This spring has been a bit all over the place, weather-wise. One moment we’re experiencing a heat wave, and the next we’re running back inside to grab a sweater. One thing that is stable this season is that the ninth annual Western Galilee Spring Festival will be taking place next weekend, May 27-28.
Over those two days, visitors are invited to participate in more than 40 events, including a variety of workshops, tours, performances and intriguing collaborations between artists and entrepreneurs who live in the region. There will be wine tastings at the Efendi Hotel, a tour of the International Dance Village in Kibbutz Ga’aton and tastings at Malka Brewery and La Pampa restaurant. Just be aware that you might need to adjust your belt setting following this exciting weekend, which is chock full of fantastic food and drinks. Below, you will find a small selection of the events that will be taking place during the festival.
1. Stern Winery
Johnny Stern, owner and winemaker at Stern Winery, also has lots of hobbies. He’s an amateur photographer, and some of his photographs hang on the walls of the winery’s visitors center. Stern is also an amateur carpenter, and guests are welcome to sit at the gorgeous table he carved from the trunk of an ancient olive tree.
Another pastime of Stern’s is cooking, and his family members benefit from this love on a daily basis. He even found a way to combine these two loves by hosting concept evenings, for which he prepares all the food, and of course the wine, and everyone gets to sit around the table he built. In the past, he’s created evenings celebrating Greek and French cuisine, and is currently preparing an Italian cuisine evening as part of the spring festival. There will be six different classic Italian dishes on the menu, which he prepares himself, such as arancini in tomato sauce and olive oil and black linguine with asparagus. Of course, each meal is accompanied by one of his wines.
Stern will be joined at these meals by Genadi Kozakevich, a seasoned tour guide, who will thrill the diners with a new coffee workshop he developed during the recent lockdowns. Guests will learn about the history, characteristics and flavors of coffee, and also be invited to taste his own special brew.
Date: Thursday, May 26, 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m.Price: NIS 320.Details: 072-395-7695.
“This is what a street in Matat looks like,” explains tour guide Carmit Arbel as we walk along the path through fruit trees in what feels like a jungle to me. Life in Matat seems to run at a different pace than in the city. When the kids go outside to play, they run past dozens of strawberry plants and fig trees, helping themselves to these fruits whenever they feel like it.
At our last stop on the tour, we were treated to a vegetarian meal prepared by chef Ori Tzur, who has been working in restaurants since he was 15. Tzur recently moved to Matat from Tel Aviv, and he currently hosts guests for meals in his home, during which diners will have a chance to taste tantalizing flavors they won’t find anywhere else.
Date: Friday, May 27, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Price: NIS 165.Details: 072-397-1215.
Everyone who’s ever tasted kanafeh has fallen in love with it on the spot. But do you really know how it’s made? Watching members of the Kashash family from Acre prepare kanafeh, which is widely considered the best kanafeh in Israel, is a real treat. Heir Kashash started the business in 1915, when he sold sweets from a small cart. Later, he opened a store in the Old City of Acre, in which four generations of the Kashash family still work to this day. At the shop, visitors can pick from 22 different sweet delicacies, including three different types of kanafeh.
During the spring festival, visitors will learn how kanafeh is prepared, and also receive tips on how to get along – and even thrive – while working alongside family members. The workshop will end with a glass of hot coffee, alongside a nice serving of kanafeh.
Date: Friday, May 27, 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Price: NIS 40.Details: 072-394-1153.
Artists Orly Coffler and Tina Khatib will join forces at studio Oroca in Acre’s Old City. After studying at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and working as an engineer for 25 years, Coffler decided to make a sharp career change and signed up for a jewelry and silversmithing course. Now, she creates some of the most unusual jewelry with unique textures.
Khatib will sweeten your visit with her tasty malabi, which she prepares using her family’s age-old recipe. Khatib explains that what most Israelis have tasted over the years is nothing like the traditional drink she grew up imbibing. She took the best parts of both of her grandmothers’ recipes, and created her own unique recipe. After getting divorced, Khatib opened up a shop in which she sold malabi. She took an old storage shed in Old Acre and cleaned and renovated it, until it became a gleaming and warm place now known as Tina’s Malabi House.
During the spring festival, Coffler and Khatib are joining forces to offer a fascinating evening during which the two women will tell their story and discuss the process of creating their crafts, ending of course with a tasting of Khatib’s famous malabi, alongside kadaif, baklava and basbousa.
Date: Thursday, May 26, 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Price: NIS 110.Details: 072-397-1187.
Details for Western Galilee Spring Festival: www.westgalil.org.il.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.