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.
Zooming for Challah
Thank you to The Jewish Week’s Food and Wine for running my story, “Zooming for Challah.” The internet has been popping with real-time challah baking sessions since shelter in place began. These free pre-Shabbat meet ups nourish a hunger for recipes, relief, rituals, and relationships. Despite nationwide yeast and flour shortages, longtime bakers and novicesRead more ›
Celebrate the First Shabbat After Passover with a Shlissel Challah
Hasidic communities mark the first Shabbat after Passover with a special challah as they transition back to the world of chametz. They shape the first post-Passover Shabbat challah into a key. The key, or shlissel as it is called in Yiddish, is meant to symbolize openings, passageways, and transition. Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro of Kovitz (b.Read more ›
Atayef: Double Fried Filled Pancakes for Chanukah
Aka Ataïf, atayif, qata’if, qatayif, katayef, these pancakes may be filled with nuts or also prepared with cheese fillings for Chanukah or Shavuot. They are also popular at weddings spread with cream and rose petal jam or simply topped with pistachios or almonds. This recipe guides you through a nut stuffed option. Read my storyRead more ›
Panettone for Breakfast?
While we tend to think of panettone as a Christmas bread, Jewish food writer Edda Servi Machlin shared this version of panettone from her childhood experiences in Italy of eating it for breakfast. She provides an authentic yet simpler process than most panettone recipes and a very tasty one at that. Enjoy it whenever youRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Ambasha (aka Himbasha, Hambasha) Ethiopian Wedding Bread
- Boulou: North African Orange Bread
- Challah Dough for Shaping
- Cheese Babka Recipe
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Chronicles: Inventions & Elections
- Kaak: Recipe for Crunchy Yeast Biscuits
- Lachuch (aka Lahoh or Lahuh): A Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- Los Siete Cielos or Seven Heaven Challah Recipe
- Other Wedding Bread Customs
- Pan de Calabaza: Pumpkin Challah
- Panettone for Breakfast?
- Recipe for Dabo: Ethiopian Pan Cooked Shabbat Bread
- Recipe for Fancy Shapes in Dough: Shaping Dough
- Saluf (aka Salouf or Saloof): Recipe for a Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- Seeking A Shikker Challah
- What is the Chocolate Babka Project?
- What's a Key (shlissel) Challah?
- What? No Babka at Catskills Hotels? *
- Yeast Raised Khachapuri Recipe
- Yemarina Yewotet Dabo: Ethiopian Honey Bread