Freedom of the Fress | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Freedom of the Fress

Courtesy Akiva Miller

A visit to the New York Kosher Food and Wine Experience

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It takes a certain honest self-reflection to attend the Kosher Food and Wine Experience since it means owning up to the truth that one would, in fact, still go to a Jewish wedding if they took away the seating, the music, the dancing, the flowers, the friends and relatives, the rabbi, the ceremony, and the bride and groom.

Over 2,000 visitors flocked to the annual gathering, a part trade show and part all-you-can-eat buffet and open bar, which took place this past Monday at Pier Sixty in Chelsea. The event featured a dazzling array of over 1,500 bottles of wine across more than three hundred kosher wines from over sixty wineries, and food from thirty kosher restaurants, caterers, and manufacturers.

Facing the daunting challenge of so many choices required superior discipline and planning. It would have been an all-too-easy mistake to fill up on the succulent pulled BBQ and smoked meats from Bison and Bourbon and Judd’s Memphis Kitchen and not leave room for, say, kosher poke or the delicious poultry from Palleh Farms. The strategic visitor, therefore, eschewed taking more than a bite or two from the large and tempting servings of Marani and Silverleaf Caterers to leave room for Le Marais’ juicy morsels of Boeuf Bourguignon.

A break for tasting wine offered a respite before dessert. Pourers drained bottles by the case into the swirling glasses of genuine and self-professed oenophiles alike. Unless one takes tasting so seriously as to swish and spit wine after wine into a bucket, as some did, the prudent course was to select a few wines and commit to them by imbibing. Since none of the bottles sported price tags, it helped to know what the good stuff is (or infer as much by the position of the tables in the hall), but the joy of discovering a new and unexpected blend or region was equally rewarding.

The Israelis took center stage, with top-shelf wineries from the Galilee, Jezreel Valley, and Judean Hills such as Tulip, Jezreel, 1848, Flam, and Teperberg earning well-deserved accolades. Other world-famous terroirs were represented with fine kosher wines from Napa Valley’s Padis Vineyards, Drappier Champagne, Bordeaux from Bokobsa, Porto Cordovero Port, and Terra di Seta from Chianti, Tuscany.

Meanwhile, back in the dessert section, Urban Pops’ delicious popsicles dipped in chocolate and crunchy toppings and were snatched up by a mob of visitors jostling for a refreshing bite. None of the other delicious cakes, pastries, and other treats got the same raving reception.

Wading out of the sea of people into the cold evening air, plotzing and tipsy, a lethargic happiness set in. It is the month of Adar, after all, and Purim, a bacchanalia of wonton drinking, is approaching to be followed a month later by Passover, the festival of the four wine glasses. What better way to usher in Kosher food and wine’s high season!

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