Just got back from the Gush Etzion Farmers' Market near Kfar Etzion. The tented outdoor area featured a fascinating array of homegrown products, boutique handmade goods and delicious treats made by creative folks from the Southern Hills of Hebron through Gush Etzion to Maaleh Adumim. Before I even begin to describe some of it, I'd like to voice my admiration for those people who had a dream to create a product and forged ahead. The love and care that went into everything from saplings to cookies to honey and pottery is very evident.
I didn't have time to visit everyone's tables, but I was fascinated by what I did see.
In Maaleh Hever, Joe Zander makes organic chocolate straight from the beans - Holy Cow-coa. He grinds the cocoa beans and processes them himself. Instead of making quick-chocolate, as many other companies do, he processes his cocoa over a period of months. I found out that the longer chocolate is processed, the better it is (kinda like wine). I tasted all kinds of chocolate combinations. I think they were 70% chocolate, 56% chocolate and 52% chocolate with nuts. I bought the latter (OU kashruth certification). Holy Cow-coa is sold in the Duvdevan health food store, Gush Etzion Winery and discrimating chocolate shops.
The Lone Tree Brewery is the beer business of the Levins and Shires of Neve Daniel. I toured the brewery, and got a quick lesson in manufacturing beer from barley. I even got to peek into their "cellar" where the beer is stored. Lone Tree Beer comes in several flavors and is sold straight from the manufacturers and one day soon in fine restaurants everywhere (if they're smart).
Reuven "Titch" Cohen is a man of "spirit and spirits". He's a backbone of the Temple Institute and also has returned Jewish wine to the Old City's Cardo. At the Jerusalem Wine Store, Titch sells wines from boutique wineries (especially those from throughout Yesha). On his table at the Farmers' Market were wines from wines from Shiloh, Pesagot and Tzuba. His store carries dozens of other boutique wineries, including the Gush Etzion Winery. Each one is as different as the climate, altitude and weather of the region in which they are made.
Also at the Farmers' Market were delicious smelling spice plants of all types from Southern Hebron Hills, honey from Sde Boaz, raw food desserts from Maaleh Adumim, jams from Bnei Darom, cookies from Neve Daniel, and much more.
The Farmers' Market returns on Monday, and hopefully throughout the summer. It's a perfect family summer outing. You can even buy lunch.
Voices TV video to come. Stay tuned.