Raskin’s Fish Market is a store from another era — it’s the kind of store your bubbe probably shopped at. Located in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Raskin’s has been dolling out fresh fish for more than five decades.
Walking down Kingston Avenue, Raskin’s faded pink-and-blue letters that hang from the limestone building’s façade, advertising free delivery and listing the phone number with both numbers and letters stand out, recalling a past when neighborhoods were smaller and more tight-knit.
Stepping inside the small, narrow storefront, you’ll see piles of salmon, snapper and dorade heaped on top of mounds of snowy crushed ice. Behind the counter a friendly, elderly man still wields his fish knife with startling precision, scooping the skin off a salmon filet in seconds. That’s Schlomo Raskin, the store’s founder, who opened his eponymous fish shop at this location in 1961 after immigrating from Leningrad, Russia.
If you’re on the hunt for a taste of the shtetl in New York City, there’s no place better than the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Home of the Lubavitch community, the neighborhood streets are lined with signs in Hebrew letters, hat makers, wig shops, and displays of silver Kiddush cups, candlesticks, and challah covers in store windows. If you stroll through the neighborhood, you just might catch a whiff of freshly fried schnitzel or the aroma of baking strudel wafting in the air.
Located in the heart of the neighborhood, Kingston Avenue has excellent places to nosh, from great supermarkets, to small prepared-foods shops, to mouthwatering Jewish bakeries. I recently spent an afternoon eating along the avenue; click through the slideshow below for a guide to some of the street’s best offerings.
The e-mail came with a photo of an elderly man in a butcher’s coat next to the faded, black-and-white image of a tot. “At age 87, my father is re-launching his meat business — which for fifty years was a staple of the Jewish community in Canada,” Miriam Perl wrote to the Forward. “Suggested headline: Holocaust Survivor reinvents himself at age 87.”
Until a fire destroyed Herschel Perl’s kosher-foods business in 2006, it was indeed a mainstay of Jewish Toronto, supplying more than half the city’s market for ready-made kosher. The business, which started as a tiny shop in Toronto’s west end in 1953, eventually grew into a 60-employee enterprise. Its retail operation grew into Canada’s largest kosher meat store. Perl’s even opened a Glatt kosher fast-food spot called Bais Burger.
“Perl’s butcher shop and hamburger joint were icons in the frum neighborhood here,” Chad Derrick, a Toronto television producer and kosher consumer, told the Forward. “Perl’s was everywhere.”
Now, after a six-year absence, Herschel Perl is about to sink his teeth into the meat business again. This time, he’s launching a wholesale business to crank out beloved Perl’s products like salami, hotdogs, pepperoni, pepperettes, turkey and chicken deli slices. The kosher pioneer has already secured distribution in local kosher retail outlets; he expects the products to hit shelves in national chains like Loblaws, Sobey’s, Metro, Fortino’s and Costco within weeks.
With help from his daughter, the Forward caught up with Herschel Perl by e-mail in Toronto.
There’s no need to brown bag it if you are a kosher football fanatic headed to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII next February.
Kosher fare will be served in the stadium at the big game, reports Kosher Today. Game-goers will get to chow down on beef hot dogs, beef sausages with peppers and onions, polish beef sausage, pretzels, bottled soda, bottled water and bottled beer. (In other words, it’ll be your basic football stadium food, minus the nachos — sorry, vegetarians.)
All the food will be provided by Kosher Sports, Inc.,, which runs a kosher stand at all New Orleans Saints games at the Superdome. If you’ve chowed down on kosher franks at Citifield, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, Barclays Center, United Center, Oriole Park, American Airlines Arena, and Ford Field, then you can expect more of the same.