Rosh Hashanah 2011/5772, Herb encrusted gefilte fish loaf, Sweet and Sour Brisket, Vegetable kugel, and many wines

Rosh Hashanah (literally translated ”head of the year”) has come and gone again (Wednesday Night – September 28th, 2011), 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 hosted the first meal. We invited friends and family and it was quite awesome! Like last year, we had the same simanim (literally translated to “signs”), except that we modified the way we make the leeks. 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.  This year we made all of the simanim, as our friends were laid up, but we had other friends staying over with us who helped us out, so it was no biggie. 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.  We ordered the symbolic food in the order of Sephardic Jewry, and here they are:

  1. Dates or Figs (Tamar in Hebrew)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should end our enemies
  2. Broad Beans coated with a mixture of olive oil, cumin, and garlic (Rubya in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should increase our merits
  3. Leeks – prepared masterfully by our stay over friends, leek fritters recipe found here(Karti in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should cut down our enemies
  4. Spinach – prepared masterfully by my wife using her spinach kugel recipe (Salka in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should remove our enemies
  5. Sweet Butternut Squash – sliced butternut squash, sprayed with oil and covered with honey, then baked in an oven set to 400 degrees (Kra in Aramaic)
    1. The symbolism here is that God should tear up our evil decrees and read before him our merits
  6. Pomegranate seeds (Rimon in Hebrew)
    1. The symbolism here is that our mitzvot (observance of the Jewish laws) be as plentiful as the pomegranate seeds
  7. Sweet apples dipped in honey
    1. The symbolism here is that God should grant us a New Year as sweet as honey
  8. Fish head – Salmon head poached in white wine and water
    1. The symbolism here is that in this New Year we should be at the head of the class and not at the tail

We always joke that we should try to bring out a head of a lamb instead of a fish head and freak out everyone there.  It would be totally epic, but while it is the preferred manner of implementing the head symbolism, it would fly in the face of “behaving”. The good news is that we did FAR better than last year on the wine parade, which was not too difficult!

The rest of the meal started with our reliable Herb encrusted gefilte fish loaf and simanim left over’s. The reason I really like this recipe is because while normal gefilte fish recipes tastes like bland boiled white fish, this recipe tastes like herb-encrusted fish that is lightly charred with the herb and spice flavors permeated through and through the fleshy texture – quite a treat. The main course consisted of our patented sweet and sour brisket, brown rice, vegetable kugel, and fresh vegetable salad. While the brisket recipe is normally rock solid, this one was far from perfect. Once again I am underwhelmed by South American whole Brisket. The US whole Brisket has a layer of fat that helps to baste the meat as the meat cooks slow and low in a 300 degrees oven. The South American whole Brisket is too lean, and lacks the self-basting fat. Further the meat is not marbled like the US whole Brisket, unfortunately, that was all that was available at the time.

Finally, for dessert our friend once again brought us a magnificent specimen – a tall apple cake, which was consumed in totality, and it was awesome! From my family to all of yours – May God write and seal you all in the book of life, one filled with good tidings, health, and happiness.

Now to the wine pairings and notes (yeah yeah – I will keep it low key). The meal started off with a bang when we opened an 18 year old Bordeaux that a friend brought over. Personally, I thought this wine had ZERO chance; we are talking 18 YEARS old. Well, I was wrong, the wine will win no awards, but it was fine and perfectly legal for Kiddush, it was smooth as ice, and tasted fine to boot. Sure it was old and brown, but it was NOT oxidized and not DOA. Next we opened a lovely bottle of Abarbanel Gewurztraminer, which tasted classic and was served chilled, which paired nicely with the herbed and slightly charred gefilte fish loaf. Finally, we paired the sweet and sour brisket and lovely vegetable kugel, with a bottle of Weinstock Napa Cabernet. Unfortunately, it was its usual “one-dimensional” self, with clear cedar notes and a full mouth with black fruit, but not enough concentration to keep your attention for long. That said, it paired well with the brisket and was still enjoyable.

The wine notes follow below:

2009 Abarbanel Gewurztraminer Estate – (France, Alsace, Alsace AOC) – Score: B++
The nose on this off light gold colored wine is hopping with rich honey, pear, litchi, citrus, toast, rich floral perfume, peach, spice, grapefruit, and fig. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was classic Gewurztraminer, with a rich honeyed and oily mouth, pear, litchi, toast, spice, and peach. The mid palate is balanced with acid, rich spices, honey, and fig. The finish is super long and spicy with rich spices coming to the surface more, nutmeg, crazy floral flavors, super rich honey, litchi, peach, Asian pear, and citrus to close the deal. This is a lovely semi-sweet wine that pairs well with many dishes, but extremely well with spicy Asian dishes, and Spanish or Mexican dishes as well.

1993 Château Notton – (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux) – Score: B++
I was not expecting anything from this wine – how many kosher 18 year old wines do you know that are drinkable – not many. So, when I opened the bottle I was sure it was going to be corked or DOA, instead, it smelled like lovely old wine, prune like in nature and dark mahogany in color. We poured it for kiddush and I was sure, I was making a mistake, and wondered if we could make a prayer on such wine, sure enough it was lovely, in its own way. Gone were the rich fruit you expect from a Marguax wine. Instead the nose on this dark mahogany colored wine was rich with tobacco, chocolate, oak, cherry, prune, garrigue, and dirt. Clearly the saving grace for this wine is its core acidity and tannin; yes the wine still had tannins, though quite soft and velvety now, along with rich cherry, raspberry, and more garrigue, oak, and tobacco. The mid palate was balanced with nice acidity, tannin, sweet oak, and chocolate. The finish is still long with licorice, chocolate, tobacco, raspberry, dirt, garrigue, sweet oak, and mint. This was a surprising wine, and one that was enjoyed by all.

2006 Weinstock Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Kosher – (USA, California, Napa County) – Score: B to B++
The nose on this garnet to black colored wine is hopping with rich sweet cedar, tobacco, chocolate, black pepper, blackberry, cassis, ripe plum, herbs, mint, and vanilla. The mouth on this rich and velvety wine is truly one dimensional, and that is its downfall. The wine may be a one-way street, but a nice one, the mouth is plush and velvety with rich cedar, integrated tannin, blackberry, ripe plum, cassis, and herbs. The mid palate is balanced with still nice acid, more nice tannin, chocolate, and sweet cedar. The finish is long and spicy with more sweet cedar, nice tannin, chocolate, leafy tobacco, and blackberry, ripe plum, and a nice dollop of vanilla. The vanilla, chocolate, plum, and tobacco linger long. While the wine is nice and all, there is not enough concentration or layers to keep you interested, drink up and enjoy.

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Why no Israeli wines may I ask ? You know there sre some very classy ones available.

  2. You remind me of Adam Montefiore, a truly passionate wine ambassador for Israeli wine. Yes, I would say the majority of wines I drink are from Israel, just not this meal. The next day’s meal I enjoyed a 2007 Galil Siraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, lovely wine that reminded me of another lovely Israeli wine – Alexander Winery Cabernet Reserve. Thanks again for your posts!

  1. Pingback: Crockpot Brisket, Vegetable kugel, Rice Pilaf, Fresh Salad, and 2009 Recanati Cabernet « Wine Musings Blog

  2. Pingback: Rosh Hashanah 2013/5774 Simanim and Elvi Ness Blanco | Wine Musings Blog

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