I may have mentioned once or twice, or twenty times, that Ju-Boy and I are the parental units of a blended family. Sometimes we can be one big happy Brady Bunch, and at other times we resemble the Manson family. With a large cast of characters, we all have our ways of dealing with the situation. Ju-Boy and I prefer to deal with our reality by running away from it. Every now and again we will find someone to watch the dog and just disappear…
That’s exactly what we did at the beginning of this week.
These Groupon thingies can net you some very good deals. This past Sunday and Monday we escaped to the Vered Hagalil Holiday Village for a night in a tzimmer for a little more than half of what we pay for our weekly grocery bill.
We had a long, slow drive up north, relishing the fact that for the first time in quite a while we were alone, just the two of us in the car having an uninterruped conversation (unless we did the interrupting, which we did, a lot). We stopped off on the outskirts of Tiberias for some brunch, a shared focaccia with kashkaval cheese, caramelized onions and olives, washed down with perfect cups of hafuch, the Israeli cappuccino.
The moment we checked in we booked some horseback riding. The view was amazing, the Kinneret, the mountains, the flowers, and occasionally Ju-Boy’s back as his horse overtook mine.
After we finished our ride we were tired, exhausted, smelly and bow-legged. We limped into our room and washed away the aches and pains in the bath. The fact that there was a large plasma TV over the jacuzzi running the Sci-Fi channel was an added plus. Who knew that watching Doctor Who could be so soothing while surrounded by warm, soapy water.
At dinnertime we headed over to the hotel’s country-style American restaurant (that’s what it was called). Check out the funky centerpiece of beets and turnips.
While we mused over the menu we nibbled on some yummy olives, coriander spread and creamed eggplant with tehina.
As an appetizer I had the grilled chorizo on braised cabbage with mustard sauce. I got six little chorizos so I ate three, because Ju-Boy and I like to share our orders so we get to taste a bit of everything on the table.
But nooooooo! Ju-Boy didn’t want to share. He ordered the meat and bean soup and was very happy with his choice. But I gave him “The Look” and he passed me his bowl halfway through. He was right, it was a delicious bowl of soup, he definitely had the better choice.
For main course Ju-Boy ordered the denis fish, also known as sea bream. I was very happy not to have to share this with him. I don’t “do” fish with bones, especially fish with bones and dead, souless eyes looking up at you accusingly while you eat it. For the record, Ju-Boy was very happy to eat Dennis the Fish all by himself, although I did have a taste, and got a small bone caught in my throat for my troubles.
I had the hamburger. Boring, I know, but at least it didn’t stare back at me.
My order of hamburger came with a side order of chips. I had a few. Ju-Boy had many. He claimed that these were some of the best chips he’s ever had in Israel, perfectly greasy, brilliantly salted. Yes, he said brilliantly salted.
We both really wanted to order the pear and almond tart for dessert, but I married someone supposedly deathly allergic to almonds (great story of how he found out, but that’s another blog post, and another recipe, stay tuned). He ordered the nut tart, which had a few almonds, and he decided to risk his life and eat the whole thing. I actually had a small bite, and while I’m not sure it was worth anaphylactic shock, it was nice.
On the other hand, my dessert was delicious! Yes, we were piggies and didn’t share one dessert. My hot chocolate cake was divine. The ice cream was decidedly parve-tasting and a bit anemic, but in actuality was the perfect foil for the richness of the cake. You actually couldn’t have the cake on its own, you needed some of the anemic white stuff at the end of your fork so you didn’t go into a complete chocolate coma.
Even though I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol with dinner I found this huge cactus outside of the restaurant worth a snap.
In the light of day I still think that’s one freaky cactus. One huge, freaky cactus.
After checkout we took a walk around the grounds before we left. We came across a very peaceful part of the surrounding forest but obviously it has a different purpose for different nationalities. If you are Israeli this serves as the pinat zugot, the couples’ corner, I guess for a little necking or simple hand-holding. But for you English-speakers who come by, you just need to do a little thinking. I’m sure there’s some cultural commentary in there somewhere, I just can’t be bothered to look for it.
Afterwards we traveled north to the Adir Winery where Tzvi the wine-tasting guy gave us a private wine and cheese tasting. He did a good job. First, I hate goat’s cheese, and I actually liked the selection he put out on the bar. Secondly, we ended up buying a few bottles of the local port, the Cabernet and the Shiraz. Well, Passover is coming, we need some good plonk for those four glasses of wine.
As we headed south along the Sea of Galilee we passed the tomb of Rachel, the wife of Rabbi Akiva. Ju-Boy and I were impressed with the kavod (honor) paid to this woman, but she really was amazing. You should really click on the link and read about her, and her relationship with her husband. You know that saying that behind every great man there’s a woman? This is that woman!
I have to say that my only disappointment in the whole trip is that for some reason I thought the Vered Hagalil Holiday Village was somehow connected to Vered Hagalil chocolate. It’s not. To help me make up for my disappointment, Ju-boy took me to the Galita Chocolate Farm on Kibbutz Degania Bet. Chocolate farm. The description conjures up Willy Wonkan images of white and dark chocolate cows, milk chocolate horses and chocolate chickens akin to those Easter bunnies I used to bite the heads off in the States. Okay, so there were no barns built of planks of chocolate, no tractors with truffled wheels, but there was a darling little building with a fantastic gift shop (if anyone wants to invite us for Shabbat we bought some great presents for you there), truffle-making classes and a selection of pralines that makes the mind boggle.
Along with cups of the ubiquitous upside-down coffee, we tasted six of their pralines: cinnamon, pistachio, tehina/halvah, toffee, Irish Cream and a whisky praline. Only the pistachio was disappointing. My favorite was the cinnamon, Ju-Boy preferred the toffee, which had nougat as well.
We drove around a bit more, just relishing the scenery and the two-ness of the day (remember, this is supposed to be a romantic escape, not just a food binge across Israel). Finally, around suppertime we found ourselves in the Moshava section of Yokneam. At the recommendation of a bunch of cyber-friends on israelfood we decided to have dinner at Tanduka. Okay, so this was a food binge across Israel.
We started with the house bread, tapenade and garlic confit.
We then shared a starter of roasted tomato stuffed with chicken. It was about as appetizing as it looks in the photo. This, however, was the only disappointing part of the meal.
The waitress brought us each some lemon sorbet to cleanse the palette. It was delicious and tart and refreshing.
Warning to vegetarians and sensitive meat-eaters — do not look at the next two pictures!
Ju-Boy ordered the veal fillet and I ordered the…
… veal sinta. We were in baby cow heaven. Perfectly cooked, gratefully eaten. The mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables were yummy as well.
This time we shared a dessert — chocolate marquise on a bed of fudge with honey sauce. Oh Em Gee!
I asked the restaurant for the recipe. The waitress was very apologetic. I guess I have a new holy grail, a new recipe to try and re-create. I’m sure I’ll have a wonderful time figuring it out and the family will just have to suffer as my taste-testers.
All good things must come to an end, and so Miriyummy and Ju-Boy finished their
food binge romantic get-away and headed home to reality.
As I mentioned once before, nothing tastes as good as a memory, and we now have some wonderful memories of our two days of suspended reality.
Posted on 29 March 2011, in Family Life, Israel, Restaurants, Vacations and Travel and tagged Adir Winery, Chocolate, dessert, Galita Chocolate Farm, Israel, kosher, Tiberias, vacation, Vered Hagalil, wine. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.