For foodies and sophisticated tourists looking for something to do this week that is light, tasty and has a hint of oak, go North: Haifa is holding it ninth annual "First Fruits" wine and cheese tasting festival this week between Tuesday and Thursday. The festival's name is taken from name given to the first produce that the ancient Israelites would bring to the Temple in Jerusalem for the Shavuot holiday, which will take place next week on May 15.
Every evening from 6 P.M. to 11 P.M. the festival will feature special chef workshops and lectures as well as plenty of opportunities to sample and partake of the wines, cheeses, olive oil, chocolates and pastries on display. According to the Haifa Municipality's website, the workshops at the festival this year will concentrate on the right combination of wines and foods and will be overseen by wine expert Andre Suidan of the local Special Reserve Wine Shop.
The festival will take place in the park by the Haifa Auditorium (nearby the Haifa Cinematheque) in the Mercaz Hacarmel neighborhood, close to many of Haifa's tourist attractions, entertainment venues and major hotels. The area is easily accessible by public transit, including Haifa's underground railway, the Carmelit, and there are options for paid parking in the near vicinity, although free parking may be significantly more difficult to find.
For tourists, the festival is great way to cap a day trip to Haifa after checking out some of Haifa's other year-round sights.
Dozens of local wine and cheese producers will participate in the festival this year with participants ranging from Israel's two largest wineries, Carmel and Barkan, to many medium and boutique-sized wine and cheese producers. Foreign wineries from as far afield as Spain, Italy and Chile have also sent some of their vintages as well.
So hearken to Bacchus and enjoy yourself a nibble and a drink.
Haifa's First Fruit Festival runs from Tuesday, May 7 to Thursday, May 9 in Haifa's Auditorium Park in the Mercaz Hacarmel neighborhood. Festival hours are 6 P.M.-11 P.M. every evening.
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