beautiful pan seared fish filet (although the risotto was a bit out of place and kind of clunky).  If you’re looking for a good view with good food this is definitely the place.

Alto Dairy: Located on the infamous Shomrat Kibbutz, the family run Alto Dairy is a boutique dairy which makes its great goat cheeses using traditional and modern  methods.  When we arrived at the dairy, we discovered that in addition to free tastings they had set up a lovely little coffee shop and a beautiful herb garden (which made me wish I had a greener thumb, and truth be told we nabbed a few basil leaves on the way out).  We sampled a variety of cheeses including the Rotem – a beautiful goat’s cheese cheddar, the Walnut Camembert which blew me away with its nutty creaminess and if I had brought a cooler with me I would be slathering it on a french baguette as I type this.  The Sainte Maure was sharp and a great buy, as well as the Gouda which we both loved and gives non-goat cheese Gouda a good run for its money.  Supposedly you can find these cheeses at the Eden Teva Market – but if you’re already up in the Western Galilee stop by the dairy, just make sure to bring a cooler.

Ofir Farms Log Cabin: Yes, a log cabin.  This kooky place is the visitors center for the Ofir Family Farm.  This cabin was built in 1840 in the Appalachian Mountains and eventually deconstructed (can you deconstruct a building?), packed up and moved to Israel and rebuilt together with the Ofir family.  Nowadays, you can swing by and taste the dry red wines produced by the family (Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and they also have my new favourite thing  – a honey tasting station.  They sell 9 different kinds of honey – depending on the location of the beehives and different wildflowers of the area – each with its own colour, texture and (amazing) taste.  Note – I also raided their herb garden and thought of them while sipping on herb filled tea!

In Nazareth we went for a bit of a cultural stroll, visiting both Church’s of the Annunciation (the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation), but then popped into what seemed to be a tourist trap-type restaurant.  Amazingly, Tishreen (Arabic for October) was nothing like that.  Although the decor is a little odd (straw pasted on newly pained walls and rocks in the bathroom sink) the food was lovely.  We sampled the tabbouleh (great, though a little too lemony and make sure to check your teeth on the way out), a lovely hummus and labaneh –  but the highlight was the wood-oven roasted eggplant with red tehina – literally unbelievable – expect an attempt at red tehina eventually.

On the way back to the car it was impossible not to pop into Elbabour – the Galilee Mill.  You cannot ignore the smells wafting out of this deceptively small door.  The inside of the mill is full of a huge variety of grains, spices and other tidbits.   There is nothing you can’t find here (ok, don’t quote me on that) and the staff was amazingly helpful.  Even if you don’t need anything – just pick up something random and make something new (Fenugreek for me!).

I, for one, am really looking forward to another food adventure up north – oh, and it’s gorgeous up there.

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