Plan B: Swiss Chocolate for Rosh HaShanah
After trying for weeks to get confirmation for our Rosh HaShanah reservation at the Pines in Fire Island–to pray in a new setting, to be with friends, to be at the beach, to have a break–we decided we had better go to our fall back option: Switzerland!
So it was chocolate that ultimately escorted us into Rosh HaShanah. Until the last two days of the Hebrew month of Elul, the final days of the old Jewish year 5770, my personal preparation for the High Holy Days had included private meditations, some journalling, daily chanting of Psalm 27’s Achat Shealti, and an online shofar blowing every morning.
Then chocolate took over.
The 28th and 29th of Elul brought us to Zurich where multiple chocolate opportunities finished off the year: beautiful, even snobby, chocolate shops of Teuscher, Sprungli, Schober, Truffe; four chocolate factories Camille Bloch, Halba, Maestrani and Cailler; multiple samples, freebies and purchases garnished the month’s meltdown into Tishrei with Yom Tov candle lighting on Wednesday evening. Appropriately Mark and I toasted Rosh HaShana with a grappa filled chocolate after kiddush at the Reform shul in Zurich. An interview with CEO, Daniel Bloch, and tour at Camille Bloch, a third generation family owned company, was certainly a highlight.
The local supermarket chain, Coop, displays a huge chocolate assortment.
The Halba and Maestrani factory stores offered great prices, but one of the Maestrani hazelnut bars contained rancid nuts. Very disappointing.
Mark’s Nisus work contact in Zurich, novelist and screenwriter, Anne Cuneo, pointed out a couple of chocolate places we would not have otherwise found, lamenting however, that none of them really have good chocolate anymore. It was a little like the old joke about the synagogues you don’t attend: this chocolate store is no good, that one is too expensive, that one used to be good, this one could be better, leaving us respecting her discernment but salivating for the good stuff. Instead, we settled for drinks because she just could not bring herself to patronize her beloved Schober chocolate store, recalling the former higher quality when the two sisters, now very advanced in age, who ran it after their father had, prepared everything in the back, and shared specialties with her.
Several people we met in Switzerland confessed to me that they do not like chocolate, yet Camille Bloch’s largest market is in Switzerland. And, several volunteered to us that they hate Hershey. (I had read something of the competition between Swiss milk chocolate and American Hershey milk chocolate–very different formulations, which was not so easy to develop in either case, and clearly strong opinions.)
Our decision to be at home in NYC for Yom Kippur with Noam and Rachel was most importantly about being with family. Had we stayed in Switzerland, avoiding the chocolate, plus the ubiquitous plum tart, (similar to our favorite family recipe but certainly not as good) would have been very difficult. As it was, I did a lot of atoning at Yom Kippur for all the chocolate, the cheese and the plum tart I had eaten in Switzerland.
Los Siete Cielos or Seven Heaven Challah Recipe
Los Siete Cielos or Seven Heaven Bread Adapted from Rabbi Robert Sternberg’s The Sephardic Kitchen: The Healthful Food and Rich Culture of the Mediterranean Jews Yield: one large bread Allow time for the shaping of the various elements of this challah and enjoy the anise flavored liqueur in the dough. INGREDIENTS: 1 teaspoon plus 1Read more ›
Cheese Babka Recipe
CHEESE BABKA RECIPE Adapted from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes Yield: One large cake DOUGH 1 tablespoon active dry yeast Pinch sugar ¼ cup warm water (105º to 115º) ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted ¼ cup sugar 1 ½ teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ½ teaspoon almond extract ¾Read more ›
A Shikker Challah
When I saw this recipe calling for brandy in challah, I had to try it. Liquor seemed such an unlikely ingredient for a challah. Titled “Chaleh I,” it seemed to have been a standard Shabbat bread in the collection of over 1600 recipes previously published in the Forward and gathered by Regina Frishwasser (“editor recipeRead more ›
What? No Babka at Catskills Hotels? *
The borscht belt must have been a babka belt. When thinking of chocolate babka, the Catskills came to my mind given the immense quantities of meichelach treats overflowing the tables there in the 1940’s-60’s. Babka must have been ingrained in the Jewish palate then, as it is now, I figured. Surprisingly, my search through several historiesRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- A Chocolate Cake for October's Tricks: Devil's Food
- Announcing Second Edition: On the Chocolate Trail
- Book Optioned: Museum Exhibit
- Celebrating Ice Cream Month with Chocolate
- Choco-Travel Tips
- Chocolate Exhibit Hits the New York Times
- Chocolate Trail Broadens: "Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate" Travels
- How About Some Mindful Chocolate Tasting?
- Is that coffee or chocolate?
- Jews on the Chocolate Trail
- Launching The Chocolate Babka Project
- Lunch & Learn: Central Synagogue
- Lunch and Learn: Tasting the Best Chocolate
- Mothers and Survival by Chocolate
- On the Chocolate Trail in Belize’s Jungle
- Talking Chocolate in February
- Warm Up: 3 Historical Drinking Chocolate Recipes