Rosh Hashanah 2013/5774 Simanim and Elvi Ness Blanco
Rosh Hashanah (literally translated ”head of the year”) has come and gone again (Wednesday Night – September 4th, 2013), and once more I am reminded that it is a holiday that is more about your relationship with God than your gastronomic relationship with friends and family. Yes of course it is not a fast day like Yom Kippur, of course, but still the frivolity needs to be toned down a bit, and the attention placed on the fact that we are all being judged at this time of the year. So with that frame of mind, yeah too many early morning Selichot Services kind of kill the mood, my wife and I set out to make our menu and meals.
This year we gave the hosting task to friends of ours, and it was quite awesome! Like two years ago, (sorry I bailed on writing up RH last year), we had the same simanim (literally translated to “signs”), except that we made few of them, as we were eating out. The simanim are a play on word and are a very basic Jewish tradition of using word play to bring out symbolism and actual changes or good tidings. The simanim are a yearly rite of passage, and one of my favorite Jewish traditions. Many of the recipes have been changed to protect the innocent. The customary recipes from my mother recipes consist of 4 basic ingredients, oil, more oil, honey, and some vegetable, and one cooking style – frying. We decided that this tradition was awesome, but that it needed to be toned down such that it could be enjoyed for years to come and not just for the few where we are vertical. So it called for some baking and less oil. This year, as stated above, we were at our dear friends home, who are Ashkenazi, so we had a slightly modified order, but otherwise, much is the same:
- Sweet apples dipped in honey
- The symbolism here is that God should grant us a New Year as sweet as honey
- Instead of butternut squash or gourd, our hosts made a beautiful display item! They took small yellow squashes – tiny yellow bell shaped summer squashes, cored, and then filled with a salad of quinoa, summer squash, mushrooms, and onions – just lovely!! A feast for the eyes and palate! (Kra in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should tear up our evil decrees and read before him our merits
- Leeks – prepared masterfully by our hosts. She took whole wheat cups and filled them with a mixture of sauteed leeks and others things that I forget now, but they made for a lovely and stunning dish (Karti in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should cut down our enemies
- Spinach – prepared masterfully by our host again, but not with spinach but rather beets (Salka in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should remove our enemies
- Black eyed peas (Rubya in Aramaic)
- The symbolism here is that God should increase our merits
- Pomegranate seeds (Rimon in Hebrew)
- The symbolism here is that our mitzvot (observance of the Jewish laws) be as plentiful as the pomegranate seeds
- Dates or Figs (Tamar in Hebrew)
- The symbolism here is that God should end our enemies
- Fish head – Salmon head poached in white wine and water
- The symbolism here is that in this New Year we should be at the head of the class and not at the tail
After the LOVELY simanim, we enjoyed roasted fish, BL’s world famous teriyaki pasta, vegetables, and other things that I gobbled up, but forget now (this is what happens when I slack off on my blog)!
Thanks so much to our hosts – may BL and ML and your entire family have a year filled with joy and happiness and success! The wine we enjoyed throughout the meal was the 2009 Elvi Ness Blanco, with enough residual sugar to make for a sweet but balanced year!
The wine note follows below:
2009 Elvi Ness Blanco – Score: B++
This is the second iteration of this wine (2008 was the first year for this unique belnd). This wine is a 50/50 Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc blend, one that is not very common to me. The first time I tasted this wine, a few years ago, the wine was showing far more Sauvignon Blanc than the Moscato. Now, the wine is showing far more of the Moscato and the honeyed nose and mouth are screaming with pineapple and melon. The nose on this gold colored wine is screaming with rich honey, mango, fig, bright citrus, pear, melon, pineapple, floral notes, smoky toast, with a nice sweet and bright/tart nose to boot. The mouth on this full bodied wine is off dry to semi-sweet with more rich honey, bright citrus, pineapple, melon, mango, and pear. The mid palate is bright and acidic with toast, dirt, floral notes, honey, and fig. The finish is super long and spicy with rich mango, honey, pineapple, green tea, and toast. This is quite a unique wine and one I really enjoyed.