Few places are as synonymous with Jewish food as New York City. Manhattan's Lower East Side neighbourhood served as a culinary cauldron when it was home to the largest Jewish community in the world in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, blending centuries of diasporic gastronomic knowledge.
It was here that Jews with roots in modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia and Romania merged their spices and tastes with German and Hungarian Jews and their Gentile neighbours. This blending of recipes created Jewish-American cuisine as we know it today – think bagels with lox and schmear (cream cheese-based spreads), pastrami, matzo ball soup and loaves of freshly baked babka bread oozing with cinnamon or chocolate.
The Jewish culinary pioneers of the early 20th Century have created institutions that are must-see stops on any foodie's visit to the city. The stacks of pastrami at Katz's Delicatessen, the smoked whitefish of Barney Greengrass and bagels with lox and schmear from Russ & Daughters are legendary juggernauts.
But here we're highlighting the lesser-known denizens of Jewish food history and the new era of sandwich slingers who are maintaining New York City as the epicentre of Jewish-American cuisine.
1. Shalom Japan
Japanese and Jewish cuisine might not seem like natural partners. But it takes just one bowl of Shalom Japan's matzo ball ramen with garlicky chilli oil built on a foundation of chicken broth with char siu chicken, spring onions and nori to change anyone's mind. Suddenly, dishes like their lox bowl with sushi rice, ikura (salmon caviar), avocado, Japanese pickles, fried capers and chilli mayo make complete sense.
Married co-owners, Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi, play off their respective heritages to create a truly one-of-a-kind experience at this Williamsburg eatery. There's a chic izakaya (Japanese tavern) vibe marked with tasteful Jewish kitsch – like the photo from a 1960s ad showing a Japanese boy holding a sandwich next to a bag of Levy's Jewish Rye bread with a message reading, "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's real Jewish Rye".
Fortunately, travellers can now recreate their Shalom Japan experience at home through Israel and Okochi's cookbook, Love Japan: Recipes From Our Japanese American Kitchen.
For those in the know, the name Yonah Schimmel is synonymous with knish – the once-beloved Ashkenazi snack of baked dough stuffed with potatoes, kasha (buckwheat), onions and spices. These are hearty, dense snacks on-the-go with roots in the Pale of Settlement (modern-day Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Ukraine, eastern
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A recent visit to Governors Island came a few days after a conversation I’d had with my father in which he’d instructed me to act like a tourist in my own city. He’d started by asking simply how I was filling my summer weekends, and I answered honestly that most of my free time was spent reading in one park or another and going to bars in my Brooklyn neighborhood. “New York City,” he reminded me (with earnest intention to inspire, no righteousness detected), “has more things to do in it than you’ll be able to see in a lifetime.”
When you're after a beach in New York State, the glitz and glamor of the Hamptons and the old-school appeal of Coney Island – both in the vicinity of New York City – tend to steal the spotlight. But there are plenty more sandy havens to be found across the Empire State.
After 18 years of living in New York State, I’ve learned quite a bit about the country’s fourth-most populous state. From where to go and what to do, to what to eat and how to get around, here are some tips from a local on how to make the most of your visit to the Empire State.
The best way to visit New York City and Boston is through a unique experience designed for luxury travelers. The Mandarin Oriental is offering a 75-minute seaplane shuttle for two as part of a four-night package split between its properties in the two cities. It’s the ideal vacation for anyone who can afford one of the best view suites in each city, is eager to bypass the hassle of entering and exiting a major airport, and is up for the adventure of taking off and landing in the water while enjoying magnificent airplane views in between.
The beauty of New York State lies not just in its landmark attractions, but also in the places in between – the foliage-blanket hills of the Catskills , the serene stillness of the waters in the Finger Lakes and the silent strength of the peaks of the Adirondacks .
Manhattan’s Lower East Side has always been known for its gritty edge. This is the place where immigrants, arriving from Ellis Island and typically holed up in a tenement apartment, had their first view of New York, and indeed of their version of the ‘Great American Dream’. As a consequence, there is still a strong presence felt of a wide variety of different communities and cultures – from Jewish to Italian. In fact, at the crossroads with China Town, Little Italy and SoHo, you still feel as if you are in the heart of the city’s infamous melting pot which makes this city so diverse and exhilarating.
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