Photo by Frederick Turko
Candle flames dance in frosted windows. The smell of perfectly braised brisket curls through the air. Whether you’re familiar or new to Hanukkah, a well-loved Jewish holiday, the event gives you eight chances to throw a great night of feasting. If you’re hosting your own party — be you goyim or one of The Chosen — we’re here to help with tips on latkes and local goods galore.
As the story goes, when the Maccabees, a small band of fighters, reclaimed their temple after a battle, they found only enough oil to light their lamp for one night, but — a miracle! — the oil lasted for eight nights. Thus, foods fried in oil are a must for the occasion.
Make latkes the focal point of your party, setting up a latke bar with various ingredients, from potatoes to beets to parsnips. Make them on the smaller side, about 2 inches in diameter, to give guests a chance to try a bite or two of everything (and be sure to keep back-ups waiting on a rack in the oven). Then bring on the toppings! For the traditional, there’s sour cream and applesauce. Try Agriberry’s Raspberry Blush Applesauce, a sweet blend of apples and red raspberries. Take latkes to the next level with shaved horseradish, shredded brisket, smoked salmon, salmon roe, poached eggs, pickles and chutney. Adding lox? Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market cures some in-house.
But man cannot live on latkes alone, so bookend your latke bar with a bubbling brisket (order a variety of kosher meats via the Rudlin Torah Academy’s pickup service), and don’t forget a mountain of jelly-filled Country Style Donuts. Add a fresh radish salad and lemony roasted Brussels sprouts to brighten the table. And give your old gelt an upgrade with Chocolates by Kelly’s Bittersweet Meltaways.
For decorations, the Weinstein JCC sets up a holiday marketplace with all the Hanukkah ephemera you can imagine. It’s the best place in Richmond to buy everything from candles to a sun visor that says, “Bubbe rules the Mah Jongg table.”
But Hanukkah isn’t just about the feast; with eight potential days of gifting, give your friends and family a chance to give back by setting up a canned food or toy collection box and make your party an opportunity for guests to share the love.
WEB EXTRA: Try your hand at contributor Stephanie Ganz's latkes, recipe here.