To the great plates of hand-cut, house-smoked artisan pastrami, step aside — 2014 is the year of the perfectly crafted bowl of hummus. Until the opening of chef Michael Solomonov’s Philadelphia restaurant Zahav, few American diners recognized much beyond falafel as Israeli cooking. The cult-like popularity of “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi only fueled the hunger for the cuisine, causing a rush for ingredients like za’atar, raw tahini and pomegranate molasses. Next spring, expect a two hour PBS special exploring the varied dishes of Israel hosted by Solomonov. Additionally, two new restaurants — a hummusiah, or hummus spot called Dizengoff by Solomonov and Bar Bolonat by New York chef Einat Admony — are set to open to diners hungry for the flavors of the Holy Land.
While Israeli fare may be the Jewish cuisine of the year, a staple of the Ashkenazi culinary cannon will see a renaissance this year as well. Appetizing shops, which stood stagnant as their deli brothers were updated for the 21st century, will get their own revitalization. After 100 years in business as a store front shop, Russ and Daughters is set to open a café on the Lower East Side early this year, and Shelsky’s Smoked Fish in Brooklyn plans to expand to a new location with counter seating as well. For dairy lovers and vegetarians, 2014 will be a particularly delicious year. B’tayavon.
Devra Ferst is the Forward’s food editor.