Dining: A jug of wine, a loaf of bread…

A visit to Tishbi Winery is a multifaceted experience

Tishbi Winery (photo credit: PR)
Tishbi Winery
(photo credit: PR)
Since Sunday is a working day here, many Israelis consider Friday morning as a day of leisure, the right day for going on outings and definitely a good time to go out for breakfast.
What better way to spend it than visiting the Tishbi Winery in Binyamina, with a tour of the site, an entertaining history lesson on wine production in Israel and topping it all off with a hearty breakfast under the vine-covered trellis of the Tishbi restaurant.
One recent Friday I arrived in Binyamina to be greeted by Golan Tishbi and shown around the thriving enterprise that is the Tishbi Winery.
The great-grandson of the founders, Golan works at the winery with his parents, Nili and Jonathan Tishbi, and other family members.
We began our tour at the flour mill, where state-of-the-art Danish machinery sifts and grinds the grains of wheat used for baking the bread, which is for sale in the adjacent bakery that is dubbed “Boulangerie” for that extra Gallic touch.
Amazing loaves of all shapes and sizes are available, as well as rolls, hallot and pastries. Overseen by Yuval the baker and Gal the pastry cook, the products are all fresh and can only be bought here – round crusty loaves made with grains, nuts and date syrup; bread made from kasha (buckwheat); vegan bread; and loaves studded with olives and oat flakes or with lemon flavoring.
Everything goes into a huge woodfired oven – a French “La Payola” – and some of the best bread you will ever taste comes out.
We visited the shop where not only wines are for sale but also the special kosher Valhrona chocolates imported from France. The shop is also a tasting center from Monday to Thursday at specific times, and a customer can taste five wines (three white and two red) for NIS 15. For NIS 30, you can try six wines and a different chocolate with each. For NIS 40, a tour of the winery is included.
Golan also took us to see the brandy distillery where Tishbi prizewinning brandy is aged in beautiful mulberry-shade stills, or alembics, which come from France and, they say, are the only ones in the Middle East. We also inspected (and smelled) the wines being stored in oak barrels at another part of the site.
“The longest we store wine is two years, but the minimum is a year,” Golan explained.
Finally we were invited to sit and enjoy a typical Tishbi breakfast at the outdoor restaurant. The perfect weather – warm but with a cool breeze – and the rustic surroundings under the vine-covered trellis of the courtyard made this an exceptionally pleasurable experience.
While we sipped good cappuccino alternating with cold glasses of carrot juice, we looked around at fellow diners, a mixed bunch of mostly yuppie Israelis who were also enjoying the relaxed Friday morning atmosphere.
I ordered scrambled eggs with mushrooms and onions, and this came with a piece of cured salmon and a very creamy cream cheese and cherry tomato salad (NIS 63). My dining (and life) companion had frittata with kashkaval, feta cheese, herbs and green salad (NIS 110 for two). The dressing in both salads was extra good – lemony and spicy with good olive oil.
There were slices of the marvelous bread and, as well as butter, a delicious onion jam on the side.
There were plenty of other choices on the menu for light dairy meals, such as shakshuka, bagels and pizza.
For dessert, Golan insisted we try the cheesecake, which was just to our taste – not too sweet, creamy but dry with a crumbly base. We had to take the proffered apple strudel home, as we could eat no more, and this later proved to be excellent, too.
It was the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik who suggested that the family, originally called Chamiletski, take the name Tishbi, an acronym meaning “resident of Shefaya in Israel.” Seventy years have gone by, and today Tishbi is a byword for wine, bread, chocolate – and warm hospitality.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Tishbi Winery Visitors Center
North Binyamina, Route 652
Tel: (04) 638-0434
Sunday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.