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.
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 ›
Kaak: Recipe for Crunchy Yeast Biscuits
Eat kaak all year round or save them for special celebrations, as do many communities of the Middle East and Sephardim (Jews descended from Spain). Kaak (kahk, ka’ak) are ubiquitous, multi-faith and multi-cultural doughy treats eaten throughout the Middle East where they take on regional flavors. In Arabic kaak means cake or baked good.The EgyptianRead more ›
Boulou: North African Orange Bread
Almost cake-like, though not a cake, this orange tinged bread enhances any holiday table. Read my story about diasporic Rosh Hashanah celebratory breads at the Jewish Week, “Beyond Challah and Honey.” Prep time: 2-2.5 hours Rising time: 40-45 minutes Baking time: 30 minutes Yield: 2 small loaves adapted from Jewish Food Experience, Leah Hadad INGREDIENTSRead more ›
Pan de Calabaza: Pumpkin Challah
This bread brings fall ingredients to your festive meals and reflects the longtime usage of pumpkin among Sephardi Jews. See the Jewish Week for my story about unusual Rosh Hashanah breads, “Beyond Challah and Honey: Rosh Hashanah Breads From Around the World.” Prep time: 30 minutes Rising time: 1 hour 45 minutes Baking time: 45Read more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- A Shikker Challah
- Ambasha (aka Himbasha, Hambasha) Ethiopian Wedding Bread
- Cheese Babka Recipe
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Chronicles: Inventions & Elections
- Is that coffee or chocolate?
- Lachuch (aka Lahoh or Lahuh): A Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- Los Siete Cielos or Seven Heaven Challah Recipe
- Lunch and Learn: Tasting the Best Chocolate
- On the Chocolate Trail in Belize’s Jungle
- Other Wedding Bread Customs
- Pan de Calabaza: Pumpkin Challah
- 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
- 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