Passover-Inspired Celebrations and Drinks

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The Sipping Seder’s ‘maror’ cocktail.

This year, Passover begins at sundown on Monday April 18th, and there are lots of choice spots for fare to befit the holiday. Check out the drink ideas below, too.

On Wednesday April 20th, guest chef Joyce Goldstein will team up in the kitchen with ~PERBACCO~ chef/co-owner Staffan Terje to serve a menu of traditional Jewish cooking, Italian-style. The recipes are inspired by Goldstein’s cookbook Cucina Ebraica, and it’s gonna be a special, enjoyable meal. Here’s a sample of just a fraction of the menu: haroset; family-style antipasti with fegato di anatra alle uova sode (chopped duck liver, Italian-style) and carciofi alla Giudia (crispy fried artichokes, Jewish-style); first course with brodo con polpette e uova per Pesach (Passover soup with chicken dumplings and eggs) or zuppa di porri (leek soup with mushrooms and potatoes); second course with spigola con salsa di rabarbero (sea bass with rhubarb sauce) or stufato d’agnello (lamb stew with green garlic); contorni for the table with finocchio alla Giudia (braised fennel, Jewish-style) and stufato di fave, carciofi, e lattuga (spring stew of fava beans, artichokes, and lettuce); and family-style dolci with pan di spagna alle nocciole (Passover hazelnut sponge cake) and torta di noce (walnut cake). $49/person.

~FIREFLY~ will serve Passover-inspired dishes à la carte from April 18th through April 26th, including traditional favorites like homemade gefilte fish with bi-color horseradish, chopped chicken livers, matzo ball soup, and braised beef brisket with root vegetable tzimmes, as well as more modern offerings showcasing California’s springtime abundance. Call 415-821-7652 or go online for reservations.

~PALIO D’ASTI~ will be merging traditional lamb and kid dishes with an array of historic Italian Jewish offerings appropriate for the Passover holiday April 18th-23rd. The changing roster of daily specials will feature snapper, suckling lamb, and baby kid, along with an emphasis on spring chicken and farm fresh eggs. Spring at Palio D’Asti is also about artichokes, asparagus, peas, favas, spring onions, strawberries, and rhubarb from the garden (it’s a good time to order the rhubarb margarita from the seasonal cocktail list). And then there’s dessert, which includes buttermilk and pistachio pudding with rhubarb compote; Watsonville strawberry pie with whipped cream; devil’s food chocolate cake with dulce di leche hazelnut sauce and candied orange; housemade cookies, truffles, biscotti, gelato, sorbet; an assortment of Italian cheeses; and five seasonal flavors of Amedei organic chocolates, a Palio San Francisco exclusive.

In a melding of traditions, ~DELFINA~ will offer special items during the week of Passover inspired by the holiday and spring. The à la carte items (not necessarily kosher) will change throughout the week and may include dishes like brisket in one of a variety of ways, carciofi alla Giudia, poached bass with gelatina and walnut sauce, veal tongue dolce-forte, risi bisi, Passover ribollita, or an edible Seder plate with farm egg salad, Ancona-style haroset, and lamb shank ciccioli crostini. And, every night will feature the Stoll family recipe matzo ball soup (with walnuts in the middle). More here.

~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~ will be serving a special Seder dinner on Monday April 25th to celebrate Passover. Chef Ron Silverberg will be making modern twists on traditional Jewish dishes, including house-smoked salmon gefilte fish with beet and horseradish cream; matzo ball soup with spring vegetables; pan-seared local halibut with a cauliflower purée, English peas, sweet potato fritter, haroset relish; and roast chicken with matzo hash and asparagus. The dinner is four courses and $55/person, excluding tax and gratuity.

If you’re having Seder dinner at home, consider picking up some of the special items being offered at ~THE PASTA SHOP: FOURTH STREET~ and ~THE PASTA SHOP: ROCKRIDGE MARKET HALL~. Customer favorites available Saturday April 16th-Tuesday April 19th include the housemade charoset; housemade horseradish (it’s a brilliant red, made from horseradish and beet); Scott’s famous chopped liver; matzo ball soup; zucchini, potato, and carrot kugel; and gefilte fish. Plus you can get several types of matzo (traditional, chocolate-covered, whole wheat, organic, egg and matzo meal); kosher chocolate-dipped orange peels, marshmallows; Passover wine; Concord sparkling grape juice; and the challah is always made fresh daily. Some ready-made foods will include Moroccan chicken in sweet and spicy tomato sauce ($12.95/lb.); Niman Ranch brisket with braised vegetable reduction ($23.95/lb.); and flourless chocolate mousse squares ($4.95). You can also order online.

Not in the East Bay? Bakeries such as ~EMPORIO RULLI~ in Larkspur and ~NOE VALLEY BAKERY~ in San Francisco will also carry holiday items. ~ARIZMENDI BAKERY~ (multiple locations) is now selling wheat-free, chocolate-covered, coconut macaroons for Passover, available by the piece or box.

Over in the drinks department, San Francisco-based ~DISTILLERY NO. 209~ is offering a kosher-for-Passover gin, aptly named No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin ($37.99) and available locally at Cotogna restaurant and stores such as PlumpJack Wines, Cask, Blackwell’s, M&M Market, and more. It uses a sugarcane base rather than the prohibited corn vodka, is hand-fashioned using natural botanicals, and is distilled five times. Here are a couple recipes for you:

The Seder Sour
(Created by Jordan Mackay. Besides being kosher for Passover, this cocktail incorporates several of the flavors and symbols of the Seder meal.)

1.5 oz. No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin
0.5 oz. Warmed honey
Dash of kosher for Passover horseradish
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tiny pinch of kosher salt
Soda water

Add all the ingredients into a mixing tin. Either shake or stir the contents without ice to make sure the honey dissolves into the solution. Add crushed ice, cover, and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass, top with a dash of soda water, and garnish with a sprig of parsley.

The Clover Club Cocktail
(Adapted by Gamliel Kronemer of The Jewish Week)

1/4 cup No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. Kedem raspberry syrup
1 egg white

Place all of the ingredients, with ice, into a cocktail shaker, and shake well for at least a minute. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

For more Passover-inspired cocktail recipes, Rob Corwin and Danny Jacobs just put out a new project called The Sipping Seder—it’s their interpretation of the traditional Passover meal as a cocktail list based on classic inspirations and a bit of modern mixology. Sure, they may have taken an irreverent spin to things, but they did put a lot of serious thought into the cocktail recipes that represent parts of the Seder, like maror, chazeret, and charoset. This labor of love required extensive research, planning, and numerous taste tests, and they hope you enjoy the results.

L’chaim!