The Kosher Food and Wine Experience!

The Kosher Food and Wine Experience is the second best day of the year (Kosherfest is the other best day).  Sold out, the KFWE had over 1,000 attendees!  I was one of the lucky ones that had a press pass.  Thanks to Alibabka, I was able to get into the show an hour early to taste everything and talk to the chefs and owners of the restaurants and wineries before the stampede of the paying attendees arrived.  Being press, with only an hour to taste 200 wines and over 20 restaurants, as well as speak to chefs and Vintner’s, pre planning was required.  I first hit up all the restaurants in order to fill my stomach before the alcohol (we all know what alcohol does to an empty stomach…no need for further discussion).  As always, there were the ones that stuck out and the ones that didn’t bring their game.  The wines had the same pattern as the food, but tasting 200 dollar bottles of wine next to 30 dollar bottles was an eye opening and palette rebirth in itself.  The Kosher Food and Wine Experience is not only a taste tester’s heaven, but a great place to make connections and meet other foodies.  
5 hours after we arrived, I left content, very happy, tipsy and satisfied.  Thanks KFWE for my third wonderful experience at your show. I look forward to next year!

Best Wines  (in no particular order)
I tend to like reds if you can’t tell.

1)  Yatir (Israel) – Forest 2007

Approx Retail Value: $85.00
2)  Binyaminia (Israel) – The Cave 2006 (I happen to own a bottle) 
Approx Retail Value: $65.00
3)  Chateau Leoville Poyferre (France) – St. Julien 2003
Approx Retail Value: $190.00

4)  1848 Winery (Israel) – Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Special Reserve
Approx Retail Value: $40.00

5)  Shiloh (Israel) – Mosaic 2006
Approx Retail Value: $67.00
6)  Alexander (Israel) – Alexander The Great Amarolo 2007
Approx Retail Value: $100.00
7)  Barkan (Israel) – Superieur Pinotage 2007
Approx Retail Value: $65.00
8)  Domaine du Castel (Israel) – Petit Castel 2009/2010
Approx Retail Value: $42.00
9)  Pacifica (Washington/Oregon) – Pinot Noir 2010
Approx Retail Value: $30.00
10)  Drappier (France) – Carte d’or Champagne
Approx Retail Value: $44.00

11)  Herzog (California) – Single Vineyard Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Approx Retail Value: $40.00

12)  SerrallesUSA made incredibly tasty mixed drinks.  I am in the process of finding those recipes.  I would love to make that passion fruit cocktail!

Best Food (in no particular order) 
The food at the show was modern classic. Meaning classic dishes with a modern twist.  They had everything from push up cake pops to syringes with sauce (you would squirt the syringe in your mouth and then pop the food in).  The chefs made bite size tastings of their best showcased dish. 

1)  AviGlatt (Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn) – Captcha Fish Salad
A lime and coconut white fish ceviche.  Light, refreshing and tasty!

2)  ETC. Steakhouse (Teaneck, NJ) – Barbecue Oxtail
Braised oxtail with house made bbq sauce and crushed red mashed potatoes.

3)  Gemstone Catering (Tri-State) – Herzog Oak Barrel and Mesquite Smoked Turkey
Jack Daniels infused whole grain mustard and cranberry chutney, sweet yam mash and cowboy gribenez.  It’s
like the best thanksgiving you have ever had (in a bite size portion)!

4)  Got Cholent? Inc. (Tri-State) – French “Chaud-lent” Cassolet with Duck Confit
I’m usually not a big fan of cholent, but duck confit in cholent…I think YES! They had a kiddush club array of cold herring and a caviar bar there as well…It’s heimish turned classy.

5)  Guilty Pleasures (Tri-State) – Bana-Bana Chocolate
Sounds a bit peculiar, but it is actually fabulous!  The emphasis was more on the chocolate and did not have an overwhelming banana flavor.

6)  My Most Favorite (Upper West Side, Manhattan) – Raspberry Linzer Cookies
Light, sweet and delicious!  I am currently trying to perfect this cookie…if only I had this recipe!

7)  Pardes (Downtown Brooklyn) – Smoked “Grow and Behold” Ribeye Tartar, Soy, Enoki and Rice Krispies
I have never tried beef tartar before, and this was a great experience.  Wonderful, flavorful and tasty combination.  This one was definitely a party in my mouth.

8)  Pardes (Downtown Brooklyn) – Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart
First of all, lemon meringue pies are one of my top three favorite desserts.  From the flaky crust to the tangy lemon curd, this was a delightful bite size treat that I look forward to having again at the restaurant.

9)  Pomegranate (Flatbush, NY) – Signature Dip Bar
It was a buffet of dips!  My favorites included:  The Purple Eggplant Dip (the color was a gorgeous purple), Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Dill Dip, and Jalapeno Pepper Dip.

10)  Sushein (Lower Manhattan) – Sushi, Crispy Kani Salad and Fresh Tuna Cake, Crispy Meat Wontons
The fish was of great quality and the sushi and wontons were fantastic!

11) Tevere (East Midtown, NYC) – Carciofi all Giudia
Artichokes, Roman Style.  One of my favorites of the evening!  I went back for seconds, but alas and understandably, they were finished.

Me and my friends, editors and foodies at KFWE

It’s an Ali-BABKA!

I have decided that it is my mission, as Alibabka, to find the best babka recipe.  Having never made babka, I felt it was time for me to live up to my name.  Essentially, babka is challah  with chocolate or any filling in between.  My personal favorite is crispy and flaky on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.

The first recipe I tried is below.  It came out great, but I am going to recreate this in a few weeks with 1-2 cups less flour.  The result was a very heavy babka, crispy on the outside, both gooey and dry on the inside.  Wasn’t the best texture, but great flavor.  It also looked beautiful!

Recreating A Memory

One of my favorite things (if you have not picked up on it already) is cooking for people with eating restrictions.  My gluten free sister was telling me many tales of her favorite (and worst) gluten free foods she had ever tasted.  She mentioned a black bean quinoa burger about 5 times during her monologue of gluten free foods.  Seeing how much she liked it, I was determined to recreate the burger!  I cooked up some quinoa, opened a can of black beans and started experimenting.  The result was pretty gosh darn good!  The ultimate test though came from the black bean quinoa expert.  As she took the first bite into the burger I noticed her eyes become wide, her mouth chew in satisfaction and the sound “mmmmm” echo from her lips.  I did it, I recreated the burger!  Since then I have been experimenting with bean burgers for the gluten intolerant who still need something filling.  This burger also works great for individuals with nut allergies, because the beans provide a nice and healthy protein.

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers, Tehinna, Kale Chips, and Red and Yellow Tomato Salad

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Quinoa Burgers
4 Cups Cooked Quinoa
2 Cans Black Beans, with liquid
2 Sweet Potatoes, baked until soft and insides mashed
1 Onion, diced small
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 C. Arrowroot Starch, Potato Starch or Tapioca Starch
1/4 C. **Teff Flour (or any flour that will absorb some of the liquid)
2 Eggs (if you are not allergic, otherwise you may opt out)
2 TBS. Cumin
1 TBS.Curry
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute the onions till light brown and at the last minute of the saute, stir in the garlic.  Mix onions with the quinoa, beans, potatoes and the rest of the ingredients (Except oil).  The mixture should be the consistency of hamburger meat.  If it is too thin, add a little more flour, and if it is too thick, add a TBS. at a time of water till reaches correct consistency.  Heat oil in pan, just enough to cover the bottom.  When hot, roll the mixture into small 2 inch balls and flatten, about 1/2 inch thick.  Cook on both sides till golden brown.
* Tip: Test one burger and cook on both sides.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve hot with tehinna (sesame paste)

** This whole grain is high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It also has a great amino acid profile, including all 8 essential amino acids (the building blocks of the human body). This means its protein is high quality, like milk or meat. It is also rich in calcium and iron. It is free of sugar, too, meaning it has no sugar content.