For 27 years, Jay Buchsbaum of the Royal Wine Corporation in Bayonne has been watching kosher wines grow in quality and variety until they rival non-kosher wines. Now, he says, they are ready for prime-time–a spot on the Passover seder table.
Speaking specifically of Israeli wineries, Buchsbaum, vice president of marketing and director of wine education at Royal, says that the number making kosher (and non-kosher) wines of real quality has expanded from a handful to as many as 350. He says American kosher wines have also elevated their quality in recent years.
“It began in the late 70’s with some simple Bordeaux,” he says, “but really took off beginning in the late ’80s. Now there’s so much high-quality choice that you can really have a lot of fun with it.”
Royal’s own Herzog Winery, in Oxnard, California, is one of the wineries that has led the rise in quality, he says. The company also owns and operates the Kedem Winery in Marlboro, New York.
With this Friday being the first night of Passover, Buchsbaum has joined forces with chef Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur, Herzog Winery’s award winning 150-seat kosher restaurant, to create an updated seder menu paired with some of their favorite kosher wines.
Garcia, who is not Jewish, joined the restaurant six years ago under the direction of Todd Aarons. Now, as head chef, he continues to focus on using fresh ingredients to create New American dishes based on traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
A menu of suggested Passover food and wine pairings from the duo includes:
Cod and Potato Cakes with Horseradish Apple Aioli
- Carmel Selected Sauvignon Blanc, Israel $9$11
- Herzog Reserve Russian River Chardonnay, California $28$30
- Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand $20$22
Matzoh Ball Soup
- Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc, California $8$10
- Elvi Cava Brut, Spain, $18$20
- Carmel Single Vineyard Kayoumi White Riesling, Israel $25$27
Red Wine- and Honey-Braised Brisket with Fennel, Ginger and Star Anise. Served with Citrus Beets with Toasted Walnut Brittle
- Baron Herzog Old Vine Zinfandel, California $13$15
- Tierra di Seta Chianti Classico Reserva, Italy $20$25
- Domain du Castel Grand Vin, Israel $70$75
Lemon Almond Cake with a Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc Sabayon
- Muscat de Baumes de Venise, France $18$20
- Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, California $20$22
- Binyamina Reserve Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, Israel $26-$28
Garcia created the recipes to balance modern California healthy cooking with the traditions and symbols of the holiday. The cod cakes are “something cool and different than gefilte fish, offering the texture of the potatoes,” Garcia says. “Horseradish is a little tribute to the seder plate.”
As for the matzo ball soup, “There are some things you just don’t mess with.”
The sweet and spicy Asian flavors in the brisket are among Garcia’s personal favorites. The key is to use just a little. “I don’t want people to get intimidated or lose interest,” he says.
He suggests leaving a good bit of fat on the meat. “People cut it too lean. That fat needs to roast back into the meat and render slowly.”
Garcia sees the lemon cake as the perfect complement to the richness of the meal. It is made with almond flour and the citrus that is so prevalent in California. Instead of frosting, it is served with an airy sabayon sauce based on an old Herzog family recipe and made with the winery’s own chenin blanc.
For the ritual four cups of wine at the meal, Buchsbaum suggests making one night international, with selections from four different regions, “with at least one Israeli wine.” The second night’s seder, he suggests, could be “all Israel or all California, but from different regions.”
Whatever combination you choose, you can find a strong selection of kosher and Israeli wines at, among other stores, Wine Library in Milburn, Fillerup Kosher Wines in Teaneck and various Wegman’s Wine, Liquor & Beer stores throughout New Jersey.
COD AND POTATO CAKE WITH HORSERADISH AIOLI
Adapted from Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur
1 pound of cod, fresh
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground fresh
3 potatoes, peeled and shredded
3 quarts water
2 cups of mayonnaise
Freshly ground pepper
3 quarts of canola oil (for frying)
2 cups potato starch
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup of almond milk
- Bring a small pot of water to boil, blanch potatoes in the boiling water for 2 minutes. To stop the cooking the process, place the potatoes into an ice bath, then strain the potatoes and wring them out completely in a clean dry kitchen towel. Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Season fish with salt and pepper. Place fish on a small roasting pan, and roast approximately for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the fish completely cool.
- Place cooled cooked fish in a bowl and shred with your hands. Add the mayonnaise, salt, pepper to taste and mix evenly. Form the fish mixture into eight 2 ounce portions. Shape portions into hockey puck shaped discs. Place fish cakes onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.
- Pre-heat a pot of canola oil to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix potato starch, egg yolks, and milk evenly until a thick paste forms. Dip the frozen cakes into the egg batter, coating evenly. Roll coated cakes into the potato shreds. Fry the cakes in pre-heated oil until golden brown.
3 cloves garlic
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoon lemon Juice (fresh Squeezed)
3 cups of olive oil
4 tablespoons of horseradish, fresh (peeled and shredded)
Kosher salt to taste
- Place garlic, egg yolks, and lemon juice into the food processer.
- On low speed, very slowly pour in the oil with a thin stream.
- Blend until mixture thickens and emulsifies.
RED WINE AND HONEY BRAISED BRISKET
Adapted from Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur
1 (5 pound) Brisket, trim the Fat
Vegetable or cottonseed oil
3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 large onion, cut into large dice
2 heads of fennel, cut into large dice
3 large celery stalks, cut into large dice
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons ginger, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 cups orange juice, fresh squeezed
2 cup honey
1 bottle of Baron Herzog Old Vine Red Zinfandel
2 to 4 cups unsalted beef stock (IF NEEDED)
1 bay leaf
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole star anise
1 chili de arbol or Thai chili
- Preheat the oven 325 degrees F.
- Season the brisket with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat up the braising pan on medium-high heat and add ¼ cup of oil. Place the brisket in the pan and sear all sides until you have a golden brown crust. Remove the brisket and set aside, add onions, fennel and celery to the pan. Brown the vegetables, then add garlic and ginger, sweat for one minute. Add sugar, cook until it melts, then add orange juice, honey, red wine, bay leaf, cinnamon, star anise and chili.
- Cook off the alcohol, place brisket back into pan. Be sure that there is enough liquid to almost cover the meat, if not, add unsalted beef stock.
- Cover and roast in the oven for 3 hours until the brisket is fork tender.
- Remove Brisket, place onto a cutting board. Strain vegetable from braising liquid. Remove excess fat from braising liquid and reduce liquid on stove top until desired consistency.
- Slice Brisket across the grain and sauce with wine and honey reduction, garnish with rosemary and parsley.
LEMON ALMOND FLOURLESS CAKE WITH SABAYON
Adapted from Gabe Garcia of Tierra Sur
4 ounces margarine
4 ounces sugar
2 cups almond flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces egg yolks
8 ounces sugar
8 ounces Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc
For the Cake:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine almond flour and baking powder. Zest the lemons and reserve the juice from one.
- Cream the margarine, lemon zest, sugar in the mixer until light and fluffy. Then mix in the eggs one at a time.
- Fold in the margarine mixture with the almond flour mixture and the juice of the one reserved lemon. Spread cake batter into a parchment lined and greased cake pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and cake is springy. Let cake cool completely before serving.
For the Sabayon:
- In a stainless steel bowl combine egg yolks, sugar, and wine over a hot water bath on medium heat. Whisk continually until thick and smooth. Sabayon should thick and full of volume.
- Serve sabayon over cake and garnish with favorite fruit.
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