Turkish Temptations? Tell Me More!

photo by Debra Somerville

photo by Debra Somerville

I shared an hour on the phone with Moshe Aelyon last Friday afternoon and hung up with a deep hankering for Turkish cuisine.  I had planned to spend the afternoon with him,  chatting in his handsome kitchen while he prepared a distinctly Turkish, kosher style, Sabbath dinner for his regular, weekly client. Continue reading

Tell Me More! French Macarons Baked in NYC

Matcha green tea

Tell Me More! is a new series at Kosher Like Me. I’ll be sharing interviews and tidbits with you about Chefs, Cooks and other fascinating folks in the food world. These are people and stories I want to know more about. I think you will, too.

I completely ignored the macaron craze for a few years, even snubbing a certain French biggie when they opened a shop in my neighborhood and the throngs of meringue lovers wound around the block.

So I was caught off guard last spring when I found myself falling for these brightly colored treats. We converged on Paris with a carefully researched eating/tasting/shopping plan. Unbeknownst to me, a certain macaron-loving member of my family made it her business to craft a well researched list of the most notable macaron options in Paris.

How could I not oblige and taste along with her?

I realized I was hooked.

je t'aime

So when E suggested that I meet her at Macaron Cafe on Third Avenue between 46/47 (NYC), a few weeks ago, I took my time reminiscing as I inhaled the flowery and herbal scents and rejoiced in the neatly stacked rows of vibrant colors.

I knew that this cafe was owned by a French couple who bake their macarons here in NYCCecile and Arnaud Cannone opened their first location and dream venture four years ago, only one year after arriving in the USA.

Today, they have three locations and a thriving special order and delivery business. They continue to bake all of their own product in the second floor bakery above their original location.

I wanted to know more.

Cecile Cannone, owner and baker

I met Cecile Cannone, French pastry chef and owner of Macaron Cafe, last week over cafe au lait, many delectable bites of heavenly macarons, and her story.

Kosher Like Me:  Why are Americans so crazy about French macarons and is there a reverse trend of something traveling from the U.S.A. to Paris?

Cecile Cannone: Our cultures have been fascinated by each other for many years. We will always be linked and we love to explore trends from each other’s countries. While Americans love macarons, the French are very into American cupcakes at the moment. And I suspect that if I shared peanut butter macarons with my French friends in Paris they would love them.

peanut butter

KLM: You received accolades from the Wall Street Journal soon after you opened your first location. And a few months later, Food and Wine Magazine labeled your macarons “Champion Cookie” in 2011. Was that a surprise for you and your partner/husband Arnaud?

CC: We were so busy baking and setting up the business, that we never anticipated any attention being paid to us. As new immigrants, every contract, every bit of business we conducted in English, required more effort. So, when we arrived at our cafe, one morning, to see a line down the street waiting for us to open, we wondered what could have caused the crowd to gather. We were completely surprised and thrilled to find that the crowd had read the WSJ review and wanted to taste our macarons. New Yorkers have been very , very welcoming and kind to us.

KLM: I was surprised to see that you have a kosher certification. What prompted you to seek that?

CC: Our first location is in the garment district and many of our customers are kosher. They wanted a certified product and asked for it. It was not difficult to find kosher ingredients and to honor the requirements.

KLM: What is your most frequently requested flavor?

pistachio

CC: Pistachio, without a doubt! For pistachio lovers they get intense flavor three ways: the cookie, the filling and the bits of pistachio pressed around the edge.

KLM: What are the most unusual flavors you offer?

CC: all of the flower based flavors! In the south of France, we are accustomed to eating lavender flavored items, for example. Here, our most exotic flavors are honey lavender and rose lichee.

KLM: What makes your macarons stand out among your competitors?

CC: Well, all ingredients are American and we are very proud of that. I bake with my team in NYC. We make all of our own jams and fillings. Our fillings are abundant and the almond: sugar ratio in the cookie is equal, making the cookie very flavorful.

KLM: What is the most unusual event you ever baked for?

je t'aime (1)

CC: We baked 28,000 macarons and wrapped each one individually before sending them off to 280 Ann Taylor retail locations for Mother’s Day last spring. They handed them out to customers, who were totally delighted. Now, that was a lot of work in our small bakery!

KLM: What kinds of desserts do you bake at home?

CC: I bake simple crepes and top them with honey or sugar. For my two boys I bake lemon tarte for one and pear honey tarte for the other.

KLM: Do you order dessert when you eat out in restaurants?

CC: If there is a pastry chef, definitely! I look at the menu backwards and order my dessert before my meal, so I am not disappointed if they run out. Recently, I ordered dessert and ate it with our cocktails at the bar, before dinner.

Many thanks to Cecile for sharing a recipe from her book:  Macarons, Authentic French Cookie Recipes from the Macaron Cafe. Watch for it later this week.

Macaron Cafe has three locations in NYC. Their macarons are certified kosher (some are parve), gluten free, and free of trans fats. They are available for delivery in NYC, and may be shipped nationwide. They welcome special orders for events of all sizes.

 

 

 

Noshing Around the Lower East Side, NYC

What’s wrong with this pic? Answer in comments section!

I love a good walking tour almost as much as a hands-on cooking class. So when Jennifer Abadi sent me her Syrian cooking class schedule along with dates for Context Travel’s “Jewish Cuisine and Culture” walk on the Lower East Side, NYC, I was ready to zip on my warm boots, grab a proper winter hat and prepare for a big nosh fest.

What I found was that having an expert lead me from one culinary landmark to the next, while sharing historical and social history of the neighborhood where my grandparents lived in a tenement upon landing at Ellis Island, left even this knowledgeable New York eater to some thrilling new tidbits to chew on. Continue reading

Kosher Tipples For Your Turkey (and everything else on your table)

contributed by Zachary Sussman.

Michel Murciano, wine maker at Hevron Heights Winery. photo: Bertrand Celce

Chances are that this isn’t the only “Thanksgiving Wine” post you’ll read this year.  The yearly roundup of turkey-friendly tipples has become an inevitable fixture of the holiday season, perhaps even a bit of a cliché. And yet, with its nearly schizophrenic hodgepodge of textures and tastes— from sweet to salty and everything in between— the traditional Thanksgiving meal poses a notorious challenge for even the best-intentioned wine pairing efforts.

To wash down your kosher bird with an equally sanctified wine only increases the difficulty— particularly since the familiar regiment of big, tannic Cabs and buttery, oak-driven Chards will all but drown out the wide spectrum of flavors that miraculously cohere at the Thanksgiving table. Continue reading

Celebrating One Year with Irresistable Ice Cream Giveaway

coffee heath bar ice cream in oreo cookie shell created by Naomi Sugar, 365scoops

Come celebrate with me!

It has been one year since I launched Kosher Like Me. And what’s a celebration without ice cream?

And this ice cream is not just any fantastic ice cream. This is Naomi Sugar’s homemade, artisanal, pure as the newly drifting snow ice cream. I’m talking about 365scoops frozen ambrosia, folks. Continue reading

Navaratna, Indian Flavors to Match Memories

contributed by Ronnie Fein

Until recently I hadn’t eaten Indian food for several years, all because my husband Ed and I actually travelled in India and the food was so good I didn’t want to ruin the memory. The food over there was an extraordinary revelation of just how elegant, refined and profoundly tasty Indian cuisine can be. Nothing we had eaten in the States before that trip could compare favorably.

So, when my friend and colleague, Liz Rueven, asked if I would sub here on her blog – she was crazy busy with plans for her son’s wedding – and suggested I review Navaratna, a new-ish,  Indian restaurant in Stamford, CT, I was reluctant.

Well, Indian food is back in our lives, thanks to Navaratna. Continue reading

Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company

contributed by Melissa Roberts

Do you ever really think about your coffee? I never did.

Though my morning cup is a daily ritual, I neither cared nor thought about where the coffee came from as long as the brew was hot and strong. But coffee is big business and a controversial topic environmentally and politically–points that came to my attention recently with the discovery of Dean’s Beans.

Dean’s serves up coffee with a conscience. Continue reading

Israeli Terroir Reflected in this Elegant Red

Contributed by wine writer and consultant, Zachary Sussman

You might say that the tradition of winemaking in Israel extends as far back as the Old Testament, ever since Noah famously “planted a vineyard” and “drank of the wine” in Genesis. Given such ancient origins, it’s ironic that the modern Israeli wine industry has hardly outgrown its adolescence, at least compared to the legendary vineyards of Italy or France.

Sure, by now Israel has proven its ability to make high-quality wine: the most critically-acclaimed and “serious” examples, of course, are the rich and powerful expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon that currently dominate the country’s high-end market. But as Israeli viticulture enters the next stage in its development, the question inevitably emerges: what distinguishes an Israeli Cabernet, for example, from any other expression of that grape hailing from anywhere else on the globe?

What, if anything, makes an Israeli wine Israeli? Continue reading

Lunch From the Garden at Farmer’s Table, New Canaan, CT

This post was contributed by guest blogger, Margie Treisman.

Chef Robert Ubaldo’s small, rustic and cozy restaurant is already known for it’s delicious farm-to-table food. But it deserves special recognition as a haven for Kosher Keepers (who eat veg) and vegetarian foodies in Fairfield County.

Yes, Farmer’s Table, in New Canaan, CT,  offers a full vegetarian menu at lunch and dinner.  This alone merits a shout out.

 What’s more, the choices are both plentiful and delicious. With vegetables sourced from Ubaldo’s own Pound Ridge garden or his brother’s upstate New York farm, John Boy, the vegetarian offerings are fresh, vibrant and bursting with flavor.  On top of that, this chef bakes his own bread in house daily, as well as three homemade dessert offerings (but more on that later).

Continue reading

Radical Roots and Chef Cassandra Purdy

Some days I’m pressed for time and speed shop through my farmers’ market, stopping only long enough to grab the goods and move on.  On more leisurely days, I meander from farmer to chef, getting the juice on what’s growing and cooking. Continue reading