There’s a little stretch of heaven just an hour north of Tel Aviv. Just far enough out of the city to feel like you’re really getting away for the day. Remote enough to feel like a secret. This nature reserve, Hof Habonim (Builders Beach), reminds me so much of California’s central coast. Without a doubt, when a beach meets rolling hills magical things happen.
Just a 20 minute drive into the hills before you’re strolling the cobble stoned streets of the quaint Zichron Yaakov. Established in 1882 by Romanian pioneers, then later under the direction of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild who named the town after his father James (Yaakov) Meyer. Uniquely Israeli but very reminiscent of the winery towns of the California central coast. On our most recent trip there, Shay and I popped into a restaurant, Manuella. Tucked far enough off the main street its sign boasted of homemade pasta and its location in a restored and transformed rustic barn won me over immediately. We enjoyed a margherita pizza and green salad with persimmon, pear and slivered almond. Both were great and payed tribute to the simplicity and quality often found in Israel when you look in the right places.