Time out: Food with a view

Festival of flavors in Jezreel Valley starts this week, offering dining options combined with beautiful scenery and a hearty helping of history.

Octagon restaurant 390 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Octagon restaurant 390
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jezreel Valley’s annual food festival will launch its 10-day extravaganza on February 5, blending great tastes of the area’s top restaurants with spectacular views of the pastoral Jezreel Valley. During this time, quality restaurants in the region will offer food lovers the chance to enjoy gourmet meals and wine at significantly reduced prices. This year’s Te’amim Ba’amakim is the eighth of its kind, first inspired by a group of locals wanting to draw residents from around the country to the region. The culinary festival falls on Tu Bishvat, a time when the trees begin to blossom, enlivening the valleys with bursting color.
While many see the Jezreel Valley as a stopping point on the way farther north, the area is filled with many tourist gems and a rich history. Keen travelers could easily spend a week there exploring the natural and cultural attractions. A notable aspect of the Jezreel Valley is the passionate Zionist ideology held by many of its inhabitants. This ardor has seeped into several of the restaurants participating in the festival.
Of the 19 restaurants taking part in the festival, here are a few highlights:
Zohar Badeshe is a restaurant located on Kibbutz Daliya. The kibbutz was founded in 1939 by Romanian and German youths from Hashomer Hatza’ir in the last wave of the “tower and stockade” movement.
Kibbutz Daliya is proud of its Zionist history, which is indicated by the pictures of the founders’ children on the dining room walls and on the place mats. Zohar Badeshe is the only kosher restaurant participating in the festival. It serves an excellent breakfast buffet, particularly notable for its homemade products, such as tasty jams made from fruits grown on the premises and sumptuous cheeses from the kibbutz dairy.
Zohar Badeshe, Kibbutz Daliya, (04) 989-7777
Octagon is an elegant restaurant in the heart of Moshav Nahalal. While the exquisite cuisine served at Octagon is enough to bring visitors to the area, the moshav is well known for the prominent figures that have emerged from there. Founded in 1921, Nahalal was the first moshav ovdim.
Among the list of famous names are former defense minister and chief of staff Moshe Dayan, writer and journalist Meir Shalev and World War II parachutist Hannah Szenes. The Octagon restaurant, while retaining an air of sophistication, prides itself on being a family-friendly spot, offering creative menus especially designed for children, as well as a playground to amuse them. The adults’ menu offers quality meat, fish, seafood and mouth-watering starters. A personal favorite is sausage filled with a combination of beef and port wine, served on a bed of sauerkraut.
Octagon, Nahalal Junction, (04) 641-5333
Theodor, established to honor the memory of Zionist thinker Theodor Herzl, is a casual bistro located in Ramat Yishai. The cafe offers a selection of pastas, salads, fish, meat, seafood and risottos. Sea bream served on cinnamon sticks with a side of creamy risotto is a hit on the menu. For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu is definitely worth perusing, with an array of chocolate soufflé, apple cake with ice cream and other delicious sweet treats.
Theodor, Ramat Yishai, (04) 983-0422
The Te’amim Be’amakim festival provides the perfect excuse to visit the beautiful Jezreel Valley region. The combination of natural thickets with fertile fields creates picturesque scenery, and there is plenty to do in the area. For nature lovers, just outside the valley is Israel’s first biosphere as declared by UNESCO. Energetic travelers can take cycling tours along the Kishon and Tzipori rivers, while culture vultures may take a trip to Nazareth, where they can immerse themselves in Christian history, to name but a few of the sites.
The price of a three-course meal with wine ranges from NIS 79 to NIS 109.
Cafes are offering breakfast and brunch with prices ranging from NIS 39 to NIS 49. It is recommended to reserve a table in advance.
For full details, visit www.Teamim-baamakim.co.il