Visitors at this year’s Kosher Food and Wine Experience sample the wares.
If there was a theme for this year’s Kosher Food and Wine Experience, it might be Go Big Or Go Home.
Restaurateurs and winemakers showcased innovations and old favorites at Royal Wine Corp.’s annual extravaganza. KFWE drew about 2,500 people to New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion on Monday, its biggest crowd yet. Last year, organizers had a yacht docked at Chelsea Piers to accommodate overflow from the 2,000-plus crowd. After several years at the Piers, the event moved to the Pavilion this year to accommodate the ever-growing interest.
“The atmosphere is more alive,” said Mordy Herzog, Royal Wines’ executive vice president. “It was great every year, but there’s more room, so people are more relaxed.”
There are five other KFWEs around the world, in Israel, England, Minnesota, Miami, and Los Angeles, with two more U.S. additions slated for next year. But New York is the home turf for Bayonne-based Royal Wine, which marked its ninth KFWE in the city.
With more than 30 restaurants, caterers, and specialty food stores at the showcase, food seemed to take the spotlight. But it’s still a wine show, and Royal had plenty of wines and spirits to highlight. The trend in kosher wine right now seems to point to France, according to Mr. Herzog.
“It shows our palates are maturing,” he said. “People are more open minded, interested in trying new products. Whites are coming back, France is coming back, but more importantly people are willing to try more.”
For those who couldn’t make it out, below is a sampling of new and different tastes at this year’s KFWE.
Chateau La Tonnelle
This cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend has been aged for 12 months in the barrel, resulting in a smooth, light fruit flavor. It retails for $30-$35.
Eau-De-Vie De Figue
The distillation process removes alcohol from brandy and leaves a smooth flavor. For this five-time distilled brandy, Bokobsa raised the alcohol content from 37 percent to 45 percent. The extra distillations have removed much of the alcohol that scratches the throat but left a lot of flavor, which comes as it passes down the throat, said Lionel Bokobsa, whose family has been making wine since the 1860s. This brandy has been in development for two years and will be available for retail in a few weeks at approximately $35.
This Spanish winery has been making kosher wine since 2003. The Herenza Rioja Semi recently joined its line of Herenza Riojas. The Semi is aged six months in oak and at least six months in the bottle. The Herenza Crianza Rioja is aged two years in oak, while the Herenza Reserve Rioja is aged three years.
“Our concept is taking non-meat items and turning them into a main dish,” said Silverleaf’s David Heisler. “I use it as a challenge.”
Silverleaf showcased three unusual dishes to meet that challenge:
“¢The All American: A hot dog, spicy fries, and ketchup wrapped in pizza dough.
“¢BBQ Sundae: A scoop of mashed potatoes and bourbon barbecue pulled brisket topped with gravy and served in a parfait dish.
“¢Pastrami Chicken Waffle: A pastrami and green onion waffle triangle with “buttermilk” fried chicken topped with a balsamic glaze.
The dishes were specially created for the KFWE and will soon make their way to Silverleaf’s menus.
Abeles & Heymann
A&H was formed by Leopold Heymann and Oscar Abeles – Mr. Heymann’s widow, Sophie, has just stepped down as the mayor of Closter. The company’s hot dogs can be found in supermarkets across the country. It’s the kosher dog of choice at the Yankees’ and Mets’ ballparks, and also the Teaneck Doghouse. Co-owner Seth Leavitt of Englewood showed off the Hillside-based company’s new beer- and whiskey-flavored dogs, which have been on the market for about a year.
“We were trying to find a trend we can start,” he said. “We thought whiskey and beer infused hot dogs would be a great alternative to a regular hot dog.”
Owner Joseph Abadi has been to KFWE a few times but this is the first year as an exhibitor. “It’s a bunch of people that just want good food,” he said. “People like good food with their wines.”
The Cliffside Park catering hall, which offers a glatt kosher menu, showcased chicken lollipops in spicy mango salsa and a braised short rib and risotto ball.
“Plates have been flying off the table,” Mr. Abadi said early in the evening. “We made about 2,500 of each hors d’oeuvre and hope we have enough.”
Amid the booths of sushi, pastrami, desserts, and innovatively prepared but otherwise standard dishes something not typically found on the kosher scene stood out: Quince Wood Smoked Rocky Mountain Oysters, aka, bull testicles. Halfway through the night, Gemstone was sold out of the delicacy.
Cake & Co.
This is the second year at KFWE for Krystina Gianaris, owner of Teaneck’s Cake & Co. The excitement of last year drew her back, she said, and she came with wine-infused desserts created just for this event: chocolate cake with a merlot-infused custard and a vanilla cake with a white zinfandel-infused mousse.
Pareve mocha ice cream, Kedem grape juice sorbet offered a sweet respite for palates overwhelmed by savory meats. The Sprinkles team is just happy to meet people at KFWE, co-owner Ari Hoffman said. Sprinkles makes pareve ice creams and sorbets from its Hackensack-based factory for its five stores in the metro area.