The Jew And The Carrot

$126,000 Is Stolen From Kutsher’s Tribeca Customers

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Evan Sung

Kutsher’s Tribeca patrons who pay close attention to their credit card bills might have noticed that they were being charged for a whole lot more than upscale gefilte fish and matzo ball soup. That’s because one of the restaurant’s waiters was allegedly stealing their information and using it to go on a $126,000 spending spree.

The waiter, Jaiquan Ibraheem, who has not been employed at Kutsher’s since last spring, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with multiple counts of grand larceny and scheme to defraud. The accused allegedly used a skimming device to steal the credit and debit card numbers of 120 Kutsher’s guests between February 1 and April 30, 2012. Accounts at a variety of banks and credit card companies were involved, but the vast majority were Chase credit card accounts.

All this must be hard for Kutsher’s to digest. The restaurant’s publicist explained that Kutsher’s waiters are instructed to take patrons credit cards directly to the terminal for payment, and then directly back to the table, and that the restaurant has never run into any problems with this — until now. An official statement from Kutsher’s emphasizes its cooperation with the NYPD on the case.

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Mixing Bowl: Recipe Archive, Shabbat Pancakes

By Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

Pancakes for Shabbat breakfast? Yes, please. Ruth Reichl shares her favorite recipe. [RuthReichl.com]

Next month’s TEDxManhattan is all about food — and you can stream it! [Grub Street]

National hot pastrami sandwich day. Really, everyone should celebrate this. [Eatocracy]

The LA Times opens its recipe vault. Jackpot! [LA Times]

This is our kind of art exhibit. A Chelsea gallery will be displaying a collection of food photos. [New York Times]


Jewish Deli Classics Get Yemeni Boost

By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby
David’s Brisket House’s Pastrami

The perfect pastrami sandwich is the New Yorker’s holy grail. It’s a relatively simple combination: Fatty, juicy pastrami spiced with a small dollop of brown mustard and contained within two slices of mild rye bread, served ideally with a pickle spear. And yet, the search for the best corner pastrami sandwich has spawned as many culinary battles as the eternal hunt for the superior slice of pizza. David’s Brisket House, a Crown Heights mainstay that has been slinging deli meats since the 1970s, has long been on the short list for the pinnacle of pastrami achievement.

David’s Brisket House was founded to serve the then-predominantly Jewish neighborhood it was situated in. The old story of gentrification lines and neighborhood change landed David’s smack in the middle of a predominantly Caribbean area. The restaurant changed hands over the years, closing for a despairingly long time in 2010 before reopening with interior improvements in 2012. The owners now are Yemeni Muslims, who serve up the spirit of the old Jewish deli along with every sandwich. It’s the zany kind of fusion that happens naturally in a place like Brooklyn: non-kosher Jewish comfort food preserved by Middle Easterners sold to Haitian immigrants.

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The ABC's of Amsterdam Burger Company

By Adrienne Winton

Hazon Flickr

When a new kosher restaurant opens on the Upper West Side, word spreads like wildfire. Upon hearing that a new kosher burger place opened in my neighborhood, I was beyond thrilled. Not only was is right around the corner, but they deliver too! I ventured to Amsterdam Burger Company during its second week since opening. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I went in there being open to what they had to offer. I took one look at their paper menus – as they were still getting settled into their new digs – and although not much was offered initially, they still delivered on quality and unique flavors with lots of the thought and care. Simple yet dignified. As I quickly skimmed I noticed the very bottom of the menu read, “all our products are from grass-fed, organic kosher meat.” I was even more impressed that a kosher establishment was finally on board with the environmental movement and was able to call themselves not only kosher, but sustainable as well! Already this classy burger joint was off to an incredible start.

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Q&A: Changing the Idea of Mediterranean Fare

By Michael Kaminer

Courtesy of Mezetto

Israeli-born Chef Shlomi Biton insists his Lower East Side hotspot Mezetto, which opened in October, is not a Middle Eastern or Jewish eatery. But its small plates — meze — bear those imprints, along with Balkan, Moroccan, and Sephardic flavors. Mezetto’s menu also reveals the influence of Biton’s rigorous studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris — and a stint in the high-precision kitchen of Spoon, Alain Ducasse’s Hong Kong fusion palace. Familiar ingredients surface in smart combinations, like a halvah parfait and falafel buns, his Asian-inspired, open steamed buns filled with a falafel ball, Israeli pickle salsa and harissa aioli.

While Biton still pines for his mother’s Moroccan cooking — and even consults her on food questions — he claims his goal is nothing less than “shattering” preconceptions of Mediterranean cuisine. The Forward caught up with Biton from Mezetto’s kitchen — and even shared his hummus recipe with us below.

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Israel's School Lunches May Get a MObama-Style Makeover

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinkstock

One of the signatures of modern Israeli cuisine is fresh, flavorful food made with fruits and vegetables that grow almost year round in the country’s temperate Mediterranean climate. So, it might be a bit surprising to learn that Israeli kids are eating school lunches that are as lacking in freshness and good nutrition as some of the worst American school lunches.

Armed with examples of fixes for the problem, like First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution campaign, Jerusalem City Councilmember Rachel Azaria is leading the fight for healthier school lunches in her city and throughout Israel.

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New York's Newest Kosher Steakhouses

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinksteak

It’s a kosher carnivore’s delight lately in Manhattan. Hot on the heals of news that The Prime Grill is moving to a larger location in order to accommodate more diners, we learn that La Brochette is coming to 340 Lexington Avenue in Murray Hill. The new kosher steakhouse, is replacing La Carne Grill, whose name leaves no doubt that it served a similar cuisine.

The owners of La Brochette plan on renovating the two-story property, which they are renting for a cool $25,000 (give or take) per month, to create a higher-end kosher eatery (possibly with a roof deck). According to the Commerical Observer, La Carne Grill was appreciated by the kosher-eating community and served as a neighborhood hangout for many years. However, some patrons had been recently noting that the restaurant was in need of upgrading and redecorating.

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10 Ways To Make Tu B’Shvat More Sustainable

By Elizabeth Traison

Hazon

Tu B’Shvat is one of 4 new years in Jewish Tradition. Celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat, this holiday gives us a chance to think about and celebrate the earth. Beginning with the rabbis in the 15th century, it has become a tradition to honor Tu B’Shvat with a Tu B’shvat seder. Below are the top 10 ways you can celebrate Tu B’Shvat this year in a healthy and sustainable way. To find out more information and suggestions from Hazon for Tu B’Shvat, visit the Hazon Tu B’Shvat Resource Page.

1) Go Out and Plant!
Tu B’Shvat is a great time to start your garden, and gives you sufficient time start growing so that you can use it during Passover! Take the time during this holiday to plant with your family and you can experience picking and eating your very own homegrown fruits and veggies. No space for an outdoor garden? There are plenty of ways to grow veggies and plants in an indoor garden. Check out ways to start your indoor garden from a gardening expert!

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Mixing Bowl: Brisket Trend; Ethereal Hummus

By Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

Where can one find a good black and white cookie these days? Max Falkowitz has the answer. [Serious Eats]

How do we love hummus? Let us count the ways (and places to eat it). Here are 14 of ‘em. [Serious Eats]

If you would rather make your hummus, the great Deb Perelman has a recipe for “Ethereally Smooth Hummus.” [Smitten Kitchen]

Is Jewish food taking over Chicago? We can only hope. [Serious Eats]

Brisket is finally a trend! Or, atleast a trendlet. [New York Magazine]

From the looks of this round up of 2013 cookbooks, the cookbook industry is doing very well. [Eater]


Dining in the Dark at Nalaga'at

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Nalaga'at

One doesn’t usually expect restaurant patrons to eat high-end cuisine with their hands. But that is precisely what guests will be encouraged to do when they dine in total darkness at a special pop-up restaurant called BlackOut in New York later this month.

Not only will the restaurant be pitch black, but its waiters will all be blind. The special dining opportunity is part of a temporary transplant, of Israel’s Nalaga’at Center (the name means “please touch”). The one-of-a-kind experience offers sighted and hearing people a taste of what it is like to live with a loss of some of their senses.

The other aspects of Nalaga’at are a stage production called “Not By Bread Alone” performed by deaf-blind actors, and a café called Kapish staffed by deaf waiters. “We are essentially recreating the Nalaga’at Center, located at the Jaffa port, in New York,” explained Adina Tal, Nalaga’at’s founder and artistic director, by phone. “We did the same thing in London a couple of years ago, and it was very successful.”

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A Bubbie as Sweet as Sugar

By Yael Kornfeld

beyondbubbie.com

How do you remember the people you love?

Whenever I remember my Bubbie Ruth, I think about her sugar cookies. Anytime my family would stop into her Elmira, NY home, I would look forward to tasting her brightly colored, sugar-y cookies.

Sharing the story of my Bubbie and her cookies is the reason why I uploaded her recipe to Beyond Bubbie, a website that shares the recipes and stories from the people who made us who we are. The brainchild of “Save the Deli” author David Sax, Beyond Bubbie, is meant to inspire a communal, culinary conversation that spans religions and cultures.

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What's Jack Lew Eating at the Inauguration?

By Devra Ferst

Getty Images
What’s for Lunch?: Jack Lew might go hungry at treyf Inaugural Lunch.

What will the Orthodox White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew be eating for lunch on January 21st?

We’re not quite sure, but his dining companions will be feasting on a meal that’s as treyf as they come.

Earlier today the menu for the traditional Inaugural Lunch in Statuary Hall was released and it starts with steamed lobster topped with clam chowder, features bison as a second course and apple pie with sour cream ice cream to finish.

The menu was chosen by native Brooklynite and member of the tribe Senator Charles Schumer, who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “This Inaugural luncheon menu incorporates foods that the first Americans enjoyed, but with a modern, forward looking approach,” he said. “I’m confident that Democrats, Republicans and representatives from all three branches alike will enjoy these incredible dishes from all corners of our nation.”

Well, everyone but those who keep kosher.

Perhaps someone should send Schumer a Zabar’s care package and remind him of his own culinary roots?

Check out the full menu below.

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Eating In For 31 Days

By Rhea Yablon Kennedy

Creative Commons

At the dawn of the new year, I found myself with a stocked kitchen, a few reusable sandwich wrappers, and a giant knot in my stomach. I had resolved to spend the first 31 days of 2013 eating in. That meant for the month of January, I would eat only food made at home or bought minimally processed from a grocery store. I was destined for four-plus weeks without restaurants, coffee shops, take-out, or Starbucks. And I didn’t feel ready. The knot came despite the fact that I had resolved to do this weeks before, and despite my rule that I didn’t have to actually eat at home – I could bring homemade food wherever I went.

What I lacked in preparation, I recouped in reasoning.

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Are Turkish Simits the New Bagel?

By Molly Yeh

Courtesy of Simit and Smith

Last week, a new bagelry made a bold move.

A few doors east of the Frank Bruni-approved 72nd Street Bagel on New York’s Upper West Side, Simit and Smith, a shop offering thin Turkish-style bagels called simits, opened its doors.

The company launched its first of 20 stores the same week as a popular article on First We Feast circulated the net bemoaning the decline of the New York bagel.

So could the bagel’s skinny Middle Eastern cousin stand up to the New York original? We had to go investigate for ourselves.

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The Politics of Healthy Food

By Alon Tal

Hazon Flickr

With the Israeli elections imminent, it is well to consider the issue of public policy and food. For instance, the Green Movement, as Israel’s green party has recently joined Tzipi Livni’s HaTnuah party and considers regulation of food production to be a significant componet in improving the country’s environmental policies. Livni, herself a vegetarian since age 12, will be convening a gathering of vegetarians next week to highlight areas where a more sustainable food policy should be pursued.

There are two underlying motivations behind the necessary policy reform. Environmentally, the pollution produced by agricultural operations, particularly from livestock is enormous. Six years ago, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the international meat industry produces18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, even more than transportation. The contribution of pesticides and fertilizers to water pollution is well known. In a recent long-term study of Israel’s stream, a research team I headed found that non-point source pollution, largely from agricultural sources, were the primary contributor of pollutants to Israel’s streams, rather than industry or even sewage.

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New Year's Resolution Recipes

By Emma Rudolph

Thinkstock

I did the most stereotypical thing one can do after the New Year. I went on a juice cleanse. Three full days existing on nothing but sludgy, vitamin and mineral-laden juice. I’ve experienced a variety of feelings: cleansed (yes, seriously), hungry, exhausted, slightly delusional, energetic, sated and, did I mention hungry? My one constant was my ever-present desire to cook. You can pump me up with all the kale juice in the world but you can’t take away my inherent need to cook.

Why did I deliberately submit myself to 72 hours of pure juice torture?

The most obvious reason: the holidays. It’s safe to say I put back enough Nutella, red meat, wine, cookies, and other unmentionables to sustain me through the entirety of 2013. I needed a detox.

Reason two: I wanted to test my self discipline.

Reason three: call me crazy, but I thought juicing might lend itself to a sort of spiritual experience.

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Mixing Bowl: Giving Matzo Balls a Rest; Resolution Recipes

By Devra Ferst

Bubbes around the world share pictures of themselves cooking in their kitchens. So cute, we almost want to pinch someone’s cheeks. [The Kitchn]

Give the old matzo ball soup a rest and try carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas. [Smitten Kitchen]

Things are getting real! Here are 20 unspoken truths about the food world. [First We Feast]

Can’t wait for the Downton Abbey Season 3 premier on Sunday? Neither can we. Here’s a menu to celebrate the occasion. [Food52]

Virtuous meals to start the new year with (and to help keep those resolutions). [Serious Eats]


On the Move: Prime Grill Heads West

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinkstock

The Prime Grill, the fine dining kosher steakhouse New York Magazine calls “the go-to spot for the city’s kosher-observant movers and groovers,” is pulling up stakes on East 49th St. and moving to the west side of Midtown Manhattan.

Owner Joey Allaham promises that the new space, which will seat 360, boasts a wood burning oven and “more menu options.” No details yet on what those options will be, but regulars are certainly hoping that their favorites — like a dozen varieties of dry-aged steaks, a full sushi menu and appetizers like Crackling Duck Salad — make the move over to West 56th street.

Diners will be able to wash down the new fare with rare vintages of Herzog kosher wine, and will be able to arrange tastings and pairings with a Herzog sommelier in a private dining room.

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Turning The Tables: Food Resolutions for the New Year

By Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas

Valley Beth Shalom

If you’re like me, January prompts you to reexamine a few bothersome behaviors — and make a few (or more) resolutions for the coming year. Making resolutions is a dangerous proposition, of course. A strictly goal-oriented approach gives us a flat, “all or nothing” mandate that can lead to failure. By February, our resolution has dropped off our spiritual radar, and we marinate our inertia in the guilt of giving up. As the negative emotions pile up, we risk (as the rabbis say), “begetting one sin with another” — creating a vicious cycle that leaves us in a spiritual mess. Instead, let’s take a deeper approach. Make a few life adjustments — for promises that you can keep.

Since writing about this idea in 2012, I’ve received some great comments and suggestions. So in that spirit (and with a little nudge from an editor-friend), I’ve expanded our list to include five new ways to make life more meaningful. We can accomplish this by deepening our relationship to the food we eat, based on Judaism’s ancient wisdom.

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Holy Cow! Bill Averts Dairy Cliff

By Reuters

Thinkstock

A deal approved by the U.S. Congress late on Tuesday to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff” also includes measures to avert the “dairy cliff” - a steep increase in milk prices.

The tax agreement contains a nine-month fix for expiring farm subsidy programs by extending a 2008 farm law. That gives lawmakers time to come up with a new five-year replacement.

Without the fix, the farm law would have expired and dairy subsidies would have reverted to 1949 levels, meaning retail milk prices could have doubled to about $7 a gallon in coming weeks or months. Lawmakers have so far failed to finalize a new $500 billion, five-year farm bill to replace the 2008 legislation, which authorizes spending on food stamps and crop subsidies.

They had agreed to eliminate $5 billion in annual direct payments to grain, cotton and soybean growers - subsidies deemed wasteful at a time of high prices and record farm income.

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