Herb and Lenore Hahn on their hike at Nahal Kziv
Early one recent Saturday morning, we began our trek, driving north from Raanana - my wife, my daughter, her husband and myself.
Our destinations were the trail and stream at Nahal Kziv in the Western Galilee, not far from Rosh Hanikra and the Lebanese border. The weather forecast was hot and sunny, so we brought plenty of water and sunscreen. About half way we stopped for a coffee break in Yokneam Illit. The final leg of the drive was Route 70, right at the Kabri junction and right again in the direction of Moshav Avdon, until we saw a sign and markers for the park on our right. It was 9am, and the fun was about to begin.
We drove in as far as we could go, parked the car near the entrance and started our hike. It was a glorious day. The marked trail, not at all difficult, took us through sun and shade, on land and through pools of running water up to our ankles, with the Kziv stream to our right, mountain greenery to our left, and scattered wildflowers, shrubbery and some lavender-colored hollyhocks all about. Just as our sneakers dried we had to cross another little stream of water, which keeps you cool. I got the camera out of my bag and took some pictures. We could see the Montfort Crusader Castle in the distance. After an hour and a half we turned around to go back to the car. By now there were other hikers and a few bikers on the trail. Some families set up picnic tables alongside the stream and some were wading in. If you go, bring your bathing suit along; it will dry fast. All in all, we walked an eight-kilometer round trip. There are alternate, longer trails, but we had had enough. Besides, it was time to drive back south to our lunch destination.
Lunch ... part two, restaurant Ezba.
Once again we were on Route 70. About 30 minutes later we turned east on Route 85,
and continued on past Carmiel to the Arab village of Kfar Rama. The entrance is on your left. You immediately drive into the industrial area, and Ezba is on the right. If not for the sign, you might easily pass it, thinking it was a garage. Don't let it fool you. Walk on down to the restaurant, enter on the right and you are in a whole new world. The front dining room looks like someone's home: upholstered wooden frame chairs, antiques along the walls and hanging from the ceiling, and the smell of home cooking.
The menu is on one page and not complicated. The chef and owner is Habeeb Daoud, a well-known personality in culinary circles. His wife, Minerva, and the staff speak English and their service is first class. We got to the restaurant at 1pm and we were able to choose any table we wanted. Shortly thereafter, Ezba started to fill up with Israelis of all ages. Chef Habeeb changes the menu according to the season and uses only locally grown herbs and vegetables in the dishes he prepares. He says his cooking is Lebanese style. The local population of Kfar Rama is 51% Christian, 29% Druze, and 20% Muslim.
Habeeb and Minerva are Christian Israelis. They speak and write Hebrew and Minerva is very hospitable. I did not meet Habeeb.
My son-in-law and I started off with a glass of Arak. Also available are a carafe of almond drink or 'limonada' (with pomegranate at other times of the year) and soft drinks. For a starter we ordered fresh Arab salad with a delicious herb dressing and another starter of hot eggplant and tehina baked and served in a ceramic casserole dish. All agreed that they were both wonderful. We then ordered three main course dishes. The first was kubbeh siniyeh - bulgar and minced meat - also baked and served in a ceramic casserole dish, very different in shape and in taste from the usual kubbeh served elsewhere. All agreed that this was outstanding. Another winner was beef freekeh - meatballs served over toasted young wheat, which was also outstanding. The only dish we were not thrilled with was the grilled chicken freekeh. Instead we should have ordered akoub, which is cardoon (similar to artichoke) served in a broth over rice and vermicelli. It is supposed to be very good. At that point we could not eat or drink another thing, but we were happy.
It was a wonderful day, very special and one to remember. Try it, you'll like it. Their telephone number is 04 988 8808. Bon voyage!