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Schenectady’s Jewish Food Festival

March 27, 2019

Everything is okay. Last night Little Miss Fussy had a minor dental crisis in the form of a broken tooth. It was more gross and upsetting than anything else. This morning we took her to the dentist, and everything is fine. It’s just a baby tooth weakened by an emerging adult tooth. There’s no infection. No decay. No extractions required.

That said, it was pretty tense for awhile. And she was incredibly brave. So, both as comfort and a reward we went to Stewart’s for an extra-thick milkshake. Actually, it was a chocolate malted, which is what my grandfather used to make.

I only had a sip or two, but it’s comfort food in the truest sense. Just a taste and I’m back in my grandparents’ kitchen in Long Island with my Pop Pop, and all is well with the world.

Speaking of comfort food, the 16th Annual Jewish Food Festival is coming up in Schenectady on Sunday, April 7, and you’ll never guess who is giving away a free pair of tickets.

Did you say Yelp? Because the answer is Yelp.

Look, the FLB is big. But Yelp is bigger. By a lot. It’s crazy. But for those of you who aren’t on Yelp all the time, I’m more than happy to share some of the fun stuff that’s happening over there. And this giveaway is one of those. You can find the ticket giveaway at this link here.

But even if you don’t win free tickets you should still come to the Jewish Food Festival. And not just because it’s the food of my people. I’d argue that Jewish foods are some of the most comforting foods on the planet. They may also be some of the saltiest, but that’s why God created Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray.

Everyone goes crazy for corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m claiming corned beef for the tribe. Jewish deli is the highest form of corned beef as far as I’m concerned. Especially when it’s thick sliced by hand, and appropriately fatty. Lean corned beef is an abomination. It has to be served not just warm, but at the precise temperature where the fat is tender and buttery. We call it juicy, but it’s not juice. It’s fat. And it’s amazing. Especially on good rye bread with a shmear of deli mustard.

The only thing that might be better is pastrami. Smoked and peppered, but still served warm and “juicy”. There is always a pastrami station at the Jewish Food Festival. While they aren’t slicing the meat by hand, the team from Ben & Bill’s are masters at holding the pastrami at the right temperature. It makes all the difference in the world.

What’s more comforting that broth with noodles? Precious little, that’s what. And chicken noodle soup is just one of the Jewish classics. But at the Jewish Food Festival there are also matzoh balls added to the mix. We can argue about if floaters are better than sinkers, or vice versa. But what’s not up for debate is that adding a matzoh ball increases the comforting power of a noodle soup.

Not everyone is going to loved chopped liver, and that’s okay. It means more chopped liver for me. But Randy Simon typically makes this classic dish, and it’s amazing. Even if you aren’t sure about this deeply flavorful and funky spread of fried onions and sautéed chicken livers, you can get a small taste and see what happens.

If you love it, your life will have been changed for the better.

If you hate it, there is blintz casserole over in the next room. Blintz casserole? Maybe you’ve heard of blintzes before. They are tender crepes filled with a delicate cheese filling, and typically fried in butter. On their own they are decadent little pouches of diary. Top them with fruit and a little sour cream, and they are even better.

But take a bunch of blintzes, place them gently in a baking dish, and surround them in an egg custard… if you can get past the cholesterol hit of the first bite, you’ve just discovered one of my favorite Jewish treats. Who wants noodle kugel when there’s blintz casserole?

Still, this is just scratching the surface. There are bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, creamed herring, slow cooked brisket, potato pancakes, pickles, tsimis, and more. What I’m saying is that you would be foolish to skip out on this once a year extravaganza of comfort food.

You can skip the giveaways and just buy your tickets online. Here’s the link for that. But either way, I hope to see you there!

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