It is time to travel in this beautiful country, and enjoy the local cuisine. The Jezreel Valley is local Tuscany: green landscape of fields and plants surrounded by mountains, offering a range of car rides and great walks. And you can find here a selection of local initiatives: dairy visitor centers, olive press visitors' centers, vineyards, farms, flower nurseries, fruit picking, field trips and more.
This range of activities naturally calls for restaurants. One of these is Ayelet's (Hamakom shel Ayelet) at the heart of Yokneam. For the past 22 years, Ayelet has been operating a well-known catering service. About 18 months ago she decided to return to cooking 1x1. So she opened her own place in a picturesque building surrounded by a fresh spice herb garden that fills the air with beautiful smells. An extraordinary brunch is served here on Monday-Friday between 9 am and 2 pm. The basic idea, she says, is to surprise guests with a meal of 10 fixed dishes, served one after the other, so that each of them gets proper attention. The produce she uses is of course local, and the meal changes in accordance with seasons.
We started with a refreshing shot of citrus cream made of goat yogurt and orange juice, and decorated with orange fillets, just before the parade of dishes:
Bruschetta with onion confiture and cherry tomato confiture, decorated with chives stems: a beautiful game of sweet and spicy flavors, and a wonderful contrast of crispy toast and smooth confiture. Number 2: fried goat cheese medallions with panko coating served over a slice of apple in balsamic sauce, presenting precise balance between goat cheese aroma and sweet and sour apple and sauce.
And the following 4: pumpkin and beet carpaccio in excellent bright colors of orange and purple, decorated with sunflower seeds; crispy falafel made of ground almonds with spinach and vegetables, in a tahini-tomato sauce; grilled colorful peppers filled with home-made labaneh cheese served over tomato oil, and a sweet and moist mini-brioche with a sweet potato cream cube on top.
We continued with the heavier stuff: an iron pan with Swiss chard shalshuka and Caciocavallo cheese, served with fresh challah bread that lovingly absorbed the shakshuka flavors. We then had a large leaf salad with what have you: lettuce, green leaves, red onions, radishes, cherry tomatoes and nectarines, all wrapped in maple vinaigrette and decorated with crispy granola.
The brunch included free soft drinks, and a hot beverage to finish off, as well as a sweet platter of 5 mini desserts: mini tart filled with crème brulee, rocher fingers, halva with grains and chili truffles.
No standard Israeli breakfast can be compared to Ayelet's brunch. Be prepared for more than an hour of a comfortable eating experience, and be sure to make reservations.
Plus, if you're in the area:
Hila Berkovitch invites you to enjoy health food at Kiryat Tiv'on, in a beautiful house overlooking green views and surrounded by spice herb flower beds, trees and bushes. A professional naturopath, she holds in this beautiful location nutrition and healthy cooking workshops. We had a healthy tasteful vegan lunch: hummus and tofu, lentil spread, Swiss chard pie, baked mushrooms, quinoa salad with spice herbs, and Persian rice with carrots, chickpeas, raisins and almonds.
In-between meals, you should also try the visitors' centers in the area where farm produce is presented: flowers, milk and milk products, honey, spice herbs and more. Learn about olive harvest in a Galilee olive press in Bethlehem of Galilee; it's a beautiful whole family project. You can also include in your visit a vineyard tour, where you can learn about the olive harvest process and taste different types of olive oils.
Enjoy your summer.