A few weeks ago I had the hysterical pleasure of attending the 25th annual Kosherfest, the world’s largest kosher-certified products trade show. It’s an event dedicated to the newest and wackiest kosher foods available, but it’s also a meeting place of diverse food-interested Jews.
The two-day event feels like a synagogue kiddush on steroids: everything from basic cakes and cookies to gourmet gelato, fine wines and upscale BBQ food and the pervasive shoving and jockeying for position that inevitably occurs when hungry Jews are presented with seemingly endless platters of free food.
It was like a giant game of Jewish geography, where you’re likely to run into everyone from your old camp counselor to your great-aunt’s mahjong partner. After all the Jewish geography and elbowing, I was able to make my way through the booths and taste some of the food.
In the delicious category the award goes to Gelato Petrini’s chocolate hazelnut and tiramisu flavored gelato – they were rich, creamy and a real treat from the frozen yogurt I am accustomed to eating.
The Ice Cream House’s cute ice cream sushi roll and Dependable Foods’ pizza cones may not win any awards for taste, but certainly deserve points for creativity and cute factor.
Pareve macaroni and cheese and hot chocolate? May sound unappealing but Mikee Mac’s non-dairy instant mac and cheese Cuppa J Hot Chocolate both won me over despite the lack of dairy.
And while I am not a big meat eater, I was impressed by the Italian Sausage Burger from Jack’s Gourmet.
Hanukkah is just around the corner, and so I must make mention of some holiday-specific dishes including Dr. Praeger’s kale pancake, an instant new favorite. Manischewitz’s Chanukah Cookie House featured menorah and mezuzah sugar icing decorations. And Saba Habib’s extra virgin olive oil was distinctly smooth, with an almost fruity flavor; I sopped it up with a slice of baguette and felt positively Mediterranean, ready for the festival of lights and oil.
The food was eclectic and delicious, vendors vied desperately for passersby, and it was absolute Jewish food mayhem.
It was a great day, even with all the elbow-dodging and acid reflux. But on a more serious note, Kosherfest is one of the few events I attend where I see all different types of Jews, from Hasidic to the most unaffiliated to everything in between, represented both behind the booths and circling the floor. It’s kind of nice that we all come together in harmony for something, if only for our unabashed love of food. Until next year!
Have you heard of the ramen burger, well more accurately, a hamburger placed on a ramen noodle “bun”? I hadn’t either until yesterday when I saw a photo on Instagram and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Crazy! Genius! Delicious! Where has this been all my life? Where have I been all its life? The answer, of course is: Brooklyn, where all wacky but brilliant food ideas originate.
But perhaps the best part of the ramen burger is that it is 100% kosher-friendly. As this Buzzfeed article explains, all you need to recreate your own ramen burger is to use a packet of cooked ramen noodles, an egg and a little patience to make the ramen patties. Fantastic.
Rest assured: the crazy burger combos continue. While perusing Facebook earlier this week, I came across yet another wacky Brooklyn-born burger: the KUGEL burger by whimsical Jewish-inspired eatery Scharf & Zoyer. That’s right: a burger sandwiched between two slices of crispy, savory noodle kugel.
Challah French Toast Breakfast Burger
Slice leftover challah into thick pieces around 1/2 inch thick. In a baking dish or shallow bowl whisk two eggs with 1/2 cup almond or soy milk. Dip challah slices in egg and milk mixture until completely coated, but not too soggy.
Heat a pan on medium heat and coat with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
Cook slices of challah on each side until golden brown, around 3-4 minutes.
Prepare hamburgers to your liking. Place hamburger patty on top of french toast slices. Top with fried egg, ketchup, maple syrup or other toppings of your choice. Place second slice of french toast on top.
Prepare small batch of traditional potato latkes.
Prepare hamburgers to your liking. Place hamburger patty on top of latke.
Top with tomato, caramelized onions or other toppings of your choice. Place second latke on top.
Another (secular) year is almost up, and it’s been a pretty good year for Jewish and kosher cuisine. We’ve had a kosher pastry chef appear on a national TV Food competition, kosher food trucks gain followings across the country, and a gastronomic renaissance for traditional, Eastern European Jewish fare.
Read on to see some of the best Jewish and Kosher food trends of 2011, and make sure to send us any we missed.
Upscale Deli and Haute Jewish Cuisine
It was truly the year for re-invented Jewish deli, and traditional Jewish-American fare. Montreal-style deli and bagels made their way to Brooklyn with the opening of the Mile End Delicatessen. A “speciality bagelry” also appeared as Vic’s Bagel Bar and new restaurants such as Kutschers Tribeca all brought back the Jew food in a major way.
My own take: as Americans focus on artisanal meats and charcuterie, as well as experience a general foodie re-focus towards comfort food, its no wonder that deli sandwiches, bagels and matzah balls are being given a makeover (and popularity boost). And I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Kosher Restaurant Trends: Asian Fusion
I don’t eat solely in kosher restaurants, so I turned to kosher dining expert and blogger Dani Klein to get the latest trends in kosher dining. Dani, who is the founder of YeahThatsKosher, shares that restaurants are going Asian in the U.S. from LA to Miami to New York:
“Numerous restaurants have been opening and focusing solely on the various flavors from the East, which include a full sushi menu (a staple in nearly all kosher restaurants today), as well as other Japanese cuisine, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Malaysian, and others. Relatively new kosher Asian Fusion restaurants including Prime KO & Sushein in NYC; Estihana in Teaneck, NJ; Lotus in Surfside (Miami), FL; Saba Sushi in Los Angeles, as well as scores in Brooklyn and Israel, have opened up in the past year, or so. They’re riding the wave of sushi’s popularity and meshing it with other cuisine and meat dishes from the region.
Dessert: Bye-bye Cupcakes, Welcome Cake Pops and Macarons
Move over cupcakes, there’s a new dessert in town: cake pops and whoopie pies says DC blogger, foodie and photographer Emily P. Goodstein, of Wild and Crazy Pearl. Want to try out the latest trend? Blogger Overtime Cook has some great tips.
Other dessert trends? Chef Paula Shoyer, kosher dessert expert, cookbook author and Sweet Genius contestant shares that french macarons are becoming more popular even with kosher bakeries and caterers (good news for anyone hosting an affair in the near future).
Chef Paula also shared that special diet baking, particularly gluten free options, “is getting more attention as kosher companies see the large market for gluten free desserts….the more creative kosher restaurant chefs are trying to bake with more natural ingredients and stay away from the more processed products.” Well, who doesn’t love that – natural is back!
She also shared her kosher dessert predictions for the coming year:
“Coming up: Aerated chocolate bars and candies; hand pies and retro desserts in flavors such as malt and butterscotch; more whole grain desserts; whoopie pies; and more and more macarons!”
Food Trucks Go Kosher
Unless you’ve been under a rock, it would be hard not to notice the food truck craze that has taken over the nation. Personally, I have made it a mission to try as many NYC food trucks as possible, and the size of my tuchus is a testament to my successful foodie mission over the last two years.
Kosher food trucks have been seen gracing the streets of NYC and LA for at least two years, but perhaps the most exciting food truck that came onto the scene was the Sixth and Rye Truck. A popular DC food truck and project of the innovative Sixth and I Synagogue, and Top Chef contestant Chef Spike Mendelsohn, the truck is now closed for the winter, but we remain hopeful this is not the end for “DC’s First Kosher Deli on Wheels.”
Jewish goes treyf
The trend of Jewish-treyf fusion is perhaps my favorite trend of the year, and indeed, the most controversial. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn there is literally a restaurant called Treif, featuring a pork and seafood focused menu.
Then there is Top Chef Ilan Hall’s creation of a bacon wrapped matzo ball. And I have also heard reports here in NYC of bagel shops featuring bacon cream cheese.
I know, I know – some of you are deeply offended by the fusion of traditional Jewish food, and blatantly non-kosher products. But I always find it interesting when cultures merge, collide and spark creativity. Is a matzo ball wrapped in bacon still a Jewish food? And what is a Jewish food anyways?
Well, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2012 – what do you think is on the culinary horizon for Jewish and kosher food?