I was first seduced by Yona Avni on my way to cover the war in southern Lebanon.
Well, war might be too strong a word. It was the fall of 1984, and the worst of the fighting was past. But seduced is, if anything, too mild to describe the impact of Yona's homemade pies.
The Avnis--Yona and her American expatriate husband, Yehuda--are the proprietors of Vered Hagalil, which they describe as a guest farm, on a hill overlooking the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Ever since that first visit, I have returned as often as possible, either for a meal when passing through or with my wife and whichever of our college-age daughters is around for a weekend escape.
Besides Yona's cooking, Vered Hagalil features horses for ring and trail riding in one of Israel's most tranquil settings. It's an easy ride down to the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus is said to have delivered his Sermon on the Mount, and not much farther to the lake or to the Horns of Hittin, where Salah al Din finally disposed of the Crusaders 800 years ago.
The ranch is an easy three-hour drive north from Jerusalem, on the main road between Tiberias and Kiryat Shemona, and it also serves as a gateway to the Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon and scores of other worthwhile attractions for tourists.
Vered Hagalil offers rooms with toilet and shower or separate, air-conditioned cottages with bedroom and living room. The food is terrific--steaks, fried chicken, smoked trout--and reasonably priced, with dinner typically running $10 to $15 a person. The cognoscenti say that Yehuda makes a mean martini. And those pies! I recommend pecan during the season--a la mode.
You'll definitely need reservations, which can be made by mail or by telephone.
Vered Hagalil, MP Korazim, 12340 Israel. Telephone 011-972-69-35785. Cost: $37 per couple for rooms, $60 for cottages.