Everybody's taste

The seventh food festival around Lake Kinneret offers a host of options for hungry travelers.

Marinado in the Port 521 (photo credit: Efrat Kaner)
Marinado in the Port 521
(photo credit: Efrat Kaner)
While the many activities and festivals going on in major cities during Hanukka can keep the family entertained for the full eight days of the holiday (and then some), going a bit farther afield to explore what is going on around Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) could require an extra eight days to take it all in.
In its seventh year, the Taste of the Kinneret festival is the only one of its kind in the country, allowing participants to explore the great tastes and sights of this beautiful region. Year after year, people from around the country flock to check out the options available that only the dramatic setting of the Kinneret can offer. Although the main focus is food, organizers are keen to point out that the festival is about so much more.
The region is steeped in history and offers visitors a chance to visit the first kibbutzim, as well as see how the area is booming, with more and more modern facilities and activities springing up all the time.
The festival, which takes place during Hanukka, was initiated by the Jordan Valley and Kinneret Tourism Association and the Jordan Valley Regional Council. It aims to bring awareness to the culinary and cultural offerings that this rich, varied and creative region has to offer.
Every year the festival has a theme, and this year organizers decided to put special emphasis on the combination of tastes that characterize the valley, such as locally grown dates and bananas.
There will also be a focus on the rich fishing heritage of the Kinneret, with a host of international cooks and chefs, as well as local talent who will create a celebration of exciting and surprising flavors, a variety of meals in restaurants and cafes in the area, along with other events such as workshops, an open market and a chance to meet the chefs. Other non-food activities for the whole family promise to capture the spirit of Hanukka.
While there is a whole host of activities and events, here are some of the highlights:
Cafe with the pioneers
For those looking for a chance to return to the ways things used to be, a special “pioneers” dinner with a Russian theme will be served at Cafe Rishonim at Kibbutz Deganya Alef. A selection of Russian-infused dishes will serve as a backdrop to an event that will salute the pioneers of the kibbutz in a nostalgic and exciting show titled Home by author Assaf Inbari and singer/songwriter Ariel Horovitz.
Wednesday, 7 p.m., Cafe Rishonim, Deganya Alef, 052- 374-9170
Cook with a politician
To add an air of sophistication to the festival, chef Ran Sagi will host former agriculture minister and MK Avraham Katz-Oz at the Techelet Restaurant in Beit Gavriel. The two will cook together and provide guests with a unique menu for an evening to remember. After the meal, guests will be invited to join in a sing-along led by Saraleh Sharon that will be dedicated to songs about food, wine and the Kinneret. The restaurant, which opened last year, has a menu that includes a range of starters, a vast selection of meats and smoked fish, as well as pastas and salads.
Thursday December 22 at 7 p.m., Techelet, Beit Gavriel, (04) 670-9200
Eat gourmet meat
Local chef Guy Ben-Simhon of the Marinado Benamal restaurant in Kibbutz Ein Gev will host chef Assaf Granit from Jerusalem’s Mahaneyehuda restaurant. With the Kinneret in the background, the two chefs will create a high-quality meal for guests to enjoy. Some of the highlights on the menu include risotto with mushroom ragout, veal sweetbreads, burekas, shoulder of lamb and plenty of chocolate for dessert. Marinado Benamal is a new kosher restaurant located on the shores of the Kinneret that features a spectacular view.
Thursday, December 22 at 8 p.m., Marinado Benamal, Kibbutz Ein Gev, (04) 665-8037
From the sea to your plate
Another restaurant that is enjoying the benefits of a new chef is The Fish Restaurant, which is actually located on a boat. Uzi Ben serves his own special brand of fish dishes aboard a boat that leaves from Kibbutz Ein Gev and sails to the center of the Kinneret, where guests are able to see fishermen at work. The menu includes a selection of fish such as sea bream and sardines, as well as special desserts.
Furthermore, throughout the festival visitors will have the opportunity to take part in trips on the boat that will allow children to become skippers for the day and help the fishermen.
Monday, noon, The Fish Restaurant, Ein Gev Port, (04) 665-8195
Don’t pass on dessert
For those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of options. Adults and children alike will enjoy a magical workshop with Aya Segal at Metukaya. Segal, a master in the art of fondant (sugar paste) designs, will be available to share her tricks of the trade to anyone who wants to make an edible masterpiece. There will be a workshop dedicated to the art of cupcakes, where the whole family can celebrate Hanukka, Christmas and the end of the year. The workshop will last about two hours and is suitable for children age seven and above.
Price: NIS 150 for each parent and a child (advanced booking required). Thursday December 29 at 5 p.m., Beit Zera, (04) 677-5422
The Taste of the Kinneret festival will take place from December 21 to 31. For full details: www.kinneret.info or (04) 675-2727.