Out to pasture

A hop, skip and jump away from Netanya lies Moshav Beit Yitzhak, a green gem in the heaving metropolis.

turkiz bet yitzhak (photo credit: Courtesy)
turkiz bet yitzhak
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Picture this: You're stuck in traffic on the coastal road, the heat is making you delirious and you're crawling north toward the Poleg junction at a rate of 5km an hour. You could carry on toward Netanya, or you could turn off the road and experience something totally different. Moshav Beit Yitzhak may once have been a sleepy, agricultural community, but nowadays it is brimming with savvy creativity and life. So if the beach has left you burned, and you want a taste of the good, green life within the heart of the metropolis, Beit Yitzhak is a great place to start. Take the No. 4 coastal road, exit at Beit Lid junction and follow signs to the moshav. Turkiz (Beit Yitzhak, caf : 09-861-2128, shop: 09-861-2128, not kosher www.turkiz.net) With a caf -bistro, furniture gallery, gift shop and clothing store, Turkiz can keep you entertained for hours. The place began twelve years ago as the brainchild of two childhood friends, Ori Shani and Ayal Segev, who dreamed of a space for both eating and shopping. Today, this dream has been realized and what started as a simple caf and gallery is now an impressive yet intimate complex. The caf serves food all day long and has an exceptional breakfast (don't miss the shakshuka!). Both the indoor and outdoor seating areas are full of charm, color and ethnic flavors and the owners' dedication is seen in every detail. This place is a favorite with locals but it's also a place for those seeking refuge from Gush Dan's headspinning pace. (When we visited, Shlomo Artzi had taken up residence at the back of the cafe.) After you've enjoyed your meal, poke your head into one of the two adjacent furniture galleries which showcase pieces from Morocco, Turkey, India, Mexico, the Philippines and other corners of the world. All pieces for sale at the gallery are selected abroad by the owners themselves and over the years they've grown very skilled at appealing to Israeli tastes. Gorgeous woodwork and shimmering lamps are just the beginning of what you can find on display here for reasonable prices. Next, be sure to check out the gift shop which carries things to make every room in your house - from the kitchen to the bathroom to the living room - beautiful, as well as some jewelry and knickknacks. And finally, the clothing shop, with its lovely dresses, skirts, noteworthy sandal selection and great prices, will make sure you don't leave Turkiz empty-handed. Coral Island (Beit Yitzhak, Rehov Harakefet, 09-832-9110, www.coralisland.co.il) To see incredible tropical fish, you don't need to go to the tropics, or even to the sea. Coral Island is the only shop in the country that specializes in exotic salt-water fish and they have an impressive selection to prove it. Owner Ehud Rousso travels abroad to annual exhibitions, alternating between Singapore and Germany, which showcase salt water-fish from around the world. During these exhibitions, as well as other travels, he hand-picks the fish that he brings back to Israel. For him, these exquisite fish are more than a business, they are his love, something which is evident from the way his eyes light up when looking around his shop. All the fish on sale at Coral Island are bought from environmentally conscious wholesalers. Furthermore, all the staff are trained in giving customers personal consultation on how to care for their fish. Prices start from NIS 50 and reach NIS 5,000. "But," says Ehud, "People should know that this isn't a hobby for the socio-economic elite. Anyone can get involved." Alexander Winery (Beit Yitzhak, 09-8822956) Founded in 1996 by Yoram Shalom, Alexander Winery is named for his father and continues a family tradition of wine-making. The boutique winery produces about 37,000 bottles a year, and both their reds and whites have collected an impressive selection of awards. Since the 2006 harvest, all Alexander wines are kosher. Tours of the winery and the adjacent seven-year-old vineyard should be arranged in advance. Gvinot Beit Yitzhak (Beit Yitzhak P.O.B. 83, 09-834-4385) General Manager Zvi Meyer's parents came to Israel from Holland after World War I and in 1960 went into the business they knew best from home: dairy. Although it is now a household name, Gvinot Beit Yitzhak stills offers high-quality dairy products manufactured just feet from the cows, making a tour of the cowshed and factory shop a nice activity. While the business is no longer a strictly family affair, Meyer works hard to run it as if it still were. Quality, he believes, is the most important part of his industry. For him this includes checking all of their milk to make sure there are no traces of antibiotics and retaining traditional cheesemaking methods. Aside from their sheep's milk "Yogourmet" yogurt, cheese is their specialty - halloumi, ricotta and cumin seed Gouda - which they sell to numerous restaurants. However, for their delectable mature Gouda, aged for a full year, you need to go to the factory store itself. As they cut the cheese for you, look left. A glass window shows the floor-to-ceiling shelves of cheese which are waxed by hand every few weeks. If you still have energy, try a couple of other highlights in the area: Bakuba is a gallery that specializes in African craft. The items on sale here are collected by owner Naama Ben-Simhon who lived in remote African villages and fell in love with the local population. 43 Derech Hasharon, 054-235-0035. On your way out, stop at Anamro at the entrance of the moshav for coffee (not kosher). This airy, green-infused cafe offers a very different - but according to customers no less tasty - experience than Turqiz. Rehov Habanim, 09-882-8493. All of these places are only a taste of what Beit Yitzhak and its neighboring moshav Emek Hefer offer. Catch this area now, before it becomes overrun with refugees from the country's urban heart.