I’m off on vacation for a few days. Sun and sand. And probably a few thunderstorms. I promise to be back real soon. To tide you over, here’s a taste of what’s to come.
See you on the other side!
Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.
So, I’m back from my little around-the-world adventure. Wasn’t that quick? It sure was for me.
Before we get to the food, I need to take you on a walk around Tokyo.
First, you have to buy your subway ticket and rush to the train.
Then, wander around the fashionable Ginza district. You may not be able to afford anything in the stores, but it is fun to look around. And, someone is always available to help you find what you’re looking for.
Hats are pretty big in Tokyo right now — it was 85° that day. Also, those glasses have no lenses. They are just cool.
Walking in Kagurazaka, you might find a family on their way back from the temple.
But let’s get down to business. The food. Most people think of sushi when they hear Tokyo, and that’s where my culinary adventure began. I went to Tsukiji market but missed the 5 am tuna auction.
I instead got there in time to watch the tuna being sliced.
Not so kosher.
Akebi. I saw this fruit in a stall and stood in front of the boxes for about 5 minutes, hoping someone would notice me. Finally a gentleman caught me staring and stood next to me pointing at the purple fruit, half split open. He said “akebi.” I repeated, “akebi” and smiled. He nodded. I nodded. I reached for my wallet and moved to pick up a fruit, hoping he would indicate how much it cost. He just laughed and shook his head and shook his finger at me. I smiled. He shook his head again. I walked away, hoping I would see the fruit elsewhere. After 30 minutes of wandering, I returned to the stall, and smiled at my friend. Pointed at the fruit. Smiled again. He picked up one and handed it to me. I again reached for my wallet, but he shook his head. I shrugged my shoulders and scrunched up my eyebrows. He smiled and indicated I should eat it by scooping the seeds out with a finger. I smiled and walked away. Apparently, the akebi season lasts only 2 weeks. My timing was great.
Grating wasabi behind the restaurant.
My sushi chefs. It’s a lot easier to eat in Japan if you carry with you at all times a laminated list of kosher fish in Japanese (I found the list on the Jewish Community of Japan website). This, along with a subway map, made up my Tokyo survival kit.
After having sushi made from fish so fresh it was still warm, I pretty much stuck to noodles for the remainder my trip.
You’re supposed to slurp.
I was struggling to tell this story for weeks on end. Until a good friend reminded me of the beauty of intense brevity with what some may call Hemingway’s best short story: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
I’m going to let that sink in for a moment…
… and then share my second day in Panama with you. You can fill in the details.
Fruit never before seen. Not tasted.
Chef rescue. Try fruit. Make friend.
New Year. Re-taste fruit. Shehecheyanu. Blessed.
Hemingway I am not.
But, as the (Jewish) holiday season draws to a close, I wanted to share with you my wish for a year of new experience, fabulous adventure, and friends to share it with.
On that note, in just a few days, I am heading to Tokyo (and Paris) for work for two weeks. And a few days of adventure.
Some of you have commented about the dwindling frequency of my posts. And the past few days, I’ve been in the office after midnight. So, I’ve decided to go on some trips. No, I don’t think I have enough vacation time to go anywhere fabulous in the near future, so I’m going to go through some of my recent and less recent travels and bring you along for a little food fun.
Of course my most recent trip was less about the food and more about the outdoors. I know, me? Yes, me! It was refreshing to pack a bag with barely a moment’s notice and throw it in the car, driving north to a land where the latest restaurants close at 10. That foreign land…New Hampshire. We did manage to find a fabulous coffee place that is worth the trip before a big hike…
…or a drive half-way up a mountain. (Mount Washington is known not just as the tallest peak in the Northeast but as having notoriously erratic weather.) We were warned at the field house that winds get so high at the mid-point plateau that we had to hold onto our car doors when opening to avoid having them ripped off. When we got to this point, as far as we were allowed to drive, I of course had to exit the car to see what this was all about. Luckily I did hold on to the door because as we walked just a few steps from the road, the wind threatened to knock me over.
We did finally make it up a shorter slope, one filled with running streams and leafy trees. With my still healing knee, we had to keep a leisurely pace, allowing me to take in the scenery that I might otherwise rush past.
When we got to the top, we sat at the peak with a clear view of the surrounding mountains and valley. Scooping garlicky hummus into our mouths with crackers was the best meal of the weekend.
No recipe today, just a little picture from this evening’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration held by the Israeli Consulate to New England. It was a bit more low key than last year but the flowers were just as lovely — roses this year instead of tulips. And, of course, I couldn’t resist bringing one home.
Chag Sameach everyone!
Hello there. I know that most of my neighbors are dodging snow storms on the East Coast. And I feel sorry for you, I do. But, it’s strawberry season here in Israel and I just can’t resist sharing some pictures from the shuk (market).
After a traditional Israeli breakfast — shakshuka, salad, and labne — on X-mas morning…
… I headed to Mahene Yehuda on Friday afternoon and was overwhelmed by the rows and rows and piles and piles of strawberries. Deep red, huge, and just oozing with juices. But for anyone who has never been to Mahane Yehuda, let me just tell you that it’s a zoo before shabbat. So much so that while I was able to snag a big bowl of berries, I didn’t dare snap a picture for fear of being overrun by the more serious shoppers. Luckily, a few days later at Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv, I was able to grab a few more berries and get some pictures.
Isn’t travel great?
Oh la. C’est pas bon.
I should have known she would live up to her flirty-sounding name when my beautiful oval cadeau arrived in disguise …
… despite my expectations of a deep red ombre dress. But she came out of hiding as pretty and dainty as expected.
Et, elle est tellement française. Si française, in fact that it is stamped onto her little derrière.
She and I held a little photo shoot, anticipating her culinary debut.
Alas, when it was showtime, my cocotte got performance anxiety.
Well, to tell the truth, my eyes were a bit too big. I bought 2 briskets totaling 10 pounds and a single brisket, when unfolded to its full size, barely fit in my lovely cocotte.
While I share responsibility, I believe that my cocotte turned her nose up at the traditional brisket recipe in a coquettish manner. Perhaps she only likes les recettes françaises. She must be holding out for the kosher version of a boeuf bourguignon that I have been working on developing. Let’s just hope that she doesn’t snub one of Julia Child’s signature dish as well.
Rosh Hashana, falling around the beginning of the scholastic year, always feels more like the start of the year than the New Year according to the solar calendar. Like last year, I will be hosting my parents and sister as well as a bunch of other guests and will be cooking up a storm. As I prepare for the days of feasts, I’ve been collecting recipes and want to share my research, decision-making process, and menus. Please feel free to send me your favorite holiday recipes as well, either in the comments section or by emailing me directly.
By “holidays,” I am referring not just to Rosh Hashana, but Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. This year, RH and Sukkot fall on shabbat and Sunday so much of the food needs to be prepared in advance if you keep shabbat.
This Year’s Rosh Hashana Meals – this is the one time of year that I make food that is more traditional. I will be dinner for 8 (basri, or meat), lunch for 8 (basri), dinner for 4 (chalavi, or dairy), and lunch for 4-8 (basri leftovers)
Included in all meals: the most beautiful challah in the world (challah à la danois, pic below, recipe is my bread machine challah, and braiding technique to come soon; I’ll make it into a ring for RH), apples and honey*, new fruit (kumquats? baby kiwis? star fruit?)
Dinner 1 (for 8-9, basri)
– Soup – possibly Cauliflower Turmeric with Hazelnuts (parve) or Chicken Soup
– Tomato and Onion Braised Brisket – I made this last year and have had special requests for it from my family — they particularly like the crusty bits; this year I will be making it in my new cocotte
– Moroccan-style Roasted Pomegranate Chicken – Another winner from last year and really easy, works for boneless-skinless chicken breast; Alternative chicken dish is Pomegranate Chicken Kebabs (pic and link to recipe below)– good on a grill or George Foreman and great served hot or room temperature
– White Bean Salad or Black Bean and Corn Salad
– Quinoa Salad with lime cumin dressing or with sundried tomatoes and basil (pics and link to recipes below)
– Starch: Mashed Potatoes (my sisters favorite) OR Orzo or p’titim/Israeli CousCous with Garlic Scape Pesto (I froze much of my batch; pictured below on perciatelli)
– Large Salad (to be brought by our guests)
– Fruit Salad (to be brought by our guests)
– Apple Tarte Tatin or a Gateau Pomme-Poire – to use Not Derby Pie’s “The Easiest Cake Ever” recipe with apples and pears
Lunch 1 (for 6-8, basri)
– Leftover Soup
– Leftover Brisket and Chicken
– Smoked Fish – sable, tuna, salmon from Nantucket Wild
–Haricots Verts aux Noisettes (pic and link to recipe below)
– Kibbutz Herb Salad: arugula, spinach, herbs – mint/cilantro/basil, tomatoes, toasted almonds (pic and link to recipe below)
– Bistro Chocolate Cake (recipe just posted)
Dinner 2 (for 4, chalavi)
– Cucumber Gazpacho (recipe sent to me by Chef Chris Parsons, from Catch Restaurant, and using the Oikos Greek yogurt that Stonyfield Farm sent me)
– Pea Shoots Salad – pea shoots, tomatoes, roasted corn-off-the-cob (pic and link to recipe below)
– Salmon – recipe TBD…suggestions anyone?
– Baked Brie – another repeat request from last year (pic and link to recipe below)
– Lemon Mascarpone Tart (pic and link to recipe below)
Lunch 2 (6-8, probably basri)
– Whoo, I’m fresh out of ideas…last year I made deli wraps by the time we got to the 4th meal!
* Tapuchim U’dvash: Apples and Honey
It is traditional on Rosh Hashana to eat apples dipped in honey. Round apples (like round challahs) represent the world and cyclical nature of life. Honey is symbolic of a sweet new year. I found an article about different types of apples to help choose the best ones to eat and cook. My personal faves for eating are Fuji and Braeburn (and they are usually available and crispy year-round) and Crispins in the fall. For cakes/pies, I often use a mix of eating apples, more tart ones like Granny Smiths, and more soft ones like Golden Delicious for a variety of tastes and textures. I love buying apples at farmers markets when possible.
Before Rosh Hashana, I try to buy a new jar or two of honey. This usually lasts me an entire year. Last year, I bought Granja San Francisco Blossom Honey imported from Spain. This year, I bought some mint honey and some lemon verbena honey from the Herb Lyceum stand at the Copley Square Farmers Market (picture at top).
Yom Kippur Pre-Fast Menu – can’t deal with this yet and I’ll probably do something small, going to a friend’s for the Break-Fast
Sukkot Menus – can’t deal with this yet either
NOTE, the one meal I do love to make on Simchat Torah is late brunch post-hakafot. Sometimes I put my waffle iron on a timer. This year, I might make pancakes.
The Best of the Web (friends, Tweeps, Chefs, and Strangers): Feasting
– My friend Joel Haber (aka “Fun Joel” — seriously, Joel arrives and fun ensues ) wrote an article for the Jewish Journal (LA) with a bunch of internationally-inspired Rosh Hashana recipes. The article is entitled “Embodying Unity in Your Rosh Hashana Meal” and includes a recipe for sweet and savory Carrot Kugel that I just may try (coming from me, that’s saying a lot because kugel scares me!)
– Rosh Hashana Top Ten from Janna Gur, author of The Book of New Israeli Food (and whom I met a few months ago): check out the Beetroot and Pomegranate salad (I learned how to make it the class I took from her so I can personally vouch for it), Spicy Moroccan-style Fish, and Apple and Calvados Cake (I’d probably leave off the walnuts).
– NY Times article by Joan Nathan: “Rosh Hashana, Circa 1919”, including a recipe for poppy seed cake (9/16/09)
– LA Times article: “Rosh Hashana, Tunisian Style” with recipes from Got Kosher? Provisions take out and caterer in the Pico-Robertson area of LA. I was excited to find this article and accompanying recipes, including one for artichoke hearts with harissa salad, provided by Alain Cohen because he is related to the owner of Les Ailes in Paris — one of my favorite kosher North African restaurants, butcher, bakery, and take-out counter located next door to Folies Bergère. No trip to Paris for me is complete without at least one visit to the 9e arrondisement to grab a sandwich or salads to keep me going for the day or provisions for an overnight train to Berlin!
– 11 Holiday Menus from Epicurious for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – I’ve chosen my favorite menus (and excluded the ones that are not kosher)
– Rosh Hashana Menus: Israeli, Sephardic, “Elegant”, Hungarian (by Joan Nathan – Jewish Cooking in America), and Italian (by Joyce Goldstein – Cucina Ebraica)
The Best of the Web: Imbibing
Every year, various publications put out top lists of kosher wines for the holidays. Sometimes these come out before Passover when every seder participant is required to drink 4 glasses of wine. My personal preference runs to Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style reds (including some of the nice ones coming out of Israel), but my family likes lighter white wines, including the infamous Moscato, which we call Sprite. Among whites, I also like a spicy Alsacian or German Gewürztraminer (Abarbanel makes a great one).
Here are a few lists that I have found recently (I have tried to post ones with prices when possible).
– Erika Strum’s Top 10 Kosher Wines – from March 2009, after attending the Kosher Wine and Food Expo and ranging in price from $15-$100; I attended this event in 2007 and first tried some of the wines that have become my faves and that Erika and I agree on. They include Domaine Du Castel Grand Vin 2005, Judean Hills (I actually prefer the Petit Castel and not because it’s less pricey but because it’s a bit of a softer Bordeax-style), Flor de Primavera Peraj Ha’abib, Capcanes 2005, Montsant Spain (I also like the Petita), and Hai, The Patriots 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Judean Hills, Israel (I recently bought this to try). As you can tell, I’m a red fan. Tasting notes and links are in Erika’s article.
– Epicurious Top 5 Kosher Wines (date unclear, but probably recent as I have had some of these wines recently): I can personally vouch for the Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry for drinking and cooking and the Goose Bay 2007 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (my friends and I used to order this all the time last year at Clubhouse Cafe). I am looking forward to trying the Flechas de Los Andes 2007 Gran Malbec (Argentina) and generally enjoy Segal’s Cabernets
In the busiest of cities (at least of those in which I’ve lived), in my old old neighborhood west of Broadway, a mere dozen blocks from my first real apartment that I lived in that first post-baccalaureate year, I sought sun-filled solace.
Eating out every day, not knowing when I would return home to my own kitchen.
A few hundred feet from the Hudson, I found respite and quiet on a patch of grass hidden behind a manicured wildflower garden protected by wire fence.