The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Blood, Frogs, and Lice, Oh My!

Ten Plagues and One Prophet

It’s that time of the year again when we open the door for Elijah the prophet and ask this question: why is this night different from all other nights?  The answer rests in yet more questions—the four questions—a Passover requirement. These four ask the Seder participants why is it that on this night do we eat Matzah, do we eat bitter herbs, do we dip them twice, and do we eat in a reclined position.  Anyone who has read a Haggadah can tell you that these seemingly inscrutable answers embody the moment of Jewish history when Moses and the Israelites fled Egypt for freedom.

History aside, the reason why this night is different for me is that I sit down with my whole family (or three loud Israeli families) and eat amazing food and drink wine! As with any Jewish holiday, the food is incredible, and as with every holiday there is always one specific food you can’t wait to eat. This holiday it’s Charoset, the chopped-up mixture of wine, nuts and fruits meant to represent the mortar that held together the stones of Egyptian temples.

Since I won’t be with my parents this Passover, I’ll be spending it with my cousins and close friends here in New York. In preparation for this holiday I called my mom and asked her for her recipe for Charoset, my favorite Passover treat; our conversation went something like this.

“Hi Ima (mom in Hebrew), can I have your recipe for your Charoset? I want to make it for seder”

“You want MY recipe or you just want a recipe?”

“I want your recipe, just like you make it”

Then she said something in a language I don’t speak, most likely in Hungarian, something that probably meant something like “Oh you.”

My mom’s recipe is very simple and very traditional: 2 cups of chopped red apples, ½ cup of pitted dates, ½ cup of walnuts, 1 tsp of cinnamon and some sweet red wine; this year I’ll be using Sentieri  Ebraici 2008 Del Vecchio Vino Rosso. Put all these ingredients in a food processor and chop it to your liking.  Although it’s an easy dish to prepare the flavors come together in a sweet way that always brings me home, if not physically then at least emotionally.

A very happy Passover to all of our Jewish friends, and may you all enjoy your families, your food, your wine and your traditions.

Open Up the Windows

It’s time for Latkes!

After living in Florida for 24 years this is my first holiday season with an actual season. To kick off this Chanukah my roommate Brette and I are throwing a potluck with some of our closest friends. As both of us are Jewish and away from our families this season, we’ve decided the holidays should be spent with our friends. In throwing together this shin-dig we discussed the two Chanukah staples, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). I told Brette I’d provide the latkes since my mom passed down her amazing recipe to me, and that she could provide the doughnuts.  What she doesn’t know is that I’ll also be providing a delicious surprise of Sentieri  Ebraici Spumante Brut, a kosher wine from Le Marche, that will complement our favorite holiday occasion.

Latkes are probably the best part of this entire holiday; the only difficult part is making them. If you know what you’re doing, then you know you’ll need a food processor, because there is no way to grate all those potatoes by hand, unless you literally want to be a part of them.  To calculate just how many potatoes you’ll need,  consider how many people are coming and how much they can eat. The recipe breakdown is as follows: two potatoes for each person; for every four potatoes one onion and one egg is required;  and for every eight potatoes one cup of flour is needed.

The calculations aren’t the worst part; it’s the smell of the fried potatoes that gets you. Everything from the hair on your head to the inner sole of your shoes will be permeated by all the fried-potato goodness. There is no way to avoid the aroma, so the only thing to do is open up all the windows and carry on.  So that is my plan this weekend. Although my mom won’t be here to make the most delicious potato pancakes, I will be thinking about her and hearing her voice in my head nagging, “don’t forget to open the windows.”

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