The Bible called it a land flowing with “milk and honey.” Today, with populations from many lands who have all brought their culinary traditions, Israel overflows with many more delicious foods.
By Dani & Arielle Klein
It can be hard to know where to start exploring the country’s food and wine. This is where tour guides come in, that is food tour guides.
On our last two trips to Israel, we were privileged to enjoy two tours: a wine tour in the Judean Hills and a hummus tour in Tel Aviv. Both were unbelievable experiences that allowed us to see places that are off the beaten path. Israel has a flourishing wine industry, producing some high quality boutique wines. Our tour started in a vineyard, where we saw how the grapes grow and were explained the process of harvesting them. As we hiked through, we were taken to an ancient wine press that is said to date back to the time of King David.
After our history of wine, we went to the winery, where we were able to see the juxtaposition of modern day winemaking in steel barrels, and then aging in oak casks, all done by those living on the kibbutz where the vineyard is located. We were able to sample the wine, and then visited another winery. It was on a kibbutz that has dairy as well as a winemaking operation and served us tasty fresh cheese with the delicious wine.
I learned a tremendous amount about the Israeli wine industry as well as how to properly taste wine. It was a
great experience that left me with a wiser palate.
This specific tour was led by Esther Cohen, the founder of MyIsraelWineTours.com, which offers numerous winery
and other culinary tours. While they run tours of kosher and non-kosher wineries, we only went to kosher wineries Tzuba and Tzora, both, of which are a short drive from Jerusalem.
No trip to Israel is complete without a taste of hummus. A hummusia is a specialty hummus restaurant, and
they can be found are all over Israel. There is a lot of disagreement on how to make it, serve it, and eat it. Some
like it with a strong tahini flavor, others like it mixed with fūl (cooked and mashed fava beans); some like it chunky,
others creamy. On our hummus tour we were able to try it all. We tried fūl for the first time, which didn’t appeal
to us, but also warm hummus which was incredible. We
also learned the way real Israelis eat hummus, with slices of raw onion, not pita. Our tour guide, Inbal Baum,
who runs tours as DeliciousIsrael.com, offers all sorts of food trails, leading to some great detours, like a little hole
in the wall bakery in Jaffa, run by a Syrian Jewish man making all sorts of delicious cookies from family recipes.
We stopped at two hummusias in little places off the beaten track, the Jaffa antiques market, and the Yemenite Quarter in Tel Aviv. Esther also took us to a fabulous store that sold all sorts of natural products from the Galilee. We were able to first taste products in the shop and subsequently purchased a few gourmet spreads and dips we knew we’d never be able to find back in New York. One of the things that surprised us both was how surprisingly delicious halva spread is despite us both being indifferent to actual halva. We polished off that jar
not too long after bringing it back home.
Both food tours were incredible and such a great way to explore Israel. We would highly recommend that you
look into food tours as a way to eat and explore your way through the land, history, culture, and flavors of Israel.