Let's Eat

Gefiltefest 2015: Make it a nosh fest

With Gefiltefest only a fortnight away, it’s time to start planning your day. Here’s a taster of what will be on the menu


This year's Gefiltefest promises to be the best yet for hungry foodies. Pick the right demonstrations and you'll eat your way from Norway to the Nile.

So how to plan your day to ensure maximum noshing? As festival regulars know, arriving early at the JW3 venue beats the crowds and gives you time to plan your menu properly. Workshops and demonstrations kick off at 10.30am and are bookable on the day on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive before that to choose your favourites.

For really early birds, Rabbi Natan Levy will be setting off at 9am with a group of foragers to look for ingredients such as nettles and wild garlic on Hampstead Heath. Cook up your finds with Rabbi Levy later in the day.

There are plenty of workshops to get some hands--on experience. If you missed the most important meal of the day, Ilana Epstein's brunch workshop will be a must. A trained pastry chef, Epstein (the rebbetzin at Cockfosters and North Southgate Synagogue) promises a smorgasbord of Ashkenazi cheese dishes, which include blintzes and cheesecake - and the chance to make your own cheese.

And for dessert fans, the Jewish Vegetarian Society workshop will show you how to indulge guilt-free, making it a must-see. Raw treats include chocolate cheesecake, and truffles . With avoiding sugar, flour and dairy in vogue, this is bang on trend.

Also very much of the moment is pickling - something our forefathers could teach us a thing or two about. Saul Doctor, who will be running a workshop on the subject, says it turns vegetables into tasty treats. He does stress however, that what he is actually doing is fermenting.

"Pickling is putting food in an acid, usually vinegar, to preserve it, typically with some spices added to make the food taste of something other than vinegar. Fermentation is a natural process, which happens to food when you put it in a brine of salt water.

"When mixed together, the natural sugars in the vegetables are converted to lactic acid by the naturally occurring bacteria in the vegetables, converting them to something truly delicious."

Each participant will make and take away a jar of their own sauerkraut - cabbage fermented with caraway.

There will be plenty of workshops for children of all ages to join in with too - those of Reception age upwards can enjoy hummus-making, healthy cake pops, challah baking, pickling and Israeli street food. There will also be a rolling programme of food-related activities for littlies, including making pomegranate mobiles and challah pop-up cards.

If you don't fancy getting your hands dirty then there will be plenty of lectures and talks offering little tasters. Honey & Co's Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer will be returning to the show to talk about their new baking book (out in July) and to demonstrate recipes from it, including pistachio and chocolate cookies and shakshuka.

"The soft, gooey cookies are one of our staples," says Packer. They will also be sharing their shakshuka, which is doable entirely from your store cupboard.

"We use puréed tomatoes, a lot of garlic, caraway, lemon, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and cinnamon for a really fragrant dish. It's our emergency dinner," she laughs.

Sesame and Spice author Anne Shooter will be baking some treats, and JC contributor Lisa Roukin will be sharing some delicious, raw parev desserts.

MasterChef finalist Emma Spitzer will give a demonstration of fish falafel with harissa mayonnaise, and Joel Braham, The Good Egg founder, will share his exciting modern twists on Ashkenazi classics.

There will also be plenty of delicious food to buy or sample out in the JW3 piazza, including foods from new and established brands. Providence Deli has just launched a range of kosher ingredients, including pesto, harissa, sundried tomatoes, olive paste and onion relish, which can be found in Waitrose supermarkets and is delicious (trust me) as well as useful to kosher foodies, and is therefore well worth seeking out.

Elstree-based Spice Way will be sampling its Fr'cinni fruit infusions, Fast Gourmet and Spice Blend ranges.

Shuka - London's only shakshuka food stall, run by Daniel Susser, will be there, and Soyo Market will be showcasing some of chef Or Golan's dishes for the soon-to-be launched Fairfax Road store in Swiss Cottage. Golan will also be demonstrating how to put together impressive salads in seconds.

Seek out Ole Hansen, the Norwegian producer of Hansen and Ledersen smoked salmon. Hansen smokes the salmon himself at his Cotswolds-based smokery using a method his grandfather employed back in his homeland. "I use the same salt on the salmon that the Vikings used in the 11th century to salt their cod," shares Hansen - who is passionate about his craft.

Other foods on sale in the piazza will be kosher cured meats from the Kosher Biltong Company, cakes from Jewish Care, Antonio Russo's parev ice cream, soup samples from charity Manna, and vegan food samples plus ethical eggs at the JVS stand.

In-house restaurant Zest will be offering a special menu all day. At the time of writing, chef Eran Tibi had not confirmed his menu, but thought it might take an Ashkenazi twist "as most of the other food seems to be Sephardi". Zest will also be selling cocktails in the piazza.

It promises to be an unmissable, mouth-watering day.

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