By: Ronit Svirsky, www.photour.co.il
The Western Galilee is a mixture of many fragrances, ethnic groups, people and cultures. This is one of the only regions where Druze, Circassians, Arabs and Jews, live side by side. Where you can hear Churches, mosques and synagogues, muezzin calls, bells tolling and the sound of morning prayers. It is an area full of streams and water, with western and eastern borders that delimit it between the Kineret and the Mediterranean Sea. Every trip holds a new surprise to it.
A meaning to life
Only several steps from the entrance to Acre's market you can find the 'Shop for Meaning' (Ha'Hanut Le'Mashmaut). There is nothing like a visit to this place to start the trip with a heart warming thrill. An old stone house with vaulted ceilings and cheerful colors that catches the eye. Wooden shelves loaded with items, clay dolls, decorative wooden boxes, designed candles, lampshades, green recycled products, children's clothing, fabric bags and jewelry. The store was opened in order to sell artworks of handicapped artists from all across Israel. But its founders went a step further and gave the management over the store to young handicapped people who reside in the Western Galilee. The encounter with these young people captures the heart and empowers the approach that will overcome all obstacles. These young people are involved in each and every stage of the management; pricing, marketing and proposing new ideas. The products in the store have environmental and social messages; Fair trade, environment friendly products, assisting with designer's inventory liquidation and exposing the artworks of handicapped artists. On Friday, July 9, the center will celebrate its one year anniversary with the public through craft workshops in the symbolic price of 5-10 NIS per work. Tel. 04-9918211
How to choose a fish
Erez Komorovsky joins the visit in the Shop for Meaning and from there he starts the guided tour through the Acre Market. This is the opening for his Galilee Cooking Workshop. Komorovsky moved to Mizpe Matat in the Western Galilee several years ago, and once a week he hosts groups for a Cooking Workshop. The tour in Acre puts the group into a non-formal culinary atmosphere. Komorovsky explains in eye level about things that pique the interest of amateur cooks as well. How to pick a fresh fish? When can you find Armenian Cucumber in the market and what do you do with it? During the tour he purchases materials which he will use during the workshop. When he arrives to Abu El Hassan Fish he buys a fresh Red Snapper, at the vegetables stand he fills his nylon bag with Bamiah, and he also stops at the Halil Jarrah fish stand to enjoy the sea fruits in the crates. The group stands before the fishermen boats in the harbor and Komorovsky announces the trip will continue from the sea to the mountain. The next meeting point will be at his house in Mizpe Matat.
Licking the chops
The travel route passes among green Galilean landscapes and the road climbes to Mizpe Matat and unveils an incredible view. The country house brings up a smile of tranquility on those who enter - small waterfalls at the entrance, a lot of vegetation and the sweet smell of spices in the air. The sent of baking rises from the stone Taboon at the entrance and hot Fukacha bread are pulled out of it. On the balcony of the house facing an endless view, there is a table overflowing with delicacies: Eggplant on the grill, seared tomatoes and a glass of cool white wine. It is hard to stop the burst of appetite in the fresh, pastoral air, but Erez already takes a stroll through the spice garden. He picks, smells, crushes between his fingers and explains about each and every plant. He picks up a purple – black berry and strawberry from the bushes and gives it to us for a taste. He reveals us a secret, that at the moment he is starting to work with the food company Tivol, and that he has developed for them six products in the pre-prepared food series that are based on Galilean materials: black and orange lentils, edamame, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, along with fresh spices.
Soft lamb chops
At the end of the tour you enter a large well-lit room, where the workshop takes place. A giant, beautiful Savoy cabbage is placed on the marble. Glass cups filled with fragrant spices, chef knives, cooking pots and a page containing the list of meals that will be prepared and served for the participants. You start with Red Snapper Carpaccio served on freshly grated Armenian Cucumber with coarse salt and olive oil. Then you pass on to artichoke hearts with Pecorino cheese, green hot pepper and fish fried on an iron frying pan. For the next course he fries cauliflower pieces with seared parsley root, coriander seeds and almond butter. Sabich a la Komorovsky, which means cooked beans crushed with a large stone grinding tool, with added peanuts. The Red Snapper arrives from the Taboon and within minutes only the skeleton remains. Soft lamb chops and Butchers share makes sound of true bliss escape the mouths of the participants. Underneath the pergola in the garden awaits a large pot containing the fruits of the season, herbal tea and desert wine. All what is left is to sprawl over the swing couch in front of the view and enjoy the magical atmosphere of the place. Advance registration required, Tel. 03-9772929
Hanita – landscape and history
Two good reasons to arrive to Kibbutz Hanita: the first is the route with the landscape and the second is Homa Ve'Migdal museum. This Museum is a last-century-type museum, but it contains rare gems. Old items that belong to the first settlers, a film made by Nathan Axelrod about how Homa Ve'Migdal was established, agriculture tools, ancient mosaic that had been discovered in digs and a rare collection of coins from the Second Temple period and the Roman period.
If you arrive in a group the museum arranges a short play in which an actor demonstrates different characters: a pioneer, a British constable, a guard and the Arab Sheik who sold the land of Hanita to the Jews. The place is open all week from 14:00-9:00, entrance costs 15 NIS adult, 12 NIS children above the age of 6.
Joy of the ale
Gideon Adar developed the passion fruit branch in Kibbutz Ga'aton. In a short while he found himself with surplus of fruits looking for a creative idea. That is how 'Ga'aton Potion' was formed making the passion fruit into a fruity ale. Its success lured Adar to try to create ale from other fruits. Nowadays Ga'aton Potion offers 11 different types of fruit based ale including Kiwi, Lychee, Almond milk, Pomegranate ale, honey with apples and dates. In some you can really feel the taste of the fruit. Adar enjoys having people in his little factory and as he allows the visitors to taste each kind, he tells about the developing process and from there he continues to stories about life in the Kibbutz and the history of the settlement. Advance registration is required, Tel. 052 -2414845
Arnold's Bistro is located in a well kept wooden structure surrounded by lawns and ornamental trees in Nativ settlement near Cabri junction. It was established by Chef Uri Arnon who decided to bring the news of the kosher meat to the Western Galilee. Arnon combines the meats with dishes from the French and Mediterranean cuisine and adds to the experience beers he brews himself, draft beers and a variety of Israeli wines. Arnon, who grew up in a religious home studied in Tadmor, worked in known Tel Avivian restaurants which includes Mul Hayam, Dixie, Barcarola in Kfar Saba. He chose to move up north and cook in a peaceful Galilean atmosphere. Among his starters you can find fresh green salad with a surprising mixture of flavors, breads that are baked on the spot, eggplants on the Taboon and varied meat plates that arrive to the table steaming hot. Creative desserts and sorbets are served for the finale. It is open Sunday to Thursday 12:00-23:00, Friday until 16:00 and when the Shabbat ends. Tel. 04-9522211
Where to stay
Hacienda mansion in the heart of the Western Galilee is suitable for group or family lodging, and for couples who love to relax in the area. Double rooms located above a Spa looking to the nearby grove. Hacienda mansion surprises in the culinary ability it offers to the guests. The dinner buffet has many delicacies with special touches taken from home kitchens. Cooks are standing behind the counter making the dishes on the spot. The first gem was the 'Tunisian Sandwich' stand. A female cook stuffs Frikase buns in front of the dinners and compiles it based on their own personal choice. Another look at the cooked dishes reveals 'Mamas' food, the use of seasonal vegetables and fresh salads. Homemade dishes such as meat with barley, meatballs with green field beans, Masabcha stand for self –preparation, lentil dishes and a lot of legumes. The lodging packages in the hotel are half-board so dinner is included in the price, Tel. 03-9190500