Mollie Katzen's Sukkot Menu
Secret Tables of Gotham
Bourdain Invades Israel
Tamar Adler's Fried Jewish Artichokes
Save the Bubbes!
The Curious History of Kosher Salt
Shiva for Stage Deli
Berlin's Jewish Foodie Comeback
The Great Deli Rescue
Romping Through the Jewish Pumpkin Patch
Haimish to Haute, NYC Transforms Jewish Food
Bay Area's DIY Jewish Food Movement
Yid.Dish Recipe Box
'Inside the Jewish Bakery’
The Bacon Problem
Manischewitz Goes Sephardic
Jews and the Booze
Jews and Beer
Taking the Food Tour That Keeps on Feeding
At Kosher Feast, Fried Locusts for Dessert
Live Long and Super: Supermarket History
A Slice of Hebrew Pizza
Grow and Behold: A New Line of Kosher Chicken Launches A Conversation Around Jewish Food Ethics
When In Rome… Eat Like the Jews Do
A Letter to Our Readers
JCarrot Archives: 2006-August 2010
Shabbat Dinner, With Panache
Next Generation Challah
So, this Hanukah, I decided my pre-schooler and I would go nuts. Old enough to be involved, we went shopping- silver tinsel, an extra menorah, flour, sugar, cookie cutters and sprinkles were all purchased and waiting for Hanukah break. We decorated the house, rolled out dreidel cookies, set up the menorahs, and fried latkes…. And it was only day one of vacation. The only thing left to do was make sufganiyot.
It’s Hanukkah, and we’ve been hearing a lot about olive oil. But consider the olive tree; its noble wood and generous shade; its gnarled beauty; its fruit, and the pungent oil pressed out of that fruit.
A trip to the Galilee brought me to Druze villages where residents traditionally make their living from the olive harvest. My guide was Nivin, a young Druze woman. We drove past modern olive groves planted against green hills. She indicated where to stop, at the edge of another olive orchard. This one’s trees are 2000 years old.
They thrive on winter rains alone, and for this reason, the ancient farmers spaced them well apart, making room for each one to receive sunshine and moisture without competition. It was a cool, blue afternoon, and we walked between the great, silent trees with a certain awe. They had been set down into that soil as flexible saplings when Solomon’s Temple still stood.
The trees continued to grow slowly throughout the centuries, making new wood that curved outward, so that each tree’s heart was exposed, or curved back towards the mother tree so that a wooden hollow was formed that’s big enough for an adult to stand in. And those ancient trees are still producing fruit. Their branches were so heavy with sun-warmed, blue-black olives that they bowed almost to the ground.
As we walked through the orchard, Nivin told me a Druze folk tale, about the olive and King Solomon. King Solomon had the supernatural power of understanding all living creatures’ languages. He would leave his palace to walk through fields and forests, conversing with beasts and plants, gathering and distilling their wisdom. For this, all natural beings loved him. When the great king died, nature went into mourning. The trees deliberately shed their foliage, so that their bare branches rattled sadly in the winter gusts. But not every tree did this. To the disgust of the others, the olive stood in its full glory of green and silver leaves.
“Why aren’t you mourning the passing of Solomon?” the trees asked the olive. “Don’t you care? Look at us. The mulberry, the almond, the oak — all our greenery has fallen to the ground. Everyone can see how sad we are. Yet you are indifferent. You haven’t shed one leaf. Where’s your heart?”
This morning I attended the funeral of Yitz Penciner. Yitz was the last of his generation of Toronto’s Great Deli Men. For 22 years he worked and managed Shopsy’s Deli before opening his own eponymous place at Avenue and Eglinton. He sold that around 2000. He was “The Godfather of Deli” and my mentor.
When I opened my place in the Monarch in 2008, David Sax, author of James Beard Book Award winning “Save the Deli” suggested I invite Yitz for lunch. Yitz showed up with his accountant, Harold. It was a Wednesday and it was very busy. I remember corralling the last couple of seat for them. Geddy Lee was standing at the bar eating a sandwich.
Yitz looked around in astonishment. “Who are these people,” he asked no one in particular. “What’s going on?” What was going on was something of a phenomenon. My deli in a dive bar touched a nerve and attracted immense media attention both traditional and online. He didn’t quite get it maybe because he’d been so close to deli his whole life. I don’t know. Certainly he was happy for me and happy that someone was trying to carry on the tradition even if it wasn’t in the traditional way.
Yitz had a deliberate way of speaking. As if he’d considered each of his words before offering them. As if you’d be wise to pay attention. Maybe even take notes. I’m not sure how exactly our relationship developed into a mentorship but I’m beyond grateful it did. Actually, that’s not true. I remember the exact moment:
I bumped into Yitz and Mrs. Yitz (the lovely Bernice Penciner) while I was filling my basket at Loblaw’s on St Clair with boxes of Matzo Meal. “You’re going to make matzo balls,” Yitz said. “Here, take this”. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a yellow card with ‘From the Pocket of Yitz Penciner’ printed at the top. Amazing. “This recipe was given to me by a borscht-belt chef 20 years ago,” he said. “It works every time.” And he proceeded to write the recipe for his wonderful matzo balls. Of course I still have that card.
There are a handful of New York City landmarks that most people recognize: Lady Liberty. The Chrysler Building. And Katz’s Delicatessen.
Opened on the Lower East Side in 1888 and purchased by the Russian Katz family in 1903, the delicatessen famous for its orgasmic pastrami sandwiches, its Friday evening frankfurters ‘n’ beans and its Cel-Ray soda is one of the oldest continually operating businesses in New York City. And, at the ripe age of 125, Katz’s is still going strong: each week, the deli serves up more than 10,000 pounds of pastrami, 6,000 pounds of corned beef, and 4,000 hot dogs to locals and tourists alike. That’s a lot of cow.
Katz’s has attracted its fair share of attention over the years. But no one had ever written a book about it until now. In September, current part owner Jake Dell wrote the introduction to Katz’s: Autobiography of a Delicatessen in which he traces the famed storefront’s evolution from a tight-knit neighborhood joint to a star-studded celebrity hangout at the height of the early 1900s Yiddish theatre boom to a can’t-miss tourist attraction in the oughts. Large-format, full-color photos by Baldomero Fernandez detailing every nook and cranny of the restaurant accompany Dell’s text.
When it comes to publishing food or cookbooks, it’s usually the restaurant chef or owner that approaches the publisher with an idea. But in the case of Katz’s, Dell said, it was Bauer and Dean Publishers that, a few years ago, came to him. With the big anniversary fast approaching, Dell thought the timing was perfect.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” he said.
This has been a tremendous year for cookbooks. Choosing just eight to recommend wasn’t easy, but we taste tested, read and, frankly, salivated over a lot of photos to find the best books to recommend to you this Hanukkah season. You will find four here and four more at forward.com/food, one book for each night.
While a hefty vegetarian and international vegan book are among our favorite this year, carnivores need not worry. A book devoted solely to chicken fat — imagine! — made our list, plus one with four seasonal brisket recipes that helps you bring home the deli with an easy do-it-yourself pastrami recipe. Books from two Israeli chefs introduce some Middle Eastern flavors, and a husband-and-wife team offer some refreshing reinterpretations of Jewish classics.
All these would make a great Hanukkah gift, or perhaps leaving a marked-up clipping of this list lying around in a prominent place could yield some favorable results — not only for you, but in the form of some shared memorable meals in the not-too-distant future.
1. What does Portland, Ore., know from Jewish deli? A lot, as it turns out, thanks to Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman, authors of “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home.” Featuring recipes from Portland’s Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen as well as other new wave Jewish delis, like Mile End and Caplansky’s, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to try boiling his or her own bagels at home or making an extraordinarily succulent and flavorful pastrami — no smoker required. But simpler deli recipes abound, as well. There are numerous variations on egg, potato and chicken salads, as well as soups from matzo ball to kreplach, mushroom barley and borscht.
2. The buzz still hasn’t died down from last year’s “Jerusalem,” but already, the London-based Israeli Jewish and Palestinian dynamic duo Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have another book out: “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.” This is the third year running that an Ottolenghi book is on our list. Featuring dishes both savory and sweet from their incredibly popular London takeout shops, “Ottolenghi” was their first book to come out in the United Kingdom, but it just made its way stateside. While salads and vegetable sides dominate (along with mouthwatering photos), there is a fair number of entrees, and plenty of tempting sweets. Their roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey is perfect for a holiday meal, and sweet potato galette with goat cheese is on our next dinner party menu. Surprising combinations also sneak into the book, like mixed mushrooms with cinnamon and lemon.
3. In New York, Einat Admony is the queen bee of Israeli cooking. The chef and owner of Taim falafel and the more upscale Balaboosta released her first book this year: “Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes To Feed the People You Love.” The book’s gorgeous photos and straightforward recipes will call even the most timid cook to the kitchen. While the title is Yiddish, Admony herself is of Persian and Yemenite heritage, and it shows in her well spiced recipes, like her mom’s chicken with pomegranate and walnuts, and lamb chops with Persian lime sauce and kubaneh, a Yemenite bread baked overnight. A variety of Israeli dishes — and some Palestinian ones — are sprinkled throughout.
4. “The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes” by Todd Gray, Ellen Kassoff Gray and David Hagedorn grew out of a New York Times article by Joan Nathan about non-Jewish chefs married to Jews. The owners of Equinox restaurant (Kassoff Gray is Jewish, Gray is not) in Washington, D.C., have updated Jewish classics with more flavorful and modern takes, like fig and port wine blintzes, and falafel with pickled vegetables and minted lemon yogurt. While one or two mixed meat-and-milk dishes do appear, each recipe is classified as meat, dairy or pareve, and entire kosher menus are suggested for the Jewish holidays. Matzo-stuffed Cornish game hen for Hanukkah, anyone?
A once in a lifetime holiday that combines two of the most tasty holidays is a really serious event. Latkes, presents, lighting the menorah, making stuffing, and a turkey on the same night? Talk about a lot of pressure. We’d totally understand if you’re just not feeling up for making pumpkin sufganiyot. And we think you’ll family will understand too once they see some of your other options.
Restaurants aren’t taking Thanksgivukkah lightly. They’re bringing out the big guns in the form of challah stuffing, burnt marshmallow challah donuts, sweet potato latkes, and more. With delectable options like these, it’s a shame we won’t see them again for 79,000 years.
The once-in-a-79,000-years superfeast of Thanksgivukkah is upon us, which can only mean many of us will be shopping for all the best and freshest stuff. With Thanksgiving already being a day to thank for the harvest, acquiring your pumpkins and turkey at your local farmers market only seems logical. The Pilgrims certainly didn’t import their apples from Chile or South Africa!
There are convincing historical arguments to invest in local produce for Hanukkah, too.
Sydney Davis, who works at the stall of the Mountain Sweet Berry Farm in Roscoe, N.Y., at the Union Square Greenmarket, compared the Farmers Markets’ fight against cheaper supermarket chains to fighting the Romans.
“We’re the little guys, like the Maccabees,” he said. “We make it last despite all odds.”
Turns out Rick Bishops, the farmer at Mountain Sweet Berry, has been contributing his part to the Maccabees’ ongoing popularity: From his farm in the Catskills, he sells a large variety of potatoes, and recommends German Butterballs ($3/lb) for latkes.
If you’re wondering what to put on your latkes, Jeanne Hodesh, communications associate at GrowNYC, a non-profit that oversees the 64 Greenmarket and Youthmarket Farmers Markets that are operating in New York City this season, offers some suggestions.
“Whether it’s horseradish or cranberries you’re looking for, the market has [it] – as well as a cranberry horseradish chutney from Beth’s Farm Kitchen,” she said. “We think it would be delicious on latkes.”
Who knew there could be good chocolate Hanukkah gelt? I figured it had to be waxy and tasteless, left in its foil to decorate a festive table rather than my mouth. A lovely audience in New Jersey shared their favorite Jewish chocolate experiences with me recently and mentioned, among other things, chocolate covered matzah and chocolate macaroons. They did not mention gelt. When I noted that omission, one woman sharply retorted, “Chocolate gelt is sucky.”
And so it often is. Or has been.
Several companies sell gelt. My quality test sampled some, not all. My criteria for gelt goodness includes whether the product is fair trade, kosher, and/or organic. I also care about appearance and taste and quality.
Could the startup nation become a powerhouse for food-related startups, too? There are at least a few people who hope so, and they’re taking action to make it happen.
The Boston-based accelerator MassChallenge is partnering with Israel’s Strauss group to launch a food-focused accelerator program based in Israel. The program, drawing on Strauss’s food expertise and MassChallenge’s experience in nurturing young companies and ideas, plans to accept entrepreneurs from around the world with food-tech related ideas or startups, and help turn those ideas into full-fledged businesses.
If you’re new to the world of incubators and accelerators, let me explain: Accelerators help entrepreneurs with ideas or early-stage startups launch full-fledged businesses more quickly than they would without outside assistance. Help could come in the form of advisers, access to potential customers and to regulators, and funding, among others.
The food tech sector is underrepresented among startup companies, and part of the idea behind the program is to change that, says Amir Eldad, MassChallenge’s lead partner for international expansion.
Leave the bad bottle of wine at your local liquor shop and pick up one of these Israeli treats for your holiday party host. We promise, they’ll be grateful. Oh, and it would only be right to get yourself one too, right?
A Nutty Spread
No trip to Israel is complete without a slice of fresh halva cut from a mound of sweetened sesame paste in one of the country’s legendary markets. Longing for a taste of home, Shahar Shamir, who lives in Brooklyn, has reimagined the snack as a line of spreads called Brooklyn Sesame. His nutty tahini pastes are sweetened with honey and blended with a choice of roasted pistachios, sesame seeds or caraway seeds. A recent addition to his line includes a cocoa and sea salt option that would be exceptional atop a good bowl of vanilla ice cream. The pastes are delicious with cheese, on bread or frankly, straight off of a spoon.
Brooklyn Sesame’s Halva Spread; $8-14
I know what you are thinking…. the Hanukkah story had a femme fatale?? When you think of Hanukkah you probably think of how the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks in a revolt that recaptured the Holy Temple. And once the Maccabees did, the first order of business was to light the menorah in the Temple, but very little oil was found and would only last one day. The miracle of Hanukkah was that the little vile of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted 8 days. It is for this reason that we eat foods fried in oil (typically olive oil because it’s a characteristic of the Land of Israel). What you may not know is that there is an underlying story of events that led to the victory of the Maccabees and it all started in the town of Bethulia, in the Judean Desert with a woman named Judith.
Judith was a pious woman who had a plan to save the Jews by pretending to surrender to an Assyrian general, Holofernes. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was seized and the Jews could not practice their religion. Judith used her beauty and charm to ingratiate herself onto Holofernes. She brought him her homemade cheese and wine (nothing like food to a man’s stomach) and went back to his tent, for “something something”…. Or so he thought.
Serves 4; requires 1 day’s preparation
Special equipment: digital thermometer (optional, but very helpful)
¼ kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
3 whole star anise (or 1½ tablespoons of star anise pieces)
4 medium-to-large turkey legs
1 gallon vegetable oil (canola, peanut or grape seed will work, too)
1) In a small pan, toast anise and fennel over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar along with chili flakes, and grind until mostly smooth. Pour into a bowl, and add salt and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
2) Wipe turkey legs with a damp paper towel, and set on a large plate. Rub dry brine all over turkey. Then transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill, uncovered, for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
3) Pour the oil into a very large stock pot. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, turn the heat to medium-high and bring the oil to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
4) While the oil heats up, rinse the dry brine off your turkey and dry very thoroughly. Any liquid that remains on the turkey will splatter when it hits the oil, so be sure to wipe the turkey legs several times (using paper towels) until they are bone dry. Set the legs on a clean plate. You’ll be cooking them 2 at a time.
5) Stick the heat-safe end of your digital thermometer into the largest of your turkey legs. Starting with that leg, carefully add the legs to the pot: hold each leg by its thin end, and set it gently into the oil, round end first. While I found gloves unnecessary, you definitely want an apron, and you might consider long sleeves. If your legs are dry, the oil will sizzle a bit, but it will not splatter.
6) Add a second turkey leg to the pot. Set your digital thermometer to notify you when the turkey legs have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. In my pot, that took about 20 minutes. If you’re nervous about undercooking, 22–23 minutes should do the trick.
7) When the turkey legs are done, carefully remove them from the oil, using long, heat-safe tongs. Transfer the finished legs to yet another clean plate, and allow them to rest for at least 3–5 minutes before digging in. Cook the remaining legs in the same manner.
8) Serve with turkey schmaltz latkes and cranberry applesauce. Happy Thanksgivukkah!
Inspired by recipes from Simply Recipes and Food52
3 pounds mixed apples, such as Cortland, Braeburn, Jonagold, Gala and Winesap, peeled and cored
1 1⁄2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen; no need to defrost)
1⁄4 cup light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup white sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground works best)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1) This applesauce can be made either in the oven or on the stove. The oven method takes much longer, but it produces a silkier, mellower applesauce. If you are pressed for time or for oven space, the stove works well, too.
2) If using the oven, preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
3) Quarter each of the prepared apples, and transfer to a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the cranberries over the top. Distribute the sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt evenly over the mixture, and wrap the dish tightly with foil. Transfer to the oven, and bake for 30–60 minutes, checking every 10 minutes, until apples are almost entirely soft and mixture is bubbling.
4) Turn the oven up to 500 degrees, uncover dish and bake for 10 more minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated and a couple of the apples have started to turn brown at their tips. (If they don’t turn brown, it’s okay.) Remove the dish from the oven, transfer the apples to a heat-safe dish, and use a potato masher or a large fork to mash the fruit, keeping some texture or mashing it smooth, depending on your preference. Taste (carefully — it will be hot!), and add more sugar if necessary.
5) If using the stove, simply combine all of the ingredients and 1⁄4 cup water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20–30 minutes until everything is soft and mushy. Mash to your desired consistency, then transfer to a heat-safe bowl to cool. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary.
6) I like this sauce warm, room temperature or chilled. With piping-hot latkes, I like it best just colder than room temperature.
2 yukon gold or russet potatoes (about 2 cups when grated)
2 sweet potatoes (about 2 cups)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup of vegetable oil or poultry fat
1) Grate the sweet potato and potato using the thick holes on a hand or box grater. Scoop up handfuls of the potatoes, wring out thoroughly over the sink and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Alternatively, use the grater attachment on your food processor.
2) Mix together the two potatoes, and add the ginger, allspice, beaten egg and flour. Stir to combine. Season mixture with the teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper, and stir thoroughly.
3) Line a large plate or cooling rack with a couple of layers of paper towel.
4) In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat 1⁄8 inch of vegetable oil or fat over medium-high heat. Test the oil by dropping a small spoonful of the latke mixture into it; it should sizzle immediately. When the oil is ready, scoop batter using a 1⁄4 cup measure or an ice cream scoop, and drop into the pan, leaving at least 1 inch between latkes. Use the back of a spatula or a fork to flatten latkes slightly, so that they have an evenly flat surface. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, until latkes are evenly golden. Transfer finished latkes to the prepared plate or rack. If using a plate, make sure to lay down paper towels between layers of latkes. If not serving immediately, keep latkes warm in a 200-degree oven.
5) Replenish oil as necessary, making sure to maintain 1⁄8 inch in the pan. Do not replenish oil while latkes are in the pan.
6) If you’re serving latkes immediately, set them on the rack only briefly, until some of their oil has soaked into the paper towel. Then serve while still hot and crispy. Alternatively, you can fry all the latkes in advance, and then reheat them in a dry cast-iron or heavy pan until they start to sizzle. Be sure to reheat on both sides of the latkes before serving.
It was an overcast Monday afternoon in Tel Aviv’s beleaguered Hatikva neighborhood, and Chef Michael Solomonov was gamely accepting dish after dish at Bosi, a small-family owned restaurant, surrounded by cameras and sound men. Facing skewers of meat, a mounting stack of fresh flatbreads and a dozen salads including beet, several eggplant dishes, coleslaws and hummus, he rattled off descriptions for the camera. Using the salads to illustrate the Israeli melting pot, he attempted to name the origin of each one — one is probably Yemenite, another looks Palestinian — and turned around to feed a bite of kebab to his cameraman, documentary filmmaker Roger Sherman, who was towering over him.
Solomonov is partnered with Sherman, a two-time Academy Award nominee, to film an upcoming PBS documentary on Israeli food, “The Search for Israeli Cuisine.” They have traveled the country up and down, from Metullah to Mitzpeh Ramon, in search of what Solomonov termed “grassroots” food experiences. Along the way, they visited vintners, farmers, cheesemakers. Solomonov also stopped in the homes of talented cooks and attended a poyke dinner after dark in the desert. The list of sites was pulled together by Solomonov, Sherman. producer Karen Shakerdge, who is half Israeli, and Avichai Tsabari, a local tour guide and sommelier. All in all, the trip was the result of one and a half years’ worth of planning and fundraising to date, to be packaged into four half-hour episodes scheduled to air next year.
Some Thanksgivukkah mashups we’re really struggling with (turkey stuffed sufganiyot? We’ll pass). But a chocolate gelt filled pumpkin cake? Yes, please.
This recipe (below) and pictures come courtesy of Franci Cohen. Thanks, Franci! Our inner child is screaming for this sweet treat.
Who knew leafy greens could be so telling?
The romaine lettuce you’ll see these days on plates at the Carnegie Deli aren’t just a sign owner Marian Levine has stopped using iceberg lettuce. These leaves mean that she has also gotten rid of Sanford “Sandy” Levine, her philandering husband of 22 years. (Apparently Sandy, who used to run the deli’s daily operations before his wife learned of his 15-year affair with one of the deli’s waitresses, refused to update to romaine.)
Romaine is now on the menu, and Sandy and his paramour, Penkae (Kay) Siricharoen, have exited the famous delicatessen, but Marian is far from happy. Perhaps even worse than having taken Marian’s husband, Siricharoen has allegedly helped herself to Carnegie Deli inventory and recipes.
Several years ago, while on a walk with his dog, John Lankenau came across a tombstone leaning against a fire hydrant on Manhattan’s East Fourth Street. Most of the writing on the tombstone was in Hebrew, but not the name: Hinda Amchanitzky.
Lankenau rescued the tombstone from the sidewalk and went looking for answers: Who was this woman? Where was she actually buried? With the help of a genealogist, New York Times reporter, and New York City’s commissioner of records, the facts emerged. Remarkably, Amchanitzky was the author of the first Yiddish cookbook published in America. A copy of her book is archived in the Library of Congress.
The tombstone was reunited with its proper grave in Staten Island in 2011, over 100 years after Amchanitzky died. Though the peculiar circumstances surrounding her misplaced gravestone made modern headlines, Amchanitzky was certainly no wallflower in her lifetime.
“She was something of a mover and a shaker,” said Jane Ziegelman, a food historian and author of “97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement.”
Ziegelman’s sense that Amchanitzky was likely a “local East Side celebrity” stems from the fact that Jewish women living on the Lower East Side at the turn of the century had essentially one place to look for new recipes: Amchanitzky’s “Manual of How To Cook and Bake,” which she self-published in 1901.
We all have our favorite Jewish foods, but are we willing to go head to head with other food lovers to defend them? A Bit off the Top, a Montreal-based incubator for Jewish ideas (it organizes LE MOOD), is challenging bagel biters, latke lovers and falafel fanciers to stand up for their favorite fare in the Ultimate Jewish Food Championship.
Quite simply, it’s a bracket-style championship pitting eight “Super Jewish foods” against each other in pairs until one of them emerges triumphant. To participate, you don’t even have to eat your favorite food. Just voting for it online is enough.
To sex up the competition a bit, A Bit off the Top has enlisted some young Jewish local culinary celebs to champion their favorite dishes. Among them are BBQ spot owner Shawn Dascal championing brisket, food festival creator Na’eem Adam touting smoked meat, food blogger Dustin Gilman pushing latkes, and radio hosts Neev and Alex Fredo cheering for couscous.
In a nod to Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jewish heritage, couscous and falafel are included. However, the overwhelming majority of contenders hail from Eastern Europe. “Of course, living in the American North East, our eight contenders are slightly biased towards traditionally Ashkenazi dishes, and for this we apologize, but here in Montreal, we are surrounded by them in famous delis, old-school bakeries and in our homes.”
Knish lovers: Stop kvetching and start bidding.
Three weeks after Gabila’s Long Island knish factory announced a shortage of fried potato pies due to a fire, a dozen fried potato pies in Knoxville, Tennessee were put up for auction.
“WE HAVE THEM. YOU WANT THEM. BID NOW!” reads the ad, which advertises the knishes as “Unopened! Shipped frozen!”
Robin Goldberg, who posted three boxes of Gabila’s (four to a box) on eBay at a starting price of .99 cents, promised to get them to the winning bidder in time for the first night of Hanukkah and to donate a portion of her proceeds to a local hunger-relief charity.
Goldberg found the potato pies in her local supermarket. “In the frozen section, things just sit there and they don’t get purchased,” said the Fort Lee, N.J., native who has lived in Knoxville for two years and has long been a fan of square knishes (the round ones, she dismissed as “dry” and “too gourmet”). “Even when the news said [square] knishes were running out, I still had them at Kroger’s.”
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