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In 1654, 23 Jews fleeing persecution in Portugal landed on the shores of New Amsterdam. Like all new immigrants, they faced the hardships of settling a new land, adapting to a new climate and dealing with hostile neighbors.
However, as Jews they faced additional hardships as well-anti-Semitic prejudice, the intolerance and hostility of another culture and the struggle to remain Torah Jews. That struggle was the hardest as it related to keeping Shabbos and the laws of kashrus. Unfortunately, as the generations passed, it seemed a battle many were destined to lose.
Yet, 350 years later finds us in New York City (the former New Amsterdam) home of the 16th annual Kosherfest, the premier trade show for the kosher food industry. Hundreds of exhibits, thousands of visitors, and foods representing the diversity of the United States as well as Israel, France, Italy, England, South Africa and Australia were all part of the show.
Cakes and Cookies: Many booths featured whole lines of 100% natural ingredients – some organic, some wheat free, some a combination of both. We enjoyed a homemade carrot/raisin cake by Naturally Delicious from South Fallsburg. At Lilly’s Homestyle Bake Shop we were treated to a black mini cookie – sugar free and low carb. Landau’s Natural Foods displayed their line of organic wheat cookies and a new line of cookies, gluten free – try the chocolate chip. Nana’s Cookie Company has a very unique line of products. Called Nana’s No’s, they feature no refined sugar or dairy and may also be either gluten or wheat-free. They also have a kids’ line that features cookie bars made with 12 vitamins and minerals – and lots of taste. Rhoda’s Best has a wonderful line of sugar free cr?me filled muffins that are low in carbs and taste great. That’s besides their delicious dairy-free cheesecakes. We spent some time by Schick’s Bakery, a Boro Park staple for years. Well known for their line of Pesach baked goods, we were amazed at their “sandwich loaf” which looks like bread and is available for hospitals and nursing homes. They also featured their “pas-nisht” pizza that looks like pizza bagels and is available for retail sales before Yom Tov. They were highlighting their new Diamond line – cakes and cookies you will find in your local grocery and supermarket – reasonably price with the great Schick taste. We also had a chance to shmooz with Cindy at Shabtai Gourmet. Their cakes and cookies are available twice a year, for Rosh Hashana and Pesach. New this year for Pesach is a limited edition brownie pie, an apple pie and a bell ring cake topped with mounds of vanilla cr?me and chocolate icing. Last we visited with our old friend Daniel at Glenny’s where we picked up sample of their all new sugar free cookies and brownies. They are parve and come in four flavors. They also have a line of slim carb bars that are delicious.
Cheeses: The world of kosher cheese expands and grows at an amazing rate. One of the first booths we visited was that of Canterbury Foods who displayed a line called Lemnos, certified by Kosher Australia. This amazing group of cheeses includes three different fetas – including reduced fat, an Indian cheese called Paneer and a number of ricotta dips. We then headed over to Anderson International where Brigitte introduced me to Natural and Kosher’s new stringable cheese and gave me great news about upcoming Monsey Dairy Cholov Yisroel bags of cheddar, mozzarella and a blend. She also gave us the heads-up about a crumbled feta and a shredded swiss coming soon. At Two Tribes LLC, a premier cheese company, we took a look at their pizzas available in your grocer’s freezer or refrigerated section and a new shredded cheddar mozzarella combo they are working on.
Desserts: One of the most amazing sites at the show was Tropical Sorbet Chillers. These delicious desserts are frozen fruit shells filled with real fruit sorbet. The coconut is in a coconut shell, the lemon in a lemon, the mango in a, well you get the point. We tried two – coconut and mango – amazing. Did I say that already? Imagine a Shabbos table filled with company and for dessert you bring out these fruit chillers – elegant and delicious. Strauss Bakery is presenting a new line of mini dessert cups for retail purchase this year. Flavors include tiramisu, chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse and their signature item – silk and satin. Pastel World of Cakes, one of our favorites, was displaying their unique line of individual portion pastries – la bomb, chocolate mousse pyramids, chocolate banana and strawberry meringue, just to name a few. Each one is beautifully decorated and filled with incredible taste. Jerusalem Gourmet Products features Marzipan Bakery Jerusalem’s famous rugelach. Available in microwave and oven packaging, they hope to be on your grocer’s shelf soon.
Drinks and Beverages: Dynamic Health Laboratories featured a line of liquid supplements and juice concentrates, including mango and papaya purees, which are not only good for you but taste great as well. The Wimm-Bill- Dann Group’s Wonder Berry gave out beautiful shopping bags to compliment their line of delicious berry drinks. Called Mors, they are traditional Russian beverages dating back over 1000 years. We sampled the berry mix – a blend of blueberries, cranberries and blackberries – and found the taste to be not too sweet and a real thirst quencher. 4C has added some new flavors to their powdered ice tea line – new light lemon, light raspberry and light decaf made with splenda. We sampled the light lemon and can honestly say it was very good and had no aftertaste. We stopped by Prigat and received a large cup of diet grapefruit drink – a true favorite of ours. And then tried Old Brick imported English Cider. Available in England for over a century, this smooth 4.5% alcohol drink made from the apples will be available in the U.S. on time for Pesach. Wondering how it tastes? To us it seemed similar to beer, with a lighter flavor. At the Kedem booth we tried Stamford Hill diet touch o’ peach iced tea. The line includes a diet lemon, regular peach, regular lemon and kiwi-strawberry. At 99-cents for a 20-oz bottle, they are worth a trip to the store. Last, from South Africa via Israel comes Chilla – a line of Cholov Yisroel flavored hot chocolate and iced coffee mixes.
Of special interest: The Lower East Side Conservancy, an affiliate of the United Jewish Council of the East Side, holds regular tours of the Lower East Side. Besides reconnecting people with a very important part of our heritage, the funds are used to help upkeep shuls standing since the 1800’s. Their latest fundraiser is called “Feast on Tradition” and features two pushcarts brimming with Lower East Side goodies. The Essex Noshcart includes bialys from Kossars, pickles from Guss’, a Lower East Side Trivia game and much more. The Delancy Noshcart contains everything in the Essex noshcart with more food and an award-winning guidebook for the Lower East Side. To order you can call them at 877-pushcart or visit them on-line at www.nycjewishtours.org
About the Author: Magazine Editor, The Jewish Press
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