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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“¿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)
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.
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]
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.
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?
“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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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]
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!
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.
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.