Sure, France, Italy and California are well known for their
culinary appeal to tourists, however, some might be surprised to
know that Israel also offers a thriving gastronomic culture on the
rise. Boutique dairies stud the country, and wineries of growing
repute gear their operations toward thirsty visitors. And culinary
pleasures extend to the cities, as well.
What’s more, all of the places mentioned here are kosher. So, in
the words of the proverbial Jewish mother, come to Israel to “Eat,
eat! You’re skin and bones.”
Though a modern city, food culture in Tel Aviv displays charming
Old World characteristics. Carmel Market, the city’s largest fresh
market, is a bustling center of hawkers and shoppers of the
country’s wares. Radishes the size of small cabbages,
three-foot-long leeks and abundant bouquets of fresh herbs burst
with life. Gawk, but don’t dawdle shoppers here mean business, and
a lingering tourist is apt to get jostled.
Follow this excursion with a visit to neighboring Levinsky
Market, the city’s old Persian quarter, rife with stunning
offerings of plump dried fruits, fresh spices
and confectionary traditions (think delectable hand-made almond
Fifteen miles from downtown Tel Aviv is Eretz Zavat Halav (Land
of Flowing Milk and Honey) Dairy. This mushav a privately owned
farm, as opposed to a socialist kibbutz is owned by the Markovitz
family, makers of fine sheep milk cheeses. In one of many bucolic
images one will witness in this country, the Markovitz’s small herd
can be seen quietly grazing under the shade of a crooked tree.
Overlooking the scene is Aharon Markovitz’s boutique dairy,
cheese shop and eatery. Inside his attractive, earthy store, a
knotty wooden table is covered in bowls of marinated olives,
vegetables and cheeses. The main draw blooming wheels and hunks of
Markovitz’s aged cheeses wink out from refrigerated cases.
Rather than emulate the cheeses of more established
cheese-making countries like France and Italy, Markovitz chose to
pioneer what he considers cheeses unique to Israel. Some are sharp
and crumbly, others are creamy and round in flavor; one cheese is
aged in grape leaves, another contains chewy dried figs but all are
Sample the cheeses, cured and fresh vegetable salads and
homemade bread at the dairy’s excellent semi-enclosed dining area
overlooking the grounds, which serves brunch and lunch.
In the north of the country, in the Golan Heights, the region of
Israel bordering Syria and Lebanon, visitors can experience
incredible rolling green hills and steep valleys studded with
twisted olive trees. The region is also home to Israel’s Golan
Heights Winery, makers of Yarden wine, and its younger spin-off,
Galil Mountain Winery. Tours and wine tastings are offered at both
Also in the north, on the Sea of Galilee, is the Scots Hotel in
Tiberius. With gorgeous seaside views, the restored castle-like
19th-century basalt stone buildings are ideal accommodations for
travelers in the region.
Less then 10 miles away is Barkanit Dairy near Mount Tabor,
which produces a variety of sheep and goat milk cheeses from its
600-count herd. These include French-style chevres, manchego-like
sheep’s milk cheese and half-goat half-sheep milk combinations.
These represent just a few of the culinary delights to be
experienced throughout Israel. After all, they don’t call it the
Land of Milk and Honey for nothing.