Archive for the 'Wine' Category

County Fair Season!

See those blue ribbons? My challah (and my husband’s bagels) won those at the county fair last year. Both recipes always turn out reliably scrumptious, which should be enough for any baker, but there is something undeniably, down-home country-satisfying about serving your family and friends “blue-ribbon” baked goods.

Folks looking for Jewish food and culture might not head for the county fair; as Jewish pig farmers, pole benders and log-rolling lumberjacks are rarities in most parts, yet the lure of competition, fancy ribbons and yearlong bragging rights might make you wish to consider participating. That’s right, I suggest you get your apron on and whip, bake, pickle or jar up your Jewish delicacies and head to your county fair. Trust me, your homemade kosher dills will taste even better adorned with a Best of Show ribbon. All you need is a copy of your local fair’s open-class entry form to start planning your submissions.

A Nice Kosher Whine

(originally posted on GoingKosher)

In planning our new (improved?) kosher home, we looked at everything that went into our mouths – from dairy to diet soda; meat to mints, chocolate to cheese. One area I hadn’t thought about until Rabbi SpiceRock brought it up was wines.

I’m happy to say that I’m not hung up with the thought that “kosher wine” is synonymous with “diabetes-inducing sweetness”. So the wine needs a hekshur. OK.

“Uh, no there’s something else”. The good Rabbi offered. “It’s called mevushal, which just means “cooked” in Hebrew and…”

A Tu Bishvat Seder for Every Personality

Originally published at My Jewish Learning.

tubishvat-personalities-1

Over the last decade, seders for Tu Bishvat have spiked in popularity. This growth is largely due to the contemporary Jewish community’s interest in “greening” ritual and holidays. Every year, the number of organizations turning to Tu Bishvat to inject some sustainability-awareness into their annual programming grows, as does the collection of environmentally-inspired haggadot for Tu Bishvat available online. (Like this one from My Jewish Learning, this one from Hillel, and this one from Hazon.)

The downside is that some people shy away from celebrating the holiday precisely because it feels too “hippie” or eco-spiritual. But while the Tu Bishvat seder, which was originally developed as a mystical celebration by kabbalists in 16th century Safed, provides a helpful structure for celebrating Tu Bishvat, there are no official rules for the holiday. The lack of halakhic requirements means that seders can be tailored to meet their hosts’ personalities–even if they happen to prefer fine china over bicompostable dishware.

Vegan Wine 101

(Originally published on Mother Nature Network)

main_wine-1

During my two-year stint as a vegan in college, I often joked that while 90 percent of dining hall food was off-limits, at least I could always find a drink. (Clearly, I had never heard of the bacon martini.) But on a recent vacation to America’s wine capitol, Napa Valley, I stumbled upon an unappetizing fact: All along, I just might have been drinking fish guts.*

“It comes from the bladder of a sturgeon,” said Peter Hoffmann. We were standing in a newly built shed in his fig tree-adorned backyard, sampling wines from his organic and biodynamic label, Aum Cellars — straight from the barrel. Needless to say, I felt pretty cool about that. In between swirls and sips, Hoffmann explained fining — the process of introducing a tiny amount of protein into wine to attract any loose particles (tiny bits of grape skin or stems, naturally occurring yeasts, etc.) and help them settle to the bottom of the barrel. Fining, he said, helps to smooth out a wine, ultimately giving it a silkier, more consistent mouth feel. “It’s the equivalent of driving a Mercedes instead of a pickup truck,” Hoffmann said.

Rosh Hodesh Iyyar in the Calendar Garden

Thanks to Rachel Kriger for this guest post, one of a regular monthly series. Rachel was raised on organic food and in Jewish day school. At Wesleyan University, she studied religion and sociology, and then found the most practical career to combine the two as an organic farming apprentice.  In the ADAMAH fellowship, she was able to merge her love of small scale farming and Judaism, and she became the farm manager for the following year. Currently, she in her clinical year as a Five Element Acupuncturist at the Tai Sophia Institute in Maryland. In the Calendar Garden at the Pearlstone Center, she is making more connections between plants, seasons, Jewish wisdom and body awareness.

Every time we pour a cup of wine for kiddush, we allow it to overflow symbolizing our overflowing joy.

We can also fill our body/mind/spirit vessel and overflow it.

This month, Iyar, is all about healing and asking to be filled with the divine love and light that is all around us, to connect with the divine love and light that is already within us, and to expand and overflow it to all we come into contact with. We are counting the days and becoming more pure as we head towards Shavuot.
Iyar is a month of introspection: listening deeply inside yourself and asking for healing and guidance.
Remember that you already are what you are striving to become. 
Let it grow slowly just like the plants do as they reach for the sun.
Let this slow spring be your teacher.

Why Wine?

At Pesach we drink a lot of wine. Why is it called the symbol of our joy?

In an arid environment, wine can be seen a method of preservation. If you do not live or work near a well or a spring or some other source of fresh water you need to have something else to drink during the day.

  • Milk does not last without refrigeration; actually we can think of cheese as a form of dried milk (that is a form of preserving milk).
  • Crushing olives obtains oil, which while highly useful, does not quench thirst.
  • Squashing pomegranates produces a very tart juice, but it doesn’t last long at room temperature.
  • Squeezing dates creates a very sweet paste our ancestors called “dvash“.
  • And figs don’t produce much in the manner of a drinkable juice either.

The Grape

But, that other fruit mentioned among the seven species, the grape, undergoes an amazing transformation when it is crushed, squashed and squeezed. With just the right amount of exposure to oxygen it becomes a drink that, like a good person, becomes more distinguished as it ages.

Wine Goes In, Secrets Come Out

2598_523251432855_8402787_31568374_4101072_n

“They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking (y’mei mishteh v’simha) and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.”
-Esther 9:22

Other than reading and/or hearing the Megillah, every mitzvah of Purim is mentioned in this one verse. Each of them is centered on food in some way, as it is a Jewish holiday, and the verse could arguably be the basis for the joke that every Jewish holiday can be summed up by the phrase, “they tried to kill us, God saved us, let’s eat.” What the Jews of Shushan did, however, was more than just eat.

The Tastes Of Ancient Israel: A Gastronomical Journey at Neot Kedumim

Neot Kedumim

As a Jewish Chef I have always been curious to know exactly what the concept of local sustainable produce meant to my ancestors who lived and most likely farmed the land of Israel. Last December, I visited the Neot Kedumim Park in Israel, where the answers to my questions were answered experientially. This Jewish culinary historical treasure is nestled in Israel’s Judean hills along the border held by the ancient tribe of Ephraim. The park stands above a valley where some of the oldest archeological excavations have unearthed the earliest known agricultural community in history.

Neot Kedumim was established in the 1960’s by the legendary biblical botanist Noga Hareuven, who dreamt of creating a place where all of the plants mentioned in the bible could grow freely. His goal was to build a park where anyone could learn first-hand about biblical botany just by walking through the park and seeing, touching, smelling, it’s biblical produce. After the park was established and the planting commenced, several archeological sites were discovered and subsequent excavations unearthed amazing discoveries in various locations of the park. Many archeologists believed that they had excavated the actual site of the ancient Israelite town of Modiin. Other Jewish and Christian sites were also excavated on the same grounds, and some of the more significant finds included ancient Israelite cisterns, wine presses and olive oil presses. Other areas of the park unearthed Byzantine villages complete with Churches established for Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem.

The 2009 Kosher Food and Wine Experience

capcanes-wine

On Monday I was in attendance at the 3rd  annual Royal Wines gala event, “The Kosher Food & Wine Experience”. This year’s event was in the NY Metropolitan Pavilion, located on 125 West 18th Street between 6th and 7th Ave in Manhattan.

The event attracts people from all walks of life and all branches of Judaism are represented. The cost of entry is $100.00, but many industry people get complimentary tickets, including me. There were kosher wines from all over the world. I was especially struck by the quality of the wines from Spain.

Favorite Jewish Shots and Cocktails For Simchat Torah

cocktail.jpg

(Cross posted on Mixed Multitudes)

Wednesday is Simchat Torah, which generally means dancing around with the Torah, watching little kids wave some flags they made in Sunday school, and lots of drinking.  Simchat Torah is second only to Purim in its association with alcohol.  I don’t think there’s any halakhic obligation to drink this week, the way there is on Purim, but if you walk into any synagogue on Tuesday night, you’re likely to see a bottle of schnapps or two (or six).  Now I like Schnapps, but I also enjoy mixed drinks, and thought I’d share some nice Jewish cocktail and shot recipes to help enliven your Simchat Torah celebrations.  Chag Sameach!

Last Chance to Win Wine!

wine-glass-pour.jpg

We’ve extended your chance to win two bottles of amazing kosher wine from Covenant Wines!  Read The Jew & The Carrot’s interview with winemaker, Jeff Morgan, and find out how to win his wine here.

The People of the Vine: Interview with Winemaker Jeff Morgan (Win!)

wine-glass-pour.jpg

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. - Benjamin Franklin, July 1779

Jeff Morgan is a man with a mission. As if being an author, winemaker and wine educator (not to mention a former professional musician) doesn’t keep him busy enough, he is also on a quest to change the way the Jewish community thinks about – and drinks – wine.

He and his business partner, Leslie Rudd, are the creators of Covenant Wines, a kosher wine company that strives to “harness quality commensurate with the rich and profound story of the Jewish people.” That might sound like a lot to swallow, especially considering that Jews tend to be linked with a legacy of barely drinkable kosher wines (ahem, Manischewitz). But the former West Coast editor of Wine Spectator magazine is on to something sweet.

I spoke with Jeff right before Yom Kippur to hear more about his vino-philosophy. He shared his thoughts on the current state of kosher wine, where it’s headed, and why consumers should think twice before reaching for a Mevushal bottle.

Want to WIN Jeff’s amazing kosher wine? Tell us your favorite wine memory to be entered into a drawing to win two bottles of Covenant’s Red C Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. This wine is made from grapes grown on a 2-acre parcel of land in Napa Valley and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. Total retail value, $84. (Only one comment per person will be entered into the drawing – please comment by Sunday, October 19.

Napa Wineries Feeling the Heat

grapes.jpg(Cross posted from All Voices.)

Napa Valley has a problem – their grapes are drunk.

Grapes – the region’s cash crop and tourist draw – grow best under a warm summer sun that is tempered by a kiss of cool air at night. When the weather gets too hot for too long, however, the grapes can “cook” on the vine, resulting in an alcohol content more fitting to a firey grappa than the mellow cabernets the region is known for.

Unfortunately, rising temperatures seem to be the norm in Napa these days where, according to the NY Times Magazine: “most Napa winemakers agree that 10-year averages are the hottest in memory.” As a result, Napa grape farmers are being forced to rethink every growing technique they thought they knew to save their crops. The NY Times Magazine reports:

Kosher Sustainable Cheese List

Until recently, the world of kosher cheese was pretty bleak. On the one hand you had shrink-wrapped, industrial produced (but kosher certified) brands like Miller’s. On the other, you had artisanal, raw-milk and hand-crafted (but not kosher certified) cheeses. These days the tide is turning.

Introducing: The Jew & The Carrot’s Kosher Sustainable Cheese List

The cheese companies on the list allow you to have your kosher cheese and eat ethically too! We think we have enough options represented for a pretty decent cheese plate, but welcome suggestions. Send cheeses you’d like to see added to list (especially mozzerellas, which we had trouble finding!) to: tips @ jcarrot dot org, or leave a comment below. And don’t forget to pair your cheese with a bottle from The Jew & The Carrot’s Kosher Organic Wine List!