Immaculate splendor 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There is surely no moment in nature more special than when the sun comes after the first rain, when the summer dust is washed away, all the colors of the rainbow appear in their immaculate splendor and the heavens shine with clarity, letting the mind wander to the very edge of the horizon.
We were lucky enough to experience such a moment recently when the first rain of the season greeted us on a visit to Klil in Galilee, where we were guests of Villa Tul and Tul Restaurant.
Chef Nir Givati greeted us at Tul and in between preparations for that evening’s service, he pulled up a couple of chairs, stopped to make us coffee and gave us the rundown on the ecological village that is home to some 200 families who get their electricity from solar panels, with opinions divided on whether the Electric Corporation doesn’t want to come to Klil or whether Klil doesn’t want the Electric Corporation.
Givati shares a patch of paradise with Pini and Tali who own Villa Tul; Pini originally built the restaurant, which Givati now rents, as a glassworks studio.
Givati suggested we take a walk before dinner to work up an appetite, and while we left the round tour of the village for the next morning we did take a little trek before venturing back, fearful of the next downpour.
In a previous incarnation, Givati was one of the early entrepreneurs building the thousands of guest houses that now dot Galilee when, as he puts it, anyone with a hammer and a saw could set himself up in business. We discovered just how true Givati’s observation was when the following morning, sitting in the local cafe, we overheard a guest’s horror story of how the rain had leaked into his cabin.
Villa Tul, though, is clearly a labor of love with two tastefully decorated bedrooms and a well-equipped lounge and kitchen that can quite happily accommodate a family, although worn out, worn down and needing to charge our batteries we left the little angels behind – and before any concerned reader decides to call the Society for the Protection of Children, they are six, four and two, so give us a break, we deserve one! The villa comes complete with an upstairs veranda that looks out as far as the Mediterranean and a large porch with a coffee table, a sofa, a hammock and a small pool. We garnered a few herbs from the garden and sat down for a cup of tea and a rest on the porch before taking the short walk back to Tul for dinner. Despite the rain that had fallen earlier we decided to take our chances and sit outside where the aroma of the restaurant’s herb garden was in full blossom.
Chef Givati does all of his cooking, including desserts, in a wood-fired brick taboon oven which gives the dishes, especially the meat ones, a tenderness characteristic of slow cooking. We started out with baked onion stuffed with goat cheese and basil (NIS 37).
Like an onion baked in a camp fire, the onion had a delicate sweetness that combined perfectly with the dominant taste of the melted goat cheese.
The stuffed courgette filled with a stuffing of lamb, pine kernels and
tehina was also delicious, as was the very nutty courgette stuffed with
vegetables, burgul and tehina (NIS 33). Our starters were served with
freshly baked bread from the taboon accompanied with a variety of dips. A
salad of parsley with almonds and pomegranate seeds in a delicate
vinaigrette freshened the palate between courses.
With the menu heavily slanted toward meats, my partner thought twice
before ordering a fillet of sea bass in a sauce of pickled lemons and
onions, but her fears subsided as the fish was as fresh as could be and
soaked up the taste of the sauce. I took the lamb osso bucco in lime and
herbs (NIS 100), two very dominant tastes that complement each other
well. I was also treated to a tasting of oxtail in spicy carrot, which
rolled off the bone and melted in the mouth.
After finishing our main course my partner suggested we move inside as
it was getting a little chilly. Her decision proved to be in tune with
nature as the heavens opened again sending the diners rushing inside,
where we enjoyed a dessert of pears in wine sauce with vanilla ice cream
(NIS 30) and sat watching the rain over a herb tea infusion.
Service is relaxed and friendly. Chef Givati informs us he will shortly be introducing a tasting menu.