Passover is a universal holiday for Jews, which has been celebrated for thousands of years. While the order of the seder is the same for most Jewish communities, the symbolic foods served on the holiday tend to be made differently for each group. In many Ashkenazi (Eastern European) communities, for instance, charoset was traditionally, made from apples, wine, cinnamon, and walnuts; in Sephardic communities, dates and other dried fruits are combined with fragrant spices and then puréed into a paste.
“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more wine.” Ernest Hemingway once again brings us the perfect quote to start of our discussion of libations. Indeed, given its antioxidant effects cited in several research articles, many of us could use more wine in our lives. If only Mr. Hemingway had been Jewish, he may have gotten his wish.
Over roughly the past 10 years, both kosher and non-kosher consumers have become obsessed with dips. Why the obsession? For kosher consumers, I believe there are two major factors. One is that the many yeshiva and seminary students who study in Israel are introduced to dips in Israeli/Mediterranean food. The second is due to the health craze. Most dips are vegetarian and work well with healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, cucumber slices and celery sticks. Dips are a fun and integral item that can be enjoyed at all parties and occasions.
What’s new for the Kosher Kitchen Catering Co., and why make changes now?
Washington, D.C. has become known as a culinary hotspot with all kinds of top-rated restaurants and fusion-style foods, so I felt the market was ready for a new caterer that appeals to everyone in the community—not just those needing kosher, but also those who want to experience world-class foods and elegant presentations. Therefore, we’re also rebranding our full-service offering: Medina Cuisine (www.medinacuisine.com). Specializing in gourmet catering and event production, the new brand will be a source for high-end venues who have discerning tastes.
Champagne Punch Will Add a Bit
of Sparkle to Your Holiday Table
Purim is unique in the cannon of Jewish holidays: while wine is a critical component of most Jewish holidays, it is only on Purim that one is encouraged to overindulge in drink, and even get a little inebriated. While one can fulfill this mitzvah of drinking on Purim with any sort of wine, personally I find that one of the most delightful ways to fulfill the mitzvah is with a punch made from the most delightful of wines–– Champagne.
While the exact origins of punch are somewhat unclear, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, it was one of the most popular drinks in the English-speaking world, and for good reason: A well-appointed punch bowl has an almost magical ability to make any happy occasion seem just a bit more festive.
To those who enjoy their tipple, Purim is generally thought of as an opportunity to indulge, quenching their thirst with real gusto, while doing so still within the sanctity of the confines of Jewish communal life. After all, one of the most well-known observances of Purim is, in the words of Rav Yosef Karo (1488-1575; in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim, Siman 695 se’if katan 1), “to drink on Purim until one does not know the difference between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai.’” In fact, this is actually a direct quote from the Talmud (Maseches Megillah, 7b).
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Let’s crack those bottles open! Well, not so fast. After all, as the old—and wildly popular if wildly uncharitable— Yiddish folksong has it, “Shikker iz a goy” (“a drunkard is a gentile”) while “Nekhter iz a Yid” (“sober is a Jew”). Grab a contemplative dram of whisky, and bear with me for a moment, I’ll get to the sauce soon enough. I promise.
Poor food options at the George Washington University have been a frequent complaint for years, but to students who keep kosher, it has proven to be an even greater issue. One sophomore decided to change that.
With the closing of the J Street dining hall in order to bring in a new restaurant, and the opening of the District House food court, the arrival of new food options was celebrated by most students. But the one thing it continued to lack was an option for GW students who keep kosher. This is what inspired Carly Meisel, along with Rivky Steiner, Sophia Brener, Yoni Kintzer and Rabbi Yudi Steiner to create the Brooklyn Sandwich Co. food truck.
“I drink to make other people more interesting.” In this quote, attributed to Ernest Hemingway, the act of drinking is a means to an end rather than an enjoyable end in itself.
From the standard kos (cup) for Shabbat Kiddush to the all-out party of Purim, drinking, as a part of Jewish life, exists on a spectrum; in all contexts, however, it is associated with a shared joy or festive occasion. Ours is not the solemn wine and wafer but the kiddush club schnapps, the bottle of Bartenura gifted to the host of a Shabbat meal, and the perennial rise of potato vodka and Slivovitz when Pesach rolls around. Enjoying oneself through drink is such an accepted part of Judaism that the Talmud tell us a person who temporarily swears off wine to become a nazir brings a guilt offering in the Temple at the end of this voluntary period of abstention. Why? To paraphrase Maimonides: moderation is a Jewish virtue, but wholesale self-denial of pleasure is not.
What I love best about YeahThatsKosher.com, a supremely wonderful website chock full of all things kosher all over the world, is how fast they get the news out. Hechsher gone? There’s an alert. New kosher restaurant in Phoenix? It’s in my inbox. So we decided to ask YTK’s founder, Dani Klein, how he does it!
Kol HaBirah: How did you get the idea for the website?
Dani Klein: When my wife and I spent two weeks in Scandinavia back in 2008 we visited five countries and spent a lot of time prior to the trip researching where we should be eating, stocking up on food, spending Shabbat, etcetera. There was info online, but mainly just listings of addresses and phone numbers. When we got there we found that a lot of the info was outdated, lacking nuance, lacking advice, or completely incorrect. In one example, we intended to visit the one kosher market in Helsinki during our 12 hours in the city. It was closed. We found out that it was only open one day a week, not that day, which we did not know in advance and were forced to figure out an alternative option in a city without other kosher options.
Everyone will be very impressed with these healthy yet Instagram-worthy hamentaschen! Delicious and easy to make, they can easily be made gluten-free and dairy-free as well.
Start to finish: 1 hour
1/2 head raw cauliflower
1 egg or 2½ tablespoons flax meal—mixed with 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup oat flour (gluten free, if needed)
Time was that the critic had it easy. He got to taste the best wines, eat in the best restaurants, and see the best shows— true he also had to drink wine that tasted like sewer water, dine in restaurants that looked (and smelled) like sewers, and watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the movie. By in large, though, the good far outweighed the bad, but not anymore.
Newspaper editors are becoming far more demanding of their critics, wanting reviews of experiences that had never before been reviewed. The Denver Post, for instance, now employs a Mr. Jake Browne as their Cannabis Critic— imagine having to come up with descriptions like “rubber and pepper dominate the jar like a bunch of green army men relegated to miniature mess hall duty,” on a weekly basis.
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