Food as Art: Chanukah in Style

Some old friends invited us over to their place for a Chanukah party. Now, as many of you may know, the traditional food for this occasion is potato latkes. These are basically shredded potato and onion deep fried. Like any fried thing, if fresh, they can be tasty.

Now bear in mind that I didn’t do any of the excellent cooking depicted below. The hostess of this party has always been an amazing cook, and this was a collaborative effort between many members of her family. I brought the wine.

Four different kinds of latkes were made (details below). This is the batter from the cheesy one. My one cooking contribution was to fold in the whipped egg whites. This is basically blintz filling.

Some frying. Latkes are usually pan fried.

The wine. Given that applesauce and the like are traditional latkes accompaniments, I brought a very fine sweet Riesling. Parker gave the 2008 a 95, but the 2009 hasn’t been reviewed yet by him. But I have some notes: “Sweet mineral and hay notes, with defined notes of fresh cut grass, honeysuckle, and lemon drop, are apparent in the intense perfume of the Wehlener Auslese. The bitter yet sweet flavors of citrus peel and white pepper enrapture the palate, while sweet lychee and melon notes become pronounced on the mid-palate, opening and expanding with the wine’s rich and nearly searing minerality. Yet this is a rich and creamy example of Auslese, its bold concentration and grip becoming more apparent on the back palate. Lingering cherry and apricot flavors are spent savorily on the minute long finish. This wine promises to take its place with the many of its ilk on the high-90s rating panel!”

Then one of my all time favorite wines, The M Chapoutier ‘Ermitage Le Pavillon. It always scores between 95-100. “Year in and year out, one of the three greatest Hermitages made is Chapoutier’s Le Pavillon. The 2001 Ermitage Le Pavillon exhibits a saturated ruby/purple color as well as a big, sweet nose of camphor, ink, creme de cassis, and hints of licorice as well as smoke. Although dense, rich, and full-bodied, the 2001 reveals more acidity in its delineated, nervous personality. Unquestionably great and intense, it will be less charming and precocious than its 2000 sibling. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2030. (I disagree, but Michel Chapoutier feels his finest three Le Pavillons to date have been 1991 followed by 1995 and 2000. I retain a preference for the glorious trilogy of 1989, 1990, and 1991.)”

Classic potato, but made totally from scratch.

On the left are the carrot latkes, and the right sweet potato. Personally, I thought both superior to the classic, but i’m not a huge potato fan. These were both awesome. Some of the sweet potato ones had nuts in them, which i liked.

The cheese latkes, made with the batter shown above. Raisons were mixed in. These were delectable, tasting like blintz filling, with a nice light fully ricotta flavor. Personally, I found them to be a bit reminiscent of a recipe from Apicius where the Romans mixed ricotta, herbs, lightly fried it, and drizzled it in honey.

Top shelf condiments. Two sorts of sour cream, two hand made apple sauces (from two apple types) and strawberry jam. Latkes go well with sweetness, cuts the fat.

A blend of various chilies, in case the above is just too sweet and mild.

This was an amazing salad. It had a bit of everything in it, and was delicious.

Two homemade deserts. The hostess makes the most incredible deserts. On the left is a praline cheesecake, and on the right is a bavarian cream tart.

All that needed an expresso.

4 comments on “Food as Art: Chanukah in Style

  1. Irene Dunn Gavin says:

    Looks delicious. My only Latkes this season were stone cold and dead on the plate. I could make my own, but there the potatoes sit. Wish I could have been there. xoxo

  2. Andy, wonderful review. I want to follow your food and wine writing, so I am subscribing.

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