The 22nd Judean Hills/Mateh Yehudah Food Festival.
The 22nd Judean Hills Food Festival will take place from 3rd to 26th March 2022 and features culinary events and home hospitality in various locations in the Judean Hills, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Hosts include people serving Arabic, Argentinian, French, Georgian, Greek, Indian, Italian, Kurdish, Moroccan, and Turkish food. Events take place in fields, vineyards, breweries, and more.
Below is a selection of the events taking place during the festival.
One of the greatest things to come out of the pandemic is the popularity of picnics and it seems that the trend is set to continue. Picnic baskets are an ideal way to enjoy good food in the beautiful countryside in the Judea Hills. Here are just some of the picnic options as part of this year’s festival:
- Picnic baskets in Ein Kobi near Tzur Hadassah made by Alona (Not Kosher) include spicy shakshuka, focaccia, dips, and salads. Picnics are available on Thursdays and Fridays, call 052 669 1878 to order.
- Netanel Mizrahi of Date Bateva will host a Sambusak pop-up (Vegetarian) in Harel, offering four flavors of Sambusak, chickpea, mushroom, forest greens, and Indian potato curry. The pastries can be enjoyed on Netanel’s terrace overlooking the countryside or as a picnic in Netanel’s favorite spots in the area. The pop-up is open on Shabbat from 10 am to 4 pm, call 052 627 2830 to book and for the full address.
- Hanachtom Bakery (Dairy no supervision) in Kibbutz Netiv Halamed Hei will be preparing picnic baskets for collection on Fridays during the festival from 10 am to 1 pm. As well as their signature bread, picnics will include sheep and cow cheese, olives, grape leaves, stuffed cabbage, salads and spreads, cakes and cookies, granola, and homemade jams. Call 052 432 9085 to order.
- Plancha 56 To Go (Not Kosher) is a picnic basket filled with Argentinian grilled and smoked meat in Moshav Beit Zayit.
- For the festival, Sivan’s Picnic Baskets (Vegetarian) will provide gourmet baskets filled with cheese, wine, and other goodies. Picnics can be adapted for children, gluten-free and vegan, and will include a map of places to sit and eat around Kibbutz Nachshon. Picnics are available Friday and Shabbat from 9 am to 1 pm, booking is recommended 050 395 4544.
- Tamar Mayorkes (Dairy not supervised) sells picnic baskets in Moshav Beit Zayit filled with her specialty pastries such as kada, sambusak, along with salads, shakshuka, dips, and desserts. The baskets are available on Friday and Shabbat and include suggestions for perfect picnic locations around Beit Zayit reservoir. Collection or Delivery in the local area, 054 251 2712.
- A Turkish Friday brunch (Vegetarian) picnic in the garden of Livnat and Avi Ohayon (Dairy not supervised) in Moshav Aminadav.
- Chocolate-making workshop by Caja Chocolaterie (Kosher) held at Saba’s Gallery in Moshav Zaffirim.
- A cooking workshop by Meshek Ofaime and Shai Tsabari at the House of Wheels (Tzohar) in Moshav Ibn Sapir, an organization that helps youth and adults with physical disabilities.
- Rolls and Foccacia Making workshop by Breadly in Moshav Srigim Lion on 22nd March.
- A Persian vegan cooking workshop at The Container House on Moshav Luzit in the Ella Valley.
- A Culinary Treasure Hunt (Vegetarian) around the Judean Hills involves finding the various locations along the tour to collect coffee and pastries, a picnic basket, sourdough bread with dips, and ends with a coffee workshop and dessert. Call or WhatsApp Inbar 052 696 9449 for more information.
- A foraging tour of local plants in the Judean Hills guided by Nura Hertz (Vegetarian), followed by a meal in Nura’s garden (or house if it rains). The tours will take place on Fridays 11th and 25th March from 11 am to 2 pm, call Nura 054 662 1255for more details.
- Taste of the Bible is a four-hour foraging tour with Milka Moses Shavit on Thursdays during the festival starting at 9 am. The tour starts and ends at Caravanserai Milka, and includes cheese and butter making, ending with a shepherd’s meal of matzah, butter, cheese and salad from the collected leaves.
- Village To Table is a cultural and culinary tasting tour in the village of Ein Rafa, an Arab village near Abu Ghosh. The tour includes tastings at two homes and three restaurants. Call Yoav Rotem for more details, 052 454 2787.
- This year’s festival will include four culinary tours each Friday, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm for NIS 180 per person:
- Doing the Local Market – Friday 4th March, including the Winter Market and wine tastings at the Ella Valley winery, Abba’s Cakes, Lily’s Kurdish Kubbeh and Stuffed Vegetables.
- Female Sign – Friday 11th March, including a Turkish-Greek breakfast at Chez Rina, Arikshaa
- Purim Tour – Friday 18th March, around Tzur Hadassah, including Dodah Leah’s Moroccan food, Alona’s Kavkazi Pastries and a variety of wine tastings.
- Flavors from European Roots in Israeli Color – Friday 25th March, including Life in the Levant hosted by a British Muslim in Ein Rafa, Hollander Distillery (Kosher), and Soup in the Mist.
Winery and Distillery Events
- Gizo Winery (Not Kosher) wine tastings are available with advanced booking throughout the festival.
- Hollander Distillery (Kosher) offers tasting tours by prior arrangement Sunday to Friday in Beit Meir.
- Kadma Winery (Not Kosher) hosts winery tours and wine tastings, accompanied by cheese platters, fresh salads, and desserts.
- Kerem Barak Winery will host neighboring Chef Sivan for an evening of wine, tapas, and music in Moshav Bekoa for the opening of the festival on the 3rd March from 4 to 10 pm. The winery will also host brunch every Friday during the festival featuring their PET NAT naturally sparkling wine. Booking is required 052 628 8591.
- Mettler Winery (Dairy not supervised) offers brunch along with tastings of their wine, and jam on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 am to 3 pm. The winery will be launching its 2019 wines during the festival and will also offer pre-ordered picnic baskets.
- Navot Winery & Pepo Brewery (Kosher) is open for lunch with wine and beer tastings on Fridays. Booking is essential.
- Nevo Winery (Kosher) hosts a variety of events including an Argentinian grill on 10th March
and a wine and music night on 31st March.
- Pe’er Winery (Kosher) will host wine tastings with food throughout the festival, advanced booking is required, 08 375 0054.
- Raviv Winery (Kosher) will host tours and tastings in their boutique family winery in Moshav Nes Harim.
- Soreq Winery (Not Kosher) hosts an open day for the last Friday and Saturday of every month and the March event will take place during the festival.
- Ulu Winery (Not Kosher) offers wine tastings and food including cheeses, salads, and hot pastries, as well as picnic baskets on Shabbat. The winery is open Thursday evening and Friday and Saturday daytime.
Here is more information on all the wineries in the Mateh Yehuda region open during the festival, and here is a post about my favorite wineries in the area, Top 10 Winery Visits Around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Events at Local Restaurants & Venues
- Arikshaa24th March and a party at the end of the festival on Shabbat afternoon 26th March.
- BeHatzer Shel Ofer (Not Kosher) in Moshav Matta hosts smoked meat events on Shabbat at 1 pm.
- A Greek Tavern evening will take place on 10th and 31st March in Moshav Tarum.
- Ishlechem (Kosher) will host a Fougasse Carnival in Moshav Taoz every Thursday and Friday of the festival. The French sourdough pastry will be available with a variety of fillings including olives, chili and poppy seeds, mixed seeds, and turmeric and black sesame seeds. The bakery also serves coffee and other baked goods on Fridays.
- Adi Yogev of Maase Yadayim (Dairy not supervised) will host a lunch every Friday of the festival, in an Oliver Grove in Moshav Avi’ezer in the Ella Valley. Each lunch is limited to 25 people on a long table and includes a variety of cooked fish and vegetables.
- Neve Shalom Guest House (Not Kosher), near Latrun, will host a rural food market every weekend during the festival, Friday and Shabbat, 10 am to 4 pm.
- Reshta (Not Kosher) Arabic restaurant in Ein Rafa will host special musical evenings on Thursday nights during the festival, featuring violin, Oud, and serve homemade sweet pastries by the women of the village.
- An Arabic feast at Salwa’s House (Not Kosher) in Ein Naqquba.
- A Table from Kurdistan is a meal hosted by Miri Mizrachi in Tzur Hadassah using family recipes from her mother and grandmother. The meal will include homemade pickles, Kubbeh Hamusta, Siska, and Kurdish rice with beet leaves.
- Danielle’s Pizza Oven is a pop-up Neopolitan pizza restaurant in Danielle’s garden in Moshav Tal Shahar. The restaurant will be open Fridays from 11 am to 2 pm and Shabbat from 12 to 4 pm. Booking required 054 654 7155.
- From Indonesia to Israel is an event hosted in Beit Zayit by Judith in memory of her grandmother who traveled from Iraq to Singapore and Indonesia. She will serve a traditional vegan Indonesian meal interspersed with family traditions and stories.
- Flavors from the Atlas Mountains (Kosher not supervised) is hosted by Rachel Deri on Friday lunchtimes from 11 am to 2 pm. The meal includes chicken with fennel, meatballs, chicken patties, seasonal pickles, salads, challah rolls and biscuits. Reservations are required and food can be ordered for takeaway.
- Life in the Levant is a traditional Arabic village meal hosted by local couple Jasmine and Musa in their English country garden. The meal incorporates Musa’s local traditions with Jasmine’s British roots and includes local cheese, mezze of salads, vine leaves from their garden and British apple crumble made from local apples.
- A 6-course smoked-meat tasting meal at Meat Time (Not Kosher) in Moshav Ibn Sapir, includes asado, smoked vegetables and brisket with pepper jam.
- Provence in the Judean Mountains (Dairy not supervised) is a French breakfast (9.30-11.30 am) and brunch (12 – 2 pm) on Fridays during the festival, by Catering Natalie on Moshav Nehusha near Beit Guvrin.
- An authentic Cochini Indian meal at Tova’s Home (Kosher not supervised). Tova and Meir Simon will host guests for Friday lunches during the festival, serving spicy-sweet chicken, spicy meat, lentil patties, masala dosha, pungent mini chutneys, and a tapioca dessert.
Purim Culinary Events
A variety of culinary events will be held during the festival in celebration of Purim. These events include:
- A Purim feast in the Yad Hashmona Hotel (Not Kosher).
- An Indian-themed Purim celebration with food, music and poetry at Chez Rina (Not Kosher) in Moshav Taoz. The food is provided by Arikshaa
- A Georgian vegetarian Purim feast at Kadma Winery (Not Kosher) in Kfar Uriah.
- Baking workshops at Abba Cakes (Not Kosher) in Kibbutz Netiv Halamed Heh.