Springtime is a very special time of the year, when first the sunflowers, then the citrus and olive trees bloom. The days go by quickly and before we know it, summer is here – so we must use this short window when it is not cold, but not hot, to explore the beauty of the outdoors.
One of my favorite places to visit in the spring is the Western Galilee, which has beautiful flowers and green leaves. The climate is mild, and the scenery is beautiful. One of the best ways to experience all of this is to attend the tenth annual West Galilee Food Festival.
This year, the festival will be held from May 18-20. These three days will be filled with inspiring guided tours, creative workshops and delicious food. Below, you’ll find some of the activities, places to visit and cuisine on offer.
1. Savta Maha, Hurfeish
In the Druze village of Hurfeish, you will find Maha Amar, who caters to Druze visitors. Located 850 meters above sea level and a few kilometers from the Lebanese border, Hurfeish is the northernmost Druze village in Israel. From Maha’s balcony, visitors can look out over the entire Galilee.
During their meal, guests hear personal stories from Maha and other Druze neighbors about the life and customs of the Druze people, especially what it’s like to be a Druze woman.
Maha makes the best hummus in the country, which she serves on her terrace alongside other traditional Druze dishes, such as shulbato – a vegan bulgar pilaf dish; salt; chicken or beef mansaf; a holder for vine leaves; a container for cabbage rolls; and Clubs. For dessert, they offer maamal cakes with aniseed.
Before dinner, Maha’s husband, Amir, a tour guide, leads visitors through the beautiful Hurfeish Street and provides a history of the Druze people of the Western Galilee. One of the places the group visits is the second most sacred site of the Druze community living in Israel: the tomb of the prophet Sablan. Just before the meal, Maha teaches her guests how to prepare Druze-style grape leaves.
The food is kosher.
Cost of travel & foodPrice: 220Details: 072-397-1470
2. Ruti and Gil, Moshav Ya’ara
The first thing you will see when you enter Ruti and Gili’s house is Ruti’s big smile and how Gili looks after her with love. The second thing you will quickly recognize is the wonderful aroma of the dishes that the couple serves in their large house and garden. The eclectic menu includes a hundred dishes, the most popular of which are couscous and Algerian soup, which Ruti learned to make from her mother-in-law.
Ruti said: “My parents worked long hours, so growing up I lived with my grandmother Zohara, whom I called Mama.” Although he was blind, he was an amazing cook. I spent many hours with him in the kitchen. He would tell me what to do, and I would help him peel vegetables, cook meat and pluck artichoke leaves. He saw my work by doing everything to see if I did well.”
On the table at Ruti and Gili’s house, we found five dishes: cauliflower mafrum and potato mafrum, as well as balls made of fish, chicken and beef. Ruti and Gili prepare lunch and dinner that guests can buy and take back to their accommodation and breakfast. In addition, they have stories in their homes of all kinds of fun.
During the weekend celebration, Ruti and Gili will be having dinner at their home, which will be followed by concerts by local singers and musicians.
Cost of dinner & concertPrice: 145Details: 072-394-1140
3. Road Trips, Achziv
North of RTV Extreme Off-Road Excursions in the region of Achziv/Rosh Hanikra is a family business run by the families Ophir and Michal, who have recently replaced their old vehicles with new and safer Razer vehicles.
Over the years, Ophir was very fond of sports and off-road vehicles. Because of his contagious enthusiasm, Michal and his brother Roey joined him in the business, along with his father, Aryeh, who left his job to help.
The staff helps guests plan a guided tour of Achziv Beach that takes them close to the sand, mountains and valleys. Each tour includes a stop to enjoy the view and drink coffee or tea. During the festival, they will conduct evening tours for the whole family.
Price: NIS 600 for two people Razor. NIS 800 for a Razor for eight peopleDetails: 072-394-1145
An Arab Christian village in the Western Galilee, Mi’ilya is located on a hill between Nahariya and Ma’alot. At the top of the hill, you will find the remains of a Crusader fortress, which is evidence that Crusader soldiers controlled the area and the roads in the area since the Crusader era. The fort is known as the Chateau du Roi (House of the King), and Mi’ilya houses are built on top of this old fort.
We joined a guided tour with Ayelet Bar Meir, who took us on a tour of the village, starting at the beautiful old church, and then to the restaurant below, where the remains of the past were excavated. After that, we were led to a man’s house, where inside was found a carved painting from the Byzantine period, and apparently it was in the basement of a church.
Bar Meir will be leading the Wine Route Tour at the spring festival, where he will bring participants to Julia Winery, a boutique winery run by agronomist George Araf. Araf offers delicious wines of its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Viognier wines, along with cheese plates and light refreshments.
Cost of the tour & tastingPrice: 140Details: 072-397-1232
Translated by Hannah Hochner.