Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Very Rhode Island Hanukkah

It struck me that we don't own a menorah. That is sad. Would it be too late if I bought one tomorrow and we started lighting it a day late? Well, it's probably not a big deal since I had no intention to be very traditional with tonight's meal there's no real reason to be traditional with the accessories either.

To be safe we lit our makeshift menorah. There's space for four total candles so the way I figure it is we have four more days to get a real menorah. That's proper protocol, right?

For a salad I got this nice Boston lettuce from Tiverton, Rhode Island which was as close to Boston as I could find this lettuce growing. I guess that makes this Boston lettuce almost as authentic as they come. Next I'd like to try some Boston butt from Fall River, Massachusetts.

On the lettuce I put sliced radishes, fennel, and fresh dill from Migliorelli Farms in the Hudson valley. The last ingredient there kinda killed my Rhode Island vibe I had going.

Then I topped it with a sweet lemon vinaigrette that I made with Maille mustard, lemon juice, Lyle's golden syrup, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

After salad it was time for latkes. To make them I shredded a russet potato and half a vidalia onion then chopped up some green onion and dill. I mixed that all with a couple of spoonfuls of Maille whole grain mustard, horseradish, an egg, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before adding some flour, squeezing out the excess moisture, and frying in a pan until golden brown.

I served with sour cream, fresh dill, and apple sauce.

To go with the latkes I felt beer was in order. What I grabbed was a beer from Innis & Gunn which I'd never had before. It tasted a little too sweet but once we started eating the latkes it wasn't as noticeable. It was a very tasty beer, very high in alcohol, but not at all what I expected. I had planned this meal to be less sweet than our traditional Jewish fare but it turned out my beer had been covertly sabotaged by my own inability to read the label.

For the main course I carmelized a ton of onions in a pan with butter, olive oil, and garlic. Then I seared a chunk of generously seasoned brisket, deglazed with some zinfandel, topped with the onions and some of the rich turkey stock I made from the Thanksgiving turkey, and braised in the oven.

In a separate pan I roasted some carrots, parsnips, and fennel with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. I guess traditionally I should have glazed them but my recent Jewish meals have been just too sweet for dinner so I tried to keep this one a little more savory.

Since I'd opened the zinfandel to cook the brisket I figured we might as well drink it as well. It was not a kosher wine but it was quite tasty. It was far better than the Great Manischewitz Debacle of Passover '09. I think I still have a lingering sugar headache from that one glass I had.

Jen's mom sends us a disposable advent calendar each year. This year she sent us a permanent advent calendar. It was perfect timing in that it arrived on December 1st. It was a little strange opening the first door on the first night of Hanukkah.

You can imagine my disappointment when instead of delicious chocolate we were greeted with, of all things, earrings for the first day! I told Jen that if we get chocolate tomorrow she has to give me all of her portion to make up for this.

For the final course I took two frozen confections, again from Rhode Island.

The first was orange sherbet (or what they call SherBetter) GaGa's in Warwick, Rhode Island. Rhode Island likes things with the word "better" clumsily crammed into the name. At one Rhode Island grocery store they top cakes with "Better Cream" which is basically a butter cream made with shortening so that it lasts forever and doesn't matter. Better than what I shudder to imagine. This "Better" on the other hand was quite good.

Along with the SherBetter I used vanilla gelato Cold Fusion Gelato in Newport, Rhode Island to keep my home state's theme going strong. A bunch of eggheads like
Brian Cox claim that we don't have the technology yet for cold fusion. Apparently he's never been to Newport, Rhode Island. See? This is why you can't trust science.

I topped both with chopped Medjool dates, and pistachios.

Since we don't really have any Hanukkah movie traditions (and I didn't feel like searching for a copy of 8 Crazy Nights) we opted to just listen to our awesome four-song Hanukkah playlist instead.

I did just learn that there is an Israeli version of Sesame Street called Shalom Sesame and there's a Hanukkah special featuring Jeremy Miller of Growing Pains fame!

Oh my. If I knew a few days ago what I know now that DVD would have been shipped to me two-day delivery from Amazon and we would have watched it this evening.

Well, at least we know what we're doing for Hanukkah 2011.

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