Much more than milk and honey
Israel and Palestine are a remarkable intersection of food, culture, and history. The breadth of traditions and the complexity of the foodways is almost dizzying. Join us on a rich, engaging, and delicious trip in this beautiful region. We will enjoy the food and local hospitality from Jerusalem and the Judean foothills to the rich countryside surrounding the Sea of Galilee, to the Mediterranean beaches of Tel Aviv.
Our tour will encompass the full range of food traditions and innovations in Israel and Palestine. We will sample traditional food in a Palestinian village that uses ancient agricultural methods, and meet with passionate and innovative entrepreneurs developing the technology to farm organic seaweed. We will share food and stories with cutting-edge world-class chefs and skilled home cooks, with Orthodox Jews, Palestinians, and Druze. Through these experiences and the perspectives shared by local experts we’ve asked to join us, we will have an eye-opening and tasty experience of the diversity of food and life in Israel. It will be a trip that stimulates our minds and our taste buds.
Please Note ** this program begins on a Saturday but we recommend you arrive on Friday to adjust to the new time zone and to avoid any complication with Shabbat
This trip is designed for both novice and experienced travelers who like to engage with a new place through the lens of food. We will explore the diverse foodways of the region and its cultures by engaging personally with our hosts. History and personal stories will color our many encounters. We encourage attendees to have open minds, adventurous spirits, and a deep passion for traditional foods and their modern-day developments.
This will be an active trip without much break time, great for those of us who would like a fully engaging week. There will be some walking on uneven ground in the countryside and in old world markets. Please expect to walk for as long as an hour.
Our guests are adults of all ages. We keep the group small, 20 guests maximum. This tour will have one Zingerman’s host as your guide and one guide from our tour partner in Israel. It also features local experts to bring even more richness and information to the experience.
For personal exploration of the more traditional sites in Israel we encourage our guests to add a few days before or after the tour to their visit. We can connect you with our tour partners to help you make these arrangements.
Amazing food – breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. We will enjoy traditional regional specialties made with local, fresh ingredients.
Behind-the-scenes visits with artisanal producers, local farmers, hands-on baking and cooking experiences.
One Zingerman’s tour host will be with you at all times. A local guide will be with us daily.
Our own private bus transportation.
Included group transfer from and to the airport. There is an extra charge for private transfers.
Hotel accommodations for 7 nights.
What’s Not Included?
Airfare is not included
Alcoholic beverages that are not specifically included in the itinerary
Personal spending money
Tipping for the local guide and driver
What about accommodations?
We will be staying in 3 different hotels over the course of the tour in Jerusalem, Galilee, and Tel Aviv. They are all well appointed accommodations in prime locations.
We will meet up on the first day at 9 am in our hotel and we’ll be exploring until mid-evening! To orient us we will first gather to introduce ourselves and then our guides will give an overview of history and food to frame the tour.
We will then head straight to the Old City in Jerusalem and enjoy a tasting tour through the narrow walkways of the market lined with artisan producers, bountiful fruit and vegetable stands, coffee roasters, kebab makers, and more. In June we will expect to see fresh grape leaves, mulberries and fragrant juicy apricots. We will be escorted on our tour by Chefs for Peace, a non-profit, non-political organization founded in Jerusalem in November 2001 by a group of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim chefs committed to exploring cultural identity, diversity, and coexistence through food. With them we will browse (and taste) in the market, participate in a cooking workshop, and enjoy an early dinner.
We will then take some time to explore this remarkable city with a late afternoon walk along the Via Dolorosa, following the Stations of the Cross, that culminates inside the Holy Sepulcher Church. We will enjoy the scents of the market, the sound of the call to prayer and the bustling scenes of this lively community.
We will end our day with drinks on the rooftop of the Notre Dame guest house (a Catholic pilgrimage center), with a spectacular view of the Dome of the Rock, the Mount of Olives, and the Old City.
East jerusalem and the three faiths
We begin our day with history when we meet with Amanda Weiss, Director of the Bible Lands Museum. Our tour, designed specifically for us, will revolve around food in the Bible and what archaeology is bringing to light about ancient eating habits. We will walk through the beautiful museum galleries and connect the displays and artifacts with ancient foodways.
From the museum we will visit the nearby Israeli Arab village of Ein Rafa (just west of Jerusalem). Musa and Jessica-Yasmin Barhum host groups in the village to learn about their lifestyle, which still reflects some ancient agricultural practices. We will walk through the village and farms with Jessica-Yasmin and then spend time in her home learning to make several tasty local dishes based on locally harvested foods.
From Ein Rafa, we will visit Omer Seltzer of the award winning Seltzer goat farm in the Judean hills. We will enjoy a cheese tasting led by Omer and he will explain his locally rooted and environmentally sensitive herding, and making of delicious cheese in this beautiful and historic setting.
What comes after cheese? Wine of course. We will visit one of the boutique wineries in the hills surrounding Jerusalem and then head back to our hotel for a break before dinner.
We will end our day by returning to the present at Machneyuda Restaurant, the shining light of the Jerusalem restaurant scene. The food is creative and beautiful and the energy of the restaurant is high and joyful.
exploration of the ancient past
A visit to nablus in the west bank
Nablus is one of the large cities in the West Bank, renowned for its tahini and kenafeh (a cheese pastry). It’s also off limits to Israeli citizens. We will visit a tahini producer and tour the historic food market and an ancient soap factory, and end up with a special lunch at a Women's Cooperative, the only slow food convivium inside the Palestinian territories. Bait al-Karama is a center run by the remarkable Fatima Kadumy.
Our lunch will include Palestinian dishes featuring elements of the Palestinian kitchen like yogurt, fresh herbs, freekeh, bulgur, eggplant, and lamb. After lunch we will just walk across the street and see kenafeh being made from start to finish. We will then stand in the street as the locals do and eat a plateful of warm dessert. People in Nablus even put their kanafeh into pita bread and eat it like a sandwich.
Next, we will continue to Burqin, to visit an organic cooperative for farmers that produces olive oil, and visit a Palestinian commercial enterprise that provides premium agricultural goods produced by networks of farmers in the West Bank.
Later in the afternoon, we will travel to the Galilee region to enjoy a roast goat dinner at a ranch, with the farm to table local produce and wines.
This day will provide a perfect example of the wide-ranging food experiences possible in this small but rich country. We will tour the organic farm that belongs to our hotel, visit a Kibbutz (communal farm community), and participate in a cooking workshop and meal in the home of a Druze family. After lunch we’ll travel to Akko and tour the historic old city, which features structures from the Crusader and Ottoman periods.
Dinner will be at the famed Uri Buri restaurant in Akko. Uri Jeremias, explorer, salt of the earth, funny, community-minded and self-taught chef is the owner, offering for the past 30 years different kinds of brilliantly prepared fresh fish and seafood dishes. Uri has what he calls regulations for his cooking. The most important one is that he never cooks something that he himself does not love to eat. This is bound to be a meal of a lifetime.
Next we will have two agricultural experiences. First we’ll visit a medicinal herb farm at Bethlehem Ha Glili, and then we’ll learn about seaweed cultivation in Michmoret – 'Seakura', an Israeli seaweed company established in 2006, which is considered a world leader in developing, harvesting, and manufacturing the leafy algae.
We’ll move on to Tel Aviv and settle into our hotel before enjoying an upscale modern dinner at one of Tel Aviv’s foremost restaurants. We will choose our venue closer to our actual trip because the restaurant scene in Tel Aviv is fluid and ever-changing. After dinner, for those of us who enjoy nightlife and whiskey, we have an optional visit to The Whiskey Bar Museum. It combines a bar and a whiskey museum and is located in a Templar cellar in Sarona, where a 19th century winery used to operate, and until a decade ago was used by the Mossad (Israeli national intelligence agency).
moving to urban israel and the modern life
Based in Tel Aviv, we now have access to southern Israel and the wonders of agriculture in the desert. We’ll visit the Agricultural Research Organization, which is responsible for most of the agricultural research conducted in Israel as part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. More than 200 PhD scientists and 300 engineers and technicians work to improve fruit and vegetable quality, shelf life, and develop new strains of plants.
We move on to winemaking at last (and at one of the best wineries in the country!). In 1999, Professor Ben Ami Bravdo and his former student Professors Oded Shoseyov, both faculty members of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, decided to establish the Karmei Yosef Winery producing Bravdo wines. Meet with Prof. Shosayev, who is currently researching biotechnology and processes in the vineyard and the winery that affect wine quality.
After our serious studying we’ll enjoy lunch in Ofakim at Osi's—Osi Lankri is a chef and a resident of Ofakim, a small town west of Beer Sheva. Her delicious cuisine reflects her Moroccan and Iraqi family roots. Osi will also share her family history with us giving us insight to the Sephardic immigration experience.
We’ll then return to Tel Aviv, for a culinary tour of the Ultra Orthodox Bnei Brak neighborhood. Every Thursday night, Bnei Brak undergoes a cooking frenzy in preparations for the Sabbath. We’ll taste traditional Ashkenazi food as it is made in Israel today.
Innovation in Southern Israel
Today we will learn about how Tel Aviv became known as the “White City” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site as we explore Rothschild Boulevard and its beautiful architecture. We will spend the remainder of the morning exploring Tel Aviv’s many colorful market places: the Levinsky Market featuring bourekas, babka, and hipster coffee, the Nahlat Binyamin (arts and crafts) markets as well as the down to earth Hatikva market.
We will continue through Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood and today a mecca for galleries, cafes and people watching. Finally, we will tour Old Jaffa, the ancient port where Jonah set sail towards his fateful encounter with the whale.
After all of our final tasting, exploring and shopping we will enjoy a farewell lunch at The House in Jaffa, hosted by renowned Chefs Moran Aharon and Elisheva Engleberg. The house in Jaffa is a luxurious residence with marble columns and painted floors that were preserved from the Ottoman period. Chefs Moran and Elisheva will provide an unforgettable culinary experience combining art, food and history for a special atmosphere with lots of soul. It will be a great finale to our week.
After lunch we will return to our hotel for relaxing, packing and a late afternoon check out
Before we transfer to the airport for our return flight
The Markets of Tel Aviv
**One thing to note: this itinerary is the current plan, and things may change. We will make every effort to provide the tours and experiences that are described. However, the nature of an ever changing city means that plans may change at the last minute. Also, you always have the option of skipping a particular excursion, but please note that we will be unable to make refunds for any missed meals or other events.