We have a job to do. While lockdown has halted hospitality, many of the kosher caterers — needing a quick pivot in the current climate — have morphed their kitchens into delivery services. If they are to survive the COVID storm, they need our help.
I've stepped up to the plate, and tested more than a few meals. It's the least I can do. The latest banquet (no less than seven courses) to land on my doorstep was from 1070. Behind the feast was chef Oren Goldfeld, who once headed up 1701, the restaurant that once occupied Bevis Marks synagogue.
The meal was something special. Even more so because Mr P and I could enjoy at our own table. Even better, I got to nosh in my trackies — as genius as it is dangerous; so much easier to eat your bodyweight (plus some) with an elasticated waistband.
And all that food demanded all the stretch I could get.
Although I did actually spread the meal over more than one sitting. Another pleasure of the dine-in experience. Feeling full? Take a break!
First up — Schav, a fresh and citrussy, emerald-coloured sorrel soup. A small portion between two, accompanied by two mini portions of smoked potato purée, soft egg and crunchy hazelnuts to be put in the soup bowl. Perfect for the summer evening we ate it on.
Next up were two tiny square plates of pickled ‘herring’. Slivers of fish in a light pickling juice with some cheffy blobs of gel.
The next course was a superbly chunky, liver paté. More terrine in texture and one of my favourites. I could have eaten the lot. As Mr P doesn’t eat meat, I almost did, although he did snaffle some of the tiny dice of pickled mango and thin slices of toasted gingerbread. Such a treat.
At this point I had to work a little — if you can call it that. Fish Tagine — a slice of red mullet sitting on giant Israeli couscous — went into the oven while I warmed up a rich fish broth, so full on flavour it was Provence on a plate.
The last main course was called Friday Night Dinner. Pan-fried chicken, an onion – cleverly stuffed with meaty rice; a carrot caramelised to melting sweetness plus a slab of a meltingly soft, layered potato cake. That all went in in the oven while I warmed up a darkly, shiny chicken jus. My word that was good. I haven’t tasted a jus like that in my own home — not since I was training to be a chef and had time (and inclination) to create such deep-flavoured sauce-y joy in my own home. Sadly, once again, Mr P couldn’t share my pleasure, so I got to do it all again, when I took the second portion of chicken on a picnic.
Moving from Ashkenazi inspiration to a very Sephardi finale, the penultimate dish was a china dish of almond-milk malabi which arrived with a rose-water syrup; toasted coconut and peanut and the lightest marshmallows. Perfectly pink.
The rosewater came out again in force for the date and walnut filled mini maamoul pastry petits fours. (I’m not sure my family even saw those…shhhhh…)
Another treat was getting to share the deliciously zingy, South African Chenin Blanc by Unorthodox, without bickering over who would be driving home. It’s all about the silver linings.
If you fancy a treat, or have a special celebration, this is a kosher meal to go for. And if you want our caterers, restaurants and other hospitality businesses to survive this horrendous plague, you'll need to support them in their efforts to weather the storm.