There is something special about standing in a room with over 1,900 guests mingling, 1500 open bottles of kosher wine, 75 unique culinary delights and a spectacular waterfront view of the Hudson.
From the moment the doors opened at Chelsea Piers, the room was abuzz with wine connoisseurs, industry professionals, restaurateurs and consumers alike, lining up to taste intriguing wines, spirits and inspired cuisine from some of the best kosher restaurants, caterers and specialty food companies around.
A night you could only experience in New York City.
The Kosher Food & Wine Experience is produced each year by Royal Wine, the leading producer, importer, and distributor of kosher wines and spirits. It’s a night when over 60 winemakers are able to share their passion for their product, offering attendees a taste of uncompromising kosher wines. With over 20 different restaurants serving the most popular dishes on their menus. I have to believe that no one left hungry. Naomi Nachman from Sunny Side Up agreed with me. “The air was filled with the most amazing aromas coming from every corner of the room,” she enthused.
Of course, the Kosher.com team had planned a special “Kosher.com experience” for the evening. As Chanie Nayman, Editor in Chief of Kosher.com, summed it up, “One of my favorite things about KFWE is that it’s virtually restaurant hopping from one place to the next, sampling their most famous dishes in one fell swoop. On top of that, you pick up a mixed drink (omg, the passion fruit cocktail was just wow) and enjoy watching the Kosher.com demos. It was all so inclusive and did not miss a beat.”
Hosted by Esty Wolbe and Naomi Nachman, the crowd was entertained by Chaia Frishman and Eliahu Frishman of @fruitplattersandmore creating a gorgeous fruit platter. They also featured Chef Mathew from Chop Chop, who did a step-by-step demonstration on the art of sushi making. And let’s not forget the unbelievable cake demonstration from Shaina Dubroff of Cake & Co. Esty Wolbe told us, “I loved the way Shaina masterfully turned a decadent cake into a wine barrel with a spout and all.”
But besides the incredible food and original demonstrations, my real goal was to discover more about the new trending wines on the market. One of my favorites this year was from the Terra di Seta winery. Terra di Seta is part of a family-run organic farm nestled in the Tuscan countryside and dates back to 2001. The farm, they tell me, is on a hill near Siena, with a 360-degree view of the famous Chianti Classico region. Listening to managers Daniele Della Seta and his wife Maria Pellegrini describe the location (with that Italian accent), I am smitten already. They continue to explain to me that in Italian terra means “soil,” “land,” and “earth,” and seta, the family name, means “silk.” Their brand represents their unique family philosophy: to obtain traditional, excellent, and refined products from their unique land property. I can attest to their passion solely from the robust taste of their Chianti Classico line. They are the only producers of kosher-certified Chianti in the Italian region, and they definitely live up to the expectation.
I was also eager to discover more about the Tulip Winery in Israel. In 2003, the Itzaki family fulfilled their long-time dream of establishing a boutique winery that combines the production of quality wine with social responsibility. Tulip Winery is located in Kfar Tikva (The Village of Hope), a first-of-its-kind community settlement for adults with developmental and emotional disabilities. At this time Tulip Winery employs 40 adults with special needs, providing them inclusion in the mainstream workforce.
I got a chance to speak to David Bar-Ilan, the winemaker for Tulip Winery. David began his career as a winemaker in 2001. He joined Tulip Winery in 2003, when they produced 1,000 bottles a year; they now produce close to 3,000. “Being the creator of wine at Tulip Winery is an opportunity and a thrill,” he said, “a thrill to be able to produce fine wines of uncompromising quality and an opportunity to be part of such a special family.”
Another prized moment was meeting the legend behind Celler de Capçanes Winery, located in Capçanes which is 100 miles southwest of Barcelona. In 1995, Celler de Capçanes Winery made a change when the Jewish community of Barcelona asked Capçanes if they could produce kosher wine under the most rigorously supervised Non-Mevushal method. The success of this wine, which is in fact considered one of the best wines in Spain, awoke worldwide importers to look at the winery more closely. Step by step a unique range of individual high-end wines was developed. “The wines reflect our people and the spirit of our village, the hard work and the passion that go into every drop,” according to Jürgen Wagner, winemaker for Celler de Capçanes. Continuous development shows that Capçanes not only has the raw material to produce world-class wines but the passion for producing an excellent product.
After chatting with such passionate and successful people, it struck me that without amazing winemakers, farmers, artisans and people passionate about their trade our extensive menus would not look the same. We will be featuring each restaurant in weeks to come to give you a behind the scenes view of their culinary creations. Stay tuned!
Photography by Tzvi Simcha Cohen from Royal Wine