Tuesday, March 13, 2007

(Some) Jews Love: Kosher Food

I keep "strictly" kosher. Harley does not. This means that Harley is more popular than I am, as I force all of my friends to go to kosher/vegetarian restaurants with me, or to listen to me act like a martyr while eating my salad (sans dressing). Some might argue that this defeats the purpose of kashrut, which may/may not have been an invention by the rabbis to force Jews to eat together, or at least not with non-Jews. For instance, last week I took my definitively non-Jewish male best friend (from now on Platonic Best Friend, PBF) and his girlfriend to a kosher dairy restaurant. There I had a fairly good meal, as did PBF, his girlfriend, however, made the mistake of ordering pizza. It was so awful that she could not finish.

There has been some talk about pizza recently, kosher, and otherwise, not to mention the somewhat recent creation of KosherNY, a (somewhat) complete database of kosher restaurants in New York City. According to Kosher-NY there are 14 restaurants in Manhattan alone that serve kosher pizza. Sadly, few of them are reviewed, so I cannot speak to their quality, except for those that I have actually tasted.

According to Gridskipper "you can't have a real city without Jews, and everyone knows that Jews won't come unless you have a kosher pizza joint," so by that reasoning, LA is now a real city. Thanks Hill Street Pizza! For those who don't live in a "real city" Baleboosteh provides a recipe for kosher pizza, although I'd like to point out that the kitchen, ingredients, and utensils determine the kashrut of the final product. Another option for out-of-towners is Flying Kosher Pizza. Audrey of LowConcept (where I found the idea) is the only person I know who has heard of it, and she didn't eat any, but it sounds like a promising concept, if any good. Either that, or it speaks to the ridiculous heights that kashrut has achieved. Either or.

DAG of NFOSS is on the type of quest that I totally support, both for its unscientific nature, as well as its general uselessness. He is trying to eat at a kosher pizza place in every state that has one. Not every pizza place, nor a pizza place in every state. I love arbitrary distinctions. More useful is DMZ of Critically Kosher's review of Tov Pizza in Baltimore. Final verdict? Cheap, fast, but kind of grody. I've been to Baltimore many a time (my mom buys her hats there) but we always have Chinese, not pizza. I guess that my mom (a vegetarian) is a fan of the "meat that my husband can eat, but that I at no point have to touch" idea.

And last, but not least, courtesy of Tzvee, a "pizza war" in Teaneck. No, I am not kidding.


Jack's Shack said...

Not that it matters, but we have had Kosher pizza in LA for 20+ years now.

Dash said...

I think your title is a little misleading. Like a lot of Jews, I eat dairy and vegetarian out, but will only eat kosher meat. Although KD is not very good, I wouldn't have enjoyed living in New York at all without their burger deliveries (although the best kosher meat bang for your buck is the JTS caffeteria). Considering how much Jews love Italians (shameless plug for the wonderful Jewbiquitous), it's strange that no-one has really figured out how to make a really good kosher pie.

Not that it matters, but http://yesterdayssalad.wordpress.com/2007/03/07/blogging-food-instead-of-eatingis-not-a-good-diet/
is the post where I throw my own two cents into the ring about good kosher pizza in NY. Alas, it doesn't exist in Chicago or Boston.

DaGirl said...

the flying pizza is an fabulous creation - especially for surprise gifts to friends in not-so-Kosher-friendly locales.

(just make sure you tell them to look for it when it arrives. I sent one to LT once and he didnt get notice from his dorm about the package for a few weeks. Let's just say if penicillin hadnt been discovered before, it certainly was when he opened the box!)

Annie said...

Jack- thanks for the info, Gridskipper lied.

Dash- What I meant to say is that not all Jews feel the need to keep kosher, not that eating vegetarian out disqualifies someone from keeping kosher, etc, etc.

KD is apparently a fabulous deal, but I don't eat red meat, nor have I ever eaten meat at the JTS cafeteria (and as a non-student who doesn't live/work in the immediate vicinity, it seems unlikely).

As for kosher pizza in NY, I agree that Viva is king, especially now that Roma has closed/moved (not that I ever ate there anyway), and pizza cave is about what you'd expect from something called pizza cave.

DaGirl- sounds like something that a friend will be recieving for a birthday in the future. But having it sit around is probably not positive. Someone was telling me about a fabulous ice cream place (maybe in Chicago) that will send ice cream packed with dry ice. Similar idea, but less prone to gross spoiling.

Tamar said...

The kosher pizza in CHicago is horrendous. I mean, if anything was ever a shanda, Tel Aviv Pizza... I can't even talk about it. Blech.

In Nashville, believe it or not, we have a kosher vegetarian restaurant that's fantastic as long as you're okay with skipping meat. They do a kind of weird pizza foccacia, but they're more in their element with tofu and seitan centered dishes.

Sarah said...

Hmm....word on the street has it that the hashgacha by Viva isn't so good...

Malicious gossip.

Good point on what makes things kosher--I've seen a ton of kosher cookbooks recently that are not about traditional Jewish foods, nor how to make decidedly unkosher foods (like beef stroganoff) kosher...most of the books's kashrus seems to come from the instructions in front on how to kasher meat and what constitutes kosher cheese...and, oh yeah, the orthokitsch covers.

orieyenta said...

I keep "strictly" kosher. Harley does not. This means that Harley is more popular than I am...

That must be why no one likes to eat out with us!

We have yummy kosher pizza available in Miami...trouble is, it's all the way across town. But since it's yummy, it's worth the almost hour drive.

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Ann,

I come by your blog on a daily basis and see that you have posted about kosher food, a favorite topic of mine!

May I direct a comment to Tamara?

Tamara, I do not disagree about Tel Aviv!

May I suggest Da'Nali's in Skokie?!

I am,

Very Sincerely Yours,

Alan D. Busch

Annie said...

Tamar- who knew, kosh food in Nashville?

Sarah- it actually isn't malicious gossip, viva, open on shabbat, has a sketchy heksher. I know this because a friend of mine tried to do 'due diligence' and contact the certifying rabbi to get some information, and the calls were never returned. That seems to be the definition of sketchy to me.

Orieyenta- it is hard to get my friends to eat out with me, so I often find myself stuck with salad. As long as you are willing to consider that a viable alternative, kashrut shouldn't negatively impact your social life too much.

Alan- thanks for stopping by. Freely accessible kosher food was one of my motivating factors for moving to NYC. Coming from a small, somewhat isolated town, the options are mind-boggling.

Mac said...

In cities with smaller Jewish populations, kosher dining is often limited to just a single establishment. Some cities do not have any kosher dine-in facilities, but the small communities have other arrangements for Jewish residents to obtain ready-made kosher meals and other types of food that may be hard to obtain kosher otherwise.

new jersey kosher restaurants