How To Make 300 Latkes

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If you’ve given me a hug over the past few weeks, there’s a good chance you got a whiff of onion and potato and secretly said to yourself: “He smells like a Jewish grandma.” That’s because, since early December, I’ve become a one-man latke factory. It started when I read this post by Kim Severson all about making latkes ahead. Apparently, they freeze very well. Then I read a similar piece on Bon Appetit about making 400 latkes for a latke party. The strategy was the same: make them ahead, freeze them, then bake them for 20 minutes right before serving. Which is how I found myself inviting friends over for a latke party on the first night of Hanukkah and making 300 latkes to serve at said latke party.

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A Matzoh Moment

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Certain experiences belong in that well-worn jar on the mantle: “Only In New York.” Take the experience I had the other night before joining Craig for our second anniversary dinner at wd-50 (post to follow). I was in the Lower East Side, walking on Clinton Street (or was it Rivington?) and I noticed a humming noise and a light from a window on my left. I leaned in and saw what you see in the picture above: Asian men in hats making matzoh. Now I’ve been eating matzoh my whole life–mostly on Passover–and I’d always assumed matzoh was made in mysterious Jewish factories with men dressed like Moses singing songs from “Fiddler On The Roof” and shoving stacks and stacks of the dry, unleavened cracker-like rectangles into boxes. But here, right before my eyes, matzoh was being made. I snapped that picture and a few seconds later a man came outside and said: “Would you like to try some?”

“Sure,” I said and he went inside and came back out with a giant fistful of matzoh. Seeing as I was about to eat an enormous dinner, I had to politely refuse all that matzoh and, instead, I took one still-hot-from-the oven piece and bit in.

“Mmmm,” I said.

“Come back for Passover,” said the man. “We’re called _____” and here my brain totally forgets the name. But I bet someone will guess it in the comments because, seriously, how many places are making matzoh late at night near wd-50?

But the matzoh, as far as matzoh goes, was very good matzoh. I ate half of the rectangle and then hid the other half for someone to find–either an over-eager Jewish child or Shlomo the Rat. As I made my way to dinner, I paused and reflected on my experience. “That,” I concluded, after reflecting, “was a serious matzoh moment.”