David Rhodes

Meet Master Chefs at Wine & Food Festival

At the Ramat Hanadiv Festival of WInes & Plenty, attending guests will be able to watch a Master Chef winner, Tom Franz, as well as former Master Chef contestants including the festival’s culinary adviser, Benny Ben Israel, create some comfort yet gourmet “street food” paired with local Israeli wines.

Tom Franz, Master Chef winner, will be one of the chefs demonstrating dishes guests can buy with their wine at the festival.
Tom Franz, Master Chef winner, will be one of the chefs demonstrating dishes guests can buy with their wine at the festival.

The festival is only 3 weeks away, April 9th and 10th,2014 at the Ramat Hanadiv Gardens, a pristine and majestic nature preserve that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea from cliffs situated between Zichron Ya’acov and Binyamina along route 652.

Tickets are 80 NIS and available online (90 NIS at the door) and admission includes an included tasting glass (that you can take home) and a tasting of dozens of wines from 22 wineries from the Zichron/Mt. Carmel/Emeq Hefer area. Local culinary treats will also be featured such as gourmet cheeses, olive oils, fruit preserves and baked breads.

Benny Ben Israel designed 5 street food dishes to be featured for guests’ pleasure at inexpensive prices that don’t skimp on taste. He worked in concert with the chef of the park’s kosher dairy restaurant, Ami Danieli, to perfect these treats that the restaurant can offer during the festival.

1) Arancini: a dish originating from Sicily, it’s fried rice balls with various stuff inside. In this case, it’s fried risotto balls (deceptively looking a bit like falafel) with mushrooms, vermouth and mozzarella cheese inside. This is Benny’s dish to demonstrate to festival attendees and Benny leads culinary tours to Italy so it’s bound to be good and help tourism to Sicily.

2) Knase is a sweet and savory “Arabic dish” that I’m told defies explanation and has to be tried to be believed.

3) A gourmet Smoked Cheese Sandwich that will match so well with a range of wines.

4) A Calzone stuffed with Bulgarian and Roquefort cheese, onions and fried sweet pears. If you never had a calzone (big in the US as well as Italy) it’s a pizza folded in on itself, sorta like an Italian burrito. The two types of sweet pears are an interesting twist.

5) Last but not least is a satiating potato salad with anchovies prepared by Master Chef Tom Franz himself. Potato salad is such a staple for outdoor summer events that coming into Israel’s long stretch of warmer months, this demonstration might just cause a shortage of anchovies in Israeli markets if it’s as tasty as one would suspect from the hands of a Master Chef.

Two dessert choices will also complement this all kosher menu: a cheesecake with a crumble crust (hmmn cheese cake) and a cappuccino meringue which should be a popular hit with coffee crazy Israelis.

The demonstrations are free to all those who attend to watch and you get to do it with any of the dozens of local wines in your glass which will make all that more fun. Be forewarned that buying and devouring the demonstrated dishes at 25 NIS or less might be irresistible after witnessing any of the demonstrations.

A free shuttle will give rides to and from the Biyamina Train Station to the festival so you can hop on a train from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa or anywhere in between and get a free lift for the last 7.4 km.  You can catch the 20 person shuttle at the bus stop across from the train station.

Call Ruti Ben Israel, the festival organizer, for group tickets at 052-465-9246. The festival is expected to sell out of its 1500 tickets each night so don’t delay to guarantee your spot.

About the Author
David Rhodes is a California-trained sommelier and wine educator who moved to Israel in 2008. David has written over 1,000 articles and radio shows and also has been a political writer since the 1980's. He also has two published poetry books working on his third. David regrets he only has one liver to dedicate to Israel.
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