However, and despite the crisis, closure and zigzags in government decisions, new places continue to open up, food entrepreneurs continue to offer what they know best, and the food scene continues to exist. At least for now.
One of the industries that has flourished in recent years – and since the beginning of the epidemic in particular – is hospitality in rural areas – in small and modest personal restaurants, in houses, wineries and also in carts and stalls by the side of the road.
In honor of the festival, we traveled to the mountains of Jerusalem to take a closer look at what is delicious there, where to visit and how the beautiful Corona period passes through this beautiful area.
Nurit Hertz from Moshav Mata is familiar with the concept of “reinventing yourself”: in the days before the Corona, she was a guide who offered pick-up tours in the Jerusalem mountains, food tours in the Old City and chef meals at home, based mainly on local produce and what can be collected in the area.
During the corona when all her work was shut down, but the need to feed three children was still there, she began marketing special packages to the house, including produce from the Judean Mountains – edible flowers, vinaigrette, Zeltzer cheeses, breads from a local bakery, Nebo Winery wine and herbs she collected In the mountains: “During the corona I really crashed, I tried food deliveries but it did not work for me and also depressed me a lot, because to bring my food in a closed box with a mask, it’s not me, and it’s the exact opposite of what I want to convey to people.”
Today she collects the fragments and once a week on Mondays she holds a wine and tapas evening with her in the magical courtyard, which looks like a fairy forest. All the dishes are vegetarian-vegan and consist of creative and delicious tapas (NIS 52-24 each). Alongside the food she pours wine from the area and creative cocktails no less than the food.
There is a minimum order of 120 shekels per person and during the meal you can taste tortillas stuffed with beets; Eggplant and almond feta in sage sauce and pickled capers; Roasted okra with roasted yellow zucchini, blush and burnt tomato; Fakus with hot pepper, date cherries, apricot, rigella and yogurt; Bruschettas with charcoal chips cheese, mizuna and mulberry; Roasted bloody zucchini with bulgarian and sage streams; Figs with goat, balsamic and mizuna leaves.
The yard where the host runs is divided into areas and has several levels, so you can maintain social distance and enjoy the air of the Jerusalem mountains and the pleasant energy of the host that will put you in a slightly different mood.
At the entrance to the abandoned moshav stands a beautiful coffee cart by Hila Carmeli – on the one hand it is painted in intense turquoise, and on the other hand it has lace curtains. This cart is called “Hila’s Corner” and sells coffee and sandwiches, homemade nut pie (NIS 15), huge cookies and croissants that can be filled with a homemade vegetable omelet or shashlik (NIS 25).
“A lot of people managed to make a living from cooking during the difficult period of the closure but in an abandoned moshav every home has rare cooks and delicious homemade food that has no competitors, so deliveries were not made here in the area, simply because there was no need,” Carmeli explains.
So after her stroller was disabled for three months and she had a hard time supporting her three children, she finally reopened and placed her coffee cart again at the entrance to the seat. Now all that remains is to hope that the fragile reality will not be overturned.
Not far from Moshav Zanoah, in the Arab village of Ein Rafa, a restaurant was opened a year ago, and even in this village, like Moshav Zanoah, food deliveries are not really a solution to the livelihood problem. The restaurant was set up by Naa Takash, a native of the village, where she works with two of her children. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the family’s private home, and during the closure it took advantage of the time to rest, like many. “The village has a total of 1,000 residents and everyone has a traditional food house,” she says. “Our losses mainly amounted to the loss of raw materials, because fortunately we do not have to pay rent, so we came out of the crisis relatively cheaply.”
Outside there is an open and spacious sitting area where you can sit and enjoy a portion of Shanklish oven – a large flat pita and thick with spicy Shanklish cheese that she produces herself (55 shekels). By prior reservation, you can also enjoy makluba and sanya here, and on Fridays and Saturdays, Tekesh also prepares special foods such as meatballs wrapped in vine leaves in tomato sauce. For dessert do not give up a refreshing hibiscus drink alongside a knafa in a pottery vessel where the cheese is salty and Kaddif hairs are very sweet, and together they create an amazing contrast that cannot be detached from.
Inside an abandoned seat hides a “Moscow” brewery. This brewery was established by Amir Lev and his wife Iris Lev, and in addition to beer, they also produce gin spiced with Eretz Israel plants: coriander, etrog, juniper, myrtle, olive leaves and pine cones, whiskey and several types of rum. One of them is aged for five years, and another is seasoned with shatta pepper, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and cloves.
Amir and Iris Lev are a convert couple from Beit Shemesh, who are raising four children and the brewery is their entire livelihood. “Imagine ordering a boutique beer from a brewery, and then Iris arrives with a headdress and a skirt below your knee and unloads your crates by the door,” Lev laughs.
Their brewery has been operating for eight years, and there is also a small bar, where on religious and secular Thursdays they drink beer side by side to the sounds of rock music. Along with the beer (you should taste the new Ipa and the smoked beer here), Iris serves a Sloppy Joe sandwich in a baguette (NIS 45).
“It’s a business where we both work from morning to night. Do we also make a living from it? That’s a different story,” says Lev. “Our beers are marketed in quite a few restaurants and many of them could not pay the debt, and probably will not pay either, so we took out a state-guaranteed loan, took out three workers to the IDF, and now all we have left is to hope for the best. “With all the trouble, we are optimistic, because it is impossible to throw everything we have done so far in the trash,” he concludes.
But the owners of the “Mosco” brewery are not the only ones who survived thanks to the deliveries: Just before the outbreak of the corona, a magical cafe and bakery called “Aloro” opened in the Judean headquarters, and he too, like “Mosco”, survived thanks to one of the owners running around all day.
The cafe is located in a conservation complex and belongs to the couple Orly Cohen Aloro and also to Ariel Levy and Hofit Shoham the confectioner. Everyone works at the place together, and the kids help with serving and washing the dishes.
Nothing there prepares you for the intoxicating smell of the place, which is already smelled at the entrance to the complex, which includes an inner courtyard with a coffee stand and a number of tables.
“We opened the place in February and I know what a restaurant is because I grew up in restaurants,” says Shoham, “and yet nothing prepared us for what happened in Corona. We survived thanks to a lot of deliveries, and it worked great because people from the area were very supportive and wanted to help.” Today, Ariel made the deliveries. ”
Are you ready for another closure?
“If there is a closure again then deliveries will be made again, there is no choice and no other way – if we went through it for the first time, we will go through it again. We will not give up because we enjoy what we do”
“If there will be a closure again then deliveries will be made again, there is no choice and no other way – if we went through it for the first time, we will go through it again. It is not that we had a normal work routine before that, because a few weeks after opening all the hustle and bustle started “We give up because we enjoy what we do and we feel that there is a supportive community in the area. All the people of the moshavim in the area are like a kibbutz, connected and accommodating.”
When you get here grab a corner at one of the tables in the yard, and order one of the rare pastries such as a puff pastry stuffed with creme brulee (NIS 18) or a sourdough sandwich that hides zucchini, Gruyere cheese and sun-dried tomatoes (NIS 42).
The highlight of the menu is a double tasting dish, which includes a selection of breads and pastries such as a parmesan stick, cheeses, pickled eggplant salad, leaf salad, pickled mushrooms, burnt eggplant cream and rare jams – all homemade, meticulously small and delicious (NIS 88).
Few have been able to initiate new initiatives during the crisis, and even fewer have been successful with their own initiatives. Zotti, a chef’s restaurant located in the Kiryat Anavim complex, was in the early stages of construction when the plague broke out, and during the closure the place was under renovation. Luckily, the restaurant has a huge outdoor seating area, and the interior space is large enough to maintain a social distance between diners.
Zotti is a kosher dairy restaurant headed by chef Adar Kaplan Moore, with a non-binding atmosphere and a seasonal menu full of entrees such as smoked seasonal fish with tea (52 shekels), pizza for stone made of thin and crunchy dough (62 shekels) and a herb salad served with yogurt .
If you ask Kaplan Moore if it’s not scary to embark on a new adventure on days like this, she will honestly answer that her knees are shaking but she is still galloping forward.
One of the intriguing things that happened during the corona time is that people who never thought of cooking, suddenly found comfort and a livelihood in food. One example of this is the Ohayon family from Moshav Aminadav: the family owns the textile industry, whose activity has decreased significantly during the Corona period, and the solution is in hospitality. The family remembered that at last year’s rural food festival in Mateh Yehuda, people loved the picnic baskets they made from home-made delicacies, so they started offering small groups a Turkish brunch during Friday and Saturday, during which dishes like arais made from a mixture of kebab and lamb fat and a Turkish kebab for dips and a double dessert platter (NIS 120 per person for a full meal).
“Our textile shop was closed for three months and projects we would do every summer in educational institutions were difficult, so we decided to open our house to people who want to come and stay, because during this period it is less convenient in restaurants,” concludes Ohayon.
So despite all the upheavals, and after a long period of uncertainty, a rural food festival of Mateh Yehuda will take place on August 22-5. On Wednesdays and Thursdays during the festival, cooks and hosts will open their home in the afternoons, offering hospitality and special dishes, culinary tours, tasting evenings and more.
Nurit Hertz – Abandoned seat, by prior arrangement on Instagram nuracooking or 052-8333844, not kosher
Hila’s corner – at the entrance to Moshav Zanoah, 050-4651100, Sunday-Thursday 16: 00-9: 00, non-kosher
Moscow Brewery – Moshav Zanoah, 052-2906020, at Wise: Moscow Brewery, arrival by prior arrangement, the bar is open on Thursday evenings from 19:00, kosher
Shanklish – Kfar Ein Rafa, 072-2811738, at Wise: Shanklish, Monday-Thursday 15: 00-8: 30, Friday-Saturday 21: 00-8: 30, non-kosher
Aloro – Beit Yellin Motza, 050-9772120, Sunday-Thursday 18: 00-8: 00, Friday 16: 00-8: 00, kosher dairy without a certificate
Zotti – Kiryat Anavim, 02-6244959, Monday-Thursday 23: 30-9: 00, Friday 16: 30-9: 00, kosher dairy
Turkish Brunch of the Ohayon Family – Moshav Aminadav, by appointment, 054-2868162