Culinary trip to the Judean headquarters: eating, traveling, loving – Israel

The area of ​​Mateh Yehuda, so close to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is proof that you do not have to go far to gain peace. At a slight deviation from the main road there are round hills, forests, mountains, fields, vineyards and olive groves. All of these allow you to breathe deeply and slow down. But no less than the landscape, there is also a human encounter here. Because the landscapes of the area attract dreamy people, who have chosen to leave the race (you will not believe how many former hitchhikers live here) and follow in their dreams. And as befits an area steeped in all the goodness of the land, many of these dreams are related to the culinary realm. The Judean Plain is considered the wine region of Israel, and alongside wineries it also has breweries, whiskey distilleries, dairies, bakeries, cafes, restaurants and an infinity of cooks who open their homes to great meals, some leaving many restaurants behind.

For 21 years, the area has hosted the Mateh Yehuda food festival (which celebrated its successful 20th year in Corona), where the festival hosts many culinary events, food tours and special meals. Some places can be reached all year round, usually by prior arrangement. Here are some stations that are especially recommended to visit:

It is fun to start the day in the Aluro orchard in front of the view of the Jerusalem mountains

Aloro: What a wonderful morning

In 1856, Jerusalem stormed around the wedding of Yehoshua Yellin, who was only 13 at the time, to Sarah, the 12-year-old daughter of Yechezkel Yehuda. Such a marriage between Ashkenazi and Sephardi was a scandalous thing in those days. A few years later, Joshua’s father, David, bought an olive grove with the remains of a Byzantine structure within the village of Kalonia in the mountains of Jerusalem, the first private purchase made in the Land of Israel during the Ottoman rule. In the following decades, the building was renovated and turned into a road khan, Yehoshua Yellin planted an orchard in it and in 1890 the couple moved to the place, which was the beginning of the settlement of Motza. Later the house was abandoned, but in 2006 the Council for the Preservation of Sites renovated the house.

In February 2020, just before the eruption of the corona in Israel, the Aloro Cafe was opened in the historic Yellin House, by the couple Orly Cohen Aloro and Ariel Levy, together with Ariel’s sister, the confectioner Hofit Shoham. The scenery, and you probably already understand this, is spectacular – an ancient stone house, a green and well-kept orchard (which is still cultivated by the great-grandson of Sarah and Joshua), a vineyard and the view of the surrounding Jerusalem mountains. In this landscape you can also settle for a mediocre meal, but Aluro’s breakfast is no less perfect.

Unusual breakfast pastries at Beit Yellin

This is not a standard breakfast – it consists of wonderful pastries made by Hofit, based on bound doughs and delicious fillings, such as beets and pears, chard, sweet potatoes, eggplant and tomato, almond cream, tomatoes and olives and my favorite – artichoke and onion. The sweet pastries are no less wonderful – you will find pistachios, almonds, creme brulee, caramelized croissants, tartlets with fruit and more. The menu also includes salads, origin borax stuffed with tahini and hard-boiled egg, and sandwiches called by the names of the first families of origin, such as a rosé sandwich containing Gruyere cheese, charred zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic, green leaves and Grandma Ada’s secret spread.

It’s hard to ignore that this is a very family-run place with an affinity for roots. Many of the family members work at the place, everything is made by hand, including the pastries and spreads and also some of the vegetables are grown in the vegetable beds of the place, with the produce usually organic.

The festival will serve special dishes and on Wednesday afternoons it will be possible to participate in guided tours with pre-registration.

Beit Yellin, roundabout
Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 16: 00-8: 00, Friday 14: 00-8: 00
Phone: 050-9772120

Hofit, the talented confectioner of Beit Yellin. The place also serves great salads

Green: From the greenhouse to the table

Moshav Mata near Beit Shemesh has long been not the agricultural seat of immigrants from Yemen and North Africa as it was in the beginning. But there are still farmers left in the moshav, one of whom is Nissim Bar Sheshet, who creates a different kind of agriculture. He and his partner Atias set up Yerukleh six years ago – a farm that specializes in growing leaves, spices and edible flowers and is designed to cater to upscale restaurants. Among other things, they work with chefs of the best restaurants in Israel, such as Yuval Ben Neria from Taizo and Yossi Sheetrit (formerly Kitchen Garden).

Nissim Bar Sheshet in his greenhouses in Moshav Mata

The tour of the greenhouses of Yerukla is an experience for all the senses. If you thought you would only see green here – think again. In addition to leaves of all kinds, which include not oregano, thyme and hyssop but also butterfly sorrel leaves, red clover leaves, red shiso and silver baskets, the greenhouses also grow a variety of colorful flowers, all for eating. Among other things, you will find carnation flowers here, whose bright purple color makes them attractive for decorating cocktails, Little Star – a flower that is not only beautiful but also has a great nutty taste reminiscent of Jerusalem artichokes, cultured chrysanthemums whose flowers are suitable for decorating cakes and purple sourdough.

At the festival, there will be tours of the greenhouses on Fridays, during which each participant will receive a basket and pick the leaves and flowers that will make up his salad, with fascinating explanations of how to grow the leaves and ways to combine them in the home kitchen. Then sit in nature and eat the salad, when you can also buy desserts and pastries. Each tour lasts about an hour and a half.

Yerukleh – agriculture as a culture
Orchard seat
Phone: 052-2268612

A fresh salad of leaves, herbs and edible flowers in arugula

In Ofer’s yard: A meal with a view

What does it take for a perfect meal, other than good food? Beautiful view, inviting design, friendly service and fine alcohol. These are all the ingredients from which the meal in Ofer’s yard in Moshav Mata is made. Ofer, who previously worked at Intel, decided seven years ago to go with his passion. He quit his job at Intel and set up a brewery in his backyard. With the beer he served food – focaccia, breads and mazets. At some point he stopped making beers, but the food remained, with meat from the smokehouse at the center of the meal. This is how this charming little home restaurant was born.

The yard is not just a yard – it will make you want to settle in it forever. From the wooden terrace there is a wonderful view of the Jerusalem mountains, and even at noon you could enjoy a pleasant breeze. At sunset the view is truly intoxicating. All around there are unique works of art, made by Ofer, and collectibles for the most part. The furniture was built by Ofer with his own hands from recycled materials – the tables, for example, were formerly used as ammunition surfaces by the American army.

Balcony with a view of Ofer’s yard in Moshav Mata Photo: Simi Schauer

The food continues the strict standards of design and atmosphere. Ofer slices slices of freshly baked bread, and includes beets, purple onions, pink lady apples, onion jam and peaches from the garden. The bread is just an opening for a meal that includes many more surprises like wonderful lettuce boats stuffed with salmon and onion jam, great salads, dips and fine meats from the smokehouse, like picania and tomahawk steak. The fine meat is carefully selected by Ofer, from the same pace that provides the meats to renowned chefs such as Ezra Kedem and Assaf Granit. The other raw materials also come from local producers and Ofer takes care of seasonal and local food. Even the cocktails that accompany the food are seasonal (e.g., beetroot and ginger whiskey) and based on alcohol produced in the area.

Juicy chunks of meat in Ofer’s yard

Ofer’s restaurant is open on Saturdays throughout the year, by prior arrangement, for a regular menu that includes locally baked bread, salads and dips, four types of meat from the smokehouse, a green salad with Japanese sauce, root vegetables in the oven and brownies for dessert. At the festival it will also be possible to come on Thursday and Saturday evenings, choose fun dishes from the menu (like lamb chops in an Asian marinade and sip a cocktail in front of the sunset.

Phone: 054-7910480

Ofer’s wife, Galia, is an emotional therapist in a profession that in recent years has become a stylist. As a young mother, she longed for a place he could go to on Friday mornings, enjoy coffee, a workshop and shopping. Three years ago, during a year-long trip to Southeast Asia, Galia studied styling, and then she opened the place she dreamed of in her home – a beautiful studio that serves savory pastries and cakes, coffee and also content – lectures and workshops. There is also a shop where Galia sells clothes and jewelry by designers from the area and also from her private collection. As part of the festival, a female Friday morning will be held on June 18, where Nitzan Agami will be hosted for an Instagram workshop that will teach women how to create a prominent digital presence.

For more information call 054-4755726

In Ofer’s yard. Even the cocktails are seasonal

A Kurdish meal with Miri Mizrahi with dignity

One of the things that sets the Judean Plain Country Food Festival apart is the meals in the homes of home cooks, an initiative that started here long before ventures like Eatwith were set up. This is not another meal in a home-courtyard restaurant – visitors enter the living room or dining area of ​​the house, eat with the hosts and hear stories – just like a Shabbat meal with friends.

Miri Mizrahi respectfully with her wonderful stuffed | Photo: Simi Schauer

One meal that is especially recommended is the Kurdish meal of Miri Mizrahi with dignity, which is served in the living room of her home in a garden apartment in a shared building in Tzur Hadassah. Miri is a Sabra and so are her parents, but her grandparents were born in Kurdistan, bringing with them the recipes as well as traditional cooking techniques. Miri’s grandmother used to pick leaves and herbs for her dishes and knew where to pick everything. She taught Miri the secrets of traditional Kurdish cooking and Miri prepares today the meals she serves the same delicacies – Kuba humusta, Kuba red, yifrah (wonderful stuffed ones, including vine leaves stuffed with rice and cabbage stuffed with rice), baladi beans, Kurdish rice with beet leaves, onions And lemon, macaroni stew, and other delicacies. The highlight is the coba, in which the patties are made from meat and wheat (rather than semolina) and cooked in a wonderfully sour and delicious soup. Miri’s meals are not only very tasty but also very satisfying, and the hearty welcome contributes to the hospitality experience.

Miri will host the festival on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons for a rich meal that includes all the goodies on the table, for groups of at least five diners. On Saturday at noon it is possible to arrive for a hot meal.
Phone: 050-9888070, can only be booked in advance.

Red Cuban Soup by Miri Mizrahi with Dignity Photo: Simi Schauer

The grandparents drink

True, Tzur Hadassah may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of banging your head, but grandparents drink – and admit that name is ingenious – it’s a great place to stock up on fine alcohol. The place was opened by another dreamer – Amir Gotel, when his first granddaughter was born six and a half years ago. Gottel is a story of grace, of French descent. He was a supervising youth at risk in the Ministry of Education but when he reached the peak and felt he had nowhere to go, he decided to promote the wine culture in the area. Gottel is looking for winemakers from the area who make excellent wine and thus helps both the area’s winemakers to reach a wider audience and the audience to enjoy quality local wine. “Just like someone who lives in Alsace will not drink wine from Burgundy,” he explains.

Gotel’s vision and ideals do not end here. Gottel believes that drinking good wine should not cost much, so he does not hold bottles that cost a world a hundred shekels. In addition, the Gottel wine also sells beers from the region’s breweries, whiskey (there are no less than four whiskey distilleries in the Judean headquarters), and other alcoholic beverages, such as the fermented pear cider.

Amir Gotel from the grandparents drinking. Promotes quality wine from the Judean lowlands

All year round you can buy wine and other alcoholic beverages in the small shop under Amir’s house, but at the Amir Festival he does special events together with food rescuers (a community project that works in Jerusalem and its surroundings to reduce food waste). At these events, meals of 5-4 dishes are served, in which the wine is matched to the dishes and you hear fascinating stories by Amir about characters who influenced the Israeli wine world. The events will take place on 10.6, 24.6 and 30.6.

The grandparents drink
Download 316, Tzur Hadassah
Phone: 054-4874898

The Judean Plain Country Food Festival will be held this year from June 9 to July 3 and will include many more meals, tours, workshops and special collaborations. The full festival program can be seen atWebsite of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council.


Source: כתבות – מסע אחר by www.masa.co.il.

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