Archive for January, 2010

San Francisco Food Show…Mmm Good!

From Sherry Jonas, Challah Connection Director of Customer Service

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA. There is a summer show, held here in New York which, from our global headquarters in Westport, CT, is an easy day trip. But San Francisco is a commitment. People might wonder why we bother going to the West coast when we see so many wonderful vendors in our own backyard here in NYC. We go because we are constantly seeking out new and exciting kosher products that meet our high standards – delicious, the best in their class, and certified kosher by an appropriate Vaad.

San Francisco was typically wintery – gray and damp. But inside the Moscone Center was a completely different story! Produced by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) since 1955, the Fancy Food Shows are North America’s largest specialty food and beverage marketplace. The shows draw 1,300 – 2,500 exhibitors showcasing 250,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic, kosher and more. Eighty-one countries are represented by both the presenters and the 16,000 – 24,000 attendees who make their way (and their stomachs!) to these shows. I was thrilled to be one of them.

I went representing Challah Connection with some very specific goals in mind:
– Find Purim’s “Next Big Thing”!
– Find us delicious, exciting, ethnic AND kosher-certified foods.
Was I successful? Yes and no.

Our Purim gift baskets (shalach manot) will include some new and exciting confections and edibles – check out our website now for current offerings and in the coming weeks to see our new products. We are also working hard to bring you new and exciting reasons to celebrate – kosher breakfast baskets, healthy care packages, and new holiday goods. But one thing we are very excited about is new ethnic-centric baskets. We are pursuing kosher goods to offer you Indian, Italian, and Mediterranean gift baskets (to name but a few). Other items were harder to come by – not a lot of rabbis working in Japan & China, so not a lot of kosher Asian food products to choose from! But we’re working on it, so keep checking back!

Some of my new favorite finds? Creamy salmon pate from the Pacific Northwest, scrumptious stuffed grape leaves from the Mediterranean, soothing masala chai teas from northern California, succulent figs and dates from southern California, fluffy pancake mixes and right-from-the-tree maple syrup from New England, and delectable scones from the Midwest USA. My mouth is watering just thinking about all of the wonderful things we are currently sourcing for you!

Stick around! It pays to be a member of the Challah Connection family, where you’ll always eat well and send the best of the best – because we won’t settle for anything less!

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Challah Connection Supports Haiti Relief

Beginning today, January 20, we will be donating 10% of sales to the American Red Cross to support the people of Haiti who are suffering after last weeks earthquake.

american red cross logo

We hope you will support our efforts to send as much aid as possible. Shop NOW at Challah Connection and we will send 10% of your purchase to American Red Cross.

We encourage you to think creatively about gift giving. Is there someone you have been thinking of gifting but haven’t had a chance? Please consider to whom you can send a
kosher gift basket, shiva gift, kosher bakery gift, Jewish book or CD, Judaica, Gluten-free gift basket, Jewish Baby Gift, Kosher College Care Package, Jewish Birthday gift and more.

Shop NOW at Challah Connection.

We appreciate your support at this crucial time. Please tell your friends!

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner

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NY Times: “For Some, ‘Kosher Equals Pure”

Yesterday’s Dining section of the New York Times featured a story called “For Some, ‘Kosher’ Equals Pure.” I was certainly intrigued with this since as the owner of a kosher gift company, this is my domain–it almost felt like the story had been written with me in mind!

The first interesting aspect of the story was the dominant picture of 2 Muslim women shopping at Pomegranate, the fabulous kosher market in Brooklyn (I use the store as my own kosher food show). This was thrilling to me since we also have been embracing the Muslim market. Why not? Kosher and halal are not far apart.

The gist of the story is that since the 1990s when the Oreo became kosher and Con Agra bought Hebrew National hot dogs, the kosher food market has been increasing exponentially. According to the article, 40% of food sold in grocery stores has a kosher imprint. Further, in this $17 billion market, only 15% of buyers are buying for religious reasons. So, who is buying all of this kosher food? Everyone–Jews and non Jews. They aren’t just buying kosher chicken, they are buying all sorts of foods and beverages. And why are they buying kosher? Quality.

We have definitely seen this in action here at Challah Connection and Kosher Gift Box: about 50% of our sales are from non-Jewish people. While many of our non-Jewish customers are buying for their Jewish friends and colleagues, many of them love our “Jewish” food and like that it’s kosher. I have heard from our customers what the Times stated: many feel that kosher is of a higher quality.

Personally, I am not alway so sure about this, particularly regarding pareve (non dairy) items. I understand the need that some have for pareve, but you can’t convince me that the hydrogenated oil or soy bean oil that is used instead of butter can be good for you. I’m with Julia Child: butter is better.

Just today, I received an email from a happy customer who said “I’m not Jewish but I LOVE all this food and traditions!!! I’m trying to learn about other traditional foods and you guys do a great job with the recipes and all.”

If she’s happy, I’m happy.

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“Stuck” in the Kitchen With 3 Sons–How Bad Can it Be?

My son Harry is a high school senior and is applying to college. He specifically wants to go to art school. Unlike the rest of the family, he is an incredible artist. All but one of the schools he’s applying to require a portfolio of artwork. This one, Parsons School of Design in NY requires what they call, “The Parsons Challenge”. Basically, this exercise asks the applicant to observe some everyday aspect of their lives that has been overlooked and then to interpret it both visually and in written statements.

Well, it turns out that Harry is doing something that has to do with me, Challah Connection and baking—I guess. He hasn’t told me exactly what aspect of “me” he is focusing on but needless to say, I’m flattered that he feels I’m something of value that’s been unduly overlooked.

For the Challenge, he needs to take pictures of me baking challah. This past Saturday, was finally the day. However, instead of challah he approved a cinnamon bread recipe that we all really love and is much quicker then challah as it doesn’t require a sponge (45 minutes) or 2 risings and then a third after the braiding. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to go for a long walk in the frigid, but sunny weather. Being stuck in the kitchen all day hadn’t been my plan.

Well, I got the bread started and then my 2 others were beckoning me to make them French toast. It was a perfect moment to teach them how and to give them my favorite French toast recipe (key ingredients: challah, egg, milk, cinnamon, vanilla. Key cooking features: soak the challah REALLY well and saute in combination of butter and canola oil). They did a great job. Sam is now ready to go back to school and cook challah French toast for all of his housemates.

Then, the best laid plans: I took on 2 other cooking projects since I had the ingredients and wanted to use them before they went bad. Roasted root vegetables (just cut them up, place on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt & pepper. Roast till done.) and cabbage and noodles (in Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking) were next on my list. This was a great day of cooking, teaching my boys and a great walk with Sophie, the dog.

What wasn’t planned to be a cooking day turned out to be a great one!

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