Author Archive for Chaim Szmidt



18
Mar
14

A Conversation with Sara Black and Vicki Rothschild


Sara-Black1abcTomorrow evening (March 19th) at 9:30pm (Eastern Time) we will be talking to Chef extraordinaire Sara Black, on BlogTalkRadio.com. Ms. Black hails from Israel and has a business here as well in her native land. Later this week we will post 6 Passover recipes which I’ve had the privilege to film and taste at a private demo given by Chef Sara. I can assure you they were all incredibly delicious in spite of the fact they were very quick and easy to prepare.

Chef Sara runs a catering company – Asparagus Catering – and is also a Private Chef here in the US as well Israel. In the past she was Executive Chef at various Israeli hotels and restaurants, as well as restaurants in France and other parts of Europe. Ms. Black consults on restaurants and more, and is ready to share her expertise with our listeners tomorrow evening at 9:30pm (Eastern Time) on our BlogTalkRadio.com show. The broadcast was pre-taped on Sunday February 23rd at Chagall Bistro, in Brooklyn’s Park Slope area, at brunch time. The recording has some background noise but even so, it makes for an interesting and entertainting listen.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, please listen to our show with ancient Hebrew book and manuscript collector, dealer and personal buyer Hersh Eidlisz.

Don’t forget to tune us in tomorrow evening at 9:30pm (Eastern Time) we will be talking to Chef extraordinaire Sara Black, on BlogTalkRadio.com. We’ll be waiting for you!

 *** UPDATE ****

VickiThe Second part of tonight’s show, on BlogTalkRadio.com, will be a live interview with Vicki Rothschild, a Weight Management Counselor. Vicki managed to shed more than half her weight, eight years ago (after 20 years of struggle with Super Morbid Obesity) and tonight she will share her path to weight loss.

Her weight management program, includes:
* Unwavering support and guidance.
* Motivation, Inspiration and Insight.
* Accountability.
* An endless array of strategies and tips to get you through all situations and every obstacle you face.
* Learning new skills and behaviors to halt mindless & emotional eating.
* A satisfying, delicious plan that you will want to continue forever.
* Hundreds of scrumptious, satiating, recipes for Shabbos, Yom Tov or every day to wow you, your guests.

Don’t forget to tune us in this evening at 9:30pm (Eastern Time) we will be talking to Chef extraordinaire Sara Black, followed by successful Weight Management Counselor, Vicki Rothschild, on BlogTalkRadio.com.

CS

17
Mar
14

Purim in Providence, RI


I spent the weekend visiting family and friends in Providence, Rhode Island, in anticipation of Sunday’s Purim Parade. In spite of the cold, a fair number of families showed up for the yearly event.

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The crowd gathering…

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Children and adults alike dressed up for the occasion in very distinctive costumes, such as the Alice in Wonderland‘s Mad Hatter accompanied by Hulk Hogan (as bodyguard?).

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Pluto and the Cookie Monster…

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Garfield the Cat…

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…a cute little kitten (one of my granddaughters)

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The parade got under way with a uniformed marching band, under the asuperb direction of musical phenomenon Fishl Bressler (atop a truck), leading. Among the participants were the town’s Rabbonim, Rosh Yeshivos and the Rosh Kollel.  A non-Jewish Scotsman, with kilt and all, proudly played the bagpipes.

Though it barely lasted an hour, due to the brutal cold, the parade brought out the comraderie and the mirth of Providence’s frum community. It was my first attending the parade and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

CS

10
Mar
14

Fifth Avenue Synagogue – A morning of Learning


Yesterday, the 7th of Adar – Sunday the 9th, I attended a Full Morning of Learning, at Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue. What could be more appropriate on Moshe Rabbeinu‘s yohrtzeit than to honor him with communal learning?

There were fifteen lectures mostly (though not exclusively) dealing with Purim and Megillas Esther divided into three one hour sessions. There was plenty of choice for all levels, for all tastes.  For the first period I attended a lecture by Rabbi Eli Mansour from the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in Brooklyn

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Rabbi Mansour’s topic The Secret of Megillat Esther concerned the mistake Haman made when he thought the month of Adar would be a perfect time to annihilate the Jewish people. Rav Mansour quoted sources from R. Yonatan Eybischutz‘s writings, the Zohar and the Talmud, which aptly described Haman’s misunderstanding of the lots he cast before deciding which month would be best for the success of his nefarious intent.

Next I listened to Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky, from Shapell’s Darche Noam Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael.

Fifth-ShayKar

His spoke about Jewish Humor: Not a Laughing Matter. What makes a joke uniquely Jewish? Why is it, if you substitute another ethnic or religious group for the Jews the joke – at best – has diminished its impact or becomes totally unfunny? He also brought down various sources from the Talmud, Midrash and more. An example of a joke that only works fully if you understand the Jewish psyche and would barely cause a smile if the characters were not Jewish, goes as follows:

On the day of the Eastern Seaboard blackout in 2003, Max changes a light bulb. Sally, his wife is looking out the window and as soon he screws in the new bulb, she’s is appalled to see all the lights in the neighborhood go off; in dismay she cries out:

Max, what you done?!?!?

My last session was with Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rosh Yeshiva at Baltimore’s Ner Yisroel Yeshiva.

Fifth-YisFran

He spoke on Favorite Lessons from Megillat Esther. Rav Frand stressed the importance of Megillat Esther in our time and in our values, the importance of an individual reaching out of his/her comfort zone to achieve one’s full potential.

All in all, it was a very interesting morning filled with inspiring and thought provoking lectures.

CS

05
Mar
14

Le Marais, Revisited


Earlier today, Meyer Haroch (from The New York Jewish Guide) and I were at a business lunch in Le Marais (150 46th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue, in Manhattan; Tel:212.869.0900). When we first reviewed the restaurant on these pages we wrote:

Le Marais has been the yardstick by which all other kosher restaurants are measured.

That still is the case, the portions are generous and cooked to perfection; the flavors, the ambiance are uniquely Parisian. Meyer ordered the Lunch Special (Steak, Frites and Salade)…

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The aroma wafted throughout the area, as it bespoke of intense flavors that would have made even the most exacting gastronomes of old, salivate in anticipation. Meyer said the steak was very juicy and indeed very flavorful… as expected.

I ordered their triple layer Hamburger

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Though I was warned it would take 20 minutes to prepare, when it came it was obvious the wait had been more than worthwhile. Full of flavor, filled with red beats, and just the right amount of juiciness. As delightful to the palate, as it was to the eyes, it also came with salade and frites that were just crisp enough without sacrificing taste. I washed it down with a beer from Spain, Estrella Galicia. It poured a golden yellow with a fizzy white head, moderate to high carbonation with a very faint malt aroma. Its bland taste neither overpowered, nor detracted from the scrumptious hamburger which I had trouble finishing. Rather, this beer subtly complemented and enhanced the rich flavors of the meat.

Yes, it was a delightful lunch but one expects that from Le Marais!

CS

25
Feb
14

Chagall Bistro


This past Sunday, a Belgian couple we just met at the Museum of the Jewish Heritage concert, SYR and I, went to Chagall Bistro in Brooklyn’s Park Slope section (330 5th Avenue – on the corner of 5th Street – Brooklyn, NY 11215; Tel: 718.832.9777) for dinner. Walking into Chagall immediately took us to another time, another world, from Brooklyn’s Park Slope straight to old Paris. The ambiance was truly très authentique - a nice surprise – and the first of many more the evening had in store for us.

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We started our repast with the Duck Pastilla

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It came with crispy duck cigars with saffron, almond and date coulis. Full of flavor and seasoned just right!

We segued with Chef’s Terrines and Pâté, a rich assortment of duck rillette, chicken liver mousse, veal country pâté, cornichon jelly and basket of greens. The rich taste of these delights brought back memories of my travels through France, memories long forgotten.

But we were not done with the surprises… we followed with two orders of Chagall Duck, for the ladies, and two Specials for the men…

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The Special consisted roasted rack of lamb, grilled basil focccaccia, parsnip mousseline, artickokes, tomato confit, thyme, sauteed natural jus. The lamb was tender, juicy and full of flavor, the foccaccia still warm from the oven – full of aroma and taste – the jus was better than any I ever tasted. The ladies couldn’t stop talking about the Chagall Duck, it became obvious we would have to taste it… Frankly, duck had never been a favorite of mine, but I’ll confess the Chagall Duck just became one.

We washed it down with a delicious 2013 Rashbi Malbec, from Argentina’s Mendoza region. Artgentina, it seems, is almost incapable of producing a bad Malbec, even in the case of an inexpensive one like this bottle. With plum and black currant on the palate, a hint of smokiness it left with a long finish, this young wine proved a perfect pairing for an exceptional dinner.

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We crowned the meal with a Chocolate Mousse for my friend, two Capuccinos for the ladies, and a Crème Brûlée for me. My Belgian friend pronounced his mousse the best he ever had, my Crème Brûlée (I’m addicted to them!) certainly was the best I’ve ever had.

As the Belgian said when we were leaving, “After eating in great kosher restaurants all over France, who would have thought I’d get my best French meal in Brooklyn?” A great evening to be sure, nonetheless there was something that marred it for me… looking around the nearby tables and seeing other diners’ choices, made me wish I could have eaten more. Chef Jean Claude Teulade and his stuff have developed the art of French kosher cuisine to heretofore unparalleled levels, which leaves us with little choice but to go back again and again and again.

CS

24
Feb
14

The Big Picture – David Krakauer at the Museum of The Jewish Heritage


Any great musician can play a piece of music and transport the listener to higher realms, but very few can make their instrument talk, cry, laugh, scream, whisper, all the while dancing up to the highest peaks of feelings, totally enwrapping the audience. David Krakauer is one of these incredibly few. The Museum of The Jewish Heritage presented, this past Sunday afternoon, a concert featuring clarinetist David Krakauer, violinist Sara Caswell, Sheryl Bailey and her electric guitar, Rob Schwimmer on keyboards, Mark Helias on contrabasss, and John Hadfield on drums and percussion, with special guest Alicia Krakauer – David’s daughter – giving a nice rendition of Funny Girl‘s People.

The program, The Big Picture, consisted of new arrangements of themes from movies portraying Jewish slices of life, such as: Fiddler on the RoofSophie’s ChoiceLife is BeautifulCabaretThe Producers, Funny GirlChariots of FireLenny and more. The visuals by Light of Day, enhanced the experience as they danced and reacted to the music.

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David Krakauer has played every genre of music, in all the greatest stages here in the US and in Europe, leading his listeners to expect a lot; this performance was just one more testament to his mastery of and passion for the clarinet.

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As a now amateur violinist (who 55 years ago – as a young boy – soloed with the orchestra of the OSSODRE in Montevideo, Uruguay), I was listening raptly to Sara Caswell, while her bow alternated from gentle to furious up and downs, as I was moved by her unquestioned virtuosity. I especially enjoyed the dialogues between her violin and David’s clarinet.

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Sheryl Bailey‘s electric guitar moved seamlessly from elegant subtlety to furious attack, all coming together for a beautifully coherent weave of glorious sound, as in her rendition of Honeycomb, from Lenny.

Every member of the band managed to shine on his or her own, but… after the fourteen pieces on the program were done, David Krakauer played an incredible solo that showed his full understanding of the subtlest nuances of the clarinet’s sound; then, the whole band joined in for a superb piece that explored every facet of their artistry. Somehow, now at the end the cohesiveness of the group, their collective artistic soul shone through in all its beauty, in all its depth.

Kabbalists and Chassidic Masters wrote that the human soul does not speak with words, for words are limited and unable to express the full range of feelings in the totality of their power, instead the soul speaks with music – a niggun. The niggun may be sad or happy leaving the individual happy or sad, yet at the end one always feels differently about him/herself and the world around, one always feels cleansed. Being in the audience for this concert left my soul absolutely uplifted and cleansed.

CS

26
Jan
14

Two Paintings


Over the last month and a half I’ve become the proud owner of two Igal Fedida abstract paintings. But as I’ve said before, on these pages, about the artist:

He is a modern painter with a message that extends beyond time. His colors are bold, Hebrew letters appear almost invariably, his brush strokes reveal a lot more about the subject matter than do the works of far more photo realistic artists. In short, though he paints Jewish art, his paintings speak to Jew and non-Jew alike, his works stir up emotions far beyond what the eyes can perceive. While looking at his works, you see the colors dance, you see the colors explode; no definable shape is discernible, yet everything that exists or ever existed is in them.”

The first one I acquired, is 12″x 12″ painted on paper…

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…”Between heavens and earth” represents – to me – the light breaking through the chaos as Creation starts to take shape and life though not fully defined, is just emerging. On the lower right corner the Hebrew letter “Bet,” the first letter of the book of Genesis is fully and beautifully shaped, it shows that though the elements were not yet recognizable, even through the Chaos everything was there and followed a very definite Divine plan.

The second work, which I got a few weeks later is a 40″ x 40″ mixed media on canvas…

IgaFedpaint

…”Explosion of Bereshit” happens shortly after the first depiction of Creation above. The Hebrew calligraphy quotes the first four verses of Genesis:

(1:1) In the beginning of God‘s creating the heavens and the earth — (1:2) when the earth was astonishingly empty, with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters — (1:3) God said, “Let there be light, and there was light. (1:4) God saw that the light was good and God separated between the light and the darkness.
(The Stone Edition Artscroll Tanach translation)

That early supernal light, as it acquires strength, become a beautiful combination of colors, a pleasing canvas on which the Almighty’s creations will find a home. But… what about the viewer who heretofore denied the involvement, denied the very existence of a Divine Entity? To him/her the painting pointedly poses the question: can such an event as Creation be the result of random cataclysmic happenings that just resulted in life as we know it? 

Fedida‘s paintings may not solve philosophical dilemmas of faith, but they certainly present a clarification and a realistic interpretation – based on his kabalistic studies – of how Creation might have happened… Because, gentle reader, while looking at his works, you see the colors dance, you see the colors explode. While no definable shape is easily discernible, if you look carefully at the small details – the sudden turn of the painter’s brush, the shapes hinted – you soon realize that everything that exists or ever existed is represented here.

CS

21
Jan
14

Ribollita, Zuppa Toscana


It’s been snowing non-stop, since early morning. It’s CoOOolD out there!

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SnowStorm

Having come back from a long day I could think of nothing better to warm up with than one of my favorite Tuscan soups:

Ribollita

Rebollita

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • water, as needed
  • 14 oz canned white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock *
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lb 2 oz kale (preferably Tuscan kale**, if you can find it!), trimmed and sliced
  • 1 small day or two old ciabatta loaf (substitute any flat bread, if you can’t find the ciabatta, torn into small pieces)
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin oil, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrots, and celery for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the vegetables are golden and caramelized.
  2. Add the white beans to the pan and pour in the tomatoes. Add enough of water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20minutes. Add the parsley and Tuscan kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the bread and add a little more water, as needed. The soup should be thick.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and serve hot, drizzled with extra virgin oil.

Try this soup and you’ll understand the true meaning of comfort food!

–oOOoOOo–

* Vegetable Stock

Yield: 8 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped leek
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 4 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fennel
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 bouquet garni

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and leek and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining vegetables, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the water and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes,
  2. Strain the stock into a bowl, let cool, cover and store in the refrigerator. use immediately or freeze in portions for up to 3 months.

–oOOoOOo–

**

Be warned, once you’ve tasted Tuscan kale, you’ll find it hard to go back to the more easily available variety.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

08
Jan
14

A Conversation with Chef David Kolotkin


This evening at 10:00pm (Eastern Time), we will be talking to Chef David Kolotkin, cookbook author (The Prime Grill Cookbook)  and Corporate Chef at Prime Hospitality Group. We will discuss what makes a Chef, coming up in the ranks of today’s brigade system kitchens and much more.

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Those of you who’ve been faithfully reading this blog, know that both SYR and I wrote many times about Chef David, you also know that because of his superior culinary skills, because of his people skills, his down to earth – friendly – personality, he is our favorite Chef among many great ones.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, listen to our last broadcast with Sotheby‘s Senior Vice PresidentJenifer Roth – on Israeli and International Art, and the fascinating world of antique Judaica with Consultant on Books and Manuscripts, David Wachtel

Please tune us in this evening at 10:00pm  (Eastern Time) for a fascinating show, pretaped at The Prime Grill Restaurant (25 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019 – 212.692.9292). We will be waiting for you!

CS

31
Dec
13

Pardes, Revisited


Art manifests itself in many forms. There are great composers whose compositions take the listeners to other realms as they touch their soul. There are great painters whose images evoke memories, longings, visions of delight, or just force one to think. There are great Chefs whose creations, though ephemeral by their very nature, leave us craving for more. And then there is Pardes‘ (497 Atlantic Avenue; Brooklyn, NY 11217 – Tel: 718.797.3880) Owner/Chef Moshe Wendel.

I don’t know if Chef Moshe ever jotted down a musical note, or even held a brush to a canvas, but his culinary skills are indisputable, his technique includes all the key elements of the high art crafts…  Chef Moshe‘s canvas is the serving plate, his colors, food; his creations demonstrate a thorough yet delicate understanding of the subtle nuances of the harmony and counterpoint of flavors…

Last evening SYR, her son YR and I, betook ourselves to Pardes. We started our repast with a selection of “little plates.”

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Kale Salad with crispy rice, watermelon, red herring, watermelon, radish and lime dressing.

Kale Salad with crispy rice, watermelon, red herring, watermelon, radish and lime dressing.

Lentil soup, black olive broth, poached egg, cherry pepper and croutons Pastrami rib, russian dressing, house kraut, pumpernickel crumb

Lentil Soup, black olive broth, poached egg, cherry pepper and croutons
Pastrami Rib, Russian dressing, house kraut, pumpernickel crumb

The Lentil Soup, came together as a carefully orchestrated gentle symphony of unusual flavor combinations culminating in a surprising citrusy grand finale. It left us speechless with delight. The Pastrami Rib brought back sweet memories of a long gone restaurant; nobody ever equaled Shmulke Bernstein‘s pastrami… until now. Yet, it was different, with a few more flavors. we loved it!

We followed, the above, with a Duck Breast, with Brussel sprouts, smoked chestnut, cranberry/cardamon juice and black radish puree. An interesting combination that continued this food concert with incredibly creative and delicious numbers. But, all came to a rousing crescendo as we dug into the Skirt Steak, with kohlrabi salad, pickle gazpacho, and kohlrabi crunch. Skirt steak is usually very salty, but not in this case, it showed an incredibly delicious ensemble of flavors.

We segued with a very juicy, very tender, melt in your mouth, 25oz Grow and Behold Rib Eye, in red wine sauce and superb fries.

Though bursting at the seams by now, we couldn’t resist the Chocolate Mousse, with potato crunch, roasted peanuts, raisin/almond milk puree, celery leaves, olive oil and sea beans. We washed it all down with a glass of Dalton Safsufa Vineyards Chardonnay/Viognier 2011 for SYR, and a Gaffel Kölsch beer for me.

Truly a night to remember! As SYR put it, we’ve done many top restaurants over the years, but none equaled this latest experience.

CS




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