The Jew And The Carrot

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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Debating the Future of Kosher Food in London

By Anthony Silverbrow

Chaim Bacon

Fressing and kibbitzing. Eating and talking. It’s what we Jews do so well, which is why on an unseasonably cold Sunday, the beautiful Ivy House, HQ of the London Jewish Cultural Centre, was heaving with over 500 people for this year’s Gefiltefest.

Setup in 2010, Gefiltefest — a British celebration of all things food and Jewish related — is now in its third year. Organized by the perennially cheerful Michael Leventhal, it is the ultimate Jewish food conference across the pond. Warmed by fragrant samosas topped with chili and yogurt made by a collective of North African women who call themselves Spice Caravan, people gathered for a mix of talks, panel debates and stalls more or less all focusing on the wonder that is food. Topics ranged from the silly — making edible portraits for kids — to the more serious like the panel debate I hosted on the future of kosher food.

The other panelists were all kosher restaurateurs, of one shade or another. Kenny Arfin runs Bevis Marks The Restaurant, one of London’s smarter kosher restaurants; Elliot Hornblass is one of the backers of The Deli West One, a New York deli style restaurant and Amy Beilin is the force of nature behind Kosher Roast, London’s first kosher pop-up (as far as I’m aware).

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Yemen's Stimulating Drink Makes Its Way to Tel Aviv

By Haaretz

Courtesy of Haaretz

Reprinted with permission from Haaretz

People often walk into the Tel Aviv restaurant Michal Levit manages and ask her why the juice is so expensive.

The drink she sells in Hame’orav restaurant on Allenby Street is not exactly lemonade. It’s a stimulant and appetite suppressant that promotes wakefulness, sexual potency, and greater capacity for alcohol consumption.

Levit has found a way of turning juice into gold. It’s easy being an alchemist if the material you’re working with happens to be khat juice, the official picker-upper of the summer of 2012.

As Levit explains, slowly and patiently to the uninformed, khat juice is not any old freshly squeezed juice. Khat (pronounced as gat with a hard “g” in Hebrew), or Catha edulis, is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and in this particular case its extract is mixed with sweet lemonade.

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Mixing Bowl: Shavuot; Italian Cheese Tragedy

By Devra Ferst

iStock

Shmaltz Brewing Company is mixing up six different beers to create their Funky Jewbelation blend. [The Kitchn]

Cheese cakes of the world. Good info to know with Shavuot starting tonight, but also, just good information to have on hand at any time. [Kosher Eye]

Thanks to “The Avengers,” shwarma is the “it” food of the moment in LA. [Eatocracy]

Smithsonian Magazine’s June issue is dedicated to food. With pieces by Ruth Reichl, Mimi Sheraton and Corby Kummer, we can’t wait to bite into it. [Fork in the Road]

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First Fruit Challah For Shavuout

By Seth Fineman and Sarah Chandler

Seth Fineman and Sarah Chandler

In ancient times, the challah eaten on Shavuot was the first taste of the new year’s wheat. During the counting of the Omer, first barley, and then wheat, were counted in anticipation of the Shavuot festival. When the other first fruits were offered in Jerusalem, two large challot were made of the first fruits of the wheat plant -. Like the first wheat plants, the Challot were also big, fluffy and delicious!

In modern times, we are blessed with year-round access to milled grains ready to bake into delicious breads and cakes. In our climate, the wheat is still completely green - we expect these grains to be ready for harvest sometime in July. Yet, as we look toward Shavuot, we are aware that this festival celebrates more than just the giving of the Torah - it also reminds us of the seasons in ancient Israel. Shavuot only comes once a year, but Shabbat comes every week!

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Flaky Bourekas That Crumble in Your Mouth

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

While blintzes and cheesecake are the stars of Ashkenazi celebrations of Shavuot, bourekas (flaky, stuffed pastries) figure prominently in Sephardic traditions. They can feature any number of fillings, and in Israel they are commonly found stuffed with mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, or tuna fish. Cheese is another favorite filling, and one that is perfect for the dairy-infused holiday of Shavuot.

Burekas originally hail from Turkey, but have been fully adopted into the Israeli culinary cannon — showing up on breakfast menus, for lunch and, perhaps most commonly, for a midday snack.

Traditional Turkish versions are more often snake-like cigars (in fact, the word probably comes from the Turkish bur, which means “to twist”), while in Israel they often take the form of turnovers, both big and small.

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What HBO Can Learn from Our Fathers

By Rebecca Finkel

HAZON-NSS

HBO’s much-anticipated documentary series “The Weight of the Nation”, aired on May 14th and 15th, generating many conversations about the obesity epidemic in America. As a registered dietitian I am familiar with the statistics and research on obesity and chronic disease in this country. I expected that an HBO project would reframe the way we currently approach health in an exciting and innovative manner. In that sense it missed the mark and as I struggled to find a way to articulate how and why. I found a fuller explanation by coupling the film with the Jewish tradition. Pirkei Avot, the portion of the Mishnah known as Ethics of Our Fathers is commonly read on Shabbat afternoons, especially during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, precisely when “The Weight of the Nation” aired. One of my favorite passages has three simple clauses that unexpectedly bore meaning on my viewing experience.

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Quinoa Baked Patties on the Go

By Dahlia Abraham-Klein

Wikicommons

May is bike Month! Besides getting outside in fresh air for the first time since last summer, the extra activity means that cyclists of all levels will be looking for a little extra energy. Cycling is not a free pass for indulgence, but it definitely requires you to consume more calories. It’s not just more calories; you will also need to fuel your body more efficiently for endurance.

The best eating plan for a cyclist is one that includes high carbohydrate foods, and protein to provide energy. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy for cycling, and since you are burning carbs to fuel your cycling, you must regularly replace them with a high carbohydrate diet.

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DIY Ricotta for Shavuot

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

If Shavuot is all about dairy, then making your own cheese is the ultimate celebration. Sure it’s well and good to make blintzes and cheesecake, but this year why not go the extra step and create their fillings from scratch? While it may sound intimidating, it doesn’t take a professional fromager to produce a basic soft, white cheese at home, with ricotta being a great place to start. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment, although a thermometer and cheesecloth help.

There are plenty of ways to arrive at fresh, homemade ricotta. Most recipes start out with whole, pasteurized (but not ultra-pasteurized) milk, which gets curdled by heat and an acid — either distilled or white wine vinegar, lemon (or even lime) juice, or buttermilk. Some add heavy cream or even yogurt for extra richness. My preferred method calls simply for milk and buttermilk, and works like a charm every time.

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Veal, Lamb, Duck — It's All Bacon to Them

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock
Epic Bites is working to cooking up a kosher version of this.

Yitzchak Bernstein and Eitan Esan have a real thing for bacon. One might think this would be a problem for a couple of Orthodox kosher caterers, but it isn’t. In fact, it is their obsession with this taboo food that is bringing them and their new Oakland, California-based business, Epic Bites, a lot of attention. The word is out among Northern California’s observant Jews that if you want to buy your bacon and be able to eat it too, you call these guys.

“Let’s face it — Jews want what they can’t have,” Bernstein told The Jew and the Carrot in a recent interview over Skype. “I love bacon. It’s the ultimate taboo. People think our bacon is too good to be kosher,” he said. Bernstein, 28, actually got a chance to eat the real thing — pork bacon — when for a period in his life, he moved away from religious observance. But, now he is back to living as an Orthodox Jew, and he’s not about to give the stuff up. Esan, 27, has never eaten pork in his life and is finding this whole kosher bacon thing “phenomenal.” He has been astounded that “even non-kosher people are asking for it.”

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Next Food Network Star Takes on Jewish Food

By Renee Ghert-Zand

© Television Food Network, G.P. 2012 All Rights Reserved

What would a gastronomical visit to New York be without a stop on the Lower East Side for some traditional Eastern European Jewish food? That’s exactly what the producers of The Next Food Network Star were thinking when they sent one group of contestants to the area on this weekend’s episode.

The episode was all about ethnic food in New York, with Alton Brown’s group checking out the Jewish food, Giada De Laurentis’s crew headed to Little Italy, and Bobby Flay’s team checked out Harlem. The assignment was to visit several landmark culinary businesses in the neighborhood, and then to make a dish inspired by them.

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A Jewish Sandwich Grows at the Carnegie Deli

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Courtesy of the Carnegie Deli

A successful off-Broadway show is one thing, but if you really want to know whether you’ve made it in the big city, check the menu at Carnegie Deli.

Last week, the Carnegie Deli unveiled its massive “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn Sandwich” (shown) in honor of Jake Ehrenreich’s off-Broadway show of the same name, about growing up in 1960s East Flatbush, the child of Holocaust survivors.

Click here to read our list of the 10 Jewish Sandwiches To Eat Before You Die

The mostly comedic show — which includes personal stories and music — is being immortalized with a sandwich made of corned beef, pastrami and turkey with lettuce and Russian dressing on rye. It’s topped with a broccoli flower (the “tree”).

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The World of Jewish Cooking — According to Gil Marks

By Anna Hanau

GilMarks.com

“How much time do I have?” Gil Marks asked towards the end of his presentation at the 92Y last Tuesday. The answer (two minutes) didn’t seem to perturb him in the slightest. “Great. Well, in the next two minutes, let me take you through about 2,000 years of Jewish history.”

That was pretty much the theme of the evening, as cookbook author and Forward columnist Leah Koenig interviewed Marks, also an author of several cookbooks and, most recently, the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” during a talk labeled The World of Jewish Cooking, part of the 92Y Talks series.

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Kosher Sweep: Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips

By Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh

For insight into last week’s happenings at Trader Joe’s grocery stores nationwide, referencing the vintage TV sensation “Supermarket Sweep” might not be a far stretch. The contestants were kosher customers, the prize, semi-sweet chocolate chips. The last of the pareve ones, that is.

The chocolate chips, which have been regarded for years in kosher households as some of the best for desserts following meat meals (and at the best price, a twelve-ounce bag for $2.29), will soon have their “pareve” label replaced with the “OK-D” label for certified dairy (non-Cholov Yisroel). The notice by Kashruth Administrator Rabbi Don Yoel Levy was released on Wednesday.

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