Introducing Culinary Tours in Israel: Cooking instruction, fine dining, and the art of wine, olive oil and cheese

    Culinary tourism is a relatively new industry in Israel, yet its popularity is growing.  As food enthusiasts pursue unique and memorable food and wine experiences, Israel is emerging as a choice destination combining ethnic and modern cuisine and reflecting a vibrant cultural diversity.

    Whether you are an experienced chef, a budding gourmand or simply enjoy food and wine, nothing can bring you closer to the essence of Israel than our fantastic hands-on cooking vacations. Our culinary tours take you beyond the usual tourist experience to the real Israel where food expresses the depth and diversity of the land itself.  Explore a wide range of cuisines as you tour Israel and learn how to create delicious, authentic Israeli dishes yourself.

    About Israel With Moshe Culinary Tours

    We love food and cooking! Our culinary tours reveal the heart and soul of Israel though its kitchen doors as together we explore the lifestyles, customs, family traditions, history and politics of the land and its people. Our week-long cooking vacations start in magical Jerusalem, move on to green Galilee and finish in vibrant Tel Aviv. We offer this unique tour for small groups of 4 to 12 participants. The tours occur once a month, from Sunday to Sunday, and include food market excursions, cooking workshops, casual and fine dining, and visits to wine, olive oil and cheese makers.

    Our program includes:

    – 8 days/ 7 nights hotel accommodations, based on double occupancy

    – Small groups of 4 to 12 participants

    – English speaking licensed tour guide

    Deluxe air conditioned van/mini-coach transportation

    – Daily full Israeli breakfast

    – 3 hands-on cooking classes with leading chefs, tailored to participants’
    interest and ability, followed by a meal of the dishes prepared in class.

    – 4 dinners and one lunch in Israel’s best restaurants

    – Visits to selected produce markets

    – Wine tasting tours in the Galilee region or the Golan Heights

    – Excursions to olive oil and cheese makers

    – Tours of Jerusalem’s Old City and other historic sites

    – Customized tours are available upon request.

    Rates

    Tours range from approximately $2900 to $3500 based on number of participants and double occupancy.  The rates do not include airfare and travel insurance, which may be purchased separately or through our agency.

    Join us for a wonderful week of food, fun and discovery in Israel! Look at the detailed itinerary here

    Cooking Vacation: ISRAELI CULINARY COOKING EXPERIENCE

      Israel is the center of three major religions, the cross point of cultures and habits, the place where the ancient history, tradition and archaeology all come together, creating a melting pot of humanity. Predominantly Jewish, the population of Israel can trace their roots to the Eastern and Western Europe, the Americas, North Africa, India and the Mediterranean. Thrown together, the Jews and the Arabs (Moslem and Christian alike), Bedouins and the Druze represent a unique variety of ethnicities and traditions, making Israel an inspiring and exiting destination for the people eager to experience the multicultural nature of the land and the people.

      The diversity, and consequently the eating habits, attract individuals, food savvy enough to try something not ordinary, relax in a warm, friendly and easygoing atmosphere of their hosts, and explore the historic sites, going back thousands of years.

      Since the declaration of the State Israel in 1948, the ancient dietary law, Kashrut, has been imposed in public supermarkets, bakeries, and majority of the hotels, to emphasize the Jewish identity of the country and to facilitate the observant citizens and guests alike. You will learn about these laws and experience them in your cooking session. This intense diversity, as well as the controversy, attracts the very curious culinary professionals, who wish to understand the experiment and creativity, with the ever-present Mediterranean flavor, thrown for good measure.

      Wine is another matter. Growing and enjoying wine has been essential for the Jews since the biblical times. Modern grape planting started only in the late 19th century by the East European Jews and by the baron de Rothschild. The international recognition of the country’s superb wine came much later. Like Australia and South Africa, Israel is taking its place among the best in the winemaking industry. Several wineries have won their prestigious international awards and have become well known and thought after in the world.

      There is another, very small and exclusive industry – goat cheese producing-well on the rise, and marked as excellent by some cheese producers in Europe. And of course, the olive oil, widely used in the Mediterranean cooking as such, and among the population of Israel in particular.

      Our tour will give you only the taste of what can be found and experienced in Israel. We hope to make your trip an unforgettable one.

      A week of an unforgettable and tasty experience awaits you.

      Day 1, Sunday

      Arrival at Ben Gurion airport. Meeting and assistance through customs by our representative and transfer to your hotel in Jerusalem. After checking in and refreshing up, join us for a cocktail followed by dinner and wine to start out culinary experience and introduce you to the herbs and spaces of Israel.

      Overnight: Hotel in Jerusalem

      Day 2, Monday

      After a full Israeli style breakfast, at your hotel, meet Chef Moshe Basson, famous for his specifically “Jerusalemite” food (kosher). Accompany him to Machaneh Yehudah market, for a brief explanation of the produce displayed there. Under the Chef’s guidance and instructions, cook your own lunch and enjoy it, accompanied by an excellent Israeli wine. After lunch drive to Mt. Olives for a breathtaking panoramic view of the City of Jerusalem. Enter the Old City through the Lion’s Gate, walk along the Via Dolorosa with its 14 Stations of the Cross and arrive at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the holiest shrine in the Christendom. Return to your hotel for a short break and in the evening drive to the home of Hila Solomon, an establishment called Spoon, for the exquisite dinner served in the dining room of the house built over 120 years ago. It is only by private booking and is quite unique. After dinner return to your hotel for overnight.

      Overnight: Hotel in Jerusalem

      Day 3, Tuesday

      After breakfast, enter the Old City again, this time from the Zion gate and into the Jewish Quarter. Walk through the Cardo, the old Roman road of Jerusalem, leading into the Wailing Wall, the holiest place for the Jewish people. After a visit to the wall, continue to Ben Yehuda Street, the main artery of Jerusalem shops with the souvenirs you can take with you home and nice trendy coffee shops. This area was built by Teddy Kolek, the late legendary Mayor of Jerusalem, as a tiny replica of his native Vienna. Continue to the Zeltzer goat farm in Sataf. There are over 200 goats in the farm, supervised by a few employees, servicing them and the goat cheese production. The outstanding cheese has received many international awards, some in Italy. Our light lunch will be the cheese tasting with the fresh farm bread. On to the Judean Hills to visit Domain du Castel, one of the most picturesque Israeli wineries; several of its wines, considered to be the finest in Israel. On to kibbutz Harel for a visit to Clos de Gat, one of the finest new estate wineries. There, surrounded by vineyards, stands the building where the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister itzhak Rabin, commanded the Harel Brigade in 1948. Return to the hotel for a short break, and leave again to Arcadia, one of the finest restaurants in Jerusalem where the Iraqi-born chef Kedem, who studied in France and the US, will host a very imaginative, contemporary dinner, prepared with local vegetables and herb, grown not farther than 10 – 15km from Jerusalem. After dinner return to your hotel for overnight.

      Overnight: Hotel in Jerusalem

      Day 4, Wednesday

      After breakfast, depart to Tel Aviv to the Carmel market. The Chef and owner of Carmela bistro, one of the most picturesque places in the country situated in the midst of the Carmel market, will take you on a tour of the market and serve brunch. After the market tour and brunch, drive along the shores of the Mediterranean towards the Tishbi Winery, a short distance away from Binyamina. Tishbi is a family of the vineyard growers since 1880, who decided to built their own winery in 1985. Taste the excellent wine and the local cheese there. Do not miss visiting the Alambic Still producing high quality brandy, the only one of its kind in Israel. Continue to Tiberias and arrive to your hotel for overnight. Free evening in Tiberias to experience the street food and enjoy street life by the lake.

      Overnight: Hotel in Tiberias

      Day 5, Thursday

      Start our day in the Galilee with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Continue towards the Golan Heights area. Visit Chateau Golan winery, one of the unique boutique wineries in the area. Continue on to Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee. Arrive at Muskat restaurant at Mizpe Hayamim, Israel’s famous resort, well known for its locally grown and served organic vegetable, herbs and fruit. A small dairy on the premises is known for the very good cheese. Lunch at Muskat, hosted by chef Haim Tibi. After lunch depart to your Tel Aviv hotel. Dinner at the Deda, an unpretentious little restaurant featuring the the most incredible Georgian food with its Chef Timur.

      Overnight: Hotel in Tel Aviv

      Day 6, Friday

      After breakfast drive along the coast to the old city if Jaffa. This was the most famous port of Israel for thousands of years and the export port for the well known Jaffa Oranges. Continue walking the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel’s Metropolitan, with its samples of the bygone era of the 30s of the last century, the Bauhaus. Proceed to the Chloelys, reputably one of the best fish and seafood restaurants in Israel. Have the cooking class there with Chef Victor Gloger, the Argentine born, who studied and worked in Paris for over 15 years. You will cook your lunch and enjoy it with the excellent wine, followed by exquisite desert. After lunch, drive to visit Caesarea, the ancient Roman Theatre, the Aqueduct and the Hippodrome. Drive back to Tel Aviv and make a short stop at the old port of Tel Aviv, now an area of restaurants, clubs and shopping including an amazing Chocolate factory called Max Brener. Drive back to your hotel for a short break and go out for dinner at Yo’ezer wine Bar, a very romantic place in Tel Aviv. Return to your hotel for overnight.

      Overnight: Hotel in Tel Aviv

      Day 7, Saturday

      After breakfast, drive to Nazareth, in the Northern part of Israel. Visit the Church of the Annunciation and continue to Diana, probably the most authentic Arab restaurant in Israel. Together with the chef and owner Dokhol Safadi you will prepare your lunch and an excellent meal accompanied by local wine and followed knafa, a well known Arab sweet delicacy and coffee. After lunch, near Kfar Tabor, visit the olive oil facility of the Jahshans, believed to be one of the best in Israel. Experience the Druze hospitality and the olive oil tasting will be quite enjoyable.  Return to your hotel in Tel Aviv and leave again for the Farewell dinner. It will be hosted by Chef Jonathan Roshfeld, probably, one of the most talented Israeli chefs, at his newly opened restaurant Herbert Samuel. Overnight at your hotel.

      Overnight: Hotel in Tel Aviv

      Day 8, Sunday

      After breakfast departure to the airport for your flight back home.

      The program sequence is subject to change due to days of operation. Please note the cooking session with Victor of Chloelys can be done only on Friday – prerogative of the Chef…

      Cooking vacations with a Mediterranean accent in the biblical Land of Milk and Honey

        The cooking vacation of a lifetime

        Get to know fascinating Israel by getting to know its food! Lively seaside Tel Aviv, the winding alleyways of Jerusalem and the Galilee hills studded with olive orchards and vineyards – these are the breathtaking backdrops for our cooking vacations in Israel.

        Our week-long culinary tours of Israel feature fabulous food and excellent wines, colorful open-air markets bursting with gorgeous local produce and unusual hands-on cooking classes that explore the rich tapestry of Israel’s ethnic melting pot.

        Food, fun and friendship in one of the world’s most captivating destinations – our recipe for the most exciting cooking vacation ever!

        Tasting the real Israel

        Nothing can bring you closer to the essence of Israel than our fantastic hands-on cooking vacations. Our culinary tours take you way beyond the usual tourist experience to get to know the real Israel – tasting, smelling, seeing, touching and learning how to create delicious, authentic Israeli dishes yourself.

        Our week-long cooking vacations start in magical Jerusalem, move on to green Galilee and finish in vibrant Tel Aviv. Each stop on our culinary tours reveals more about the vast variety of ethnic influences on Israeli cuisine – the immigrants who poured in from more than 120 lands, plus the centuries-old culinary traditions of local Arabs and Jews.

        Savoring the Seven Species

        In the Bible, Israel was known as the Land of Milk and Honey. Our cooking vacations will bring to life the biblical list of nature’s bounties: “… a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey…” These are the Seven Species, and they remain the backbone of the Mediterranean kitchen to this day.

        You’ll get to know the Seven Species and more as our cooking vacations in Israel take you to a boutique dairy, to a special winery and to the spectacular open-air produce markets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Not to mention a delicious, after-dark visits to the streets of Israel to experience street food and local culture.

        Hands-on cooking vacations

        And what’s cooking on our culinary tours? You’ll enjoy fascinating hands-on cooking classes, each one reflecting the unique and authentic features of its location:

        – The Mediterranean way of eating, set in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv on the shores of that fabled sea

        – The lore of local herbs and spices, at a spice farm in the Judean Hills

        – The secrets of cheese-making, at a boutique dairy in Galilee

        – The glory of Galilee cuisine, in an Arab kitchen in a Galilee village

        – Cooking vacations are based on small groups (4-12 people) so we can go
        behind the scenes and gain an insider’s insight into how the locals live.

        Join us

        Add to this rich blend of flavors and fragrances a wealth of breathtaking scenery and sacred sites, stir in superb restaurants and season with accommodations in charming boutique hotels.

        The result: The cooking vacation of a lifetime – fun, relaxed, enlightening and downright delicious.

        Cooking Vacation: Kosher Food

          A cultural point to remember on your culinary tours or cooking vacations in Israel

          The issue of keeping kosher is a central one in the culinary culture of the Jews and in the development of Israeli cooking. Keeping kosher is a crucial issue for religious Jews, who are most meticulous in this matter.

          Nowadays, one can find haute cuisine in Israel which does not take into account or keep the laws of kashrut (especially in Tel-Aviv and the northern part of the country). But you can also encounter excellent cooking which keep kosher at different levels (especially in Jerusalem). When you come on a cooking vacations in Israel it is important to understand the laws of kashrut and their origins since they reflect the history and the culture of the local food.

          Many see kashrut laws as irrelevant and anachronistic, but a close and careful examination reveals that in fact their purpose is to make sure that the food is healthy, that it is produced in an honest way, a way which is fair both to the environment and to the people working in producing it.

          A few rules for a kosher cooking vacations

          Since kashrut laws and keeping kosher are a very complex matter, we shall address just a number of central issues affecting cooking:

          First and foremost, one does not mix meat and milk. Not in the dish itself (you can’t have a dairy-based sauce for a meat dish) and not in the meal (if one of the dishes contained meat, the dessert can’t contain milk). This has reason related both to health and to a moral attitude which sees cooking the animal in milk as an act of cruelty.

          In addition, when we talk about eating meat, there is a list of allowed animals and a list of forbidden ones. “Pure” beasts, which are allowed to be eaten must have hooves and must regurgitate (for example cows, sheep, deer or buffalo). In contrast, forbidden beasts include pigs, horses, donkeys.

          In the realm of birds, birds of prey are not allowed to be eaten. In many places around the world, as well as in Israel, birds of prey are protected in order to keep them from becoming extinct.

          Among the fish, kashrut allows the consumption of those fish which have scales and a fin. All the kinds of sea-food are prohibited by kashrut laws.

          Regarding plants, kashrut laws are meant to protect the environment and comply with the present-day laws and rules defining fair trade. For example, from any crop a certain percentage has to be contributed to the good of the community. The farmer must take care of the well-being of the field hands (for example, have them rest on Saturdays, give them clothes and feed them properly). In addition, every seven years there’s a whole year when nothing is grown in order to let the earth rest and renew itself. Yet, the poor are allowed to pick fruit or the crop which has grown in the field, out of concern for their well-being. These laws are “green” and ecological laws of the first order, but are very difficult to keep and to carry out especially due to the high cost related.

          Another kashrut law which also protects the environment is the law which prohibits eating fruit from trees less than four years old. Only on the fourth “birthday” of the tree can one pick its fruit. This law too is meant to preserve the quality of the crop and improve the trees’ health.

          A culinary tour of kosher kitchens…

          Different cuisines keep different levels of kashrut . The Cooking Vacations Ultra-Orthodox, for example, keep the whole set of laws in the strictest, most meticulous way. They have even imposed on themselves further prohibitions to make sure they do not err by mistake. All their foodstuff is grown and produced under the strict supervision of a kashrut controller who makes sure that all the laws and rules are kepy in the strictest manner possible.

          People who keep strict kashrut (and these are not only the Ultra-Orthodox) have separate sets of dishes for eating and cooking dairy and meat and even separate sinks to wash the dishes accordingly.

          Israeli chefs who keep kosher claim that the kashrut laws only improve the quality and the hygiene of the food and challenge the chef’s creativity. Others who do not keep kosher claim that the kosher kitchen is limited both regarding the ingredients as well as regarding the cooking processes. Israel, a land of different communities, holds one of its core discussion precisely on the issue of food and cooking. You will most probably encounter the creativity (or the limitations?) of kosher food during your culinary tours in Israel and in some of your hands-on experiences

          Cooking Vacations in Israel: Herbs and Spices

            Cooking vacation: a chance to get to know the local herbs and spices.

            A culinary tour in Israel will inevitably acquaint you with the large selection of herbs and spices in the country. Israelis have a strong link to the local herbs and spices. This link, so enriching the present-day cuisine and every Israeli table, stems from antiquity. In those days, man was closer to Nature. In the Eastern Mediterranean, most people lived off the land. Agriculture was the main occupation and the local herbs were used both for cooking and for medicine.

            The Land of Israel, the ancient homeland of the Jewish People, was blessed with many herbs. The ancient texts mention some of them such as dill and corianders, oregano and marjoram, myrtle and thyme. All of them were grown specifically for culinary and medicinal uses. The Talmud even gives precise instruction for planting and watering these herbs, so important for the local cuisine for the last 3000 years.

            It is no surprise, then, that Israel has a flourishing industry of herbs and spices and is one of the largest exporters of herbal products and condiments to Europe and the US.

            Cooking Vacations with Israeli Cuisine

            The Israeli cuisine makes extensive use of fresh herbs. In almost every house or balcony, even in the large cities, herbs are grown to make infusions or as spices in everyday dishes.

            Walking the streets of Tel Aviv during your cooking vacations, just raise your eyes and look at the balconies and you will see mint and basil peeping at you. Fresh herbs used for adding taste to dishes are a healthy, real and refined way for those of us who wish to avoid using soup powder or condensed industrial spices. Naturally, during our cooking vacations, we will use these herbs freely for taste and scent.

            Cooking Vacations – Meeting with popular herbs in Israel

            Let’s look now at some of the most popular herbs and spices in the present Israeli cuisine:

            Za’atar. Za’atar is probably the biblical “moss” mentioned since the days of King Solomon. It is closely related to oregano, marjoram and thyme. Natural medicine uses it as a well-proven disinfectant and as an aid in reducing headaches. In the kitchen, Za’atar is suitable for practically all the Middle-Eastern dishes, and upgrades even a freshly chopped vegetable salad.

            Jerusalem Bruschetta

            Take some toast, rub a clove of garlic on the toast, sprinkle olive oil and crushed tomato and add a generous amount of Za’atar on top.

            Coriander. Coriander is mentioned in the Bible from the times our forefathers went to Egypt. It is a well-known remedy for stomach aches and strengthens the heart. In the kitchen it is used, mainly fresh, in a wide variety of dishes. The chopped fresh leaves should be added just before the cooking is done.

            Sage. Sage is known to be originally from the Middle East. It was brought to Europe by the Roman soldiers who conquered Palestine. Natural medicine believes it lowers the blood-pressure, helps fight the common cold and gum infections. Some even produce a perfume based on sage. In the kitchen we have to use it with care, avoid adding to much sage since its strong taste tends to dominate the dish. It’s a good idea to add it to meat dishes and even to pasta with a fine sauce of olive oil, sage and garlic.

            Mint. Mint, or its locally known variant Na’ana, is known the world over. It is originally from Greece and is known from ancient times all over the Middle East. Natural medicine uses it to relieve throat aches. Many Israelis drink tea with na’ana. In summer it is customary to serve cold water with mint leaves and lemon in every restaurant or café. The Arab tabouleh salad uses na’ana as you can see in the recipe included in the cooking workshop in the Arab Galilee culinary tour. For example, it’s a good idea to add na’ana leaves to fish kebabs.

            Parsley. Natural medicine uses it to treat problems in the urinary system. Yet, it is best known for its place in the Israeli cuisine. Sometimes it seems that without parsley, there is no Israeli cooking… It is used in copious amounts in practically every dish (tahina, tabouleh, salads, hummus…).

            Thyme. Thyme, the poets’ and chef’s beloved spice. Natural medicine uses it to calm cough and to relax strained muscles, if used in a bath. In the kitchen it’s delicate taste makes it suitable almost for any dish. Thyme is good for a meat roast or for roasted vegetables, finds its place in pasta and even in ice-cream.

            Rosemary. Rosemary is a very adaptable plant. Driving along the coast or walking in parks during your cooking vacations, you will see it everywhere. Rosemary oil is good for the scalp and strengthens your roots. In the kitchen it is widely used but you have to be careful: it has a strong taste. It can be added to meat dishes, and you can use its branches as skewers and even place it on the grill so its scent is blended with the kebabs. In addition, you can add rosemary to any marinade.

            Basil. Natural medicine uses basil to treat stomach aches, nausea and vomiting. In the kitchen it is synonymous to a good match. You can add it to practically any dish, preferably fresh including vegetable salads or rice and of course, you can chop it to make pesto.

            We will meet all these herbs and spices, and many more during the workshops in the cooking vacations and culinary tours and learn how to use them to make savory dishes and drinks.