Oshra Tishbi is passionate about the beautiful, flavorful fruits that surround her community in Israel’s Shomron. At the Specialty Food Service’s Fancy Food Show in Manhattan last month, Tishbi was one of only a few Israeli exhibitors, but the exquisitely packaged and beautifully presented preserves, jellies, oil and honey nestled right in among the fanciest products in the world.
Tishbi, who is the daughter of Jonathan Tishbi and sister of winemaker Golan Tishbi, works alongside her brother at their expansive vineyard and property in Zichron Yaakov, where they also have a winery restaurant, bakery and wine-and-Vahlrona-chocolate tasting room. On Fridays, they also have a food truck that serves pit-smoked barbecued meats, which is enjoyed by everyone along with live music. In addition to working through the site, Oshra manages the packaged food division, which is called Oshra Tishbi Fine Foods.
Oshra Tishbi is not the first woman in her family to work in Zichron Yaakov. In 1882, Tishbi’s ancestors, the Chamiletzkis, started working the land in Zichron Yaakov, which was first claimed by Baron Edmund de Rothschild. They planted and developed vineyards in the area for Rothschild, and the family settled nearby. In 1925, as the story goes, the family hosted the famous poet Chaim Nachman Bialik. In honor of their warm hospitality, the poet proposed a new, Hebrew family name for them: “Tishbi” is an acronym standing for “a resident of Shefeya in Israel.”
At the beginning of the 1980s, the wine industry underwent a severe crisis and the price of grapes dropped drastically. As a result, Jonathan Tishbi opened a small winery of his own in 1984 in the same Judean Hills. Oshra Tishbi and her brother Golan are now the fifth generation from their family working the land.
Tishbi told The Jewish Link about her special passion for the Tishbi export product line. In addition to flavorful olive oils, she makes jams combining Tishbi wine grape varietals with local fruits. The quality of the fruit in this region of Israel is very good, she said, and the flavor combination with each specific grape is unique and delicious. She is particularly proud of her preserves, which include fig cabernet (“My best seller,” she said), cherry shiraz, apricot riesling, mango chardonnay, strawberry champagne, and onion cabernet.
The preserves pack a powerful punch because they contain classic fruit flavors, such as cherry or apricot, with another added layer of a specific type of wine grape. The layer is tasted after the first initial pop of the fruit. Since these are not table grapes, like the ubiquitous red seedless or green seedless, wine lovers who don’t get the opportunity to taste wine grapes too often consider it a particular treat to enjoy the flavor as part of a jam, either on toast or with cheese and crackers.
Tishbi added that the flavor combinations have led her to discover unique and delicious combinations in the kitchen, noting that the preserves lend themselves to cooking, baking, spreading or even as a topping for ice cream. For example, she shared a specific way she uses her preserves to jazz up eggs. “It’s not even a recipe really; I just combine beaten eggs with some of the savory, carmelized onion cabernet preserves and make an omelet. It’s amazing. You have to try it,” she said.
In addition to providing cheese-pairing recommendations on her website (http://www.tishbi.com/en/wine-jellies/oshra-tishbi-fine-food/), she also recommended spreading fig cabernet on a roast beef sandwich, or the cherry shiraz with roast turkey. “I use the cherry shiraz in the place of cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving,” said Stacy Kurtz, Tishbi’s North American importer.
Tishbi jams are available in local kosher food and high-end specialty markets in the U.S. and Canada. They are certified by the OU.
By Elizabeth Kratz