When we entered "16 Keren Kayemet Blvd. Naharyia" into our Waze app, we did not yet see what was to come. After driving through the city, it brought us right into a quiet, country-like neighborhood, where, from under a large Eucalyptus tree, a small coffee house appeared.
Three years ago, Hagit Stern decided to leave her job as a logistic manager at Ford in Belgium, studied baking in France, and came back to Nahariya to make an old dream come true. This is how Brioche cafe and bakery was founded. As soon as we sat down at the wooden table, which was covered with a plaid tablecloth, our nose was filled with the wonderful smell of fresh baking, and we could not wait to have a taste. When Hagit came up to our table, her apron was all covered with flour, and you could tell she was just in the kitchen, baking. Hagit’s house is right next to Brioche, and her dog walks around its yard. Her talented hands make all of the food, and when you taste it, you can feel it is made with much love. We tried an amazing home-made sweet potato ravioli in cream mushrooms sauce, a very special green salad with strawberries, kiwi and blue cheese, and of course - unforgettable freshly-baked buns. In the end, Hagit came to say goodbye (with hands covered in chocolate, as she was just baking chocolate Babkas), and we went on to our next stop.
Brioche cafe and bakery, 077-4260520
We drove for about ten minutes to get to the Mi'ilya Christian village, where we visited Arak Masada, a boutique arak distillery. Jeris and Wadia Hadid built Arak Masada two years ago, hoping to make high-class, authentic arak, like the one made in Lebanon, after their arak specialist friend was disappointed with the arak sold in Israel. Wadia welcomed us to the factory with open arms, explaining about its history and work process. We tasted each of the four award-winning araks, and were blown away by their flavor. Wadia said that with the rising popularity of the drink in Israel, it is time people knew what high quality arak tasted like, and after we tried it, we could not agree more.
Arak Masada, 057-5760384
Our next stop was Boza (‘ice cream’ in Arabic) in Ma'alot-Tarshiha, which was a two-minute drive from Mi'ilya. In the middle of an industrial area, between lots of different stores, lay a piece of Italy. The colorful design and smiling faces all around sent the right message - it was time for a sugar rush. Adam Ziv from Kibbutz Sasa had a dream to build a Galilee ice cream place, and after learning the secrets of ice cream in Italy, he cooperated with Ala Sawitat, one of the owners of Aluma, a famous restaurant in Ma'alot-Tarshiha, and together they built this little piece of heaven. This is a place where coexistence is a way of life, and not just something you talk about. We could see the ice-cream factory across the window from where we sat, where they also host workshops from time to time. After drinking great coffee, we tried to pick out a flavor to taste and boy, was it tough! There were so many ice cream flavors and sorbets, all in special containers, to keep them as fresh as possible. And you could definitely feel it, with each flavor tasting better than the other. Between the great flavors, authentic Knafe and waffles, it was a total feast in our mouth.
Boza ice cream, 04-8738984, www.boza.co.il
Next on our agenda was Shikuyey Gaaton, a boutique liquor-making factory in Kibbutz Gaaton. Twelve years ago, Gideon decided to make good use of the passion fruit that grows in the Kibbutz, and started making tasty liquors out of it. The hand-made fruit wines were a success, and more fruits joined later on. Kiwi, litchi, pomegranate, almonds and other sweet fruit wines are made in the factory, which has a visiting center and a 'make your own liquor' workshop you won’t want to miss.
Shikuyey Gaaton, 052-2414845, www.glg.co.il
Nativ Hashayara’s secret weapon seems to be the always-full Arnolds - a restaurant you most definitely want to try. The smell of grilled meat is carried in the air as you enter the rustic place.
The very prestigious atmosphere, along with the highly professional, yet very friendly, waiting staff makes the restaurant very pleasant, and the food is wonderful. We ordered the tastings meal, which is made of the chef's choices served one after the other, "according to your progress" - so indulging! We had such a good time, we did not want to leave.
Arnolds, 04-9522211, www.uriarnold.co.il
After this long and satisfying day, we got to our rest stop. Bait va Kait at kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta'ot is a lovely Bed-and-Breakfast. We parked next to a horse- manege, which made us immediately understand we were about to experience something different, and walked in the small paths which keep up the feel of the kibbutz.
The room was lovely, a parquet floor, a nice little kitchen, a renovated bathroom and a very comfortable large bed. The best part was the view of the green kibbutz grass. Bait va'Kait is lovely yet modest, very indulging with a kibbutz nature. And the brunch, oh, the brunch! A dining room filled with fresh salads, breads and high quality cheeses offers a rich and delicious meal, in a homey atmosphere.
Bait ve Kait, 04-9933271, firstname.lastname@example.org
Who knew such gems await in the Western Galilee?
For more information about the culinary Galil Maaravi, visit www.westgalil.org.il
The writer was a guest of the sites mentioned in the article.