10 Great Ways to Cater Your Passover Seder in New York

Joan Nathan would never cater her Passover seder. The famed cookbook writer known for her Jewish-American recipes usually cooks everything for the holiday, which starts on Monday, March 25. She even hosts a gefilte fish-making party for a few friends at her home in Washington, D.C. “If I didn’t have a tradition of making my own, maybe I’d go out and get it,” she tells Fork in the Road. “It’s so much fun to go to a kosher store and see what’s going on for Passover. Every year it gets better and better.” While wandering in the West Village recently, she passed by rosemary matzo in a bakery window, a reminder that New York City is the American center of traditional and not-so-traditional Jewish cooking. “All those places now cater to the New York market,” says Nathan. “In New York, you can even find a reasonable gefilte fish.

That’s a relief. Home cooks may aspire to Joan Nathan’s heights at the holidays, but even the most ambitious may draw the line at making their own gefilte fish. It already takes long enough to get through a seder; it makes sense to call in reinforcements to get the meal on the table. Whether you’re hosting a meal for four or 40, or bringing a dish to someone else’s home, some of the city’s Jewish-inspired eateries are here to help you out.

Shank Bone: Dickson’s Farmstead Meats
Pick up a lamb shank bone from Dickson’s in Chelsea Market. Here, all the meat comes from local farms and most of the cuts are organic. The bones are no different and cost $12 a pound (bones average about a pound and a third). 75 Ninth Ave.

Charoset: 2nd Avenue Deli
Known for its cold cuts and potato pancakes, 2nd Avenue Deli sells charoset — the mixture of chopped apples, wine, nuts, and cinnamon meant to represent the mortar with which Jewish slaves built pyramids in Egypt — all year round. The recipe is traditional and homey, and the result is a light spread to be eaten with matzo or by itself. Buy it by the quart ($17.90) or the pint ($8.95) for take-out or delivery. 162 E. 33rd St.

Matzo: Streit’s
Streit’s Matzo Factory is one of the last remaining relics of Jewish heritage on the Lower East Side. Although it’s now an international company, a visit to the original matzo-making operation can be a Passover ritual in itself. Watch machines churn out the flat matzo and then buy a box at the factory, in most grocery stores, or online where the company also sells dozens of other kosher-for-Passover products like chow mein noodles, potato chips, and pesto sauce. 148-154 Rivington St.

Horseradish: Gefilteria
The Brooklyn-based start-up was founded by one of Joan Nathan’s former assistants and sells gefilte fish and horseradish at various gourmet carriers and pop-ups. Dip your fish in sweet beet horseradish and carrot-citrus-flavored varieties. A single jar runs for $6.50 online or at one of these retailers around the city. Various Locations

Gefilte Fish: Zabar’s
Gefilte fish is perhaps the most polarizing traditional Jewish dish, but Zabar’s has been known to convert even the most petrified eaters. The Upper West Side landmark store makes each fish loaf by hand from pike and carp. Orders can be placed online in quantities of two ($7.98) to 12 ($39.98) or in store for the same prices. 2245 Broadway

Chopped Liver: Mile End Deli
For Hanukkah, Mile End Deli topped its latkes with chopped liver, a rendition made with onion relish, egg, and pumpernickel. It’s rich and creamy, a special holiday treat. The chopped liver returns as part of the Mile End Passover catering menu, and the deli will offer enough to serve four to six for $15.

Brisket: Grow and Behold
Small farmers supply pastured meat to this strictly kosher start-up, and though the company’s not certified organic, Grow and Behold ensures that its meat is “free-range organic.” In addition to kosher-for-Passover briskets and roasts, they also carry hot dogs, chorizo, turkey, and chicken that can be delivered to your door. Orders must be placed online at before Thursday, March 21 to ensure delivery by March 25. The same meat can also be found at Pardes Restaurant near Atlantic Terminal and on Long Island. Various Locations

Matzo Balls: Artie’s
Artie’s may not be the most famous deli in New York, and its matzo ball soup is often overlooked when recounting the greats. But the fluffy softball-size matzo balls are present on many Upper West Side tables. Order the (not kosher) chicken-based soup with noodles for $11 a quart, and extra matzo balls for $1.50 each. 2290 Broadway

Potato Pancakes: Ben’s Deli
All year round, the latkes at Ben’s Deli, crispy with just a hint of grease, are the size of small saucers. But come Passover, the kosher chain serves miniature versions for $10.80 a dozen. Pick them up in the Midtown store or order online. 209 W. 38th St.

Macaroons: William Greenberg Jr. Desserts
Not to be confused with French macarons, these Jewish coconut-based cookies usually come as palm-size hand-made sweet gut-bombs. William Greenberg on the Upper East Side has perfected the Passover desserts. The bakery sells vanilla macaroons dipped in chocolate for $32 a pound, as well as plain chocolate or vanilla, both for $30 a pound. Call to reserve a box; Monday morning, lines will be out the door. 1100 Madison Ave.

This post was originally published on March 12.



Oysters Are for Prudes

Most foods popularly regarded as aphrodisiacs are simply characterized by a dirty-bird appearance and/or texture (asparagus and bananas, oysters and figs). It’s all lies, people, and more than a little gross. Feeding your “lover” vagina-like snacks is an unacceptable Valentine’s celebration. But going to a romantic restaurant, holding hands in the candlelight . . . that might be even more embarrassing.

This February 14th, stay home. Finally dig into your DVR back log of My Super Sweet Sixteen and Arrested Development episodes in your pajamas, and feed yourself something garlicky. Yes, that’s correct—the infamous breath—killer and most cherished flavor-giver is also an ancient aphrodisiac.

This is probably also a load of crap, but a more appealing one to those of us who like to eat and think Valentine’s Day is for dorks. In her classic book, Jewish Holiday Cookbook, Joan Nathan explains that a garlic-heavy brisket was traditionally thought to get the old dradle spinning.

One of the best things about brisket, aside from how unbelievably horny it will make you, is the price. The lean meat (best for braising, which is what you shall do) is $5.99 per pound at Staubitz Market and similar in most places.

You don’t need a recipe, just a plan:

Get a four-pound brisket—you will be happy to have leftovers.

When you get that baby home, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Make some shallow slits all over the meat and shove as much chopped garlic in as you can. Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt, black pepper, and paprika.

In a cast-iron skillet, or your heaviest pan, brown the meat well on both sides with a little olive oil over medium-high heat.

Put the brisket in a heavy pot-ideally, it should fit snugly.

Throw in a bunch of carrots, cut into a few big pieces each.

Pour in enough water, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, or any combination of those, to half-submerge the meat. If it starts to dry out during cooking, add more liquid.

(At this point, add whatever else you like: celery, onions, red wine, rosemary, bay leaves, etc.)

Cover the pot and put it in the oven, turning the meat over a few times in the next four hours, or until the brisket is tender and almost falling apart, but not starting to dry out.

When it’s done, be sure to let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice across the grain and serve (with wide egg noodles or some other starch).