Kimel at the Gilboa restaurant.
(photo credit: PR)
The Emilia-Romagna region in Italy is lovingly known by locals as The Pantry because it is the origin of many of Italy’s favorite foods (Parmesan and balsamic vinegar are two of the most famous items). Agriculture is still a major industry in the area, with farmers growing everything from wheat for pasta and grapes for wine and vinegar, to cattle for meat and dairy products and, of course, fruits and vegetables.
The Galilee is often referred to as the Israeli Tuscany, but on a recent visit to the Jezreel Valley I suddenly thought that it could easily be called Israel’s Pantry.
Rakefet Ivri, the producer of the upcoming Te’amim Ba’amakim, says that unlike other food festivals, this one offers visitors an authentic gourmet experience based solely on products grown in the area. Driving through the beautiful valley – now with green elds in full bloom – you can understand why the pioneers of Israel wrote so many songs about The Emek.
Local restaurants (and there are plenty) will invite visitors to taste wines from local participating wineries, cheeses from small dairy farms, as well as honey, olives, olive oil and the freshest green produce. In addition, there will be shows of local artists and workshops.
The theme of this year’s annual Te’amim Ba’amakim festival (February 15 to 26) is From Field to Plate. The idea started with Doron Baron of Moshav Hayogev.
Born and raised on the moshav, a second generation of the founders of the moshav, Baron is an experienced chef who specializes in what I think is the most important global food movement – slow food.
Slow Food is an international movement that strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of produce characteristic of the local ecosystem. The movement’s goal is to produce sustainable food and promote local small businesses.
Following the ideology of the movement in his restaurant, called Doron’s Kitchen, Baron and his family members, together with a team of young chefs, cook exceptionally tasty food made from produce grown in the surrounding elds, as well as farms in nearby communities.
During the festival, Baron will offer his fantastic food. His menu includes innovative dishes the likes of which you will rarely encounter in the best of restaurants – full of avor, with no additives, using fruit instead of sugar, offering many gluten-free options and making many of the foods from scratch. The main thing is, of course, that it is simply delicious.
The Selanova lettuce, for example, is grown steps away from Doron’s Kitchen in Carmel Yevulim. Other delicacies include fresh kale and crème fraiche, cauliower dishes, baked beets and homemade gnocchi, lamb and smoked salmon. (Thursdays from 7 p.m. tapas and wine; Fridays breakfasts and lunches from NIS 78 per person. Not kosher. (04) 989-3247; www.baron.co.il) Minutes away from Baron lives Anat Carmel. She and her family own Carmel Yevulim, which grows Salanova lettuce (pictured), snow peas, asparagus and various types of mushrooms and sprouts.
The family has a shop in the moshav, where you can purchase the freshest vegetables, as well as fresh eggs and breads, all provided by local farmers.
(The store is open Sunday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed on Saturdays.
Tel: 050-333-2666. During the festival, visitors may arrange tours of the elds. Call (04) 989- 1858 ext. 4.) The lifelong friendship among the families and sharing the same ideology gave Baron the idea to devote this year’s festival to the idea of slow food, calling it From the Field to the Plate. The idea was soon adopted by other participants. This year, local wineries will also cooperate with local chefs and growers, inviting visitors to enjoy the produce of the area and experience special offers.
The restaurants participating in the festival include Adela in Ramat Yishai; Octagon in Nahalal; Bella in Beit She’arim; Doron’s Kitchen in Moshav Hayogev; Ayelet’s Kitchen (kosher); Tanduka (kosher) in Yokne’am; Limozin in Ramat Yishai; Nilly Cohen- Mintz in Beit Lehem Haglilit (kosher); and Kimel Ba’Gilboa.
The local wineries will showcase their wines in the participating restaurants, such as the Geva Winery of Kibbutz Geva; Tulip of Kfar Tikva; Sarig of Merhavia; and Sadot of Sde Ya’acov.
Free KKL/JNF Friday tours of the area for Tu Bishvat are open to all. They will end at places that are participating in the festival. Call 1-800-350-550.