Bloggers’ Day Out — Gush Etzion — July 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an able foodie in possession of a good blog, must be in want of a nosh…

…unashamedly paraphrased from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

It was a glorious Friday morning a little over a week ago when Ju-Boy and I set out for the wilds of Petach Tikva to pick up the marvelous Mimi of Israeli Kitchen.  In spite of this being the third time this year that I was headed for her house, we still got lost, but not for long.  With Mimi in the back seat we then headed for the glorious mountaintop Lone Tree Brewery in Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion.  Mimi, together with David Shire of the Brewery, had put together a morning exhibition of nips and nibbles produced in the Gush Etzion area.

One of the first exhibitors to present his wares was Itamar of the Beit Lechem bakery.  This bakery produces yummy, crusty breads, and have been for the last six years.  They use all natural ingredients and whole flours, and do not use any preservatives.  They sell their products mainly through health food stores in Jerusalem and can be contacted directly for larger orders.

Next came the sinful liqueurs of Yekev Lavie — the three bottles on offer for a tipple at the exhibition were the black chocolate, white chocolate and the caramel.  I tried the white chocolate and found it very sweet.  The caramel was also sweet, and I thought this would be perfect for my daughters to have on Shabbat for kiddush.  Unfortunately, none of the bottles were for sale that day.  Other flavors include coffee cream, honey (I wouldn’t have minded trying that one), cherry and creme de cassis.  New flavors are constantly being developed, including blueberry and almond.

Next up was the Ferency Winery from Bat Ayin.  They produce 100% varietal wine from certified organic grapes, although the winery itself it not certified organic.  Good enough for me…  With 30 dunams planted and four classic varietals and blends, the Ferency winery last year produced 4,000 bottles.  This is a winery which values quality over quantity, and they have plans to produce no more than 12,000 bottles a year.  I tasted the 85/15 Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend and it was delicious and light, and I don’t even like Chardonnay!  We were told by the chief vintner, Gershon Ferency, that this wine goes well with spicy food, and I am very much looking forward to having a cold bottle one Shabbat with a selection of “salatim,” heavy on the zchug!  We bought a bottle (or two, or three).

I stopped off at the Chocoholique table for my third tipple of the morning.  Established by two olim (new immigrants) from the States, Chocoholique started with a batch of homemade chocolate liqueur which went commercial during the Purim holiday season in 2010.  The stuff they bottle is heaven, a high quality drinking chocolate with a low alcohol content, as they want the flavor of the chocolate to shine through.  I have to admit, I spent a long time at this table.  One of the owners, Marc Gottlieb, claims that the R&D is every bit as fun as you can imagine, but the quality assurance test I ran that Friday morning was a treat!  Some of the flavors offered:  cherry chocolate (tastes just like a cherry cordial bon bon), chile pepper chocolate (I bought a bottle of this stuff to hoard, just for me), cinnamon chocolate, coconut chocolate (a Bounty Bar in a bottle), espresso chocolate (coffee lovers unite!), peanut butter chocolate (an American favorite), peppermint chocolate (the Americans say it tastes like a York Peppermint Patty, the Brits liken it to After Eight chocolates), and the star of the show, intense chocolate.  We bought the giant size bottle of this flavor.  By Saturday night it was almost half gone…

My favorite was the mustard and dill herring

One of the downsides to being married to Ju-Boy is that he hates herring, so much that we really don’t have it in the house.  Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), whenever we’re at a kiddush I go straight for the herring plate to make up for lost time.  But, alas (Miriyummy strikes a dramatic pose with her hand on her forehead), the herring in Israel is not the herring I grew up on, and as my mom would say, pasht nit, it’s just not worth it.  Modechai Zucker to save the day!  He claims that when he made aliya and attended his first kiddush in Israel the whisky was really, really good, but the herring was really, really bad (see what I mean?),  He set out to make the herring worth the kiddush.  And thus was born Kiddush Club.  There are eight varieties of herring made fresh every week.  Mordechai also makes gravlax and an imitation whitefish salad (you can’t get real whitefish in Israel) redolent of Russ and Daughters from the Lower East Side.  Future plans include smoked salmon.  He started out making 2-3 kilos a week of the stuff and now churns out 50 kilos a week of yummy herring.  He started out in his small apartment, and when asked how you have a business like this going in an apartment building he answered that you do a lot of it outside and make sure you dole out the goodies to your neighbors.  The Kiddush Club at this time sells only in the Gush and Jerusalem areas and will travel further for personal orders.

  • Kiddush Club
  • Mordechai Zucker
  • Cell:  972-57-315-4794

Next up to pitch their yummies was The Cookie Crave.  This had to be the most colorful table of the bunch.  We were greeted with cookie bouquets, tarts, sweet nibbles and edible business cards.  You can buy a cookie bouquet for any party or event, edible Rosh Hashana greeting cards and sweet desserts to end any meal.  North American, British and Australian parents of children studying here for a year or two can call The Cookie Crave and have something sweet delivered to their children as care packages.

The Cookie Crave
Tel:  972-2-993-3178
Tel USA:  1-718-360-8625

As if I didn’t get enough of my chocolate fix that morning, we were then presented with Holy Cacao, Israel’s only bean to bar chocolate manufacturer.  Just as a vineyard will use only one varietal of grape to create a quality wine, Zev Stander, the man behind Holy Cacao, will only use one variety of cocoa bean to create an outstanding chocolate bar.  They have their own cocoa bean plantation in Peru and are proud of the close relationship they have with the farmers harvesting their beans.  All the ingredients in the chocolate are organic, from the beans down to the cane sugar.  I tasted the chili chocolate bar (naturally) and while I was disappointed at first not to feel any heat, a few seconds passed and then it hit me just where it should have, in the back of my throat.  Holy (ca)Cow!  The 91% chocolate bar was majorly intense, but fellow blogger Ruti Mizrachi enticed me with a piece of hazelnut chocolate and made sure I ate it the way my mother taught me.  Holy Cacao currently only makes dark chocolate bars and sells their boutique high-end bars in Jerusalem and through special order.

  • Holy Cacao
  • Zev Stander
  • Cell: 972-54-804-1326
  • Tel:  972-2-9913182
  • Order via Facebook page:

Bringing up the tail end of our morning was David Shire and Susan Levin of the Lone Tree Brewery.  In spite of the wonderful weather offered by the Gush, the sun was still strong, and this was summer in the Middle East, after all.  Finishing off the morning with a beer was perfect in my book.  I was given a taste of their Oatmeal Stout with apologies that it was warm, but wait, isn’t that how stout should be drunk?  It was delicious!  Lone Tree uses only 4 all-natural ingredients in their beers:  barley, yeast, hops and water.  Different varieties of each blended in different ways give the beers their different flavors across the spectrum.  And as David tweeted me just this morning, what’s left over after production is fed to the local deer.  We brought home a few bottles of the oatmeal stout and the pale Northern ale.  I had a bottle of the stout this past Friday while I was cooking for Shabbat and it helped make an enjoyable task that much more fun.

After the morning was over and we bloggers were all pleasantly well-fed and happy, some of us continued on to the Gush Etzion winery for more fun with food.  My experiences there will be related in a near-future blog post, with a unique recipe that I got from the chef of the restaurant in the winery.  Watch this space!

Many thanks to Mimi and David for pulling together a wonderful morning! 

About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 31 July 2011, in Alcohol, Bloggers, Bread, Chocolate, Cookies, Fish, Israel, Jerusalem and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Your postings are manyummy.Our own Chaya Miriyummy is the chef around here, in Baltimore. One wonders how Mrs. Mizrachi can continue to be svelt with friends like you.
    A true mystery. My daughter would like to be a chef, but looked into the JCI, and wasn’t too impressed. However, pending not much else to do in Baltimore, she might just move to Israel with her Abba and take the courses anyway. What might you in your cooking wisdom, suggest ? Hoping soon to go east, for the ultimate feast of Seudah Moshiach !


  2. This sounds amazing and every offering something unusual. Yum!


  3. Incrediyummy experience.
    Fascinating flavours, and delicious enticings. I look forward to the ” unique recipe from the winery restaurant chef”…


  4. Heh heh…with me in the back of the car, I’m surprised we didn’t get loster. Thanks for the lovely writeup, Mirj, it really took me back to that sunny morning in the Gush.


  5. rivkah sherr

    how can i get these products in the united states i am particularly interested in the liquors any info on that thanks


  1. Pingback: Bloggers’ Day Out — Gush Etzion Winery — July 2011 « Miriyummy

  2. Pingback: Chatting With Miriyummy: Toby Curwin « Miriyummy

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