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My Sixth Sense
By Menachem Lubinsky
There is a good chance that several of your neighbors may be heading to one of the many “Pesach programs” in major hotels throughout the country. In fact, you might be one of those headed to a 5-star resort somewhere in Florida, California or Arizona. 20,000 American and Canadian Jews will be there as well. The menu will most likely look like the elegant cuisine that you’ve come to expect from an upscale dining experience throughout the year, save for the Matzohs. The chances are that your grandparents or great grandparents would never have dreamt of such a possibility. They would say: “Pesach”?
If you are one of the “unlucky” ones to stay home, you should not fret. You will have so many foods to choose from that you won’t really deprive yourself. If you’re addicted to bagels, pizza, bread crumbs, croutons and the like, do not despair since they are all available this Pesach. In fact, one distributor told me his list of Pesach items exceeds 21,000. And he admits that he does not have the entire list. You might remember a Pesach that was virtually all made at home, devoid of potato chips and other snacks (a bar of chocolate was just fine to be washed down with Saratoga Geyser and Kedem syrup) and the daily diet usually consisting of matzoh, hard boiled eggs and potato this or potato that, especially if you were going on the obligatory Chol Hamoed (interim days) trip.
The purists amongst us are quite disappointed with the transition. In fact, many homes try very hard to emulate the Pesach home of old. To them, the ultimate guarantee of kashrus is when they are in control over the menu and then there is the concept of the mesorah (tradition) that they wish to impart on their children. Others are grateful for technology and the increased hashgacha that has made eating on Pesach not such a challenge anymore. Even they remind us that it wasn’t like that at all in Bobby and Zaidie’s home.
New York…by Zechariah Mehler…Vodka on Passover? This year Alef, a new vodka made from grapes rather than from grain, will be available for the holiday, thanks to Avi Petrov of LeChaim Enterprises. “There’s still room on liquor store shelves for a high-end vodka.” says Avi, who immigrated to the US from the Ukraine in 1991. His LeChaim Enterprises was an effort to introduce products that were so much a part of his life and culture in his old homeland. After trying many of the leading brands of high end Vodka, Avi concluded that there was a need for a new brand of premium vodka that was not at all similar to those that were already on the market, but with a twist. “We knew that only an authentic drink with a distinct identity would survive,” he says. This led to his creating a premium vodka made from grapes. The spirit market in general featured only a limited number of grape vodka, mostly French, such as Cîroc and Idôl, but none of them have kosher certification. Being the first kosher grape vodka, Alef is hitting the shelves just in time for Passover. Avi has received an enthusiastic response to his new vodka with its distinctive Hebrew Aleph letter on beautiful blue as well as clear bottles.
By Menachem Lubinsky
New York…With three weeks to the start of Pesach (eve of March 29th), Jewish newspapers still featured advertising for one of the many programs all over the US. Sources say that an estimated 20,000 vacationers will spend the holidays in major hotels. But they also point out that there will be 1500 fewer rooms than last year, namely as a result of the shutdown of five programs, three by the Smilow family. Guests who booked at some of these programs have scrambled to rebook in other programs. One food distributor said that he believed that the programs were 20% ahead of last year when the recession first impacted the programs. “It is really a consolidation that will in the end have more guests and less empty rooms,” he said. In other words, he points out, the operators will have less empty rooms. There appeared to be some last minute bargains as several of the programs dropped prices in an attempt to fill their remaining rooms. The program operators had become accustomed to the last-minute bargain hunters who trade in the lower prices for some of the less desirable rooms. Yitzchok Neger who operates a major program in Lancaster PA will have more than 1100 guests in what he calls the “Wal-Mart model,” offering prices at around $1600 per person. He and several other operators who are also in that price range hope that volume will allow them to turn a profit even at the lower prices. Even some of the most successful programs still have 30-35 rooms to fill.
By Menachem Lubinsky
New York…”Passover is definitely in the air,” a Brooklyn food distributor said as he surveyed the aisles of one of his customers. He and two workers were stocking two aisles with Pesach groceries as the manager was covering one register for customers already buying foods to get a head start on cooking for Passover. Most retailers throughout the country are by now into the Passover season. In Cedarhurst LI, Gourmet Glatt has opened a special Passover store directly across from their year-round store. In recent years, a number of stores opened the separate stores. The Orthodox Union opened its annual special Web site, www.oupassover.com, featuring laws of Passover, holiday recipes, cleaning tips, and informative articles. The site compliments the OU’s popular Passover guide. Most of the other major kashrus agencies also publish special guides for the holiday as well as special features on their Web sites. The cRc in Chicago this year published a 56-page guide that was available in both a hard copy and in a downloadable version. A Kosher Today reader wrote: “I cannot believe the number of recipes that are available this year on-line.” As an example, she cited food writer Eileen Goltz who is out with many recipes for the holiday, including one for pizza.
While most industry sources are predicting a record year for sales of Passover foods, the number of people relying on assistance from Jewish charity has grown significantly, according to the Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty. SuperValu (with stores like Jewel’s, Albertson’s and Acme) have teamed up with Manischewitz (Rokeach and Mother’s products are included) in a charity drive to help the United Soup Kitchens in Israel, according to Yakov Yarmove. Manischewitz now has OU-P whole wheat matzah meal and whole wheat matzah farfel, both made from Manischewitz OU-P whole wheat matzah. In fact, the SuperValu stores are offering a free 5lb. box of matzoh with the purchase of $50 or more of Passover products. The OU now certifies Aviv, Osem, Yehuda, and Rishon matzah products from Israel as well as the Yanovsky bakery in Argentina. The Matzah can be washed down with OU-P Coca Cola which will again be available in 2 liter bottles with its distinctive yellow caps. And for those who may be wondering, Barton’s is back this year after a one-year hiatus.
New York…by Eda Kram…As supermarkets around the country open their Passover 2010 sets, consumers will find an unprecedented array of new foods and wines that will make this holiday “more interesting than in recent years,” according to one source. Many of the new products are designed to bring the Passover taste closer to that of year-round items while others are simply meant to add the broad array of items already available for Pesach. There is also an emphasis on healthier products. In its exclusive annual review, Kosher Today looks at an impressive list (that is far from complete) designed to preview what is being described as “one of the most exciting groups of new products in a long time.”
This year’s list of new products includes many new sauces, condiments and oils for Passover. They include Leiber‘s Macadamia Oil, Taanug Olive Oil Spray (Lantev Distribution Corp.), Gefen Sauerkraut and Chrayonnaise, Chili Sauce, Mustard, and Spicy Ketchup from Blanchard; 100% Fruit Spreads (no sugar added and in a variety of flavors- from Beit Yitzhak, Israel), Ein Harod’s Pure Honeys in 5 varieties, and Tishbi Wine Jellies and Preserves (upscale line of wine jellies and preserves by Oshra Tishbi, available in such varieties as: Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet; as well as Fruit and Wine Preserves combinations such as Strawberry Merlot, Apple Cabernet, and Passion Fruit).
In the category of drinks, juices and sauces are such new items as Chamomile Peppermint and Senna Leaf Tea (Taanug), Lemon Juice and Apple Sauce (Mishpacha), Clover Honey Squeeze Bear (Manischewitz), Gift set ofWissotzky line of teas (now distributed by Kedem), and Kedem’s new Peach and Blush Grape Juice flavors. There are many new soup related items on the shelves this year, including Osem Mini Crouton Soup Mandel, Telma Reduced Sodium Chicken Consomme Mix and Telma Reduced Sodium Chicken Consomme Cube, and Halperin Jerusalem Matzah Ball Mix and Kneidle Mix. In prepared foods, Osem introduces its Mashed Potatoes N Onion, Streits is out with its Quinoa Original and with Garlic, and Sugat (one of its many interesting products which are distributed by Osem) introduces its White Quinoa Royal, and Savion Falafel Mix.
While more and more supermarkets sell Shmura Matzohs, the shelves will be decked with all kinds of new Matzah and Matzah related products, including Holyland Handmade Shmura Matzah, Halperin Jerusalem Egg and Whole Wheat Matzah, Yehuda Mini Matzah, Streits Oat Matzah, Osem Whole Wheat Israeli Matzah, Negev Matzah, Aviv’s Whole Wheat Original, Mini Egg, Mini Egg N Garlic, Mini Egg N Onion, Egg, Egg N Onion, Egg N Garlic, Honey, and Wheat Bran and Rye Matzos, Halperin’s 18-Minute Matzah Farfel, Halperin Jerusalem Cake Meal, Streits Spelt (part of an increased number of spelt Passover items), Matzo Meal, Whole Wheat, Original and Cake Meal, Manischewitz Matzo Farfel . Yehuda Matzo Crackers and Yehuda Mini Matzo. Streit and Gefen are out with Chow Mein Noodles, as well as a thin and medium version of all-natural, Gluten Free and Chow Mein Noodles.
There are many additions for breakfast and desserts, including Gefen’s Honey & Fruity Flavored Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, and Chocolate Flavored Cheerios, Savion’s Crispy-O’s Fat-Free Frosted, Sugat’s line of baking products include Baking Powder, Imitation Vanilla Extract Sugar, Sesame Seeds Hulled, Coconut Flakes Sweetened, Glick‘s Chocolate and Vanilla Cookies and Glick‘s Chocolate Brownie Cookie, Klein’s new Viennese Ice Cream Cake, Zelda’s Sweet Shoppe’s Chocolate Chip Mandel breit, Cinnamon Almond mandel breit, Chocolate dipped vanilla meringues ,Vanilla meringues Raspberry Jelly slice, Apricot Jelly slice, Chocolate Dipped macaroons and Chocolate Chiffon cakes
In the meat and fish category, Abeles & Heymann (now of Super Bowl fame) is introducing a Premium Sliced Turkey line and Smoked Turkey Mini Sausages. Remember Season? They’re back with their 100% Premium Quality Solid White Albacore Tuna, available in both water and olive oil. Also back are many new items from Haddar, a brand that used to be a basic staple on Passover and was recently reintroduced by new ownership.
In the sweets department for both adults and kids are a number of new products from Mishpacha, including a new line of macaroons (Coconut, Chocolate and Chocolate Chip), Grab n’ go all-natural apple sauces, lemon juice, and delicious pineapple products, Magic Max Cotton CandySoft and Fluffy, Magic Max Pink Cotton Candy, Manischewitz Dark Chocolate Almond Bark, BBM’s Swiss Selection Premium Chocolate, and from Streit’s- Lollypops in Assorted Flavors, Peach Yogurt Hard Candy, Strawberry Hard Candy, Butterscotch Hard Candy and Cappuccino Hard Candy, Chocolate & Coconut Macaroon in Travel Pack, Streit’s Raspberry Jelly Rings, Savion Marshmallow Cream, Elite’s variety of flavored Lentils, Mini Chocolate Mixes and a Milk Mekupelet Bar, Carmit has new Chocolate Balls in Dairy, Pareve and White Chocolate, Gedilla Ice Cream Cups - gluten-free alternative to the traditional ice cream cone and Klein’s Premium Sorbet Lemon in a Quart and Pint size.
In addition to foods, many new novelty items will be on sale in time for the holiday. They include Kar-Ben’s three new Passover Haggadahs for families, Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah; Sammy Spider leads the Passover Seder,
Rite Lite’s Passover Pleasers (child friendly cookbook), My Passover Haggadah (for the youngest of children), and Melamine Childrens Plate.
(Please note that the Passover Wine Review will be in our March 8th edition.)
By Menachem Lubinsky
Jerusalem…by Idele Ross, KT Israel Bureau Chief…Israel‘s supermarkets will find keeping their stores free of chametz a little easier this year. Rabbi Yona Metzger, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, announced the introduction of a digital barcode system which indicates that a product is chametz at the checkout counter and is thus prohibited from being sold during the Passover holiday. The new technology was introduced at a world conference of rabbis and community leaders held last month in Jerusalem. The Chief Rabbi also instructed kosher for Passover hotels to use disposable dishes for room service during the week long holiday. Rabbi Metzger is urging hotels to start using disposable plates and flatware for room service as much as a week before the holiday begins.