Kosher Food and Wine Experience is the perfect foodie dream: All your favorite Kosher Food and wine, with many new exciting Kosher Food additions each year, are displayed and generously offered in the magnificent Pier 60, which accommodates over a thousand guests each year. This year KFWE 2013 had a good problem: they sold out really fast, and several of my friends’ requests for putting in a good word for them so they could get tickets didn’t help. What better proof could there be for their growing popularity?
I will only mention the food, leaving the beautiful wines to the experts who speak wine-ese so fluently. I must have missed quite a few goodies when I got full and couldn’t put another morsel in my mouth, still you will get a good idea of what a good place Kosher dining occupies on the scene.
Basil Restaurant. I didn’t see all of their listed selection, and only sampled the Crudo: Artic char, kirby pickle with salmon roe, avocado mousse and jalapeno. Cool, funky and fun.
Citron and Rose Restaurant in Philadelphia. Smoked Kasha, wild Mushroom and Potato Knish. What fun! By the talented chef Michael Solomonov. Chef Michael, I am so excited to be on the same panel you will be, at the Isabella Freedman Food Conference, May 17-19. Looking forward to preparing some good eats with you!
ETC Steakhouse: Teaneck New Jersey. Not sure what I tasted, like a stew, very good flavor, but it was very saucy, and could use a little longer cooking time to make it perfectly tender.
Finchi: Chocolate desserts. All chocolate. Hungarian, what do you expect? The owner, Rachelle, a baker after my own heart, understands implicitly that if she uses high quality chocolate and other ingredients, the wonderful flavors and textures will obediently follow. Her delicious desserts never betray the restrictions she takes upon herself to accommodate a wide range of the public’s needs, who wants their chocolate and eat it too: Gluten-free, often sugar-free and low-fat, nut-free, pareve. And Kosher for Passover!
Carlos and Gaby: I had just had a shabbos schul dinner catered by them, and gotten a massive MSG headache that made me goofy all weekend (pretty darn high price to pay for some ribs!), so I resolutely kept away from their booth, no matter how enticing it looked. Could they and a few others be persuaded to offer just one or two homemade all-natural sauces, as opposed to five or six highly processed commercially bought condiments? One or two good ones is all we need! And your diners would be spared those intractable headaches. Come on people, you’re in the food business, highly processed foods are not good for you: you should know that, so show some mercy… and some good down-home preparations that will distinguish you in your field and do wonders for your place! What’s the matter, you can’t whip up a marinade in your own kitchen? Please let me know when you make the switch, I will come enjoy your food and tell everyone about it!
Gemstone Catering & Got Cholent Although I don’t do cholent on Mondays, I saw many delighted diners chomping contentedly on all their cholent varieties. Their creamy polenta with blackberry and port gastrique was as creamy as they promised. Their designer Jello Shot bar, little liquor-spiked jello chunks were, some more exciting than others, but all of them fun and cute. Wonder how they present them at catered affairs, but I am sure they find a more stable way of displaying them than at the show, where they acted so mercurial and you needed to practically nail them to keep them from eluding you.
Guilty Pleasures. Chocolates. Capuccino Truffle was fantastic. All other flavors could easily use dropping 30% off the sugar content, to let the chocolate be the star. Let us know if you do rethink some of your formulations. My tried-and-true school of thought is, more chocolate more flavor less sugar, even if, I should say especially if, it means less design and less frills, naturally!
Heavenly Events. Beside a beef canape which I thought would be more tender if it were sliced thinner, all bites were delightful and came in impossibly cute presentations in a generous display: Salmon tartar, chick pea patties, sesame-crusted tuna, to name just a few. Guys, let me know where you cater, so some prospective clients can drop in for a minute and check out your gig!
Jack’s Gourmet. I would have to sample their fake bacon again, when it is showcased better than in that nondescript bean soup it was in, and when it is crunchy-but-still-tender. I just love the idea of a perfectly kosher and perfectly delicious BLT sandwich (in this case, FLT, get it?), and I loved the way Jack looked in horror when he saw me remove some of the bread, making my sandwich…. not a sandwich.
Le Marais Restaurant: Fabulous Hanger steak with a ragu of winter vegetables. Kudos to chef Mark Henessy, alumnae of Levana Restaurant’s Kitchen.
Miami Beach Chocolates. After a whole evening of behaving for the most part like a lady, this is where I lost it. Sorry guys, not all chocolates are created equal. OK, now you’re talking. They are absolutely fabulous, and almost too beautiful to take a bite out of. But don’t worry, there’s more where they came from, in familiar crowd-pleasing flavors (dark ganache, mint, peanut butter, raspberry, amaretto and more). They ship everywhere. I go for dark chocolates,and theirs are dark, but I am told their Chalav Israel Dairy selection, for dairy chocolate lovers, is fantastic too. My husband and I shared the wonderful almond bark, and we exchanged that OMG look. Run by a lovely mother-and-son team. More chocolates please!
Pomegranate: Every bit as much as the herb chicken breast on skewers, and the succulent corned beef and pastrami, I enjoyed watching the meticulous waiter at his slicing station trim the slices impeccably of any speck of fat and gristle. Good deli, and good worker!
Prime Grill. They had a wonderful beef porcini slider. Beef and porcini: What a great combo! I also sampled some sashimi on potato chips, and that scant composition didn’t fare nearly as well as the sliders.
Pardes: Stuffed Beef Carpaccio. That melt-in-your-mouth meat was supplied by Grow and Behold, and chef Moshe, true to form, did it proud, as he does all their meats in his restaurant. I just couldn’t stop eating it. Seasonal and progressive French Food, that’s the way chef Moshe describes his food, and I think he is being modest about his mission statement.
Rolls. Sushi and Salad. So sorry to say it just didn’t look inviting enough, which is too bad as they were practically the only sushi station.
Wolf and Lamb Slow Braised Veal with Turnip Puree, Crisp Onions, Porcini Sauce. Outrageous! I hope you order that on your next visit. That puree sure beats the good but tired French Fries workhorse that turns up on too many plates in too many steakhouses. I know fries are a big favorite (hint: Order them some other time at some cheaper outing in a pizza place for 3 bucks!), but I expect an expensive plate to come with some serious showmanship from the chef, which was perfectly reflected in that wonderful sampling.
I saw some oreo cookies getting deep-fried. Can’t remember what booth that was. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, still I would never choose this reckless treat for fun. A bit like the infamous Canadian Poutine (wanna gain a few pounds in a wink? the recipe’s online!) I just can’t stand when eating becomes a rough sport, and deep-fried oreos would be to me the equivalent of, say, going on the Cyclone, with your kids in tow. Needless to say, I’m not going there.
Whoever I missed, I’ll stop by your booth next year Gd willing! Great job y’all!