Name a country and one of the first things that comes to mind is the local cuisine. Italy is synonymous with pasta and basil, France has its baguettes and cheese, and what would Spain be without its famous tapas? However, for the Kosher Traveler, the thought of local cuisine in a foreign country doesn’t always elicit such a positive response. Often times, after a long day spent marveling at the beauties of a small village in Andalusia or a large city like Paris, the Kosher Jet-setter often finds himself longing for a simple meal in a local tavern, only to be confronted by walls of pork. And of course, when you do find a kosher restaurant, it’s often an over-priced imitation of Israeli food that you might as well have made at home.
There are, of course, a number of creative solutions. I visited Spain recently for research purposes and had very few kosher options at my disposal. With a little creativity and foresight though, I managed to eat fantastically. There were meals of delicate ceviche, fresh salads, wraps, the best tuna salad ever made and even soup made in an electric kettle! With a few simple ingredients, one can transform a hotel kitchenette into a mini gastronomic experience (see recipes below).
However, most people find that meticulously planning ahead, bringing dry goods and a pot and pan in their suitcase and dealing with local kosher certification is less than ideal. Indeed, washing a fishy cutting board in a hotel bathroom sink using their tiny bottles of soap is one of the more frustrating experiences life has to offer. Most Jews I know travel to get far, far from their own kitchen. In fact, most Jewish Mothers I speak to tell me that their idea of a perfect vacation is one where they don’t have to set foot in a kitchen. And at the end of the day, most Glatt Kosher Globetrotters still don’t get to experience the fresh pasta of Italy, the vinegar-cured sardines and spicy olive oil of Spain, or the exquisite French pastries.
Kosher Culinary Adventures was born to fill this culinary void. It started off rather innocuously--chef Avicam Gitlin was invited to Italy to cook for friends and family. The guests loved getting such an authentic travel experience, and he loved the challenge of sourcing the best kosher products and creating local dishes. Kosher Culinary Adventures has now expanded to include cycling trips in Tuscany (as well as regular vacations there), Spain, and Provence, and will be adding Greece and Croatia to its repertoire this summer. We specialize in using the freshest local ingredients and years of culinary know-how, to create menus that are authentic, delicious, and best of all, KOSHER!
For those of you who will be traveling and keeping kosher, we have a great recipe for a ceviche that can be made in your hotel room. The only equipment you need is a cutting board, bowl, and knife. This recipe was inspired by a desire to create a colorful, simple appetizer that incorporated different textures--crunchy, bright red, sweet and sour beets, a fresh, white, slightly chewy fish, and a smooth, creamy, green avocado puree.
For those of you who just want a recipe to wow your guests at a shabbat meal, we have a slow-braised asado recipe. Asado is a popular cut of meat in Israel. It’s a short-rib cut, highly flavorful and full of delicious fat, which makes it wonderfully succulent and tasty. it works best when braised for long periods of time. We made ours with pomegranate juice and garlic, and served it with fried disks of polenta and a mushroom-fig ragu.
**All photos courtesy of Bracha Arnold and Nechama Jacobson**