The Jew And The Carrot

Whisky Jewbilee Gambles on June Sipfest

By Dan Friedman

Whisky Jewbilee is moving up in the world. The kosher whisky event that started in 2012 when the much bigger WhiskyFest New York shifted from a Tuesday evening to a less Jew-friendly Sabbath timing, has announced its plan for 2014 and it involves moving itself up in terms of esteem, calendar and just plain location.

The headline change is a June 17 date. As WhiskyFest New York goes back to a weeknight (Wednesday, October 29), Whisky Jewbilee has moved its date up to the early summer and severed the calendar connection to Whisky Advocate’s massive event. With the fall holidays — and co-founder Joshua Hatton’s significant wedding anniversary — sprinkled throughout September and October, the organization decided to move to an “underserved time frame.” Hence June.

I put it to Hatton that it’s underserved for good reasons — June, and the summer in general, is neither a time to come to the city nor is it a time to drink dark liquor. He responded by saying that they knew the risks but the organizers were willing, with pun intended, “to take a leap of faith.” And he stressed that tickets, at $110 each, were selling strongly with 80% already “allocated” since they were put on sale in early February. The proof (again pun intended) of the choice will be in the attendance.

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Don't Worry, Ben's Deli Is Staying Kosher

By Michael Kaminer

Keep calm: Ben’s Kosher Deli is not going treyf.

The owners of the iconic eatery on W. 38th Street in Manhattan’s Garment District were overwhelmed with panicked calls this week after Crain’s New York Business reported Ben’s is “pondering the unthinkable” and might “break with tradition to reduce costs” as it expands beyond the New York metro area.

“It’s a headache,” a person who answered the phone at Ben’s Manhattan business office told the Forward. ”People are calling to see if we’re giving up our kosher certification, which we have no intention of doing.”

With a mix of bemusement and frustration, Ben’s founder Ronnie Dragoon told the Forward that Crain’s reporter Lisa Fickenscher had actually asked him what he would do if kosher fabricators and processors went out of business.

“My response was that if they are no kosher fabricators or processors, I’d have no alternative but to look elsewhere,” Dragoon said. “But she took the intention away from the answer.”

Confusing readers more, the Crain’s piece noted that a chef who’d come in to audition for a spot at Dragoon’s new Westchester location —  slated to open in August — had presented a tasting menu that included a bacon-and-cheese dish.

“The chef had made up a menu for us, so there was a list of ten ingredients, including bacon and cheddar. But he never made that dish,” Dragoon said. “The way it was written, it sounded like he brought the food in, prepared it, and had us taste it. Even if he wanted something non-kosher, he couldn’t purchase it for our kitchen. All of our purchasing is done through the business office. We have ingredient and food-item lockdown.”

The chef, Scott Rabedeau, got hired anyway. He’ll be designing a menu for the 5,200-square-foot Scarsdale Ben’s that includes “dishes from yesteryear, Ashkenazi standards, and Mediterranean dishes - past, present, and future.” Rabedeau’s an alumnus of Maggiano’s, the New Jersey Italian chainlet “started by a Jew,” Dragoon laughed.

Scarsdale will become the first of three planned locations to open by 2015, including Washington, DC, and Boston. Ben’s, Crain’s reported, is on “solid footing” after a challenging few years that saw locations close in 2006; the chain now generates more than $25 million annually.

“One location in a city works very well,” Dragoon said. “It’s appreciated, you have a wider audience, and you’re a niche business with little competition for that dollar. That’s why my location in Boca Raton is very successful. On Long Island, I have three units that cannibalize each other. One each in DC or Boston will do well.”

Dragoon even told the Forward he thinks a kosher restaurant could thrive in a neighborhood like the Lower East Side, where a mini-controversy erupted over the storefront that once housed Noah’s Ark Deli, the area’s last full-service kosher restaurant. Neighbors started a petition urging the building’s co-op to seek another kosher tenant; dissidents said kosher’s time was over downtown.

“That neighborhood may not have the local population to support it, but it’s a very mobile population in Manhattan,” he said. “It’s possible people would flock to it if it’s the right kind of operation.”

Kosher eateries everywhere are facing tough times, though, Dragoon said. “Occupancy costs like rent and taxes have outstripped demand for kosher restaurants,” he explained. “Because so many fabricators are closing, food prices go up, too. The high costs across the board make it tough.”

Ben’s, however, is here to stay, Dragoon said. He also had a message for Forward readers, and anyone else listening: “Ben’s is staying kosher for as long as there are kosher fabricators or processors.”

Photo credit: Facebook/Ben’s Kosher Deli


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4Bloggers Dish on Passover

By Liz Rueven

Courtesy of: 4Bloggers Dish
Just eight weeks ago I was basking in the early morning calm on a beach in Costa Rica, when I clicked open an e-mail from two bloggers I follow on facebook. I had met Amy Kritzer, What Jew Wanna Eat, at a meet-up she organized for about 20 NYC area bloggers in early January. We met at Aroma on the UWS and chatted for about 30 minutes. It’s always great fun to put faces to names and Amy wanted to do just that on her visit from Texas.

She and Sarah Lasry met that same eve (Sarah and I think we brushed by each other in the doorway). Amy and Sarah recall finishing their brief visit with a cordial, “we should do something together some time.” A week later they cooked up an idea and decided to pursue it.

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Tel Aviv's 5 Best Kosher Restaurants

By Rotem Maimon

Blue Sky, a chef restaurant featuring Meir Adoni’s cuisine. Photo by David Bachar

(Haaretz) — Diners who keep kosher have been increasingly demanding gourmet restaurants that meet their dietary requirements. The result has been a wave of excellent kosher restaurants. Following are the five best in Tel Aviv.

Blue Sky: Chef Meir Adoni’s new restaurant opened last summer, marking this creative chef’s entry into the world of kashrut. The restaurant is located at the top of the Carlton Hotel, giving it a panoramic view of the city, and it is a swallow heralding the arrival of another kosher restaurant in the spring. Blue Sky offers dairy and fish dishes served in the style of its elder sister, Catit – in other words, beautifully arranged dishes with interesting tastes.

Blue Sky, Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv

Goshen: This well-known kosher restaurant in the Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall has recently expanded, opening another branch on the other side of the road. Its very name proclaims its allegiance to local raw materials, first and foremost meat. Goshen is proud of the meat locker, where it ages its own supply, and of how it is served up: on a hot skillet on which hefty portions of meat sizzle.

Goshen, Nahalat Binyamin 37, Tel Aviv

Tranquilla: This restaurant already has a handful of fans who don’t keep kosher, and rightly so, thanks to its simple Italian food made with raw materials from Italy. It also has and a foreign atmosphere that stems in part from its location between the Gan Hahashmal quarter and Rothschild Boulevard. Aside from its excellent breakfasts and its fresh focaccias, it also offers homemade pizzas and pastas.

Tranquilla, Mikveh Yisrael 1, Tel Aviv

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Notes from a Jewish Survivor of Anorexia

By Temimah Zucker

Courtesy of: Santy Ago

The first time I admitted to myself that I had an eating disorder was after watching a film describing eating disorders and the Jewish Community called “Hungry to be Heard.”

Until that point I was lost. I became a shadow, a nothing person who craved solitude and lived by counting. It had been 4 months since my official diagnosis with Anorexia and my life had become a series of doctor appointments, forced meals, and nights alone in my room. I had once been a vibrant, confident young woman and soon became a shell, slowly chipping away.

In the onset of my illness I did not believe that I had a problem. Even through nights of fearing for my heart, I did not believe that the behaviors I was using would ever result in harm. Why would I when I had a menacing voice in my head, ebbing me to continue restricting and isolating, reassuring me that I was invincible. Over the months it became evident that there was a problem, but I could not connect to it. The first time I was able to truly acknowledge my eating disorder was in the light of seeing that I was not alone.

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Chocolate Shwarma — Is This Necessary?

By Danielle Ziri

New food crazes pop up every few months in Israel: chocolate-filled syringes, the cupcake, the kurtosh (a Hungarian cylinder shaped cake which comes in many flavors), and even the cronut made its debut in Tel Aviv this year. So it was only a matter of time until someone created a gimmicky dessert with Israeli sugar addicts in mind. Introducing: the Chocolate Shwarma.

The concept is simple: replace the rotating meat pole with a chocolate one. The chocolate is simply shaved off the pole the way shawarma meat is and put inside a crepe which stands in for pita.

Like any good shwarma sandwich in Israel, toppings are abundant at ChocoKebab in Jerusalem. Here you can choose from halva, marshmallows, chocolate chips and nuts. If you’re looking for a creamy base, you can add a schmear of maple syrup, whipped cream or even dulce de leche to the crepe.

There is definitely something appealing about creating a sweet version of a savory dish. Many have done it before, like Max Brenner’s Chocolate Pizza. But to be honest, the ChocoKebab is nothing more than a crepe, and crepes are not new around here. They have been sold in stands in almost every mall in Israel for years. So the only new thing about the chocolate shawarma the preparation and the packaging.

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Although it “screams Israel”, the Choco-Kebab was not actually invented in the country: it was brought to the holy land by Oded Cohen, a newbie to the food industry who came across a similar concept during a trip to Sicily.

The first branch opened in Jerusalem a few months ago. Today, there are choco-shawarma stands in Hod HaSharon, Modi’in, and Ness Ziona. More branches are expected to open across the country, including in Tel Aviv.

But Israel’s love for ever-changing trends means they usually don’t last very long — the average life expectancy of a Tel Aviv bar is approximately one year. After that, they usually close, make a few upgrades in decoration and re-open under a new name. Only time will tell the fate of the Choco-shawarma, but be assured: chocolate and crepe connoisseurs will not be fooled.


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Susie Fishbein Takes Israel — Well, Its Upscale Parts

By Miriam Kresh

If you have a lot of money and time to spend in the holy land, you would be lucky to find yourself on one of kosher cookbook author Susie Fishbein’s tours. She recently led a group of 34 from the Negev to Sfat to Tel Aviv — with stops at the artisanal Lachma Baker, a chocolate workshop, the Carmel winery and a Yemenite garden meal in a grove with 120 exotic trees — all while offering cooking demos on a moving bus.

I caught up with her group early in the tour, at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv. The ladies (only four men tagged along) were learning how to stuff ravioli at the hotel’s restaurant, Blue Sky. The hotel sous-chefs had prepared the pasta and rolled it out in advance, so that all the participants needed to do was cut out pasta circles, squeeze a prepared filling of ricotta and spinach over them, then top them with other pasta circles. The ravioli found their way to the lunch table. It reminded me a bit of the challah my daughters used to bring home from school, where the teacher had prepared the dough and the girls only braided and egg-washed the little loaves.

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Einat Admony's Bar Bolonat Set To Open

By Michael Kaminer

Courtesy of Einat Admony

To the many salivating fans of Israeli-born star chef Einat Admony: Your wait is nearly over.

After seemingly endless construction issues, Department of Buildings complications, and “a million little details”, Admony’s much-anticipated Bar Bolonat will finally open March 25 in the West Village.

“The private dining area downstairs took forever,” the chef told the Forward from her car. “It took us a year and three months to build this place. But I finally feel comfortable with how it looks.”

Aficionados of Balaboosta, Admony’s four-year-old, Middle-Eastern-inspired Nolita hotspot, can expect “happy surprises” at the new place, Admony said.

“Balaboosta feels rustic, and the food’s homey and simple,” she said. “The food at Bar Bolonat is more refined, the plating is beautiful, and there’s a lot of play between savory and sweet ingredients.”

And while Balaboosta describes itself as “Mediterranean meets Middle East”, Bar Bolonat’s cuisine will circle back to the chef’s own upbringing in the Israeli town Bnei Brak, including traditional Ashkenazi food.

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Jeff Goldblum's Newest Role? Restaurateur

By Jana Banin

Jeff Goldblum, it seems, per this obviously totally real clip from MTV’s “After Hours With Josh Horowitz,” is now in the restaurant business.

At NYC eatery Goldblum’s, the actor is proprietor, maitre d, waiter, piano player, bartender, and more. A fantasy come true. Except for kosher folks. Sorry guys — there’s pork on the menu.

Enjoy the video. And the “Big Chill” pun.


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It's Katz v. Katz as Deli Sues Food Truck

By Daniel Wiessner

Wikipedia

(Reuters) — The owners of New York City’s iconic Katz’s Delicatessen filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the operators of local food trucks named Katz & Dogz, claiming the trucks are a blatant attempt to dupe consumers.

Customers are likely to assume that the trucks, which sell the same Jewish-style fare, and the famed deli are somehow affiliated, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The deli’s owners are seeking an order to bar the trucks from using any name that could easily be confused with Katz’s.

Katz’s, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side since 1888, is among the city’s best-known eateries.

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Bake Your Own Boozy Cocktail Hamantaschen

By Anne Cohen

What kind of genius came up with the idea that prunes would make a great cookie filling, to be eaten without fail once a year?

Whoever they were, they were wrong.

But have no fear! We have a new hamantaschen option for you this year, and it’s as delicious as a cocktail, without the embarrassment that goes with actually being drunk at your family’s Purim party.

Alison Barnett has come up with a series of cocktail-themed hamantaschen that make regular old flavors seem like a too-sweet, dry and cakey distant memory.

“[The] two main things we consume on Purim are alcohol and hamantashen. I decided to combine the two into a real fun and creative dessert,” Barnett told the Forward. Her flavors include: White Russian, Tequila Sunrise, Mojito, Whiskey Sour and Cosmopolitan.

A mid-day snack tasting session by the Forward’s staff saw some clear favorites emerge: Whiskey Sour, treated with suspicion at first glance because of the ominous-looking maraschino cherry embedded in the crust, was actually a surprisingly pleasant mix of almond-sugar crust and citrus filling — not too sweet, not too tangy; White Russian was, as expected, a smooth combination of Kahlua and coffee flavors (though the extra icing drizzled onto the crust was unnecessary). Finally, Tequila Sunrise packs a citrus kick strong enough to lift any remaining winter blues.

Barnett first started experimenting with the idea three years ago. This is her first year actually selling the final product (to order on Etsy, click here). $21 will get you a dozen of these goodies — try getting that deal at a bar.

According to Barnett, she’s already thinking up new flavors for next year’s round. Irish coffee, anyone?

Until then, try your own version of the Tequila Sunrise at home (and take a few extra sips on the side — we won’t tell).

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Fair Trade Chocolate Hamentaschen

By Ilana Schatz

Flickr: vidalia_11

I’ve started noticing hamentaschen showing up in local bakeries, and it made me wonder if one of the reasons we say “Purim Sameach/Happy Purim” is because we know that we’ll be eating lots of hamentaschen, the traditional Eastern-European Purim dessert. This joyous day celebrates the repeal of the death decree against the Jewish inhabitants of ancient Persia (“They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”).

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A Bouquet of Persian Purim Sweets

By Gayle L. Squires

Gayle L. Squires

Call it a fortuitous calendar coincidence, this year the Persian New Year festival Norooz falls during the same week as Purim. Much like the bump Hanukkah gets from Christmas, “Purim in Iran gets a boost from Norooz, the biggest Persian holiday of the year,” writes Louisa Shafia in “The New Persian Kitchen”. The two holidays play off one another in delicious ways — both are celebrated by visiting family with gifts of food and hosting celebratory feasts (the Purim Seudah and the Norooz Haft-Seen centered around seven symbolic foods.)

In light of this year’s Purim-Norooz near-concurrence, I decided to ditch traditional Ashkenazi fare and send friends and family traditional Purim baskets (mishloach manot) filled with goodies inspired by Persian ingredients: rose water and orange blossom water that are pervasive in Persian sweet and savory cooking. These floral essences were popularized in the ninth century, a thousand years before vanilla cultivation and commercialization, when Persian Arab scholar, alchemist, and pharmacist Jabbir ibn Hayyan developed a steam distillation technique (also used for alcohol) to extract and concentrate the flavors of damask rose and Seville orange blossom petals. Quickly, these distillates migrated to neighboring Arab countries — where they were adopted by Sephardic Jews — Europe, and, eventually, the New World.

You’ve probably tasted rose water in baklava, Turkish delight, or the Indian dessert ulab jamun. It adds a subtle floral note, but rose extract strengths vary, so use it sparingly to avoid overly perfuming your dishes. The biscotti recipe below is inspired by the flavors of baklava with rose water and pistachios, perfect for a dunk in a glass of strong Persian chai tea.

If you’re not familiar with orange blossom water, a great gateway treat is the Lebanese café blanc, or white coffee, made by mixing a few drops into a mug of boiling water with a pinch of sugar. Orange blossom water is more subtle than rose water, its dulcet tones tempered by a tinge of bitterness, the dark chocolate to rose water’s milk. It pairs perfectly with chocolate in this recipe for chocolate-dipped candied orange peels.

A few drops of these Persian blossom waters will add an exotic touch to your Purim celebrations.

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Purim Sweets: Chocolate-Dipped Orangettes

By Gayle L. Squires

Photos by Gayle L. Squires

Orangettes are candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate. Rather than just using the bright-colored zest, they use the slightly bitter pith, tamed by several dunks in boiling water. I add orange blossom water to the candying syrup to complement the pith. You can substitute for the extract two tablespoons of Cointreau (a cousin to orange blossom water, using the peel rather than flower of bitter Seville oranges) for a boozier snack.

Makes about 100 candies

2 navel oranges (organic and washed well)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
½ pound dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa; I like Callebaut or Ghirardelli)

Peel. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Score the skin vertically into quarters down to the flesh. Using your fingers tips and a large spoon, wiggle off the skin (rind and white pith) of each segment in one piece.

Slice. Slice the peel into very thin (approximately 1/8-inch) slices. Each orange should yield 50-60 slices. Use the tip of a paring knife to trim some of the pith from each slice.

Boil. Place the peels in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the peels and rinse with cold water. Clean the saucepan. Repeat the boil-drain-rinse-clean process two more times. Each boil removes some of the bitterness from the peels.

Simmer. Add sugar, water, and orange blossom water to the cleaned saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves into thin simple syrup, about 5 minutes. Add the rinsed peels and lower temperature to medium so that the syrup gently bubbles to the surface. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Swirl the pan every 20 minutes, but do not stir, which may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. Simmer gently for 45 to 60 minutes until the peels are translucent. Be careful – the syrup is very hot and can scald.

Dry. Allow the syrup to cool for 10 minutes or until you can handle the peels. Space the peels out on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet (to catch drips) and allow to dry out overnight. Reserve any extra syrup and use to sweeten iced tea or cocktails.

Dip. Temper your chocolate (using this method if you have a candy thermometer and this one if you don’t). Dip each candied peel half-way into the chocolate and place on parchment or a wire rack to dry.

Store. Store orangettes in an airtight jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


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7 Wackiest Hamantaschen on the Web

By Anna Goldenberg

thinkstock

Hamantaschen and JCarrot have a long and loving relationship. We’ve brought you a Brazilian hamantaschen story, and written about the virtue of hamantaschen as hidden food. We’ve taught you how to make hamantaschen the Kibbutznik way with a recipe from Zucker Bakery and how to give them an Asian twist.. If you are looking for more ideas on how to spruce up your hamantaschen, look no further. Here are you seven recipes that will raise eyebrows — and pants sizes — at your Purim party.

1) Purim begins this Saturday night, so get in the mood by giving your Friday night dinner a Purim-themed twist: The Challah Blog has a recipe for Hamantaschen Challah.

2) The Sushi Hamantaschen from Busy in Brooklyn are actually a Japanese dish called Onigiri, but sushi almost counts as traditional Jewish food these days, right?

3) If you want to go down the multicultural route further, Bon Appetit has five savory recipes, ranging from savory Piroshkitaschen with cream cheese and smoked salmon to Masatschen with chipotle-beer squash.

4) Campfire romance meets the spirit of Purim with this S’more Hamantaschen recipe from Couldn’t Be Parve.

5) From Valentine’s roses to Angry Birds, there’s barely a motive that hasn’t been made into a cake pop yet. Here we go, then — Hamantashen Truffle Pops from Joy of Kosher.

6) Most likely, these Rainbow Hamantaschen from Kitchen Tested are more beautiful that Haman’s ear, or pouch, has ever been. In the comments section, people have posted their own creations.

7) Have you ever wondered what happens when you use jelly worms as hamantaschen fillings? The Lady of the Arts tried it. Warning: Contains graphic images of jelly worms in distress.


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Jewish Food Programs Are Growing, Says New Report

By Hody Nemes

Courtesy of Hazon

Seven years ago, Nigel Savage, founder of the Jewish environmental group Hazon, typed the phrase “Jewish food movement,” in quotes, into Google. There were zero results. Enter those words today, and you will find 80,100 results.

But Savage no longer has to rely on Google for proof of his movement’s success. A study released March 10 by Hazon and several Jewish philanthropies shows that the Jewish food movement — and the associated Jewish outdoor and environmental movements — are on the rise.

The study, which is the first of its kind in the Jewish environmental world, surveyed the range of immersive programs (of four days or longer) in Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education, or JOFEE, as Hazon refers to it. In 2000, the year of Hazon’s founding, immersive JOFEE programs drew 197 people, but by the year 2012 such programs drew over 2,400 people annually. An immersive JOFEE program might include a bike ride through the Negev desert, a farming apprenticeship centered on Jewish learning, or teaching gardening at Jewish summer camps.

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Is a Day-Old Bagel Really the Best San Francisco Can Do?

By Meesha Halm

Photos courtesy of Meesha Halm

You can take the New Yorker out of New York, but evidently, you can’t take the kvetching out of a New Yorker. Big Apple transplants have long lamented that you can’t get a good bagel in the Bay Area (or a decent slice of pizza for that matter). While San Franciscans have come to embrace their Californicated version of pizza, not so with bagels. Despite a spate of artisan bagel shops that have recently opened in the Bay Area (including Authentic Bagel and the now-vanished Schmendrick’s), none seem to pass muster with true bagel snobs. Which explains why several hundred carb-craving hipsters waited nearly two hours in the rain outside of a bar in San Francisco’s Mission District last month, in the hopes of sinking their teeth into day-old bagels flown in from Manhattan. And why, next weekend, on March 15th, when the bagel-focused pop-up Eastside Bagels is slated to return locals are bracing for more bread lines.

If it seems like a big marketing ploy, well it was. Sort of. The bagel-focused pop-up, dubbed Eastside Bagels, is the brainchild of Sonya Haines, an online marketing consultant for tech start-ups who teamed up with Wes Rowe, a local chef who runs Wes Burgers pop-up. Haines isn’t a New Yorker, but spent a few years living there and, like many others, missed its bagels when she returned to San Francisco. Recognizing an untapped business opportunity, she bought the domain name nycbagels.com and hatched the idea of launching a subscription-based bagel box, banking on the assumption that San Franciscans would deem any New York bagel (even a day-old one) better than anything they could get locally.

The duo decided to test-drive their idea with Eastside Bagels, a New York deli-inspired pop-up brunch. The word spread quickly, helped along by social media and the promise of Russ & Daughters bagels. “Our original plan was to order 80 bagels,” Rowe told the Forward, “but as we watched the reaction on our Facebook page, we increased it to 120.” Rowe crafted a menu that showcased the overnighted bagels, revived on a flat top and slathered with a choice of flavored cream cheeses (plain, charred scallions-garlic, jalapeno, olive) for $6, or made into open-faced sandwiches topped with lox, pastrami or poached egg, which sold for $10. There was even an oh-so-very-Californian vegetarian option featuring crispy kale, avocado and caramelized onion slaw. Not surprisingly, the everything bagels topped with plain cream cheese were the first items to sell out.

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Drunk on Chocolate at Purim

By Debbie Prinz

Courtesy of Rabbi Debbie Prinz

Consume a lot of alcohol on Purim. As the Talmud pushes, “A person is obligated to drink on Purim to confuse the difference between the phrases ‘cursed be Haman)’ and ‘blessed be Mordecai.’ Megillah (7b). That would be a lot of drinking and any number of intoxicants could fulfill this mitzvah. This year you may wish to consider delectable chocolate liqueurs.

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Hamantaschen Get a Makeover

By Molly Yeh

photos by Molly Yeh

When I was a kid, hamantaschen came in two varieties: poppyseed (what the sophisticated grown-ups ate) and fruit. It didn’t matter what kind of fruit, it all tasted the same — overly sweet and sticky, and most importantly, difficult to scrape out with a spoon in order to get to the goods — the sugar cookie that encased it.

These days, the internet is bursting with wild varieties of hamantaschen: gummy bears and dulce de leche are tucked into dough, and a trend of savory hamantaschen has resulted in fillings like balsamic caramelized onions and roasted lamb with pine nuts.

I want them all. And what do you expect from a holiday that has basically one distinguishing food item? It’s not like Hanukkah, when anything fried is fair game, or Passover with all of its matzo brittle and macaroons. Purim gets booze, costumes and hamantaschen. And I’d just like to say that I’m proud of Jewish bakers everywhere who have refused to submit to culinary boredom when it comes to this holiday.

Last year, I gave my two cents to this hamantaschen craze with a black sesame filling and a savory gruyère filling. This year, I’m giving you two more: The first is filled with red bean paste, a popular ingredient in Asian desserts. Made from adzuki beans (which you can find at Asian grocery stores), it has almost a peanut butter quality. The second hamantaschen is inspired by the oatmeal pie at the Brooklyn bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds: Imagine an oatmeal cookie wrapped in a hat of sugar cookie, it’s hamantaschen heaven. You will never think about scooping out the filling again.

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An Interactive, Kabbalistic and Ecological Purim

By Laurie Rappeport

Laurie Rappeport

The costumes line the streets and Purim is in the air. It’s really one of my favorite holidays, made more so by the preparations for our community’s traditional English-speakers Tzfat Purim shpiel. I excitedly anticipate the unique mishloach manot (gift packages) that my Sepharadi neighbors send – their homemade Moroccan Purim challahs, Djerbian orange-flavored donuts, Tunisian muffletot and Iraqi Sambusks are a highlight of the holiday. I make my own strawberry jam, since spring is strawberry-time in Israel (wash and crush 2 kilos of strawberries, add a tiny bit of sugar and let it simmer for several hours on the stove till it turns into a jam) so that I can present my neighbors with strawberry hamantashen.

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  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
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