Last week we went on a culinary tour of the Galilee led by Orly Ziv of Cook in Israel. We worked together to plan a customized day tour of local Israeli food & wine producers. We picked her up at the train station in Haifa and she navigated while Roy drove.
Our first stop was a cheese dairy. We got a tour of the production facilities by the owner’s daughter, and we had a cheese tasting of 4 or 5 different goat and sheep’s cheeses they produce. This dairy used to raise their own animals, but after animals were stolen one too many times, they decided to buy milk from other farmers and just make cheese. Actually, they also produce goat’s milk soap, which we purchased along with some cheese.

cheese beautifully displayed for the tasting

Our guide Orly, Grandpa Larry, and dates & walnuts to complement the cheese

Our next stop was a family-owned olive oil producer. They own both the olive orchards and the factory. They also have a small sesame seed press to make tahini and they produce olive oil soap. Both of which we purchased along with a giant can of olive oil.

fresh olives awaiting the press

Interestingly, they have a modern press from Italy, which they’ve retrofitted with a traditional stone press. All of the speed and power without completely giving up the tradition.

our guide explaining the olive pressing process. note blend of old & new.

Roy loves olive oil

tasting olive oil, tahini, carob syrup, honey - basically anything that has been pressed

Woo-hoo! We get to fill our own tahini jar from a real sesame seed press!

Our third stop was Adir Dairy and Vineyard. We started off this visit watching a promotional video about the history of this business. It is co-owned by 2 families who met when they were olim 2 generations ago. The families were so close, that they were like one big family and started the dairy farm. Now the next generation is running the business and they added the vineyard. We had another cheese tasting of 3 goats cheeses of different ages and a wine tasting of several different reds. Our sommelier told us that they are just beginning to produce whites too, but they aren’t ready yet.

wine & cheese tasting at Adir Dairy/Vineyard

another happy pair of oenophiles

Our 4th stop was a special pomegranate winery, Rimon. We had another tasting, but nothing really grabbed us so we didn’t buy anything, though we agreed that the juice was better than the wine. The secret to sweet juice, as opposed to the tart stuff that you get fresh-squeezed on the street here, is a special machine that separates the pomegranate into sections and then blows air inside so the seeds pop out. When a pomegranate is cut in half and put on the juice press, too much of the white pith gets into the juice, voila, bitter.

Our last stop was a late lunch at the restaurant Ezba where we had been during sukkot. But with the cold, drizzly weather, we had a new, seasonal menu. The dishes just kept coming out one after the other. We were not embarrassed to take the leftovers home.

a splendid lunch at Ezba