If you’re looking to spice up your Shabbat dinner routine, try these tomato jalepeno matzo balls. [Boston.com]
Some handy kosher travel advice — if you’re luck enough to be going to South Africa anytime soon. [Yeah That’s Kosher]
The secrets of New York’s King of Falafel. [Serious Eats]
There’s something so delightfully springy about honey. A bee sting cake looks like a perfect spring shabbat dessert recipe. [Smitten Kitchen]
The food world is getting yet another new magazine — Cherry Bomb. This one, on the women of the food world. [Grub Street]
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.
Costa Rica is known for its lush vegetation, beaches, exotic animals and rain forests. Located close to the equator, it’s tropical climate has plenty to offer for the adventurous traveler and the laid-back beach goer. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines have spectacular beaches with great places to scuba, snorkel relax or take in the wildlife. In between the beaches, you will find mountains, volcanoes and pristine national parks all around the country. Costa Rican cuisine is fairly basic; black beans and rice are usually a part of any meal. You can easily stick to a vegetarian diet by adding salads, which are often a decent size and a typical fresh white cheese. The country also prides itself on grass fed cattle and fresh fish.
Like other Central and South American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic. However, there are pockets of Jewish communities throughout the country totally about 3,000, and some towns draw a sizable amount of Israelis tourists. Much of the country’s Jewish population are descendants of Jews that fled Europe in the 1920’s and ’30’s. While Jews make up a very small percentage of Costa Rica’s population, the current vice president, Luis Liberman and legislator Luis Fishman are both Jewish.
Traditional Italian cooking and dining have much in common with Jewish culinary rituals. Families preserve cultural dishes, often passed down from one’s great-grandmother, to mark all manner of family dinners and holiday festivities. Italians, and Jews, no matter which region they hail from, express their passion for food by cooking, eating, and spending hours at the table with family and friends.
Italian cuisine, has also been strongly influenced by Jewish cuisine. Jews arrived in Rome around 161 B.C.E., when Jason ben Eleazar and Eupolemus ben Johanan were sent as envoys of Judah Maccabee. With limited resources in a foreign land, Jews cooked simple dishes using familiar ingredients like artichokes, which are mentioned in ancient rabbinic writings. Italian Jews prepared them by frying and spritzing them with lemon. The dish, an integral part of Roman cuisine, is still referred to as Carciofi Alla Giudia or Artichokes Jewish-Style. Other common Italian ingredients, such as eggplant and fennel, were at one time shunned in Italy’s markets as poor, Jewish foods. Nowadays, Italian cuisine frequently makes use of these affordable regional vegetables in countless famed pizza and pasta recipes.
The pleasure of effectively navigating the idiosyncratic topography of the City of Lights is only eclipsed by discovering the perfect meal in a city known for its gastronomy. Fortunately for the kosher traveler, this is no challenge at all.
In November 2010, UNESCO added French gastronomy to its list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage,” making France the first nation to be honored for its arts of the table. The term haute cuisine (French for “high cooking”), coined in the nineteenth century, signifies elaborate preparations and presentations of small and numerous courses. French dishes liberally employ herbs and creamy ingredients. Most localities hold open air street markets nearly every day, where they sell locally grown fresh produce such as fennel and truffle, as well as cheese, wine, poultry and cured meats.
While located in Central Europe, Budapest was planned and built in the decidedly Western style of Paris and Vienna. It is the largest city of a relatively obscure country, and it’s teeming with Jewish history and rich culinary culture.
Hungary’s culinary reputation is modest, revolving around beef stews such as goulash and generously spiced chicken paprikash, but for those who are used to their kosher food being packaged and processed, a visit there is a welcome change, even if your selection of kosher options is somewhat limited.
In Hungary (as in many other countries with a relatively large Jewish population but no system of kosher certification), kosher “certification” goes by word of mouth. The rabbis and other prominent members of the community do their research and let their friends and fellow synagogue-goers know what’s okay to eat and what should be avoided.
Budapest Jews and visitors are lucky to have ready access to several restaurants and groceries that specialize in classic Hungarian dishes, with servings so large, authentic, and delicious, you won’t feel like you’re missing out at all.
In Spain, the amount of garbage on a bar floor attests to the quality of the establishment’s fare. Local tradition dictates that an accumulation of dirty napkins and food scraps shows that patrons are having too good a time to be bothered with such mundane matters as cleaning up. Legs of ham are sliced in cafes, delis and bars; whole pigs hang proudly in store windows, and copious amounts of local red wine flow everywhere. Even in this milieu, however, kosher travelers do not need to go hungry.
Long before the infamous expulsion of the Jews in 1492, Jewish culture thrived in Spain. The country was home to Jewish scholars, poets and philosophers, such as the great Maimonides and Judah Halevi. The once numerous and prosperous Sephardic population almost completely disappeared after the expulsion, but recent years have seen a steady increase in Jews, now estimated to be a population of 40,000. A small number of Jews from Western Europe arrived in Spain in the mid-19th century. The 1950’s and ’60s saw waves of Jewish emigration from Morocco, and since the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Jews have been arriving from Argentina, Chile and Israel.