Post 360: Winery Tour: Polenta: Your Hungarian grandmother’s Mamaliga with a twist; More of the history and basics in Post 181


I plan to join a winery tour this Thursday to Tzora Vineyards, Kashrut OK & kashrut Mateh Yehuda and Recanati Winery. Both have reputable Hechshirim. The third winery, Cremisan Wine Estate does not show Hechshirim on their site. In fact, what we have here is a Catholic wine from a Muslim city in a Jewish country. I am awaiting an official  reply from them.  Hence, a trip to the third winery does not constitute an endorsement. In fact, there is a prohibition for Jews to drink the wine. One is permitted to walk the vineyards’ lovely paths. However,wine  combined with Polenta is a good mix!

I will be on this  (B’H) 
Wine Tour and Tastings
in the
Jerusalem Hills and Beyond
Thursday, Sep 29, 9:00am
The internationally prestigious lifestyle and wine magazine “Wine Spectator” has dedicated its October issue to Israeli wines and vintners acknowledging that “a new generation is reshaping the country’s vineyards and wine making, and quality is on the rise”.

With more than 300 wineries in the country, most of them boutique,  Israel produces about 10 million cases annually, of which 20% is exported. According to Haaretz newspaper,  40% of the annual wine sales take place at  two peak times of the year — Rosh Hashana and Passover.The Wine Spectator’s experts visited wineries throughout the country where they carried out more than 100 blind tastings of domestic wines,  concluding that “though historically relegated to the kosher aisle, the country’s wines can increasingly stand on their own.”

The wine tasting tour will explore some of the most interesting stories behind several successful wineries highly ranked by the Wine Spectator, including:
  • Tzora Vineyards – One of the first boutique wineries in Israel. Led by Eran Pick, Israel’s only Master of Wine and he is a father of three young children, and winemaker of Tzora Vineyards, which he combines with being CEO of the winery. He is also a winemaker who makes wine in the vineyards. As such he is a wine grower, beautifully described by the French word vigneron.. Both their white and red wines earned top scores.
  • Vineyards06
  • Recanati Winery – One of the few wineries with dry-farmed surface in Israel. Located a short distance from Kibbutz Tzora, in the Sorek Valley, it specializes in Carignan red wine grapevines, which were originally planted in 1991. We’ll find out moe about “dry farm”.

  • Ben Zimra – Merlot Recanati Winery
  • Estate Cremisa Wine  Bethlehem, where resident Italian priests belonging to the Salesian Community, have been producing wine since 1885. Riccardo Cotarella, one of Italy’s leading enologists, works with the winery.
Ben Zimra – Merlot
 Cremisan Wine Estate

The Cremisan Valley is a valley located on the seam line between the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The valley is one of the last green areas in the Bethlehem district, with vast stretches of agricultural lands and recreational grounds. The Salesian Sisters Convent and School, the Salesian Monastery and Cremisan Cellars are located in the valley.

The main convent and monastery are part of the Salesian order. The convent and school were opened in 1960 and have around 400 students in their primary school, kindergarten, as well as the school for children with learning disabilities. The school also hosts a number of community activities in the afternoons and summer camps.

The monastery, located on a hill 850 meters above sea level, is five kilometers from Bethlehem. It was built in 1885 on ruins of a 7th century Byzantine monastery. The main monastery, housed in a building featuring stone floors, thick walls.

It is within Jerusalem municipal limits, while the storeroom on the other side of the parking lot is in the West Bank. The road to the monastery passes one of the coordinating offices between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Cremisan Cellars

Cremisan Cellars logo

Cremisan Cellars is a winery in operation since the establishment of the monastery in the 19th century. Modern equipment was introduced in 1977. The grapes are primarily harvested from the al-Khader area. Only 2% of the wine production (around 700,000 litres per year) is made from Cremisan’s own grapes. The rest comes mainly from Beit Jala, Beit Shemesh, and the Hebron area.

Land appropriation

In 2006 the Israeli military authorities issued an order envisaging the creation of a separation barrier which would have confiscated some 3,000 dunams of private local farming terrain and also Catholic church property by enclosing both parts of Beit Jala, and the settlement of Gilo within its precincts, while breaking up the contiguity of the two Salesian monasteries in the valley.The barrier would have divided the 19th Century Salesian monastery, relocated on the Jerusalem side from the neighboring convent and primary school run by nuns. On April 24, 2013, the Special Appeals Committee of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court approved land expropriation for the proposed security barrier along a route that would have annexed about 75 percent of the convent’s property and enclose it on three sides. The wall would also annex the farmland of 58 Palestinian families. Israel military authorities argued that construction of the wall was a necessary measure, or “matter of expediency,” designed to thwart future attacks by would-be terrorists infiltrating into Israeli towns and settlements.

2012 proposals for the barrier show it looping around the convent, keeping it on the Palestinian side, but splitting it from the neighboring monastery, which would be on the Israeli side. The elementary children would still be allowed to attend the school, passing soldiers at an Israeli checkpoint. Landowners would be given limited access via an agricultural gate.

According to the human rights group B’Tselem, 85 percent of the route falls inside the West Bank instead of following the Green Line. Residents of Beit Jala believe the route was chosen to connect the West Bank Israeli settlement of Har Gilo to nearby Gilo.

In a May 6, 2013 letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop Richard Pates, the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, “The Cremisan Valley is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that has serious implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict…As the wall moves and constricts more communities in the West Bank, the possibility of a future two-state resolution becomes less likely. Moving the wall and disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods will incite more resentment against the State of Israel among residents of the West Bank, not less, increasing the frustrations that can lead to violence.”

During the Second Intifada of 2000 there were regular shootings from Beit Jala to Gilo. Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman Joshua Hantman said “The route of the security barrier is based on the specific security considerations of the area. In the Beit Jala region, it is there solely to keep terror out of Jerusalem.”

During the Intifada, a wall was built around Gilo to protect the section, but was mostly removed, leaving only 80 of the original 800 plates in place, in August 2010. Israeli Lieutenant-General Hezi Revivo said, “The security situation in the area is better than it was in the period before the wall was built. It was constructed as a response to the attacks during Operation Defensive Shield and today I see no problem with removing it.”

The 9 year legal battle waged by the two local monasteries and the 58 Palestinian landowners in Beit Jala ended when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the petitioners in April 2015. The monastery and convent, it determined, ought to remain connected on the Palestinian side of the separation barrier. It was the second such decision in favor of maintaining the integrity of an area on the West Bank, following the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the villagers of Battir, who had petitioned to stop the separation wall from breaking up their town.

Above From Wikipedia

Polenta Valsugana: Not Your Hungarian grandmother’s Mamaliga: See Post 181 for a history and basic recipe. Valsugana is a region of Italy begins a few kilometers east of Trento and is the doorway to a  ski trails.

Italian Recipe: I found two Polenta Valsugana boxes in my local makolet. One is short cooking 8 minutes and the other takes about 45 minutes and it’s simple: Just as there is a quick cooking variety of oats, there is also one for corn meal. I recommend buying corn meal ingredients from a reputable shop, and not to use the boxed variety.

(Short time recipe) Put to boil a liter and a half of water and add salt to taste. Pour in into boiling  325 grams.

I wanted 4 portions so I used 1.5 cups of water and  150 gr of corn meal. Always mix in the same direction for a few minutes, using a wooden spoon. After only 8 minutes polenta is ready. Regular corn meal timing is 45 minutes.You can bake it, according to your preferences, even a little longer, increasing the amount of water.

The amount per serving:

  • 4 heaping tablespoons of the cooked mixture per serving.

     More Elegant: Prepare it according to the traditional method : use the copper pot and serve it on a solid wood cutting board . A beautiful sight on the table for your guests.

– See more at:

Polenta with mushrooms, (I added tofu). Can also add kosher bacon.

INGREDIENTS/Polenta with mushrooms:

Recipe adapted from Polenta Valsugana website.

300 g of cultivated mushrooms

80 g of tofu in two slices or other meat substitute

60 g chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, (roasted)

1 bay leaf,thyme

180 g of cherry tomatoes

200 g ricotta

coarsely chopped parsley

Add to seasoned ricotta

extra virgin olive oil




You can serve with cut tomatoes into wedges

,basil and or seasoned ricotta, hard type, grated.

– See more at:

1 Clean the mushrooms and cut them into slices, then  dice tofu.

2 Lightly fry the garlic with the onion , bay leaf and thyme. Add the mushrooms, raise the heat and brown.

3 Add the tofu and cook before checking the salt and pepper.

4 Gradually increase heat, then remove the garlic, bay leaf and thyme and flavored with parsley. Let cool. Grated 50 g of seasoned ricotta cheese and divide tomatoes in half, remove seeds and cut into pieces; (could not find the meaning of this word).5 Prepare the polenta: put on the fire a saucepan with 1.3 liters of water, salt to taste and bring to a boil. When the water boils, pour in the whole cornmeal Package stirring well. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon for a few minutes in the same way keeping the boil. After 8 minutes, the polenta is ready. 6 When boiling add the polenta with mushroom sauce and tomatoes and mix the ingredients well.

7 Add the cottage cheese/seasoned ricotta.

8 slightly Stir, then pour the polenta in a plate it level to 2 cm thick.

9 Bake at 200 degrees with grill for a few minutes, then divide the polenta cubes. 10 Put the polenta cubes on a platter, decorate with chunks of tomato, grated seasoned ricotta and basil, then serve.

– See more at:

Polenta Cake: This looks intriguing:

1 – Arrange on the table all the ingredients for the preparation of the cake. Ingredients are after the direction? Guess the Italians want to know how LONG it will take to follow the recipe. Not a bad idea!

2 Whisk the softened butter with the icing sugar. 3 Add the eggs and yolks, and when the mass will be amalgamated, with cold coffee and coffee powder. 4 Stir in the cornmeal.

5 Add the sifted white flour with baking powder, starch and powdered almonds. 6 Complete with seeds of the vanilla bean. 7 Spread the mixture into a 24 cm mold, greased and floured and bake in a 180 ° oven for 37 / 40 minutes. When the cake will be  baked and place on wire rack to cool. 8 Decoration: sprinkle with icing sugar and garnish with coffee beans.- See more at:

I plan to play around with this recipe and incorporate the traditional Israeli defrosted rolled dough:


200 grams of flour/ Israeli rolled dough

50 g Polenta Rapid Yellow

3 egg yolks

130 grams of butter/or less

13 grams of salt


100 grams of cooked corn

50 g Polenta Rapid Yellow

260 grams of milk

3 eggs

15 g butter

125 grams of ricotta

50 grams of peas

80 grams of washed and boiled asparagus

45 grams of cooked tofu cubes

50 grams of grated Parmesan cheese



1 Set up the ingredients listed in the recipe. (photo 1)

2 salted Shortbread: begin to moisten the butter with salt and pepper, flour, and the cornmeal. (2 photos)

3 Finish kneading by adding 3 egg yolks and work quickly to shrink the pastry. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4 Filling: in a saucepan boil the milk, pour the corn flour to rain, stirring, cook the polenta for 6 minutes, then add the corn and cook for 2 minutes. Salt, pepper and add the ricotta, eggs and butter. Season with the Parmesan cheese, the vegetables and the tofu.

5 Roll out the pastry and coated stencils from tart  10 cm, greased and floured. Prick the dough on the bottom and  Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out the strips. Pour the filling, and close with strips of dough.

6 Place the pastierine  (tart pan) in the oven at 175 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

– See more at:


NUTRITIONAL VALUES (Average per 100g of product)
Energy 1507 KJ – 355 Kcal
Fat of which saturated) 1.20 g (0.33 g)
Carbohydrates (of which sugars) 77.40 g (0.39 g)
fibers 3.30 g
protein 7.20 g
salt 0 g


Sizes of package

Pack 375g
pack 2 x 375g
pack 1,5kg

– See more at:

Now that I am familiar with the texture, I’ll check with the shuk vendors to see if the quick cooking corn-meal is available here.



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