After sacrificing last year’s event due to the pandemic, Kosherfest returned last week to the excitement of thousands in the kosher food world. Hundreds of booths yielded samples for all to enjoy and a much more intimate level of networking for attendees. Here are some of the best bites experienced by a longtime kosher foodie but first-year Kosherfest attendee.
5. Four-Year-Aged Parmesan, The Cheese Guy (Yonkers, NY)
Most people have had parmesan cheese before. But this is not the kind of cheese you have lying around your house. Shaved from a block of cheese about the size of a small microwave, the cheese had such a complicated flavor that I’d rather leave the description up to the professional.
“I’d say it has a complex flavor of nutty, sweet, savory and sharp, with an umami taste to finish,” said Brent “The Cheese Guy” Delman. Now a household name, The Cheese Guy has products in most supermarkets where kosher food can be found. Offering an ever-growing variety of products, Delman said his goal is to “make artisan cheeses from around the world available to the kosher palate.”
4. Gochujang Rice Noodles, KOKO Kosher Korean (Lakewood, NJ)
Ziporah Rothkopf was born in South Korea. After making her way to the United States early in life, she converted to Judaism and started keeping kosher. The only thing she really missed about her native country was the food. Once she was old enough to retire, she went to work and founded her company.
“I’m trying to make Korean food available to the kosher audience,” she said. To accomplish that goal she started a restaurant in Yerushalayim (Seoul House) and KOKO, her company that makes packaged items like gochujang that are sold to both restaurants and supermarkets.
Gochujang is a spicy red-pepper paste made with fermented soybean powder and rice syrup. It’s the top condiment in South Korea, and the dish I tasted is the most common street food there. It consists of pieces of thick and chewy rice noodles with an incredible and unique spicy sauce. Tasting it is like traveling across the Pacific with every bite.
“Gochujang is versatile and can be used to cook so many things and make them better,” Rothkopf said.
3. Cajun Bresaola, Ben’s Best Charcuterie (Miami Beach, FL)
Honestly, this might have been the toughest choice of them all because Ben’s Best took home the Best Packaged Meat award at Kosherfest 2021 with good reason. They make 12 types of meat and I tasted all six types that were available at the booth.
I ended up choosing the cajun bresaola. “We make it by curing whole muscle beef in sugar, salt and pepper and then drying it with cajun seasoning for seven weeks,” said Ben Lapin, owner and head charcutier. “That gives it the proper delicacy and texture.”
He explained to me that non-kosher charcuterie is often produced using very modern food science techniques. “I want to bring the science of artisanal charcuterie making into the kosher world,” he said.
Each bite was packed with flavor and the cajun-spice profile was deep enough to savor, but not overpowering enough to mask the inherent taste of the beef.
As the company is still fairly new, the only place to get these meats is on their website at www.BensBestCharcuterie.com.
2. White Chocolate Salted Caramel Gelato, Miele Kosher Gelato & Sorbet (Norwood, NJ)
For those who’ve never been, there’s a fairly basic strategy at Kosherfest of “not going fleishigs” until you’ve tasted all the dairy you’d like to try. Dessert doesn’t usually complicate things because almost all of them are pareve.
Enter Danny Mizrahi, owner of Miele. His gelato made people think twice about taking a bite of meat. There were times when the line in front of his freezer made all of the surrounding vendors jealous. Several of his flavors were gone by the end of each day.
After tasting his white chocolate salted caramel gelato, it took every bit of will power to not ask for another cup. Every spoonful had a rich taste of white chocolate with the sweet and salty caramel flavor to back it up.
Miele’s company is just four years old, but is growing quickly. “I want to bring a great taste of Italy to the kosher world,” he said. His sorbets (pareve) are available in many restaurants, but the gelato is a little bit harder to find due to high-end dairy places being less frequent. Try Cork & Slice in Cedarhurst, New York.
1. White Truffle Pizza,
Aqua e Grano (Brooklyn, NY)
Aqua e Grano (Italian for water and wheat) is a company that does private parties in the tristate area. They always make their pizza fresh wherever they go, so Kosherfest was no problem.
“Uncompromising quality with basic recipes will yield amazing results,” said owner Fredrick Bijou.
His pizza was probably the best slice I’ve ever had. Like all of his pizzas, the base was a homemade sourdough crust that was crispy and flavorful. An amazing combination of cheeses melted together (mozzarella, gouda and two-year-aged parmesan reggiano) made for a great texture in the middle. The toppings provided a rich umami profile courtesy of the blend of white truffle oil with cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Bijou said that his goal is to make private parties simple and enjoyable for everybody by focusing on both the host and the guests.
Book an event with them at www.AquaeGrano.com.
Nati Burnside lives in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests.