Northern Israel is a magnificently beautiful region of great historical importance with breathtaking landscapes full of hills and valleys that simply soothe the soul. This part of Israel is also blessed with high-quality local agriculture that has a long history in the chronicles of the State of Israel. Living in an area rich with agricultural produce – wines, honey, top-of-the-line olives, fresh fruits and vegetables – local residents present their wares throughout the year in a variety of festivals. One of the most popular is the Tastes in the Valleys Food Festival, which has been held each winter since 2005 in the Jezreel Valley region. This festival is a unique culinary celebration full of color, fragrant aromas and delightful flavors; it is a wonderful experience where one can see fresh agricultural produce blended in with delightful-to-the-palate local wines. In the course of the festival, which takes place this year from January 17 to 28, 2016, various events are being held against the backdrop of green fields. During these ten festival days, visitors are invited to pay a call to local restaurants, wineries and farms.

 

In the context of the festival’s various events, you can participate in tree-planting activities as part of the festivities surrounding the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, which is both a religious holiday and a major date in the agricultural year in Israel. During the festival, you can also enjoy guided tours, get a close-up view of advanced agricultural technologies, meet with local farmers, visit exhibitions by local artists displaying their creations in the area’s restaurants and enjoy the tunes of local bands. In addition to the events connected with the festival, you can tour this lovely part of Israel. The various travel routes pass through blossoming fields of anemones, daffodils, cyclamens, groundsels and asphodels located alongside almond plantations and green fields. The tours can be conducted on foot, on horseback, on a bicycle or in a jeep. The Jewish National Fund (also known by its Hebrew name as Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael), a major partner in this festival, will be organizing free guided tours on Friday, January 22; each tour will end up at one of the festival sites.

 

The main goal of the festival is to enable the general public to become familiar with the region’s agricultural produce and with its entrepreneurs and farmers. Thus, many of the festival’s activities are connected with culinary experiences. The Jezreel Valley region’s restaurants offer unique meals at special, affordable prices throughout the festival. The chefs in the region’s different restaurants use local produce in their dishes and, during the festival, they will giving workshops where participants can experience the joy of preparing special dishes. The abundance of food will be accompanied by the region’s high-quality wines. On each festival day, a different restaurant will host a special event. You must register in advance for these events and, considering the great interest in the festival’s culinary activities, you should register early.

 

Among the restaurants and wineries participating in the festival, you can find the Kimmel Bagilboa restaurant (http://kimmelbagilboa.co.il), affiliated with the famous Tel Aviv’s Kimmel restaurant and operated by chef Shaul Ben-Aderet; the Shalev Bayaar restaurant in Kiryat Tivon (http://www.shalevbayaar.co.il); the eating establishment run by Nili Cohen-Mintz in Bethlehem of Galilee (in Hebrew: Beit Lechem Haglilit) (http://www.nilicm.co.il); the Adela Bistro restaurant and the Limousine restaurant in Ramat Yishai; the Octagon restaurant in Nahalal (http://www.octago.co.il); the Bella restaurant in Beit She’arim (http://bellabaemek.co.il); and Doron Bar-On’s restaurant in Yogev (http://www.baron.co.il). You can also visit the Tulip Winery in Kfar Tikva (http://www.tulip-winery.co.il), the Hagiva Winery in Geva (http://www.hagiva.org.il) or the Sarig Winery in Merhavia (http://www.sarig33.com), where you can also pay a call to a farmers’ market at an organic farm. In addition to the above boutique wineries, the Binyamina Winery will be participating in the festival; this winery will be presenting its new line of wines and will even offer visitors the opportunity to taste the offerings of a wine menu that was especially created for the festival’s events and which features competitive prices.

 

So, with all these events, all this color, all these aromas and flavors, what are you waiting for?