Thursday, October 14, 2010
Kayaking and Chocolate
Sorry this post is a bit outdated - this took place the day after our cow milking excursion over sukkot. Enjoy
The following day, we awoke early to head to Kfar Blum’s kayaking. As I have mentioned in past blog posts, Israel is not a land that has abundant water. We pray for rain here in the winter and you would be hard pressed to find a person complain about rain here, because it is so important. Not coincidentally, Israelis love and appreciate water in a way Americans can’t. a great past time in this country is to hike to a ma’ayan a natural spring and swim in the water. Very few people in this country have swimming pools.
The kayaking was really move like lazy river rafting in inflatable canoes for two. Every time my family travels to the North of Israel, we “kayak” on the Jordan and the groups are always the same – Yechiel and I, Rachel and Itay and my parents together – Atara and Daniel also, when they are with us. This outing was particularly fun. We never really stay in our boats and as we cruise down the water we find fun things to do. This time Yechiel and I had a stone skipping contest (he won), collected lost sandals – we got 7 and found a bunch of ropes tied to trees – this was the most fun part – we would pull over our boat, climb out of the river and swing into the water Tarzan style on the ropes… good times. We went with our cousins on the rafting but couldn’t keep up with them. The ride down usually takes an hour and a half but with all of our detours and distractions, it took about two and a half hours. If you are in the North of Israel, I put kayaking on the Jordan up there with milking cows as activities not to be missed.
The following day we made up to meet our cousins at the De Karina chocolate factory. In classic Kelman style, we were running fashionably late, and that was before I realized I hadn’t returned my house key and made us all go back. Our cousins went to a winery first but we figured we were too late to catch up to them. There were signs for the Golan winery on the way, so we turned onto a dirt road which didn’t seem like the way to go, but we none the less headed that way to see if it would take us to the winery. We stopped a car going in the other direction and asked if we were near the winery. It turned out that the winery was not near bye, and that the sign was directing to the winery’s vinyards. We asked if there was anything wine related near bye before the chocolate factory tour and the man dais follow me.
His name was Gabi and he was one of the heads of the kibbutz that grows grapes for the Golan Winery. He took us to the vineyard and showed us the different grapes that were growing and about how wine is grown in Israel. The grapes were delicious and surprisingly sweet for grapes that would soon be pressed into dry red wine. The Golan Heights are made of volcanic soil which is apparently ideal conditions for growing grapes. One interesting fact that we learned was that unlike in Napa Valley or Australia, vineyards in the Golan Heights do not need to be covered by canopies to protect the fruit from birds. Due to the climate in the Golan, there simply are no birds that eat at the grapes. These conditions save the kibbutz thousands of dollars per acre of grapes. After showing us the vineyards, Gabi took us to see the kiwi and apple orchards that the kibbutz managed. Kiwis are cool. They grow similarly to Bananas on large tree like vines. There are male and female kiwi plans. The males don't make fruit but are planted near the female plants in order to pollinate the flowers that turn into kiwis.
After out super special impromptu tour of the vineyards and orchards, we headed to De Karina chocolate factory. The De Karina family has been making chocolate for something like three or four generations. A few years back, Mrs. De Karina moved the business from South America to Israel. We took a small tour of the small plant and saw how all the chocolate truffles are made. At De Karina every piece of chocolate is handmade (many in molds) and they have no machines to make the chocolate. Disappointingly, they don’t actually roast the cocoa beans there – they buy a base chocolate from a European company and then melt it down and add to it to make it their own. The best part of the tour was the chocolate work shop where we were each given a small tray and told to make a creation of chocolate from melted chocolate in squeeze bottles. Once our creations were done they were to be put in a refrigerator to harden and for us to take home.
All great Kelmans think alike. My mom and dad simply started to fill up their tray to make a brick of chocolate. I took a similar approach and made a zebra of white and milk chocolate that filled up nearly the whole tray – it was more a disguise to take as much chocolate as possible while having a design. The whole time we were making out chocolate creations, we eating and drinking (liquid chocolate in the chocolate shot glasses intended for us to sample their chocolate liquor) chocolate. By the end of our tour of the De Karina, I was ready to start my new diet, which among other things excludes everything chocolate except on Shabbat. De Karina was no Hershey’s tour. It was fun in a nice different way. After De Karina we headed back down to Yerushalayim.