For the past few years, I’ve been picking strawberries at Battleview Orchards by myself. However, this morning, Michael surprised me and said he wanted to come along. Together, we picked a little more than 6-1/2 pounds!
No Seders this year, “Express” or otherwise. Instead, on both Seder nights, we went to restaurants serving special Passover dinners. On the second night, Jen and Louis joined us for the “Seder-style” dinner at Telepan where Michael and I had a very fine one last year. (See Addendum). So, it was just Michael and me on the first night. In the past, I’d read that the Mexican restaurant Toloache offers a Passover dinner each year. We’ve been to Toloache a few times for their regular menu and found the food to be well-prepared and very tasty. A Mexican-style Passover dinner would definitely be different from the usual Ashkenazi or Sephardic menus. Curious as to what might be on a Mexican Passover menu, I searched the website but no Passover menu was to be found. So, I called the flagship location in the Theater District, and the receptionist I spoke to emailed me a copy. It looked excellent.
Now before continuing, I can hear you asking, “How can it be that a Mexican restaurant is offering a Passover dinner?” The explanation is actually quite simple. When Chef/Owner Julian Medina married his wife who is Jewish, he converted and he is, therefore, familiar with the Seder meal. His Passover menu adheres to some of the holiday’s strictures and combines traditional elements with Mexican ingredients and flavors.
In addition to the flagship, there are Toloache locations on the Upper East Side and in the West Village. All would be serving the Passover dinner. Which one to go to? We’ve never been to the WV location, and since it’s not the most convenient to get to from our apartment, we eliminated it. We’ve been to the other two. Neither of them is quiet. But from past experience, the flagship can get hideously noisy, and this being a Friday night, we figured we’d be better off at the UES location. We arrived on time for our reservation and were seated immediately at a small table for two on the side of the dining room which is in the back and has about 30 seats all of which were occupied. The noise level was higher than I prefer but not unbearable, and we were able to carry on normal conversation.
The menu was entirely a la carte and offered choices in each of the three course sections.
Of the three options in the “Small Plates” section, we chose two neither of which turned out to be at all small!
The first thing served was Guacamole con Pescado Ahumado: Chunky Avocado, Achiote Smoked White Fish Salad “Yucatan Style,” Horseradish, Habanero, Red Onion, Matzo. Combining avocado and smoked white fish was a brilliant way to use something Mexican with something representative of Jewish appetizing. Delicious!
Next came the soup which we both ordered: Julian’s Matzo Ball Soup: Zucchini, Carrots, Epazote & Jalapeno Scented Chicken Consommé. The consommé had excellent flavor. The tasty matzo ball was gigantic, dense, and filling. From the condiments offered on the side, I added some onions and a squeeze of lime but avoided the jalapenos. Michael did add a bit of the jalapenos and found they made the soup too spicy – which is saying something since he usually likes spicy.
For the main course, we both chose Rack of Lamb: Pomegranate, Habanero au Jus, Kohlrabi-Shishito Gratin.
The chops, cooked to our specifications, were very flavorful. The gratin – a nice change from the usual potato – was fantastic.
Instead of wine, Michael had a beer — Mexican, of course!
We both chose the same dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake: Espresso Cake, Raspberry Sauce, Chocolate Guajillo Sorbet, Salted Swiss Macaroon. It was actually more mousse than cake. Delectable!
Overall, a terrific Passover meal! We’ll certainly consider doing it again next year.
Addendum: Our dinner at Telepan with Jen and Louis was lovely. The Passover menu was the same as last year except one of the fish choices was different — sole instead of halibut. Unfortunately, today Bill Telepan announced that he has closed the restaurant because it has become financially unviable. Truly sad!
The weather has turned decidedly un-spring-like. Most of the past week, daytime temps have been in the 50’s while at night, they’ve been dropping into the 40’s. I’ve even gone back to wearing my winter jacket! Temperatures 20 degrees below normal + rain + a very raw feel have made for a very unpleasant end of April and beginning of May. Our azaleas, however, haven’t noticed. Their lush bloom is a reminder that it is, indeed, spring.
In our house, you know it’s Passover when we’re eating matzo brei and chremslach. They are quintessential Passover foods. So, even though matzo is available year round, Passover is the only time I make them.
Michael likes his brei savory with onions, red and green peppers, and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
I like mine sweet with apples, cinnamon, and sugar.
Chremslach is the Yiddish word for what are essentially pancakes. The basic batter is just eggs and matzo meal. I add a bit of sugar and a dash of peanut oil.
Passover ends today. We’ll have matzo breis for brunch, and then “Good-bye!” to matzo brei and chremslach until next year.
In this previous post, I mentioned that I’d had periodontal surgery at the end of January. It was actually the first of two procedures. The second took place (as did the first) in NYC on Monday, April 4th, at which point, I was back on the same restricted diet.
In early March, we had impromptu drinks and food in EMP’s bar area after attending the C-CAP benefit honoring Chef Daniel Humm and chaired by Will Guidara. Though I wasn’t going to say anything, Michael insisted on telling Will and G.M. Billy Peelle that we wouldn’t be back to EMP for quite some time because of my upcoming surgery and the ensuing dietary restrictions. He had also mentioned it to the NoMad’s E.C. James Kent when we saw him at the fundraiser. They all made note of the date and said that they intended to send a “care package” of soft foods to our apartment.
The surgery went very well. We had originally planned to remain in the city a day or two longer. But since I was feeling fine, we decided to go back to NJ that evening. Another reason for that decision was that the following day there was not going to be any water in our building for several hours because the rooftop water tank was being cleaned. This would have been a huge hindrance with regard to following the necessary post-surgery instructions.
Michael didn’t check his email until Tuesday morning. He discovered that Billy had sent him an email the previous evening asking how I was doing. He also asked how long we’d in the city because they wanted to send over the care package. I immediately emailed him that I very much appreciated his concern and that we were back in NJ. On Thursday, he emailed that they’d be sending the package to NJ the next day. I was a bit stunned. Sending it to our apartment was one thing as we are conveniently located a few blocks from EMP. But sending it out to our house?! Really?!
Sure enough, at 9:45 p.m. on Friday, our doorbell rang. The special messenger said he was so late because he had run into traffic. So typical in NJ. But my care package was here!
There was a card…
And all of these jars:
And at the bottom buried in ice packs were these containers:
I sent Billy this email:
“WOW! You all have really gone way beyond above and beyond!
Since the surgery, we’ve been starting all our lunches and dinners with puréed soup. And, as I mentioned in a previous email, I’ve been eating quite a bit of ice cream because my periodontist encourages its consumption as it helps to curtail swelling. Thus, the contents of the package couldn’t be more perfect!
It actually came at just the right moment. Since we’d had our main meal in the afternoon, we were just about to have a light supper. So, it was great to be able to begin with the always fantastic chicken velouté and end with scoops of the luscious ice creams and sorbet.
Please extend my sincerest thanks and deep appreciation to everyone at EMP and NoMad who had a hand in putting this package together.”
They truly are THE BEST!
New York City
The Clocktower – 2
Eleven Madison Park
The Modern Dining Room
New York City
2nd Ave. Deli
The NoMad Bar
New York City
Le Coq Rico
Impero Caffè by Scott Conant
Eleven Madison Park Bar