The Jew And The Carrot

Hain Celestial Group Acquires Empire Kosher

By Jean Hanks

Hain Celestial Group, a leading distributor of organic foods, has purchased Empire Kosher Poultry, the biggest kosher poultry producer in the United States. Kosher Today reports that Hain already owned 20 percent of Empire’s parent corporation, EK Holdings, so the $57.5 million deal gives Hain the remaining 80 percent.

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Oregon Couple to Brew Kosher Kegs

By Anthony Weiss

Theo and Sonia Marie Leikam are opening a community-supported kosher brewery in their Portland backyard. Photograph by Anthony Weiss.

(JTA) — For Theo and Sonia Marie Leikam, the dream is nearly complete.

Behind the couple’s tidy Victorian house on a tree-lined street in southeast Portland, Oregon, is a pitched-roof building that vaguely resembles a garage with too small a door. But inside, the gleaming stainless steel tanks, the grain mill and the array of exotic equipment radiate the promise of crisp, freshly brewed beer.

Due to permit delays from the city, none of the equipment has gone into use. So in the meantime, the Leikams are making their beer outside in a modest setup that resembles a home chemistry set, shielded by a pool umbrella.

But when the finished paperwork comes through, hopefully within the next several weeks, the building will become Leikam Brewing, a certified kosher, community-supported nanobrewery.

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The Weekly Dish

By Michael Kaminer

New York’s new modern Mexican fast-casual place, Oxido. Facebook.

What happens when a Mexican chef, a Korean restaurant franchisee, and a Jewish entrepreneur go out to eat?

No, it’s not a Borscht Belt setup; the answer’s a snazzy “modern Mexican” restaurant that just opened in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.

Oxido is the brainchild of Shmilly Gruenstein, the “avid foodie” and entrepreneur who also owns kosher rugelach palace Petite Shell; chef Jesse Perez of San Antonio’s acclaimed Arcade Midtown Kitchen; and Daihwan Choi, who helped spark New York’s millennial yogurtmania by opening NYC’s first Pinkberry yogurt store.

Perez’s recipes for the fast-casual spot mash up “a wide variety of chili peppers, fresh produce, rich spices [and] beans bold enough to stand on their own,” according to an opening announcement.

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A Final Tour of Streit’s Lower East Side Factory

By Thea Glassman

Photographs by Thea Glassman

Gina Cecala came into Streit’s Matzos on Tuesday morning in search of black-pepper matzo — and to pay her respects. “When I read in the newspaper that you guys were moving, I almost died,” she said, loading her purchases onto the counter. “So many years you’ve been here. I feel so sorry.”

And she isn’t the only one.

As Streit’s — a fixture on the Lower East Side since 1925 — prepares to shut its factory doors next month and move to New Jersey, a wave of nostalgia has hit Rivington Street.

“They come in and ask why are we closing and when are they closing,” Streit’s maintenance manager Angelo Curto said. “People come from all over the U.S. and they say when they were little kids they used to get their matzo here. Now they bring their grandchildren.”

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A Healthy Meal Between Holidays

By Liza Schoenfein

Roasted wild salmon over lentils. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein.

I’m always aware that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a high-calorie danger zone, so I tend to be fairly mindful. I just realized that I’m usually less conscious — and therefore less careful — between Purim and Passover. But here we are, sandwiched between the bookends of boozy parties and heavy holiday dinners. This year, I intend to lighten it up so that I don’t head into the warmer months feeling like I need to wear a muumuu.

This recipe takes little more than half an hour start to finish. It can easily be doubled (or reduced) depending on the number of people you’re serving. For a fancier dinner I like to roast individual pieces of salmon so everyone gets a neat presentation. For a more casual meal, I serve family style, mounding the lentils on a platter and placing one big fillet on top.

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WATCH: Schmear Lunacy!

By Liza Schoenfein

Watch and learn, people. Watch and learn.

You know, I just wasn’t getting enough calories and fat from the regular slick of cream cheese I usually spread on my bagel. The right way, it turns out, ups the ante considerably — and involves power tools.

Before you dress up another bagel for Sunday brunch, take a moment to watch this guy go at it. I promise, you will never think about your schmear the same way again.

h/t Tablet


A Deli Man's Famous Stuffed Cabbage

By Ziggy Gruber

Third-generation deli man and former New Yorker Ziggy Gruber serves this stuffed cabbage at his Houston delicatessen, Kenny & Ziggy’s. Image: Facebook

Makes 6-8 pieces of stuffed cabbage

For the sauce
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 cups onions roughly chopped
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
½ cup white vinegar
¼ teaspoon sour salt
3 to 4 cups water

For the stuffing
1½ pounds ground beef
¾ cup rice, cooked
1¼ cups finely chopped onion
4 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper

1 large cabbage, whole
1 medium cabbage, chopped
2 cups sauerkraut

1) Place all sauce ingredients in pot and bring to a boil. Mix together all stuffing ingredients and set aside.

2) In a large pot, bring water to boil. Core out the large cabbage and blanch in the boiling water until soft; remove from water and remove each individual leaf.

3) Place 6 ounces of stuffing mixture on each cabbage leaf and fold in the sides to the center and roll up, like an egg roll.

4) Layer the bottom of a disposable half-pan with half of the chopped cabbage, then layer with one cup of sauerkraut. Place cabbage rolls on top; then add remaining shredded cabbage; then remaining sauerkraut. Pour sauce on top, cover tightly and place in a 300˚ F oven to bake for 3½ to 4 hours.


Digging Into Jewish Food With Wandering Chew

By Michael Kaminer

Katherine Romanow (left) and Sydney Warshaw of Wandering Chew. Photograph by Lauren Kolyn.

They’re not trained as chefs. They haven’t cooked in restaurants. But Sydney Warshaw and Katherine Romanow are becoming two of the biggest machers in Montreal’s burgeoning Jewish food scene.

As The Wandering Chew, the duo stages pop-up events that “try to teach people about the variety of food that makes up Jewish cuisine,” Romanow told the Forward. “It’s more than the Ashkenazi staples everyone thinks about when they think Jewish food.”

With that in mind, Wandering Chew events have strayed all over the Semitic map, from an Iraqi-Jewish feast — the pair’s 2013 debut dinner — to a Mexican-Jewish fiesta to a Scandinavian-Jewish brunch.

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Hamantaschen Plus Math Equals Mathmataschen!

By Liza Schoenfein

Photograph by Deborah Gardner

Just a few hours before Purim, I came across this awesome creation on the blog Seattle Local Food, and just had to share it.

For the non-math nerds among us, it’s a hamantaschen created using a mathematical principle known as the Sierpinski triangle. Here’s how Deborah Gardner breaks it down:

You may be familiar with the Sierpinski triangle, a mathematically attractive, self-repeating fractal that starts with one equilateral triangle and breaks down into ever-smaller triangles.

Somehow this year it dawned on me that the world was incomplete without a Sierpinski hamantaschen, or sierpinskitaschen. I scoured the vast reaches of the Interwebs, to see if this had been done before. I may have missed something, but it seems this has not.

Until today.

To find the recipe and learn more, click here.


The Perfect Purim Cocktail, Named for Esther

By Naomi Major

Since she can’t rename the holiday itself, our columnist comes up with a cocktail to honor her Purim heroine. Presenting… The Esther. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein.

By now we’ve clearly established that when a Jewish holiday comes along, I will not know a thing about it. What I appreciate about my lack of formal religious training is that I get to look at the customs and rituals without biases, but with an actual interest in learning about them. As an added bonus, my education comes mainly from a 1950s cookbook, read at leisure, usually with a cup of tea.

Tea sidebar: My grandfather, Samuel Major (née Mazaroff — thank you, Montreal immigration personnel), used to drink his tea from a clear glass mug, with a cube of sugar between his top and bottom teeth. He would sip the tea through the sugar cube, and once the cube had dissolved, he’d start another. I’ve always wanted to drink tea this way, but cavities and weak teeth loom as a genetic inevitability, so I have to let that family tradition pass into memory.

Back to Purim: It’s a good holiday; I’d even venture to say a great one, even though it doesn’t merit High Holiday status. Why great? Because it was a woman who saved the day!

My ladies of Jewish lore and traditions, Fannie Engle and Gertrude Blair, did a fine job explaining the story and the traditions that we now celebrate. Knowing the background, if I had my way the holiday wouldn’t be called Purim at all, it would be called EstherPalooza. But I rarely get my way, so I’m not holding my breath.

I do have doubts as to what really happened when Esther revealed her true Jewish self in ancient Persia. According to Engle and Blair in their educational masterwork, “The Jewish Festival Cookbook,” “It was a most hazardous undertaking, and the queen fortified her spirit with prayer and fasting before entering upon her task.”

Prayer? Sure. Fasting? Not so sure that’s the best way to screw up one’s courage. But if Engle and Blair say it worked for her, I’ll buy it. What’s clearly missing in this retelling, though, is the one ingredient that’s key to mustering up courage when you really need it: booze. I have a hard time believing that Esther didn’t slug back a couple of glasses of wine before risking her life and those of her people by outing herself as Jewish. My wine theory makes a lot of sense, especially when you read further on in Engle and Blair:

“One of the most colorful and dramatic of modern celebrations takes place in Tel Aviv. It is called Adloyada, meaning, ‘Until one does not know.’ This is a reference to an injunction of the Talmud, which prescribes that one be merry to the point of not knowing whether Mordecai is to be blessed and Haman cursed or vice versa.

In the story that is my life I have been merry — I’ve even been super-merry — without any type of stimulant or external substance, but “merry to confusion”? I think we all know what that’s a euphemism for.

Now, I’m not advocating going out on Purim and getting ridiculously merry — no one wants to see that, especially the children — but I do, as always, have a cocktail recipe for the occasion. It’s called the Esther, and it’s meant to offer our heroine the wine I hope she drank — in the form of sparkling rosé, because it’s festive. The ruby-colored citrus juice symbolizes the blood she kept from being spilled.

With that in mind, remember not to get all “merried up” and drive a car. It’s never the right choice, and I’m pretty sure Esther would be rather disappointed in you.

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The Weekly Dish

By Michael Kaminer

Petite Shell’s kosher rugelach. Photograph by Liz Arronson Rueven/KosherLikeMe.com.

…Manhattan’s Petite Shell, whose kosher rugelach have become a bona fide phenomenon among New York foodies, was named one of the city’s best coffee shops by Eater this week.
While Eater waxed rhapsodic about Petite Shell’s dulce de leche mini-croissants, the real draw here is what the Village Voice called “obsessively crafted” rugelach in mind-blowing flavors like Nutella, and feta with kalamata olives. Japanese cold brews and “draft” American coffees are made with beans roasted exclusively for Petite Shell by Ithaca, New York’s Forty Weight Coffee Roasters, as Yeah That’s Kosher has reported.

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Watch and Learn: Ben's Best Potato Pancakes

By Jay Parker

Watch Jay Parker of Ben’s Best Deli in Rego Park, Queens, make potato pancakes. Then try it yourself.

Makes 10 large potato pancakes

3 pounds (9 medium) white all purpose potatoes, peeled
½ pound (1 large) yellow onion
3 large eggs
1¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup flour
Oil (for frying)
Apple sauce as an accompaniment

1) Shred potatoes. Place in cold water. Shred onion. Place potatoes and onion into a colander and drain well, pressing to release all liquid.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Add potatoes and onion to the egg mixture. Stir to combine. Add flour. Stir to combine well

3) Heat one inch deep of oil in a large heavy skillet. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop a generous ½ cup of the potato mixture to ¾ inch thick. Cook, turning over halfway through the cook time, until golden brown on both sides and cooked in the center. Remove and drain on paper towels. Served with apple sauce.


Chocolate Hamantaschen Filled With Serious Fun

By Tami Ganeles-Weiser

The author wondered why chocolate was usually left out of the dough of a classic Purim treat. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.

Chocolate is in many ways the quintessential example of a food that is both Old and New World. Cacao, the bean from which chocolate is derived, was well known to both the Aztec and the Mayan peoples. It was a bitter powder ground from pods and prized for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.

The Spanish Conquistadors took cocoa back to Europe with them, where they concocted a wildly popular drink with the addition of sugar (also a New World food) and copious amounts of milk or cream. There you have it: the invention of the hot chocolate we would likely recognize today.

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Chocolate-Chili Hamantaschen With Dulce de Leche Filling

By Tami Ganeles-Weiser

Sweet, creamy dulce de leche — a rich Latino caramel — is a wonderful counterpoint to chocolate’s slightly bitter edge. The warmth of ground chilies hits the palate last. This is a great cookie for adventurous eaters. Photograph by Tami Ganeles-Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.

Makes 36 cookies

For the dough:
3½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, Mexican preferred
½ teaspoon ground guajillo chili powder (or other medium-hot chili)
½ teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or other relatively mild chili)
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 ounces dark chocolate (between 68% and 72% cacao), melted in microwave or a double boiler and cooled to room temperature
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other chocolate liqueur
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the egg wash:
1 egg white
2 teaspoons water

For the filling:
1 cup dulce de leche

For the drizzle:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (between 58% and 64% cacao)

1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, guajillo and ancho chili powders and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and light brown sugar, and mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix after each addition until incorporated. Add the melted dark chocolate, and mix to combine. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix to form a dough.

3) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before rolling and baking.)

4) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.

5) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and set on the prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 1 inch apart, 12 circles per sheet. Collect scraps, reroll and cut into additional rounds once.

6) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg white and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.

7) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche in the center of each. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough with egg wash.

8) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10–15 minutes.

9) Bake for 9–10 minutes, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 10–12 minutes. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.

10) Meanwhile, melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave for 2–3 minutes, stirring often. When it is melted, drizzle decoratively over the hamantaschen.

Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.


Chocolate-Nutella Halvah Hamantaschen

By Tami Ganeles-Weiser

Chocolate and halvah are a perfect pairing, and this cookie, fudgy and rich, is as delicious as it sounds. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.

Yields 36 cookies

For the dough:
4¾ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
3½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
⅓ cup strong coffee, espresso preferred, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur, Godiva preferred

For the filling:
2 cups Nutella, or any chocolate nut spread
2 cups crumbled halvah, traditional or marble

For the egg wash:
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon water

1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to blend well.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and sugar and mix at medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula.

3) With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until fully incorporated. Add the coffee, vanilla bean paste and chocolate liqueur and mix to form a dough.

4) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before rolling and baking.)

5) When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.

6) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and place on the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. Collect the scraps of dough, re-roll once, cut additional circles and place on the baking sheet.

7) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg whites and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.

8) Place the Nutella and crumbled halvah in a small mixing bowl and stir until fully combined. It will not be smooth and may have a few small chunks.

9) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough (but not the filling) with egg wash.

10) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

11) Bake for 13–14 minutes, until firm, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays 180° F halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5–7 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.

Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.


Boston's ‘Beyond Bubbie's Kitchen’ This Weekend

By Jean Hanks

Tasters at Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen 2014. Photograph by Zev Fisher.

The 6th annual Jewish-food celebration Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen, presented by New Center NOW, will take place at Boston’s Back Bay Events Center this Sunday, March 1.

As in past years, many of the city’s best chefs will come out to put their own modern twists on traditional Jewish dishes. According to Sara Bookin-Weiner, manager of outreach at Boston’s New Center for Arts and Culture, a major goal of the event is to “encourage the best chefs in Boston to use their imagination in a Jewish way.”

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The Best ‘Deli Man’ You've Never Heard Of

By Michael Kaminer

Ben’s Best Deli’s Jay Parker (left) with Erik Greenberg Anjou, director and producer of the film. Photograph courtesy of “Deli Man.”

Of all the machers in the new film “Deli Man”, which opens this week, Jay Parker of Ben’s Best stands out. He’s in Rego Park, Queens, for one thing, not the sexy Lower East Side or Midtown Manhattan. He also comes across as a consummate deli man, as quick with a quip as he is with a witty quote about the joys — and occasional tsuris — of running a kosher deli.

And while Parker may not enjoy the high profile of some of his counterparts, Ben’s Best has developed its own mythos after 70 years in business. The New York Times hailed its pastrami as “incredible”; Guy Fieri honored Ben’s Best with a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives segment last year.

Ben Parker, Jay’s father, founded Ben’s Best in 1945. After Ben’s death in 1984, Jay — then 33-year-old bond trader — took over the business, and hasn’t looked back. At the start of another day serving up sky-high corned-beef sandwiches, overstuffed cabbage roll and steaming matzo-ball soup, Parker took time to catch up with the Forward. “Deli Man said something accurately: If you don’t love the business, you really can’t be here. It asks too much of you,” he says.

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Streit's Matzo Factory Turning Out Last Batch

By Gabe Friedman

The 90-year-old Streit’s Matzo Factory on the Lower East Side will close after Passover.

(JTA) — Seated in his Lower East Side office, in front of a large portrait of company patriarch Aron Streit, Alan Adler avoids becoming too nostalgic.

“It’s like I tell my family members: None of you own a car from 1935, why do you think a matzo factory from 1935 is what we should be using today?” says Adler, one of Streit’s Matzos’ 11 co-owners.

This is the line of thought behind the imminent closing of the Streit’s matzo factory, a longtime Jewish fixture in a city neighborhood that once was home to one of the highest concentration of Jews in the country.

Streit’s, the last family-owned matzo company in the United States, announced in December that it would be permanently closing its 90-year-old factory after this Passover season because of longstanding mechanical problems and subsequent economic concerns. Sometime in April, the company will shift its matzo production either to its other factory across the river in northern New Jersey, where several other products such as macaroons and wafers are made, or to another non-Manhattan location.

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Welcome to the Donut Car Wash

By Michael Kaminer

Wash 'n' Nosh from the Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

An Israeli-owned car wash on the West Side Highway has become the unlikely source of what may be New York’s most delicious donuts.

No, the guys scrubbing cars aren’t baking in their spare time; former chef Scott Levine, whose resume includes bygone New York foodie temple Chanterelle, where he was executive sous chef, opened Underwest Donuts in December with his wife, fashion stylist Orlee Winer.

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The Weekly Dish

By Michael Kaminer

Breads Bakery, whose hamantaschen are pictured above, will operate three food concessions at the Armory Show, which falls on Purim this year. Photograph courtesy of Breads Bakery.

Here’s everything you need to know about restaurant openings and closings, chefs on the move and tasty events happening in the world of Jewish food.

A very serious art show will get a little Purim spirit this year.

Breads, the Israeli-owned bakery near Union Square, will serve its highly praised hamantaschen at the Armory Show, the chichi contemporary art fair that calls itself “one of the most important annual art events in New York.”

It’s a first for both Breads and the Armory Show, whose dates coincide with Purim this year. Breads will operate three food concessions at the show; along with hamantaschen, the bakery will offer baked goods like babka and croissants, plus sandwiches, salads and sweets.

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