They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s perhaps a cliché, but it is true of Toronto’s United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. While the menu of this, the oldest family restaurant in the city, has changed with the times, it has also remained faithful to the dishes that attracted its first customers in 1912.
“Young people like old food,” posited Philip Ladovsky, who co-owns the restaurant with his sister, Ruthie, as a main reason for the restaurant’s longevity. As a reporter for The Jew and the Carrot sat down with the siblings over a bowl of United Bakers’ famous beet borscht and a boiled potato, they recounted how the business got started and reflected on the food that brings approximately 1,000 patrons — many of them regulars — through the door every day. They believe that it is their menu’s balance between traditional “dorfishe cooking” (Middle and Eastern European country cuisine) and current standard family restaurant fare, along with the famous Ladovsky hospitality, that has kept United Bakers going strong for three generations.
The New York Daily News broke the sad news yesterday: the last H & H Bagel shop (on West 46th St.) is now closed. Legal troubles and economic woes are to blame. Oy. [New York Daily News]
College Prowler ranks the best Kosher campuses. Brandeis is not (quite) first. [College Prowler]
The last H&H Bagels store was evicted from its last New York location for failing to pay back rent, the New York Daily News reported.
The iconic bakery outlet on W. 46th Street in Manhattan was chained shut Thursday after owner Helmer Toro failed to pay about $600,000 to the landlord the paper said.
“It’s the end,” Yann Geron, a building official told the paper.
H&H was best known for its location on W. 80th Street on the upper West Side, near famed deli Zabar’s. That shop closed last year, to tears from schmear-lovers.
Septuagenarian Fuad Haba was a long way from his birthplace of Iraq and his family’s famous bakery on Agrippas Street in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market as he made laffa bread in a taboon oven in suburban Toronto. But neither he nor the customers at the new Dr. Laffa restaurant, where the retiree is hard at work, seemed to be deterred by the freezing weather on a recent wintery night.
Fuad was in Toronto helping his son Sasi and Sasi’s business partner Yoram Gabay with their new venture, which brings the tastes, smells and atmosphere of the shuk to an unsuspecting location tucked inside a business park northwest of the city’s main Jewish neighborhoods along the Bathurst Street corridor. The kosher restaurant offers all the typical Israeli (meat) comfort foods, but it is the delicious, fresh laffa — a full foot in diameter — that is its biggest draw.
There are many foods and dishes that help define the space of a holiday—that help to give the celebration many layers of sensory textures. Because of that relationship, such foods sometimes turn into a symbol of the holiday and carry memories and connotations whenever they appear in a grocery store or meal.
Are you into quinoa?
That’s sooo 2011! Let me introduce you to the hip grain of 2012 - the freekeh. This smoked green wheat that comes from the levant was lately on the shortlist of Bon Appétit magazine for pantry staples for a healthier eating and appeared suddenly on the shelves of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s across the country.
While freekeh is relatively new in the U.S., it is in fact an ancient grain that has been used throughout the Middle East. So ancient, in fact, it is mentioned in the bible in Leviticus, including even a description of how it is prepared. (Leviticus, chapter 2, v.14).
Israelis, masters of spotting culinary trends, saw the freekeh phenomenon spreading throughout the country a few years ago. It was around for centuries, but was introduced to the masses by celebrity chef Erez Komarovsky, who learned about the freekeh from the Arabs living in the Galilee. It wasn’t long before you could find freekeh in fashionable restaurants and grocery stores across Tel Aviv.
For more, go to Haaretz.com
“Stop picking,” my grandmother always scolded, swatting away our little hands. “There won’t be enough for everybody else.”
While waiting for the men to return from synagogue, my grandmother and all the women in our family busied themselves in the kitchen, beautifully arranging plates of food. We grandchildren stealthily poached samples from those plates, grabbing the bite-sized Syrian pastries that comprise the first course — mazza — for Sabbath and holiday meals.
“Come on, Grandma,” we begged, “at least give us the rejects.”
Not in the way you might think—I wasn’t standing over a cutting board, knife in hand, sobbing my way through an extended dicing activity. The onions that made me cry were whole, bagged and stacked about 5 feet high, in a small village in Western Senegal, where I was travelling with American Jewish World Service.
I cried because of the story behind this stack of onions, a story of thwarted ambition, injustice, and our broken global food system. Working with a local Non-Governmental Organization called GREEN Senegal, farmers from this village had implemented new farming practices, such as drip irrigation that vastly improved their efficiency and productivity. With much less time and effort, they had increased the quantity and quality of their onion crop, and were ready to bring their goods to market. In addition to the economic gain the villagers hoped to see through their efforts, the new efficiencies had the side benefits of allowing children to spend more time in school, rather than in the fields helping with the harvest, and mothers to spend more time in the home caring for their families.
As a Japanese chef specializing in modern Japanese fare, Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro in Washington finds cooking a kosher meal fairly easy.
Shellfish aside, Kaz’s Japanese cuisine relies mainly on fish and uses sauces made of soy sauce, miso and mirin, all of which can be easily converted to kosher without making too many compromises. This is why Kaz wasn’t daunted by the task of preparing a kosher Japanese meal, and his kosher supper last Sunday night, at the D.C. home of Laurie Moskowitz and Steve Rabinowitz, which included Tai snapper carpaccio and miso-marinated Chilean sea bass, was absolutely fabulous.
This meal was part of an annual fundraiser, Sunday Night Suppers, that was launched four years ago by Alice Waters, Joan Nathan and Jose Andres. The three manage to bring together chefs from Washington and across the country, and they all team together to raise money for Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen.
Every year they put together Sunday dinners in private homes around town, each hosting about 20 guests, all willing to part from $550 for the cause and in return to enjoy not only the gift of helping needy families, but also an amazing meal cooked just for them by some of the country’s top chefs.
For more, go to Haaretz.com
Well, it is indeed winter here in the Holy Land. The warming lights of Hannukah have passed us by, and the days are still feeling short. Temperatures in the Tel Aviv area usually fall between 10C and 22C (50F-72F), while folks in the Jerusalem area suffer a bit more with temperatures getting as low as 0C (32F). Perhaps this seems laughable to folks in colder regions of North America, but keep in mind that our homes are not equipped for the cold, with most everyone depending on space heaters or dual heating/cooling air conditioner units. Luckily, Israelis are a warm and open people and are perfectly comfortable snuggling up with one another during these cold months. We all get by.
Yet winter is a time of growth and renewal in Israel. Winter satiates the earth’s thirst with its rains, and with that comes a blanket of green that envelops the land. As it has for thousands of years, the land continues to feed and nourish its inhabitants despite the temperature shifts. Fall and early winter offerings, fruits like guavas and persimmons, and nuts like walnuts and pecans, are nearing the end of their time, while the citrus trees continue to bless the land with their beauty and their tasty fruits. A quick drive through any residential area will reveal a multitude of lemon, orange, clementine, pomello, kumquat, and limequat (a key-lime and kumquat hybrid) trees, lovely and heavy with fruit. Meanwhile, closer to the earth grow the brassicas, one of nature’s nutritional monarchs, packed full of fiber and anti-cancer compounds. Broccoli, turnips, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, and mustards all fit into this category and thrive during Israel’s colder, wetter months. Not to be forgotten, spinach, beets, carrots, and peas are also flourishing these days.
In her modest, shack-like home in southern Israel, my great aunt Toya served some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.
After my Iraqi grandmother, Rachel, passed away, her cousin Toya (Victoria) Levy took it upon herself to fill void in our hearts and in our bellies. One of her duties was to prepare tbeet for us on shabbat.
Tbeet is the Iraqi version of a Shabbat overnight stew. A chicken is stuffed with a mixture made of its inner parts, rice and spices, then covered with more rice, topped with hard boiled eggs and cooked overnight. The rice comes out moist and flavorful, the chicken so soft you can literally chew the bones.
The tradition of the Shabbat overnight stews grew from the desire to serve a hot meal on Shabbat, while keeping the Jewish law that prohibited lighting fire on the holy day. Women prepared the dish on Friday and baked it overnight, usually in a communal bakery, so it was ready at lunch time the next day when the men came back from synagogue.
Many people are familiar with the Ashkenazi (Eastern-European) Shabbat stew, the cholent, that is made of beans, potatoes and meat.
But Shabbat stews developed all over the Diaspora, and each community had its own version, using some of the local spices and ingredient that were available to them.
For more, go to Haaretz.com
MIT hosted its annual hummus taste-off for the fifth year in a row. It being MIT, the event featured math and science competitions involving chickpeas. [Boston.com]
Los Angeles gets its first “Jewnese” food truck. Owned by an Israeli Jewish couple, the truck serves up kosher eggrolls — including a dessert roll called Challah Pain Perdu. [Jewish Journal]
A Muslim inmate on death row in Ohio has settled a lawsuit that accused the state of infringing on his religious freedoms. The inmate complained that no halal food is available for Muslims in the Ohio prison system, while Jewish inmates are provided with kosher options. [Chicago Tribune]
While it may seem like an unlikely target for a swell of Jewish activism, the Farm Bill—which dictates U.S. law on everything from agriculture to food stamps to biofuels—is packed with policies that go against the grain of Jewish ethics. The bill is up for debate and reauthorization this year, and six Jewish organizations are seizing the opportunity to call for reforms that they feel will go a long way toward achieving their Torah-inspired visions of food justice. Even though they’re each tackling a different aspect of the bill, they’ve recently joined forces to maximize their power and mobilize their constituents toward a common goal.
We’re a few weeks in to the New Year, and for those of us who have sworn off (again) from eating that second piece of cake, and resolved to take the stairs and park an block away, the novelty may be wearing off. Losing weight is the most common New Year’s Resolution according to the New York Times, and one of the toughest. It involves exercise, diet and a willingness to adjust your routine; in some cases, the third is the hardest part of all.
The Times health section the first week of January had a large (no pun intended) feature on weight loss camps, many of them in the southwest, where you can pay upwards of $2,500 - $5,000 for a week of exercise, carefully balanced meals, and a luxury atmosphere that not only feels like a treat, it takes you enough out of your daily routine to make new habits possible.
Sounds great. But oy, such a cost. And what to do if you keep kosher!?
The way I always saw it, Shabbos dinner was a meal with a sizable reputation to uphold. It had to be not only festive, but also massive. When I was a kid, weekday dinner would involve a main dish, a side dish, maybe a salad. But a typical Shabbos meal at my parents’ house was a parade of at least seven courses.
There was the wine and challah portion of the evening, the latter accompanied by a series of sweet and savory dips (honey, hummus, guacamole, tapenade). Then there was the gefilte fish course, followed by the sweet-and-sour-meatballs-on-a-bed-of-rice course. Then came the soup course (chicken or vegetable), the salad course, all leading up to a hefty chicken (plus a vegetarian alternative) and variant sides. Then, inevitably, there was always room for more challah, which was always followed by several desserts.
Indie filmmakers may never have to eat treyf again. A new restaurant in Park City, Utah, just a snowball’s throw or so from the Sundance Film Festival (January 19-26) is serving up new kosher cuisine.
The 85-seat restaurant, Bistro at Canyons, is described as the first kosher restaurant at a North American ski resort. There are only three larger ski resorts in America than Canyons Resort — and this one has a heated chairlift, to boot.
In the Northeast, as winter creeps upon us and the weather seems to only get colder and brisker, one food seems to continually pop into my appetite: soup. As a self-proclaimed soup aficionado, I frequently find myself preparing new soup recipes, testing them out at Shabbat meals. Since my lentil soup proved a pre-fast hit on Yom Kippur, I’ve been searching for the perfect winter soup to serve to my Shabbat meal guests. Perhaps most strikingly, chicken soup will be absent from my winter soup repertoire. I inherited my mother’s excellent knack for making chicken soup, always adding the most important ingredient of love, but this skill is all for naught since I began eating vegetarian this past summer. Sure, I can make vegetarian chicken soup, but I’d rather take advantage of the wonderful, seasonal offerings to make a winter soup.
One of the many wonderful things I learned last year had nothing to do with my studies in school, and more to do with cooking. I learned that soup, much like any other dish, didn’t need a recipe to turn out delicious. I had to trust my instincts, and my taste buds, to prepare creative meals. I loved the idea of cooking without recipes, as I have always been one to throw away instruction manuals and directions, and through a joint effort, my roommate and I began an almost weekly tradition of soup and homemade artisan bread. Our soups nursed us through our winter midterms, and a great pot of soup would last us a week, meaning less time we had to spend preparing meals as we got increasingly busy. Below are a few guidelines that will help you to prepare the perfect seasonal soup, leaving plenty of flexibility to make the soup uniquely yours.
“A knish is basically a dumpling,” Noah Wildman said, when I interviewed him for the Jew and The Carrot in November. “You can pretty much put anything in it.” Noah was explaining some of the unconventional ingredients, like chocolate hazelnut and spiced pumpkin, he had used to stuff a line of knishes for his Knishery NYC debut.
When I read Julia Moskin’s article “Lucky to be a Leftover” earlier this month, about ways to repurpose leftover holiday meats, my mouth watered at the mention of a brisket knish — soft dough, surrounded by oniony potato and stuffed with succulent tender brisket — it seemed all the best parts of a Jewish grandmother’s kitchen combined into a single bite.
The H&H saga continues. Little-known Davidovich Bakery is stepping up to fill the void. [Wall Street Journal]
What’s the best hummus in New York? The foodies at Fork in the Road offer up their thoughts. [Fork in the Road]
Or, if you prefer your hummus homemade, try this stellar recipe from Michael Solomonov. [Saveur]
I had my first sip of raw milk last summer. It was sweet, rich and tasted surprisingly good.
I drank the pure milk, straight from the glass jars it had been pumped into a few hours earlier without any further processing or pasteurization. The goat milk came from a farm outside of Boston run by a caring woman, Jeanette, who feeds her animals organic carrots and allows them sunshine, fresh air and movement.
Supporters of raw milk argue that its benefits include essential bacteria and enzymes that aid in digestion and immune support that are lost during pasteurization. It’s popularity has been growing rapidly in recent years and has slowly started to reach the kosher market.