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Cooking & Eating Dear Readers, From bagels to bourbon and literally everything in between, and before and after, food always seems to figure into everything Jewish. Have you ever heard of a Simcha without a meal? Or a Shiva home without a

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spread? How about a celebration without a reservation? Or a trip without a meal destination? This section hosts a variety of fun, mostly light pieces that feature, of course, food. For example, just in time for Spring Break, we offer an article about eating

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kosher in Orlando at the Disney parks. Yes, it’s possible! We’ve got news about a new invention out of Israel that promises to “prepare mess-free, all-natural, healthy food in just

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seconds.” It sounds a bit like Star Trek, but who knows, its creators are hoping it helps solve world hunger. Russ & Daughters is expanding in Brooklyn and Burger King

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is back in Israel. Plus, we have a tempting recipe for apricot-infused bourbon ahead of Purim. Yum. We hope you enjoy this section and when making reservations or planning

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Cooking & Eating For Orlando vacations, kosher food easy to find at Disney by Uriel Heilman

ORLANDO, Fla. ( JTA)—As any religiously observant Jew knows, going on vacation can take a lot of work. Aside from the customary preparations, there are the added complications of organizing kosher food and Shabbat logistics. Many kosher tourists spend days before trips precooking meals to freeze and bring along, to say nothing of figuring out once at their destination how to heat food on Shabbat and avoid using electronic hotel key cards. So when my editor heard about a new kosher kitchen opening at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in this central Florida city, and asked me if I’d be willing to fly to the warmer climes in mid-January to write about doing a kosher vacation in Disney town— sans pre-cooking—it didn’t take much persuading. I had gone on assignment to Gaza, rural Ethiopia and eastern Ukraine. Yeah, I figured I could handle Orlando with the kids in tow. Here’s what I found:

don’t have a kosher kitchen at all. Instead, they temporarily kosherize their regular kitchens, which afterward revert to non-kosher. That’s what the Rosen Plaza Hotel here used to do until its founder and president, Harris Rosen, decided a year ago he wanted a permanent kosher kitchen. After months of construction and consulting on kosher specifications with the O.U. and the Rabbinate of Central Florida, the hotel technically has three: meat, dairy and pareve. Open all year, Zayde’s Kosher Kitchen allows guests to order even a single meal to eat in any of the hotel’s restaurants or their room. The hotel also offers freshly made $10 packaged meals in the lobby mini-market, such as pastrami, egg salad sandwiches and tuna wraps. “Our main and primary goal was to open up the door for the kosher traveler so they did not have to eat out of their suitcase anymore,” says Keith Keiser, director of sales and catering at Rosen Plaza. “Our goal is to have a luxury kosher product.” When I dialed room service on a recent Thursday to put in my Shabbat order (Sabbath meals require 24-hour advance notice), I was the hotel’s first kosher room-service order. The food wasn’t just fresh and good—we had the Asian chicken salad ($22), pan-seared chicken breast wrapped in turkey pastrami ($35) and roast beef in Cabernet reduction with potatoes ($45)—but super convenient. Instead of spending Friday afternoon at the supermarket and trying to make

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Zayde’s Kosher Kitchen at the Rosen Plaza Hotel The new $2 million, 5,000-square-foot kosher kitchen that opened in mid-January at the Rosen Plaza Hotel is the first of its kind in America, according to Rabbi Leonard Steinberg of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division. A few other U.S. hotels have kosher kitchens, but they are typically used only for special events or Jewish holidays. In fact, most hotels that host kosher events

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a salad with plastic utensils to serve in the ice bucket, we hung out poolside. On Saturday, there was a prayer minyan in the hotel, and that evening we joined some Israelis we had met for light kosher fare at Café Matisse, the ground-floor restaurant with kosher options. When my kids got hungry on Shabbat afternoon, I was able to grab some kosher grub at the quick mart in the lobby without using cash. Rosen Plaza hopes to make its money not just from kosher travelers like me (full disclosure: the hotel hosted me, so I didn’t

pay anything), but from Jewish conventions and events. The hotel is connected by sky bridge to the Orange County Convention Center. Kosher at the parks Kosher travelers going to most of Orlando’s theme parks—isn’t that why you’re here?— are going to have to pack a lunch. That’s true for Legoland, Sea World and even the Holy Land Experience. (Despite its name, the Yom Kippur Plate is definitely NOT kosher. Neither is the park, for that matter.) continued on page 16

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One notable exception is Disney World, where you can order kosher food at most of the entertainment complex’s on-site restaurants. There are, however, a couple of catches. One, you need to order meals at least 48 hours in advance (Disney’s website wrongly suggests 24 hours is sufficient). Two, if you want a reservation around dinnertime rather than 4 p.m. or 10 p.m. (the slots I was offered), you’re best off reserving weeks in advance—Disney takes reservations as early as 180 days out; call (407) 939-3463. Finally, kosher menu options will be limited. Depending on where you snag a spot, some restaurants may have more dishes than others. When we made reservations at the Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom, for example, the kosher menu included a variety of dairy or meat entrees, including glazed chicken breast, salmon,

lasagna or pizza. The kids menu had mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. At fixed-price eateries, the price for dinner was $35 for adults and $19 for children. At restaurants with a la carte menus, entrees ranged from $20 to $25 for adults and $8.50 to $11 for children. Kosher desserts such as apple strudel and chocolate layer cake can be ordered, but no need to waste your money: Disney’s own snacks and candy will do just fine. Don’t be worried by the side-by-side dairy and meat (a kosher no-no). Everything comes prepackaged like airline meals, prepared outside the park by Webermans Traditional Foods, a glatt kosher caterer with OK Kosher certification. Quality aside, it’s a real treat having a hot kosher meal at Disney. Plus, if you play your cards right, you can dine at the very spot where (I’m told) Lady and the Tramp shared their first kiss.

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(Jewniverse via JTA)—The oldest continually active Jewish congregation in the Americas? Hint: Check your margarita glass. Congregation Mikve Israel Emmanuel in Curacao, home of the liqueur of the same name, holds the honor, having served the island’s Jewish community since roughly 1654. The wheels of the community were put in motion by Jaoa d’Yllan, a Portuguese Jew by way of Amsterdam who petitioned the Dutch West India Company to send a group of settlers to the island. Most were Amsterdam Jews who had fled the Iberian Peninsula in the aftershocks of the Portuguese Inquisition. The synagogue was called “Mikve Israel,” meaning “the gathering of Israel,” for the aspiration

that the Jewish settlers would redeem the island as a Dutch possession by making it a lucrative nexus of trade. If Curacao’s first Jews were born European, they quickly acculturated as Caribbean. They joined Simon Bolivar’s fight for Venezuelan and Colombian independence, and they soon spoke the Portuguese creole, Papiamentu, as a lingua franca. Today, Mikve Israel plays host to a stream of Jewish tourists, but its own community is fragile: Jews number 350 on an island of 153,000. But Jews still play a role in manufacturing and trade, including the making of that key ingredient of your ice-cold marg. We’ll drink to that. —Leah Falk earned an MFA from the University of Michigan, and has written for Haaretz, The Los Angeles Review of Books and The Jewish Daily Forward.)


Cooking & Eating Could an Israeli invention end cooking as we know it? by Julie Wiener

(JTA)—Plenty of mobile apps help consumers order meals for delivery or offer recipes. But a new app developed by Israeli entrepreneurs will actually prepare the food for you on your kitchen counter. While not quite as fantastical as it sounds—to use the app you also need a coffeem a ker-si zed appliance called The Genie—the invention promises to prepare messfree, all-natural, healthy food in just seconds. Described by one writer as “like a Keurig [coffeemaker] for food,” the device, which looks sort of like a fancy rice cooker, uses Keurig-like single-serving, disposable (but in this case recyclable) pods. Genie creators Ayelet Carasso and Doron Marco told Reuters the food in the pods will be nutritious and free of preservatives, the ingredients kept fresh simply through freeze-drying technology. “The dish can be anything, it can be a meal like chicken with rice, like couscous with vegetable or an amazing Ramen or even a chocolate soufflé or any other desert that you want,” Carasso told Reuters. (The product does not appear to have its own website yet, nor is it featured on the site of Marco and Carasso’s White Innovation company.) While not yet available commercially, at least not to individual consumers, the Genie, expected to cost several hundred dollars, is preparing for mass production

and distribution. The meal pods will be “priced so they are comparable to a meal, snack or dessert,” Reuters reported. The Genie’s creators say it could also help solve global hunger. “In our world, we are getting fat and we are throwing away a lot of food, in their world, they don’t have any food,” Marco told Reuters. “So if you use Genie, you can distribute the food better, you can have the shelf life much longer without the preservatives, give the people better food for them.” The G enie also brings to mind another revolutionary Israeli kitchen appliance: SodaStream soft-drink makers. Let’s hope The Genie manages to avoid the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions problems that hit SodaStream—keeping production out of West Bank settlements or Bedouin areas would help. One thing that remains unclear from the coverage so far is what the cooked product looks like: Promotional materials show beautifully plated meals, but from what I could see on the Reuters video, the food comes in the form of mush and is served up, Cup-o’-Noodles style, in a cardboard container. Which makes me think of the chewing-gum meal in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that tastes great, but turns Violet Beauregarde into a giant blueberry. More importantly, if SodaStream chose Scarlett Johansson as its celebrity spokeswoman, who will The Genie choose? I’m rooting for Natalie Portman.

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Cooking & Eating Lower East Side icon Russ & Daughters expanding to Brooklyn

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NEW YORK ( JTA)—An iconic family-owned Jewish appetizing shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is opening a second retail location, in Brooklyn. Russ & Daughters, which has sold smoked fish and other Ashkenazi favorites from a small Houston Street shop since 1920, is opening a 14,000-square-feet store in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Bedford & Bowery blog reported. In addition to the planned new retail location, which is expected to add 30 jobs and a new bakery, Russ & Daughters in 2014 opened a cafe on the Lower East Side and will be opening a second one in The Jewish Museum. The shop’s former owner, Mark Russ Federman, published a

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cookbook in 2013 called Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House that Herring Built. The new store will be part of a new 60,000-square-foot food hall in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77, which is undergoing an $80 million renovation, according to Bedford & Bowery. Russ & Daughters’ expansion to Brooklyn comes a year after another iconic Lower East Side Jewish food establishment, Streit’s Matzo Factory, sold its building in the gentrified neighborhood and moved operations to New Jersey. It is not clear whether Russ & Daughters’ new location will supplement or ultimately replace the Lower East Side shop.

JERUSALEM ( JTA)—After a six-year absence, Burger King is reopening in Israel. The first Burger King franchise since 2010 opened this month in Tel Aviv. Fifty branches are expected to open in the next five years at an initial investment of about $12 million, the Israeli business newspaper Globes reported. French businessman Pierre Besnainou and a group of investors own the rights to the new franchise. Besnainou is already invested in other Israeli businesses, including the Carmel Winery. The new Tel Aviv Burger King will not be kosher. Burger King originally entered the Israeli market in 1993. Its 55 franchises in Israel shut down in the summer of 2010; most reopened as the Israeli franchise Burger Ranch. Starbucks, Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are other American franchises that did not make it in Israel.


Cooking & Eating Apricot-infused bourbon for Purim

The Nosher via JTA—Hamantaschen get all the Purim glory, and rightfully so. These soft triangular cookies can be filled with anything from the traditional apricot, poppy seed or prune to non-traditional varieties like chocolate or Speculoos. The only limits are your imagination and your oven space. While the children are noshing on hamantaschen and dressing up in their Purim finest, the adults get to play with another tradition. I’m talking, of course, about the boozing. It’s famously (and controversially) a mitzvah to drink on Purim to the point that one cannot tell the difference between the evil Haman or hero Mordechai. You don’t have to tell me twice. But what to drink? Inspired by the classic apricot hamantaschen, I infused bourbon with apricots, then poured the finished product over ice in a poppy seed-rimmed glass. You can also get creative with the finished bourbon. Maybe make a bourbon caramel to drizzle over hamantaschen, or an apricot hot toddy? As a bonus, this recipe also makes boozy apricots, which I recommend eating straight from the jar or serving over vanilla ice cream. Not a bourbon fan? You can substitute vodka or gin, and mix the final product with a splash of pomegranate juice to take the edge off.

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APRICOT-INFUSED BOURBON FOR PURIM Ingredients 1½ cups dried apricots, halved the long way   (they stay pretty that way) 2 cups good quality bourbon (I used Bulleit) ½ cup dark brown sugar  (more or less depending on how sweet you want it) 4 cinnamon sticks Corn syrup Poppy seeds Preparation Put the apricots on the bottom of a mason jar and pour in the bourbon along with the brown sugar and cinnamon sticks. Close the lid tightly and shake to mix up. Let rest in a dark, cool place for 4–7 days, shaking daily to mix flavors. I let mine infuse for a full week; the longer you wait the stronger the flavor will be. Strain the bourbon and serve over ice. To line the jar’s rim, dip in corn syrup and then rip in poppy seeds (before filling with liquor!). Store the infused bourbon in a cool, dark place and refrigerate leftover infused apricots in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Note: The apricots will absorb some of the bourbon, so the yield will be less than 2 cups. You can easily double this recipe. I recommend it!

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