That’s it, we’re out of cash. Call it a crisis or a temporary slowdown, most of us have less money in our wallets, but still feel the need to indulge once in a while. Our challenge this week was to find restaurants offering worthwhile dishes that would also give us change from 50 shekels. The conditions: No deals, no fast food, no cafes, and no business meals - only fun places that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
The Malaysian dish at Giraffe (NIS 49)
Value for money is a substantial part of the Giraffe chain’s DNA. Whether it is Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon Letzion, Herzliya or Eilat, one can be sure that the dishes are always large and fairly priced. The hot Philippine dish, the chicken in lemon and the pad thai were all fair candidates, but we chose the Malaysian dish. For one thing, you simply cannot stuff anything more into your mouth after you finished. The dish can be altered for vegetarians and those who prefer not to mix milk and meat.
Tip: The dish costs NIS 10 less when ordered as take-away.
Double Injra Beintu at Tanat, (NIS 42)
Vegans, arise! Tanat is the best vegan restaurant you’ve never heard of. Tanat offers an introduction to Ethiopian cooking, with a series of appetizing, cheap and healthy dishes. Injra Beintu includes injra bread with three dishes: lentils, siah (Ethiopian humus) and beet leaves, with a salad. Those already familiar with Ethiopian cooking could try the mushroom injra.
Tip: a single Injra dish costs NIS 35; adding one of the cheap shakes – such as avocado – costs only NIS 15 more.
Tanat, Chlenov 27, Tel Aviv
The West Bank is often in the limelight making political headlines, not gastronomic ones. But hidden beneath political and religious agendas, are a small group of artisans turning out various boutique edibles.
Located only half an hour outside of Jerusalem, the Gush (short for Gush Etzion: settlement areas that were built after the 1967 war) is host to vineyards and endless fields of olive trees. Members of local communities are utilizing ingredients that are grown nearby to create and sell organic wine, small-batch ales and brined goods. Small coffee roasters are opening as are companies making hand-crafted chocolates.
While accessible by bus, the best way to get into Gush Etzion is with a car. You can easily eat your way through the “block.” Try to arrange ahead of time, as many of these businesses are small and require reservations.
In a dusty field near my apartment in Petach Tikvah, a huge, old mulberry tree stands alone. During a few weeks in May, its leafy branches hide kilos of those delicate deep-purple berries. If I get out early enough in the morning, I can garner some of that fruit, but I’m competing with other pickers: birds, kids on their way to school, and the Arab construction workers who sleep on site and wake up with the sunrise. Every block in my neighborhood is graced with one or two large, shady mulberry trees. They were likely planted here for the love of their shade and fruit by members of a local moshav in the late 1880s.
Mulberries in Israel go back as far as the mid-1500s, when Joseph Nasi, Jewish diplomat and administrator under the Ottoman rule, tried to re-establish Tiberias and nearby villages as an independent state for refugee Jews from the Papal States (Italy and southern France). Silk was an important luxury product, so mulberry trees were planted there to feed silkworms for the hopeful new industry. The plan failed when the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice warred, but the mulberry trees remained, scattering their descendants far over Israel.
Safed also has ancient mulberry trees, and I have harvested their fruit many times when I lived there. I would dry whole berries in the shade, crush some to ferment the juice for wine, and take part of the harvest to cook with sugar for jam. But what I didn’t know is that the leaves are edible too.
We’ve all been told never to judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Meghan Telpner’s recently released book, “UnDiet”, the hot pink, sans-serif cover tells you exactly what you’re getting into. If, at first glance, you couldn’t tell what the ensuing 200-plus pages hold, the rainbow-colored claim to be “the shiny, happy, vibrant, gluten-free, plant-based way to look better, feel better, and live better each and every day” is stated out right on the cover.
If you are a middle-aged female looking for a shiny, happy book with agave-coated nutritional facts and obtuse sexual references to feel better than “UnDiet” is absolutely the book for you. If, like me, words like “awesometown” and “barfiest” make you want to stand on a soap box with nothing but a dictionary, then perhaps we aren’t quite ready for the “UnDiet” challenge yet.
On every plane that touches down in Israel, there is inevitably a group of people who head straight to the Kotel — no matter the hour, they feel they haven’t arrived in the Holy Land until they pray at the wall. I save the Kotel for later and make a pilgrimage straight to Shuk Machaneh Yehudah, Jerusalem’s longstanding market. Here, small wooden stalls are piled high daily with fresh produce grown around the country, fluffy pitas are turned straight from the ovens into bags for shoppers and the halvah men entice shoppers with samples from their endless mountains of the sweet sesame snack. Members of diverse communities converge here, particularly in the hours before Shabbat. It’s one of the divided city’s few points of common ground. It is my Jerusalem.
When I’m away from Israel, I follow the news of the shuk as closely as an outsider can. And even 6,000 miles away, the name Assaf Granit and his restaurant Machneyuda (which shares the same name as the market, but a different spelling) has rung loud and clear.
In 2009 Granit and his partners Uri Navon and Yossi Elad opened a restaurant located just beyond the edge of the market inspired by this bustling place. The chefs change the menu twice a day — an impressive feat for any restaurant, but even more notable in a country where the import of ingredients from other corners of the earth is often challenging.
Check out Gil Marks’s new column on cakes over at the History Kitchen. His strawberry shortcake makes a perfect summer Shabbat dessert. [History Kitchen]
10 Great kosher picnic dishes to know. [Food 52]
Headed to London soon? Check out the city’s newest kosher restaurant. [Yeah That’s Kosher]
Solo Restaurant is going dairy! Get read for pizzas galore. [Yeah That’s Kosher]
When David Manheim first started working at Katz’s Deli, he was a teenager promoting their delivery service and was paid in sandwiches. When he came back five years ago as a waiter, he knew he wouldn’t leave until he made something to showcase the soul of Katz’s, as he pegs it: “The Empire State Building of the Lower East Side.” This deli will celebrate its 125th year serving up some of the best pastrami in town on June 2nd, and it’s only fitting that it serves some old school Jewish humor with the slaw.
A Manhattan native, Manheim, 38, first got the attention of the food, and Jewish, world in late April when he launched his blog The Last Jewish Waiter with an accompanying hilarious video of the shenanigans behind the counter (where all the magic happens) and his often welcome abuse of Katz’s patrons. Deciding to film the deli, Manheim eschewed the reality show mold, which he feels is often fake and opted for a behind-the-scenes feel. “I’ve always been interested in shows that show the process and aren’t pretentious. That’s my vision for this, it should be just like The Muppet Show, a show about making a show yet shows the imperfections of a team.”
Growing up in Chelsea to parents who are both teachers, Manheim was on two different cable shows when he was younger and knew he was comfortable on camera. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, Manheim returned to New York and started waiting tables at Katz’s, which he hopes is only a stepping-stone to the next phase of his career. “I love talking to people and I love it when it’s good,” Manheim told the Forward. “I just have a problem with authority and I don’t particularly like to be told what to do, which is funny for a waiter.”
Since Katz’s, that holiest of holy sites for pastrami worship, opened in 1888, Yiddish theatre actors, immigrants from countless countries, politicians, movie stars and grandparents visiting from Florida have come to fress on the deli’s superb sandwiches. The Jewish food landmark turns 125 this weekend, so to celebrate, we took a walk down memory lane, from the early days before the deli was called Katz’s to Meg Ryan’s “Oh, my God” moment to the deli’s first-ever Passover Seder this year.
This weekend, Katz’s kicks off its birthday party, hosting a Shabbat dinner that melds deli with another long-standing Jewish tradition: Chinese food. Chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, who recently won a James Beard Award, will put his own spin on Katz’s classics. He’ll be joined by Bill Telepan of Telepan, Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl and pastry chef Sarabeth Levine.
The anniversary celebration continues with live music at Katz’s this Saturday and a pastrami-eating competition on Sunday. Too much of a good thing? Never! Ess gesunt!
Share your favorite Katz’s Deli memory with us in the comments!
(To scroll through the years of Katz’s, click on the right of the images below.)
Well, that didn’t last long. We’re talking about star chef Michael Solomonov’s tenure at Citron and Rose, the hot new kosher fine dining establishment in suburban Philadelphia. Only half a year after opening the restaurant with owner David Magerman, Solmonov, known for his innovative Israeli-inspired fare at Zahav, and his partner Steve Cook are pulling out —and they are taking their chef de cuisine, Yehuda Sichel, with them.
To fill Sichel’s spot, Magerman has brought in Philadelphia native Karen Nicolas, the former executive chef at Washington, D.C.’s Equinox. One of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs for 2012, Nicolas has some serious cooking chops, but she’s never cooked kosher food — or Jewish cuisine for that matter.
Nicolas is still practicing the pronunciation of classic Jewish dishes and learning what cuts of meat are kosher, but she has ambitious plans for the Citron and Rose menu. Her goal is to make traditional European Jewish food as modern as possible. “Not many people have really done this with Eastern European cuisine on a high end level,” she said. “I plan on modernizing it and making it more seasonable.”
Last week, hot dog aficionado Eli Cohn-Wein laid out his eight favorite kosher dogs to grill up this summer. As a dog devotee, I was excited to see which was crowned king. But, as I read through the list, I realized some great franks — including my favorite, Romanian Kosher — are conspicuously absent. I wasn’t the only one who left the list was lacking — one reader started an online petition to include another brand, Jeff’s Gourmet.
I’m here to take an official stand on behalf of the dozens of commenters who share my position: Romanian Kosher Sausage Company’s hot dogs are hands-down the best kosher hot dogs America has ever experienced.
Let’s set a few things straight here. New Yorkers tend to assume that New York and its environs are the kosher Mecca outside of Israel. It’s a fair position, especially since New Yorkers often forget that there is life on the other side of the Hudson, but there is certainly great kosher food to be found elsewhere. Furthermore, Chicago is the sausage capital of the United States; we know what we’re doing when it comes to encased meats.
New Israeli food is taking over New York. [New York Magazine]
Planning a swanky wedding in London? Harrods is now catering kosher simchas! [Jewish Chronicle]
Three words: Smores Ice Cream. [Food52]
Incase that doesn’t suit you, here are 20 other desserts, perfect for Memorial Day celebrations. [Serious Eats]
Smithsonian Magazine just released it’s annual food issue. Check out pieces by Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl and Mimi Sheraton. [Smithsonian Magazine]
Secretary of State John Kerry stepped off the diplomatic track on Thursday and onto a West Bank street where he sampled a shawarma sandwich and a pistachio-sprinkled Palestinian sweet.
In a rare gesture for a U.S. secretary of state - but a staple of U.S. political campaigns - Kerry dropped by the Samer Restaurant in the Palestinian city of Ramallah to enjoy typical Middle Eastern fare.
“Man that is good,” Kerry said after biting into his shawarma, a sandwich filled with slivers of meat roasted on a rotating spit, typically wrapped in pita bread and garnished with tomatoes, tahini sauce, hummus and pickled turnips.
The top U.S. diplomat, who is in Israel and the Palestinian territories to try to revive peace talks that collapsed in 2010, then walked across the street to a sweet shop owned by the same man. There he dug into Kunafeh, a cheese pastry soaked in sweet syrup, and sipped coffee.
While U.S. secretaries of state have travelled to the West Bank dozens of times, they seldom step out of their official meetings to sample the local culture. One of Kerry’s aims is to perk up the Palestinian economy, something he may have done in a very small measure by insisting on paying for his food.
Tnuva, the giant Israeli food company, made headlines this week with an admission that was stunningly candid, if not exactly a revelation.
In documents filed in Jerusalem District Court, Tnuva admitted that the slaughter of farm animals, if exposed to public view, “would horrify most meat-eating consumers.”
It’s one thing for Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, to famously say, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” McCartney, after all, has become a leading advocate for the compassionate treatment of animals.
But for a supermarket chain, for a business that sells meat, to say something of a similar vein … Well, that’s big news.
As our knowledge of our world broadens and through science we come to new understandings of our surroundings, new complications and questions arise in how we observe kosher dietary laws. While we so often focus on the ethical issues of meat, we lose sight on the ethical ramifications of how we pursue a different matter of the laws and customs of kashrut – bugs.
According to the Torah most insects are forbidden, even the teeny tiny ones that hide hang out in the hard to reach places of broccoli or brussel sprouts. There are many customs and practices of the most efficient ways to clean vegetables for insects, but as we’ve discovered ways to see things which the naked eye cannot see the customs of some are changing drastically. For example, there was the somewhat famous affair of discovering microscopic crustaceans in New York City’s public water supply. One can find videos of microscopic bugs on strawberries, and there are those who say to wash romaine lettuce in dish soap because of little sticky bugs. And one can also find bags of greens and veggies with kosher symbols.
I had gotten lazy. I’ll admit it. Since getting married almost five years ago, I had not really set foot in a kitchen (to cook, that is — I wash plenty of dishes). Not that I was any great chef before. But I was a bachelor, living alone, and I had my meager repertoire, including something called “Eggplant Surprise” — don’t ask what the surprise was. Even that was abandoned in the fairly commonplace division of labor that happens when two people make a home. She cooked. I cleaned.
But recently I’d started feeling strange about how disconnected I’d become from what I was putting in my mouth everyday. When you don’t cook, it’s easy to disregard what makes up the food you eat. When it’s something that’s made for you, it’s easy to stop thinking about how it’s made or — more importantly — what it’s made of. I can’t say I was eating unhealthily, but I just wasn’t very conscious beyond knowing, generally, what was good for me and what wasn’t.
Enter Mark Bittman and his new book, “VB6: Eating Vegan Before 6:00 To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good.” (And this is when I’m going to try my damnedest not to turn this post into an infomercial.) I don’t know what precipitated it — maybe one too many days of a pastry in the morning or a turkey sandwich that just made me feel sluggish — but about a month ago I started feeling the need for some kind of alteration in my eating habits. And then I discovered Bittman’s new diet book, which has a fairly simple and easy-to-follow main premise: Eat like a vegan before 6 pm.
Now that you know which kosher frankfurter you’re grilling up this weekend, you’re going to need some mustard! Sorry, but a dog without mustard is just naked if you ask us. So, we checked in with the queen of mustard collectors (and Jew and the Carrot contributor) Molly Yeh. At recent count, Yeh had about 80 varieties of mustard in her Brooklyn apartment. “Staring at mustard sections in grocery stores is wonderfully relaxing,” she told us with all seriousness recently. Check out her recommendations below for the perfect mustard to top your dog. Happy barbequing!
Memorial Day is almost upon us, and it’s time to dust off that grill in the garage, fire it up and lay some franks down on it. The question is, are you really honoring the freedom your American forefathers fought for if you just get the same pack of Hebrew National every time you want some kosher dogs? What kind of freedom is that?
Thankfully, we live in a world with options, and we, here at the Forward, have tried out eight different varieties of kosher frankfurters to find out which will have the guests at your next BBQ plotzing. (Oh, and don’t forget mustard to top your dog.)
Scroll down to see which dog was crowned king.
Many years ago, while I was working as a counselor at Beth Tfiloh day camp in the Baltimore suburbs, my favorite camper took a trip to Israel. She came back with the best present a 15-year-old counselor could ever ask for: a jar of chocolate spread.
At the time, I’d never encountered such a thing. And it changed my life. Suddenly chocolate peanut butter sandwiches were the stuff dreams were made of.
Fast forward nearly two decades. We live in a world where chocolate and other nutty spreads are prevalent. Just yesterday the maker of Nutella made news by cancelling World Nutella Day!
At the same time, a minor travesty was unfolding in our neighborhood in brownstone Brooklyn. Ample Hills, Prospect Height’s newest and arguably most popular ice cream shop, announced that it is cutting down from 24 ice cream flavors to 16.
In doing so, they may get rid of Nanatella, a delicious organic banana ice cream rippled with — you guessed it — creamy Nutella.
Reprinted with permission from “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good” by Mark Bittman.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour
Combining grains with vegetables and meat makes for a better meatball, moister and more complex in texture and flavor. The combination here is bulgur and spinach, but any soaked or cooked grains (brown rice or steel-cut oats are also nice) work well, as do mashed beans (use about 1½ cups).
There are just as many ways to eat these meatballs as there are to cook them: Put a few on a tossed green salad, stuff into a pita with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, or add them to the tomato sauce on page 239 and simmer for a few minutes, then serve with pasta or on toast.
¼ cup medium-grind bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 pound ground beef, or lamb
1 cup chopped cooked spinach (thawed frozen is fine), squeezed as dry as possible
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1) Combine the bulgur and boiling water in a small bowl; cover and soak until fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a strainer, then press out as much of the water as possible. Combine the bulgur, beef, spinach, garlic, and salt and sprinkle with pepper. Shape into 16 meatballs, handling them no more than is necessary.
2) Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add some of the meatballs; work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Cook, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat as necessary, until they’re firm and browned all over, 5 to 10 minutes. As they finish, transfer them to paper towels to drain and repeat with the remaining meatballs as necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Nutritional Info (4 meatballs, made with 80% lean ground beef): Calories: 439 • Cholesterol: 81mg • Fat: 34g • Saturated Fat: 10g • Protein: 23g • Carbohydrates: 10g • Sodium: 609mg • Fiber: 3g • Trans Fat: 1g • Sugars: 0g
Reprinted with permission from “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good” by Mark Bittman.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 1⁄2 hours, largely unattended
Classic ratatouille—a mixture of summery vegetables stewed with olive oil and herbs—is stellar and satisfying on its own. Add chickpeas (or cannellini, or lima beans) and you have a super-hearty main dish. Eggplant, zucchini, and peppers are the usual vegetables, but consider alternatives like roughly chopped hearty greens—escarole or kale, for example. Just be sure to keep the tomatoes for moisture.
1 pound eggplant (smaller ones are better), peeled if you like, and cut into large chunks
¾ pound zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 pound Roma (plum) tomatoes, cored and chopped, or
1 28-ounce can, drained
1 onion, sliced
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
5 garlic cloves, halved
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, or ½ cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
1) Heat the oven to 425°F. Combine all the ingredients except the oil, chickpeas, and herbs in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the oil and toss to combine.
2) Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender and some water has released from the tomatoes to create a sauce, 30 to 40 minutes.
3) Add the chickpeas, stir, and return to the oven until the beans heat through, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the herbs and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Nutritional Info: Calories: 435 • Cholesterol: 0mg • Fat: 19g • Saturated Fat: 3g • Protein: 15g • Carbohydrates: 56g • Sodium: 803mg • Fiber: 18g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 17g