Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Derech Hagefen - no ordinary kind of cafe

Derech Hagefen located in Moshav Beit Zayit on the outskirts of Jerusalem is a pretty restaurant located in a pastoral setting with pretty indoor/outdoor seating.  The food is a variation of the usual café fare, with interesting twists on pasta, pizzas and fish.  Derech Hagefen has a sister restaurant located in a greenhouse/nursery in Jerusalem but I found Derech Hagefen's setting and food much more interesting.   A special place that is definitely worth a visit.

Derech Hagefen - 1 Derech Hagefen, Moshav Beit Zayit - 02-650-2044 - Call before visiting as the restaurant is often crowded

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Saidels Bakery Workshop - a hidden treasure

We recently participated in the Maestro of Milano baking workshop in the family-run Saidels bakery located in Karnei Shomron.  There are a variety of workshops offered; this one is recommended for parties with children.  Les Saidel ran the four hour workshop which included preparing breads and pasta, as well as an informative tour of the small but extremely professional facilities.  While not an inexpensive activity, Les' lovely manner combined with a truly fun and elaborate activity made this a very memorable and special activity that pleased both adults and children. 

Saidels Bakery - www.saidels.com

Mavoch Bemek - amazing, no but fun, yes!

Mavoch Bemek located in the Emek Valley is a nice activity on the way up North or a great way to spend a low-key afternoon. While the maze does not rival the more sophisticated and complex ones located in the United States, it did take about an hour to complete, and, surprisingly, everyone in our party, including teenagers, participated.  And unlike more elaborate corn field mazes, one can see above the vegetation so there is no way to really get lost. There is also a nice area to picnic where all sorts of board games are set up. 

Mavoch Bemek - 04-983-0255 or 050-540-4473

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Open House Tel Aviv - בתים מבפנים - Stay Home!

I have attended the annual Open House Tel Aviv (a weekend of open houses) for the past several years.  What was originally a wonderful and well-run event has become a very unpleasant experience as the organizers fail to grapple with expansion.  First, there are the venues which require registration one week prior.  The website provides the date that the registration opens but fails to provide the time (roughly 7:00 AM).  The event organizer let me in on this little secret when one year I stayed up until midnight the day before to register; according to the event organizer, the time is not disclosed on the website in order to prevent the website from crashing (not sure that her answer is the appropriate solution to the problem).  Even with the knowledge that registration begins at 7:00 AM, rarely anyone will succeed in registering for anything.  Events closed out so quickly that I actually am starting to wonder if the system is rigged.  Then, there are the "open events' where one can just show up and wait on line.  The lines literally can run around the block.  However, more aggravating is that holders of the Maximum Tel Aviv card are allowed to jump to the front of the line.  This is acceptable if one or two do that while the regular line continues to move, but at some point I realized that the regular line had come to a standstill as every few minutes one or two cardholders showed up and were allowed to jump to the head. 
Some of the venues are open to the public year-round so there is no reason to visit on the event day.  And any enjoyment from the venues that only open to the public on this particular day is negated by the horrible logistics and lack of proper organization.  The event organizers might take a page or two from Disney amusement parks which have perfected the science of lines and crowd control.  Until then, I will stay in my own comfortable house before attending another Open House!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wake Up School - amazing water sports on Lake Kinneret

We agreed to three hours on a boat trying our hand at wake boarding and wake surfing (think water skiing but with boards instead of skis), despite that none of us had any experience in water sports.  To our pleasant surprise, it was an amazing experience where everyone of all ages not only had tons of fun but succeeded!  The boat was beautiful (just sitting and enjoying the ride on the lake was lovely) and the very professional instructors were patient and helpful.   Most importantly, there is a strong emphasis on safety.  For the younger kids, the boats are also equipped with tubing.  We definitely plan on coming back to this well-run professional establishment.

Wake Up School - Kibbutz Ein Gev boat deck - www.wakeboard.co.il - reserve in advance!


Herbert Samuel at the Ritz Carlton - a culinary masterpiece

As you know by now, I am a foodie who has frequented many of the kosher restaurants in Israel.  I have had many excellent meals over the years, but my recent meal at the newly opened kosher Herbert Samuel in the Ritz Carlton Herzlyia is in a class of its own.  This is the first kosher restaurant for Jonathan Roshfeld, an Israeli celebrity chef.  Words cannot even do justice to the creativity of the dishes, the combination of interesting flavors and the impeccable service.  We asked the waiter to choose dishes that he felt would give us the best dining experience.  We sampled all sorts of beef, poultry and fish, accompanied by a variety of side dishes - nothing disappointed.  The evening was not inexpensive, but it truly was a dining experience that was well worth it.

Herbert Samuel - Ritz Carlton Herzlyia - RESERVATIONS A MUST - 073-203-7707 (hotel desk - 09-373-555)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ariel Sharon Park - garbage made beautiful

The newly opened Ariel Sharon Park was constructed on the Hiriya landfill which was in use from 1952 through 1999.  The park was built using recycled materials and is slowly expanding to become the largest park in the Middle East.  Guides provide interesting explanations regarding the history of the park, as well as the overall problems with the production of waste in the world.  It is a lovely place to walk, picnic or just spend a nice afternoon.  Currently, the park is hosting the Trash People exhibit - a travelling exhibit consisting of life size figures made entirely out of recycled materials.   Even if you don't make it to the exhibit, the park is a worthwhile destination.
Ariel Sharon Park - www.parksharon.co.il
Trash People Exhibit - www.hadran.co.il
NOTE:  Cars are left in the parking lot and buses transport visitors to the site