The Jew And The Carrot

Ready, Set, Smoke: Kosher BBQ Competitions Heat Up

By Steven Weinberger

Steven Weinberger

This past Sunday, I found myself standing in a synagogue parking lot, resplendent in bright yellow tights, red shorts, a red shirt and a yellow satin cape and a rack of ribs emblazoned across my chest. But, I didn’t stand out as much as you might imagine. I was at the first annual Long Island Kosher BBQ Championship, where I was a judge and I was ready to eat!

If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of a kosher BBQ competition, you may think that this is a unique event — something new, but by the end of August 2012, there will be five annual kosher BBQ competitions in the United States.

The first kosher BBQ competition in the country was started 25 years ago by Melvin Katz and Ira Weinstein, members of Congregation Anshei Sfard Bet-El Emet (ASBEE) in Memphis, Tenn. The two had a friendly rivalry going for years, to see whose smoked brisket was the best. After approaching the officials of the world-famous Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest about creating a Kosher event, and being turned down, the two started their own meaty competition. The annual event now includes more than 40 teams that travel from as far as New York to compete.

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Hookah And Shakshuka: Bay Area Israeli

By Laura Rumpf

Laura Rumpf

If you closed your eyes, you could easily imagine the scent of rich tomato and onion wafting from Jennah Craig’s East Bay apartment, and the joyful colliding of conversations ricocheting down the hallway coming from an airy apartment complex in downtown bustling Tel Aviv. That was exactly the feeling this gathering was going for. A group of ten young adults who’ve all settled in the Bay after years living in Israel, we rolled up our sleeves to create a Middle Eastern-style feast of Shakshuka (see recipe below) and homemade pita, and toasted to some of our most memorable meals cooked in the Holy Land.

Danna Rubin, Northwest Regional Director for Masa Israel Journey, spearheaded the edible effort after hearing from a number of MASA Israel program alums that the thing they missed most from their time spent in Israel was spent making a mess on the stove, in good, raucous, company. “A big part of living in Israel is gathering together and cooking meals together; something less prevalent in American culture,” says Rubin.

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CSA: Celebrating Spring With Artichoke Soup

By Jessica Fischer

I wasn’t introduced to artichokes until I was ten and I’m not sure how I survived those ten years without them. Scary looking on the outside, but delicate, meaty, and a fun appetizer activity on the inside. Artichoke quickly became a staple at our family Shabbat dinner table, kids scrambling to drag the leaves through their teeth and reach the flavorful heart.

Native to the Mediterranean, Jews and artichokes have a long history together, dating back to the Talmud where Jews were given explicit permission to go through the extensive process of preparing an artichoke on festival days (BT Beitzah 34a). As the cultivation of artichokes spread throughout the Mediterranean, Sephardic Jews became infatuated with the vegetable, using it in countless recipes. According to Jewish food scholar Gil Marks, in Italy artichokes became known as “the Jewish vegetable,” partly because they were available and cheap in the Roman ghettos. While this nickname was originally derisive, fried Carciofi alla Giudia, Jewish Artichokes, is now a source of pride in Italy, especially in Rome where it is sold in restaurants that line the streets of the old ghetto.

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Mixing Bowl: Israeli Caviar; Kosher Wines in Napa

By Devra Ferst

iStock

Some of the world’s finest caviar is coming from a kibbutz in Northern Israel. Who knew? [NPR]

The owners of Schmendrick’s bagels are sharing their story and secrets of opening an artisanal bagel company. Last week we shared wtih you the beginning of their story, now, check out part 2 of the doughy tale. [Serious Eats]

The Napa Valley Register is hosting a small kosher wine tasting this weekend followed by an alfresco lunch. [Napa Valley Register]

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Kosher Slaughter Escapes Ban in Netherlands

By JTA

JOOST J. BAKKER

This story is cross-posted from JTA.

Dutch Agriculture Minister Hans Bleker signed an agreement with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and slaughterhouses that will prevent a ban on ritual slaughter.

Under the agreement signed Tuesday, animals can continue to be ritually slaughtered as long as they lose consciousness within 40 seconds of their throats being cut. After 40 seconds they must be stunned, which is prohibited under both Jewish and Islamic law.

A prominent Dutch rabbi, however, criticized the covenant as “unacceptable.”

“The government is concerning itself with issues such as how to perform the cut. That is the domain of rabbis and the Jewish community,” Lody van de Kamp, a rabbi and politician, told the daily Reformatorisch Dagblad Wednesday. “The government should stay out.”

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Ess, Mameleh, Ess: Raising a Healthy Jewish Child

By Jackie Topol

Hazon

Like many Jewish families, food has always been the center of our holiday celebrations. I have fond memories of the special meals that my grandma would lovingly prepare for our family. I also remember her and other family members gently coaxing me to finish the contents on my plate. “Ess, mameleh, ess” (eat, little girl, eat), my grandma would say. Between my father’s side, which survived the Great Depression in America, and my mother’s side, which survived the Holocaust, there was always reason to give thanks and finish what was put in front of you, without a fuss. So, from my childhood onwards I always cleaned my plate and often ate when I wasn’t even really hungry. This eventually caught up with me.

It wasn’t until I was in my Masters program in nutrition that I began to look more critically at where some of my own eating issues stemmed from. One of the most fascinating things I learned in my Pediatric Nutrition course was about children’s innate ability to self-regulate their food intake based on caloric density. Children actually respond to the energy content of foods by adjusting their intake to reflect the energy density of the diet, meaning, that unlike adults, a child will stop eating when they have taken in enough calories. They still rely on adults to offer a variety of nutritious and developmentally appropriate foods though, since the ability to self-regulate excludes the ability to choose a well-balanced diet.

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Pre-Shabbat Snack: Chicken Bagel Sandwich

By Anthony Silverbrow

iStock

Being from solid Ashkenazi stock, Friday night dinners invariably meant several ways with chicken: chopped, boiled and roasted. Although it was the least glamorous — the boiled chicken — that most excited me.

Chicken soup is a much loved dish and I’m always partial to a bowl or two, especially with my mother’s kneidlach. But it was the by-product that got my taste buds going.

I shouldn’t call it the by-product because the chicken is the main event, everyone just forgets about it and goes straight to the diluted version — what is soup if not a watery take on a solid? Chicken soup is genius in so many ways, but particularly because you can remove the primary ingredient and the soup is in no way diminished and the chicken tastes delicious.

I realized this curious fact early on in life and it led to a pleasurable pre-Shabbat ritual. Returning home from school I would sneak into the kitchen and sidle over to the large glass rectangular dish that contained the chicken. It would sit there looking somewhat wan. The skin had probably fallen off in the pot and other than boiling water and some aromatics, there was nothing to give it a hint of color. But I could readily overlook the aesthetic shortcomings. I was focused on a sandwich and no good sandwich will ever get mistaken for an oil painting.

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Bourdain Finishes 'No Reservations' in Kosher Style

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Getty Images

He’s traveled all over the world and eaten some seriously strange foods (a porcupine dish in Vietnam immediately comes to mind), but for the last episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, the chef and TV host plans to face a Jewish favorite — the pastrami sandwich.

Bourdain made headlines last week when he announced that his hit Travel Channel series would be ending, and that he’d move over to CNN to host a weekend show. While we’re excited to see what Bourdain will do at CNN, we’re particularly intrigued to hear that he wrapped up “No Reservations” at Jay & Lloyd’s Deli, a kosher spot in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

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Tales of Breaking Bread in the Galilee

By Katherine Martinelli

Courtesy of Abbie Rosner

When Abbie Rosner, A Jewish woman from Washington, DC, moved to Israel’s lower Galilee in the late 1980s she probably didn’t anticipate developing a fascination with the foods of the bible, learning to forage wild edible plants, or befriending the neighboring Arab Bedouins. But that’s exactly what happened, as she explains in her new book “Breaking Bread in the Galilee. Part culinary memoir, part study of the traditional foodways of the region, and part ode to the lasting friendships she’s made, it’s a delightful and heart-warming look at the power of food as both a link to the past and a tool of communication.

Israel is commonly referred to as the Land of Milk and Honey, but Rosner delves deeper into this, turning to the bible as a literal description of the agricultural landscape of the Galilee. “I set out on an adventure, using the local foods of the Galilee as my compass, to trace the living links to the ancient past of my contemporary agricultural landscape,” she writes in the introduction.

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A New Take on an Old Favorite: Apricot Jam

By Rella Kaplowitz

One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is a PB&J.

Seriously. Peanut butter and jelly make me happy. A toasted PB&J is even more heavenly. With a tall glass of milk (or milk substitute, if you can’t do dairy). But the one thing I don’t miss about my childhood sandwiches is the jelly or jam we used to eat.

I’ve always disliked oversweet jams, but until last summer I was never brave enough to try making my own. It seemed so hard! Truthfully though, homemade jams are incredibly easy as long as you have a large wide stockpot, a wooden spoon, and some glass jars.

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Bay Area Bagel Shop Spices Things Up

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Renee Ghert-Zand
Diana Arzate, manager of Izzy’s, shows off the new shop.

“I’ve been living in East Palo Alto for 24 years, and this is the first bagel shop I’ve ever seen here,” said Rafael Avila, the baker at Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels. Undeterred, Avila was busy baking batches of bagels on June 1, the grand opening of Izzy’s new location in this Bay Area city with a mainly Latino, African-American and Pacific Islander population, and virtually no Jewish residents.

After being in business in nearby Palo Alto for 16 years, Izzy’s Israeli-born owner, Israel Rind, wanted to expand operations. While past attempts to establish viable outlets in Sunnyvale and San Francisco (locations with relatively large Jewish populations) were short-lived, Rind is hoping that this unusual move will pay off.

People come from all over the Bay Area to Palo Alto to buy Izzy’s bagels, which satisfy even highly discriminating ex-New Yorkers — myself included. The Bay Area in general is a relative desert when it comes to good bagels, and Izzy’s has cornered the market for kosher ones. Customers also appreciate the store’s appetizing treats like smoked salmon and whitefish salads, Middle Eastern fare like hummus and tabouleh, and kosher pizza and pastries.

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CSA Cooking: Of White and Green Asparagus

By Rachel Yerkey

WikiCommons

“¿Que es eso, el blanco?” (What is this, the white [thing]?) I asked, jabbing with my fork at the white, slimy thing on my plate. The waitress looked at me and laughed. I had been in Spain all of 5 hours and I was tired, hungry, confused by the language and the food, and missing home terribly. Apparently whatever was on my plate was so commonplace that even to ask was seen as nothing short of idiotic. I asked again, trying to sound like I had something of a Spanish accent, instead of my Midwestern drawl, “¿Que es eso?” (What is this?) The waitress came back, and rattled off a sentence so fast that I must have looked like I had gotten hit with a truck. I sat there blinking for a few seconds and she said one word, slowly, so my jet-lagged brain could process, “espárrago.” (Asparagus)

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Kosher Traveler: Blending Traditions in Haifa

By Abra Cohen

Abra Cohen
Hummus with fava beans at Hummus Said in nearby Akko is not to be missed.

Built on Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean coastline is northern Israel’s capital city and culinary hot spot, Haifa. Unlike Jerusalem where there are distinct Jewish, Arab and Christian quarters, the members of the five religions of Haifa (including two sects of Islam) for the most part peacefully coexist and often intermingle. The diverse population is seen in the city’s art and music scenes and most deliciously in its food.

In downtown Haifa, Arab hummus shops are housed in old Ottoman buildings with small barrel-vaulted ceilings and Arab artwork decorates the walls. These family restaurants are welcoming, featuring signature Arab hospitality. Most offer generous portions of salads like steamed cauliflower covered in fresh tehina, cabbage, beet and carrot salads. Try both warm and cold hummus platters and pitas fresh from the oven. A typical post-hummus delight is the strong coffee spiced with cardamom. When you finish, stroll down the streets and sample various styles of baklava and other sweets in bakeries that bring the neighborhoods together and stop in the outdoor markets, or shuks. Here you’ll find the freshest produce, multiple varieties of olives, fresh fish and cheeses that arrive daily.

The city is also host to several chefs who are reinvigorating local ingredients with modern twists at upscale restaurants.

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Mixing Bowl: Kosher BBQ Contest; Israel Wine Fests

By Devra Ferst

iStock

18 teams of BBQ competitors will fire up their grills to compete in The First Annual Long Island Kosher BBQ Championship on June 10th. [Long Island Kosher BBQ Championship]

If you’re spending the summer in the Holy Land, check out these wine events. [Israel Wine]

Starting a bagel company is hard stuff. San Francisco-based pop-up bagel shop Schmendricks shares their story. [Serious Eats]

Making school lunches healthy, cost effective and tasty presents challenges. Add kosher restrictions to that and it gets even more complicated. [New American Media]

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Be Courageous and Eat: Comfort in Tradition

By Elizabeth Traison

I am a fourth generation Detroiter. My parents (aunts and uncles included), grandparents, and even some of my great-grandparents were born in the fabulous and flourishing city that was, and still is, Detroit. My dad runs a business that belonged to his father, that belonged to his father. My grandfather has been driving a float in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade for over twenty years, and in his 50+ years of life, my dad has only ever missed one parade. My maternal great-grandfathers owned a tavern and a bakery, where my uncle later worked during the summers. My mom and her two siblings were told to apply anywhere they wanted for college, as long as it was in Michigan. Over matzah balls and meat balls, my Bubbie finds any excuse to tell her grandchildren “you can live anywhere you want” followed by a limited list of Detroit suburbs. Her tone implies suggestion, but we know they are demands. The only thing that parallels our connection to Detroit is our connection to food — or perhaps they are really one in the same.

For as long as we have been in Detroit, we have shared meals together; birthdays and holidays, simcha (celebration) and sorrow, bags of chips and meals with enough leftovers for a week. And because very few people have ever left Detroit, even the small family get-togethers meals tend to include more than thirty people. But two weeks ago, I moved from my long-time home (of the crab-apples) to The Big Apple. Instinctively, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, the variety of smells from block to block, and — like a true Michigander — public transportation. This is the abridged story of my search for a little taste of home in the big city.

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Torah or Vegan — Which Came First?

By Jeffrey Cohan

The Beet-Eating Heeb

Editor’s Note: The Beet-Eating Heeb is the nom de plume of Jeffrey Cohan, a former journalist in Forest Hills, PA. He also blogs about Judaism and veganism on his own Web site.

Invoking the which-came-first, chicken-or-the-egg paradigm is probably an unfortunate choice for The Beet-Eating Heeb, and not just because it’s a shopworn metaphor.

The Beet-Eating Heeb is a vegan, and thus eschews the use of animals, even in cliches. But for this blog, he tried a carrot-seed paradigm, and it just didn’t work.

The fact is, the ol’ chicken-egg thing certainly applies to the question that Jewish social activists should confront. The question is, does the passion we feel for a certain issue constitute an authentic expression of our Judaism, or do we cherry-pick Jewish texts to buttress our preconceived bias? Which came first? Torah or PETA?

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The Kitchen Table Closes for Good

By Renee Ghert-Zand

“Oh no! Please don’t go!” exclaimed one of The Kitchen Table’s 1,700 friends as he read the restaurant’s announcement on Facebook that it is closing on June 3. Open since the spring of 2009, the upscale kosher fleishig dining establishment in Mountain View, California will shut its doors for good after its dinner service on Sunday.

As The Kitchen Table clients logged onto their computers following the Shavuot holiday, they saw the following message:

The Kitchen Table, the premier Bay Area fine dining Kosher restaurant, will be turning the page after it serves dinner on Sunday, June 3rd. We want to thank our wonderful fans and customers for the support they have given us over these past three years. We will be open with regular business hours on Tuesday, May 29th through close of business on Sunday, June 3rd. We hope to see you at our Kitchen Table one last time.

It appears that the restaurant’s attempts to cater to kashrut-observant Jews, and also local Silicon Valley executives and engineers, with a seasonally fresh California-Jewish fusion menu ultimately failed.

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A Year of American Food Adventures

By Devra Ferst

Last Spring we checked in with The Perennial Plate, a.k.a. Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine. The pair was preparing for the ultimate sustainably food road trip — a year-long adventure from coast to coast, visiting farmers, fishers, chefs and passionate artisans along the way for their video series.

Fifty or so weeks later, the team has traveled “23,000 miles across 42 states, and made 50 short films,” says Klein. For their anniversary video, the two share clips of their favorite moments. We’ve enjoyed everyone of their moving and inspiring videos (incase you’ve missed them, see here. Check out the culmination of their travels below.

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When in Rome, Zuckerberg and Chan Eat Kosher

By Renee Ghert-Zand

ALLYSON MAGDA PHOTOGRAPHY

The Jew and the Carrot doesn’t understand why people are so surprised that a guy who wears hoodies and jeans day in-day out is thrifty when it comes to food. Nonetheless, the fact that that Mark Zuckerberg and his new bride Priscilla Chan are anything but upscale foodies seems to have some commentators irked. We, however, are a bit surprised about something else: the couple’s romantic honeymoon lunch in Rome…at a kosher restaurant.

The NY Post dished out the snark on just about everything to do with the Zuckerberg-Chan nuptials, from the backyard ceremony to the low-key ring, to the even lower-key fare. “Instead of the fairy-tale ceremony of most women’s dreams, Chan wound up with a wedding in her own back yard that featured $7.50 Mexican food,” reporter Rita Delfiner wrote. Indeed, on the menu was food from local Mexican bistro Palo Alto Sol and Japanese joint Fuki Sushi.

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Gardening Strengthened My Jewish Awareness

By Anna Hackman

My little Garden of Eden stretches a mere half an acre with an assortment of raised beds, fruit trees and bushes. When I started the garden six years ago, I thought gardening was a progression of my environmental path rather than my Judaic destiny. I figured that providing organic fruits and vegetables to my family reduced my carbon footprint. Little did I know that I was also healing the Earth.

How did I start down the garden path? After we built our environmentally friendly house, I still felt something was missing. I always wanted to grow tomatoes. My mom planted a patch one year. The smell and taste of fresh tomatoes was forever burned in my memory

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