Say Goat Cheese

In my dreams, nestled in the Judean hills between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem lives a quaint and rustic family farm. Homemade goat cheese. Freshly baked bread. Lush green grounds for meandering. I’d nibble slowly on my food just to make the stop last longer. And so we did. Only taking breaks to visit with the goats in the nearby pen. There’s so much talk these days about farm to table food and it can’t be translated more literally than a trip to a local farm for a bite. When I turn off a paved road for something a bit less traveled by I hope for the best. It’s such a thrill when it lives up to the story I’ve designed in my mind.

On the rare occasion that Shay and I have a car for the weekend, I make it my mission to get out an explore. Nothing like the freedom that wheels can bring. The idea was to find some hiking trails along the way to Jerusalem and some Googling brought me to this great page. We were all set to head out but reports of 90+ degree weather made us pause. Naturally, I suggested we skip the exercise and hit up the dairy farm, Ya’aran Farm, mentioned on the route. Best decision ever.

We were the first visitors of the day and were lucky to get a nice leisurely sampling of at least 8 different goat cheeses. I can’t remember the names, and honestly they usually don’t matter to me. I don’t discriminate. If it tastes great to me that’s all that matters in that moment. There’s no set menu, just taste a little of each and pick as many and as much of each as you want. Don’t be timid, get as greedy as you like. We picked out more than we could finish and spent just $15. That would be impossible in the supermarket. And no doubt the taste wouldn’t even compare. Because of our early arrival the bread was still baking and we chose to wait the 20 minutes more for it. Thou shall not ever pass up freshly baked bread. It’s a commandment. Just a stone marked path away are hand carved picnic tables along side the most adorable goats you’ve ever seen. An amazing backdrop. Serenely quiet, completely isolated from the often crazy paced Israeli energy. This is the Israel of my dreams. Women with braided hair tied back in a head scarf that shrug nonchalantly when you ask if it’s okay to take pictures. A horse and a donkey grazing lazily in the tall grasses just beyond the shop windows. A man with a baby goat in the crook of his arm. And every so often a strong dry breeze from the dessert sweeps through the trees.