“Make sure to place your organic waste in the buckets outside and please use our shampoo and soap when you shower so chemicals don’t enter or gray water system,” my hostess explained to my family as we first arrived in Amirim. I immediately felt at home.
We’ve been covering lots of eco-tourism tips and organic and vegetarian hot spots in Tel Aviv on Green Prophet, but I recently spent the weekend at a tzimmer (guest lodge) in moshav Amirim that was a vegetarian and ecological paradise unto itself.
Just 15 kilometers from Tzfat there is a moshav that was founded in the late 50s that was ideologically influenced by organic, vegetarian and vegan principles. My hostess at Ohn-Bar, the tzimmer where I stayed, explained that the people of Amirim were among the pioneers of Israel’s strong vegetarian movement.And as its heritage suggests, Amirim was truly a special place. The view of the Upper Galilee was incredible, only enhanced while eating the organic fruits that come from the yards of most of the moshav members. Most of the tzimmerim are in some way a part of moshav members’ property, usually small wooden lodges shaded by fig and lemon trees. Visitors are on their honor not cook in the kitchenettes with meat products.
Besides local concerts—in fact, there was a jazz concert the night we arrived—there are terrific restaurants to frequent, both in Amirim and nearby (the nearby restaurants also serve meat for those traveling with omnivorous companions). Dalia is one of the establishment vegetarian places having been open and run by an eccentric woman named Dalia for thirty years. I ate there for breakfast and dinner and both times felt fully satisfied by both the meal and the experience.
Very much a slow-food inspired restaurant, Dalia doesn’t let you order. She takes care of everything. Every diner pays a flat fee and she brings out dish after dish for the table. The main courses are all prepared on the spot, and were rather complex and delicious; the peanut-date balls in onion stock stand out in my memory, along with dates stuffed with quinoa and almonds, among lots of others, and plenty of prepared salads. All of her jams and tahini spreads and cheeses are homemade.
My Israeli cousins, most of whom are notoriously skeptical of anything vegetarian, were delightfully pleased by the meal, and its relative inexpensiveness compared to the other restaurants in the region, like those in Rosh Pinah where we dined the previous day. Dalia then invites you for dessert on the porch or in the garden and prepares an herbal tea with her own garden herbs, served with homemade cakes in the morning and litchi for dessert in the evening. She serves no caffeine, no white flour, and nothing that she deems unfit to eat. I believe it’s mostly (possibly fully) organic, as well.
Ariella, my older cousin, spent one morning receiving free facials from local cosmetic makers who use only natural ingredients. She returned down south with olive oil shampoo and toner. Our hostess at Ohn-Bar also made her own organic wine, as apparently many of the hostesses do, and we lounged in hammocks, watched the sunset, and downed the sweet wine (it wasn’t the greatest wine, but homemade added to its charm).
However, like many things organic and sustainable, accommodations at Amirim are on the expensive side. Though given the its uniqueness, it’s well worth a visit even if just to dine at the few vegetarian restaurants or appreciate the view among the fellowship of Israeli visionaries.
See more vegetarian-related posts on Green Prophet: