Tag Archives: Purim

Dina’s 10 Favorite Things About Winter in NYC

I think each season in New York City has something special to celebrate.  I would say winter is my least favorite season for obvious reasons–it can be very cold, especially when you are walking around.  Many times I’ve worn two pairs of socks and gloves, a scarf, a hat with a scarf and a hat over it.  And no one likes when the puddles at the corner look more like swimming pools and there’s no way to cross the street except to wade through them.  But such is life in a New York winter.  Despite these nuisances, there are many reasons to visit New York in the winter.  Here’s my top ten.

  1. There aren’t as many tourists in January.  Snowstorms can mess up travel plans, so it’s not the best time to travel.  But if there is ever a time in New York where it is not as crowded, it’s this month.
  2. New York City Restaurant Week occurs in January, and it’s a great time to try out a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.  I would just say to keep in mind that because prices are cheaper, the menus are not as exciting as they normally would be.  I would also say to book early at the popular ones.
  3. Hot drinks.  I love to get hot chocolate from Grom, who makes the thickest, most decadent hot chocolate.  My all-time favorite café to get warm drinks is La Lanterna in the Village.  They have the most extensive menu of spiked coffees you will ever see. 
  4. Valentine’s Day and chocolates.  NYC has a plethora of delectable chocolate.  From Jacques Torres to Royce to Kee’s and Stick With Me, there’s something for everyone’s taste.  And it is fun to taste them all! Check out my Dina’s Guide to NYC Chocolate Shops for more great chocolate in NYC!chocolate bon bons, chocolates, Stick With Me, bon bons
  5. Lenten foods–OK, Lent isn’t for everyone, but even if you are not Catholic, you can still partake in the delicious goodies that can be found this time of year like hot cross buns and the Italian chocolate pudding made with pig’s blood, sanguinaccio. It’s also a time to abstain from meat on Fridays, so I get to make all my favorite Lenten dishes like eggs with sauce.
  6. Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown.  A very fun event that is packed, but it is possible to get a good view.  Follow the parade with soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai.  Spend the day in Chinatown shopping and visit the Museum of Chinese in America

    Joe’s Shanghai soup dumplings

  7. Purim–Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates Queen Esther outsmarting King Haman who was planning to kill the Jews. Like Halloween, it’s a day for costumes and celebration. I like this holiday for its delicious cookie, hamentaschen, or Haman’s hat. You can find these all around the city, but my favorite are at Moishe’s.
  8. Japan Week–For a week in March, Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal becomes an expo of Japanese culture and food. I like to follow this festival with a visit to Minamoto Kitchoan for some Japanese sweets. (This location has moved since I wrote that blog post. It’s now on Madison Ave. between 52nd & 53rd.)

    Kitchoan goodies

  9. St. Patrick’s Day parade–The one day everyone is Irish, including an Italian girl like me!  I love the parade and the after-party at local Irish pubs.  Also corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread. And let’s not forget the elusive Shamrock shake from McDonald’s.

    a festive take on the New York black & white

  10. St. Joseph’s Day–This holiday on March 19 is celebrated by Italians in honor of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Mother. Traditionally, we make zeppole, the fried dough balls you get at street fairs. But we also have zeppole with custard and sfinci/sfingi. You can find these during the season at any of the Italian bakeries in the city, such as Rocco’s, Veniero’s and Ferrara or out in the boroughs.

    Veniero’s zeppole (l) and sfinge

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Hamentaschen

Purim is two days away.  St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday.  Here’s a cute article on the Purim-St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Tel Aviv.  I’ve baked up a storm of green in honor of St. Patty’s Day.  So in honor of Purim, I’ve made raspberry and apricot hamentaschen.

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I used this baklava hamantaschen recipe from Jenessa’s Dinners.  The only different ingredient I used was a teaspoon of vanilla instead of the optional almond extract.  This recipe makes a really workable dough.  I used a biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.  Then I put a 1/2 teaspoon of jam in the middle (too much jam and it might leak out of the cookie during baking).  The important thing to remember is to fold over the dough to form a triangle (not pinch as the cookies can open.)  Also, the recipe recommends rolling the dough to 1/8 thickness.  That’s a good idea because if it’s thicker, there’s more chance of the cookies opening during baking.

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The traditional fillings include poppy seed and prune.  I’ve also seen apricot and hamentaschen at traditional bakeries.  Today, you’ll find some interesting hamentaschen on blogs like red velvet, s’mores, the above baklava and more.

If you don’t want to bake your own, you can find them at most grocery stores and bakeries.  My favorites are at Moishe’s Bakery on 2nd Avenue and E. 7th Street.

Weekend Whets 2/22

Friday Night Dinner:  Hamentashen and Martinis, Friday, February 22, 2013, 7 p.m., 92nd Street Y Tribeca, 200 Hudson Street, Manhattan:  Celebrate Purim with sweet and savory hamentashen like oven roasted tomato with cinnamon and jalepeno and guava and cheese.  Tickets are $40 in advance; $50 at the door.

Making Sushi for Hinamatsuri, Saturday, February 23, 2013, noon to 2 p.m., The Nippon Club, 145 West 57th Street, (between 6th and 7th Avenues), Manhattan:  Prepare special sushi and learn Japanese expressions and culture for the Doll Festival.  $35.

Cassoulet Festival, Monday, February 25, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Back Forty West, Soho:  Multiple tastings of the Savoy dish.  Participating chefs are Alex Raij of Txikito, Mike Laarhoven of Back Forty, Shanna Pacifico of Back Forty West, Nick Anderer of Maialino and Tom Mylan of The Meat Hook.  $65 with a portion of the proceeds going to the New Amsterdam Market.

A Taste of the Italian Islands, Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Ristorante Asellina, 420 Park Avenue South, between 28th and 29th Streets, Manhattan:  Chef Marco Porceddu creates dishes from his native Sardinia with wine pairings from Sardinia and Sicily.  Members $75; Public $90.  For reservations, call 212-627-2308.

Pancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company, through February 28, 2013, Lower East Side:  Try a different type of pancake each day of the month.

A Taste of Magic: An Evening of Conjuring and Culinary Excellence, Friday, March 1, 2013, 8 p.m., Gossip Restaurant, 733 9th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen:  A night of magic and food.

Just Food Conference, Friday, March 29, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 30, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Food and Finance High School, 525 West 50th Street, Manhattan: A conference with workshops on cooking and food preparation, CSA trends, local and national food and farm issues for the general public, food professionals, entrepreneurs, job seekers, CSA members, community organizers and farmers. Friday will include a job networking event. Saturday includes a food EXPO.

Two for Tuesday: Hamentaschen

I’m a huge fan of raspberry hamentaschen.  My favorite comes from Moishe’s Bakery on 2nd Avenue and E. 7th Street in the East Village.  They come in small and large sizes with poppy-seed, raspberry, apricot or prune filling.  The large one is a big, fat crumbly cookie filled with a deliciously sweet raspberry jam.

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If you don’t have a great bakery nearby or you feel like making your own hamentaschen for Purim this week, this hamentaschen recipe from Cupcake Project is a good one for traditional cookie-like hamentaschen.  Stef notes that she prefers a cookie texture to a cakey one, and so do I.  Stef’s photos are great, and she explains how you should fold over the edges and not pinch them to create the triangular shape.

photo used with permission of J. Pollack Photography

photo used with permission of J. Pollack Photography