|Eretz Gshur Entrance|
We decided to drive up to the north of Israel and visit an olive oil manufacturing plant. Eretz Gshur is an olive oil production facility, located in the southern Golan Heights, in Kibbutz Gshur. The facility is a bit more than two hours away from Ra'anana but we decided that we would include the plant as part of an all-day outing.
|Olive sorting process|
After arriving at the plant, we were invited to watch a short film about olive making and the history of the Eretz Gshur company. The film is available in a number of different languages (we watched the English version). There was no admission charge.
We were then invited into the shop/tasting room to taste the full range of olive oils that are produced in this plant. Eretz Gshur prides itself on using very high quality olives and making every effort to pay attention to the smallest details in the growing, harvesting and production processes. Our guide explained that they view the production of olive oil as similar to the production of wine. The higher the quality of the olives, she noted, the better the oil.
We tasted a range of oils from two very light tasting oils to some very full bodied, slightly bitter, spicy oils. All of the tastes come from the olive varieties rather than from the addition of any other ingredients. Here is the chart of the different oils.
They were quite delicious. I personally preferred some of the more "full-bodied" oils but I tried a whole range. You don't necessarily even think of the notion that olive oils can have a such a variety of tastes. But when you sit down and sample a range of oils, you can smell, taste and appreciate the differences. The oils are all sold at the same price - about 50 N.I.S. (Sheqels) for a 750 ml bottle, which is about $15 Cdn. The gift shop sells a variety of sizes, including some huge jugs. We bought one of each of a few different types of oil.
|Olive Oil Machine|
There were three or four different processing stations but I am not going to write about the details of olive oil production. I will say, however, that it seems a lot more complicated than what one might have expected.
Once we were finished our visit, we had to decide what comes next. We were up in the southeastern part of the Golan Heights. We were considering a winery - and actually had in mind Ramot Naftali. But our GPS (Waze) told us that it was about an hour away. So we decided to drive back to T'veria (Tiberias) and wander around there for a bit.
We first drove over to the Tamar Bakfar store at Kibbutz Kinneret. This is a wonderful store for foodies. The store specialty is a wide range of different types of dates, all harvested from the many palm trees in the area. But the store also features spices, olive oils, wines, jarred date spreads and sauces, as well as many other interesting items. We picked up a few different boxes of dates, some mixed date sauces (sweet and sour, sweet and spicy...) and some delicious date spreads (date and chocolate, date and Halawa - sesame paste). We are able to taste about eight different types of fresh dates and ten or twelve different spreads and sauces. The prices are reasonable and the products are touted as preservative free as well as free of any additional/ artificial flavours and colours. Most of the products are kosher. This has always been one of our favourite places to visit when we are in the area.
The Tamar Bakfar shop is located right near the famous Jordan River baptism site. So busloads of Christian pilgrims and other tourists regularly visit this area. Most wind up spending their time in the gift shop that abuts the baptism location rather than Tamar Bakfar which is a bit out of the way. The gift shop sells Christian religious items, art, postcards, and other souvenirs as well as some wine and other Israeli products. It carries some Jewish religious items as well. It is a very different type of store than Tamar Bakfar (and quite a bit more expensive). Tamar Bakfar is more suited to Israelis or to those who are interested in doing some cooking and home-based eating while they are in Israel. You can certainly travel with dates and wine but Tamar Bakfar is not a tourist shop.
Once loaded up with fresh dates, date spreads, date sauces and a few other items, we took a 10 minute drive to T'veria, parked the car and wandered around for a while in the heart of the city. It was a quiet day since it was early November and it was a Sunday. People were at work, kids were in school and it was not really tourist season. But the weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy the lovely views of the Kinneret as well as a reasonably tasty local Shawarma sandwhich.
From there, it was about a two hour drive back to Ra'anana.
It was not the most ambitious day of travelling around, but it seemed to suit our special guest just fine. He might have preferred to stop at a winery along the way back to complete the day but time considerations prevented that.
I would not say that the prices at the Eretz Gshur site were anything spectacular. They were probably similar to store prices in Ra'anana for the same products. There were no great sales, but they offered us a 5% discount. Nevertheless, it was interesting seeing this type of facility and it is always fun visiting the Golan Heights region, even if it is only the lower parts.