Chai Praise: Oma & Bella, The Movie and The Cookbook

December 6th, 2012

image courtesy of


Oma, Momma, Bubby. No matter what you call her, and if you’re lucky enough to know one you’ll agree, Jewish grandmothers are something special.

My own version is a highly lovable Lenore Kirschenbaum shaped wisp, a prime player in many of my stories and a snowbird currently waiting out winter’s harshest months in a jam-packed condo on the outskirts of, where else, Boca Raton.

Oma & Bella is an intimate glimpse into the world of Regina and Bella, two octogenarian friends who live together in Berlin. A delightful documentary by Regina’s granddaughter (Oma, is German for Grandma), Alexa Karolinski, the women’s memories of the Holocaust are never distant as together they lovingly prepare the same fortifying meals they ate as children (and taught themselves to recreate later after each lost their family in the war, by taste alone), and kibbitz over questions of heritage, memory and identity. As the film follows them through their daily lives, a portrait emerges of two elegant women with a touching bond, a spirited sense of humor, vivid stories, a deep fondness for Eastern European cooking… and German soap operas. Wunderbar.

Watching Oma & Bella and subsequently pouring over the film-inspired cookbook, feels like home to me. Recreating these dishes is to make tangible memories of the people I love most in this world. Even just in reading the recipes’ Yiddish titles on each beautifully illustrated page (the talented stylings of Joana Avillez), I remember my childhood; high-holidays at my grandparents’ house, setting the table a thinly veiled excuse to be within reaching proximity of the hors d’oeuvres, to sneak bites of chopped liver and half-sour pickles before the other guests arrived. I mean, how many times have I heard Lenore kvelling over kneidlach?

I long ago lost count.

Through my tears, I fell head over heels for these strong, beautiful, Jewish grandmothers. OK, fine, so I bawled my eyes out and then I made their German Sugar Cookies. I laughed out loud with them at the beauty parlor then tapped off a text to my mom to say I was making their Cheese Blintzes for Hanukkah. I smiled ear to ear when their New Year’s party went off without a hitch and then, for lunch the next day, ate enough chicken noodle soup to just about plotz.

The movie ended and I called Lenore in Florida. She’s up ‘till 1am, you know.

Now, do yourself two favors: Watch the movie & buy the cookbook. They are as inseparable as Oma & Bella themselves.


Mexican Mezcal Threatens Tequila’s Popularity says BBC News: Authentic Mezcal from Los Amantes

November 13th, 2012

image courtesy of BBC News

The first drop of Mezcal was created when a lightning bolt struck a maguey plant—roasting the heart and releasing a clear liquor.  When one particularly brave individual drank the liquor it opened a pathway to the gods.  We feel the same way about our Mezcal, and now Los Amantes brings the most authentic Mezcal ever produced to the United States.

Visitors and locals in the bars of Mexico have been knocking back Tequila shots for years but now that seems to be changing. Will Grant, of the BBC’s Fast Track programme, went to try out another potent drink distilled from roughly the same unlikely source., agave. In the process he savors Mezcal from the Los Amantes mezcaleria and learns why mezcal is Mexico’s next big thing.

Ten years ago Ignacio Carballido and his business partner the famed Mexican painter Guillermo Olguin were lost in the mountains of Oaxaca. The two friends were looking for a Mezcal producer who lived well off the beaten path and was known for producing a liquor that was the most authentic Mezcal in the world. After travelling for days the two friends were ready to give up when they stumbled accidentally on their goal. What they found was a network of closely guarded small batch distillers, families really, who had been creating Mezcal for generations.  Many of the indigenous producers didn’t speak English or Spanish for that matter, so communicating was a challenge and the two men quickly realized that they had uncovered the El Dorado of Mezcal.

It took several years to gain the locals’ trust, but Igancio and Guillermo were able to provide the farmers and distillers with the assistance they needed to get their product on shelves and earn a living. They helped the farmers organize, translating documents necessary to acquire certification since the rural farmers could not read or write, let alone afford certification which came with a hefty tag. Ignacio and Guillermo raised the necessary funds and provided support throughout and now, the two partners have combined their knowledge with recipes and techniques of 3rd generation Mezcal farmers to produce Los Amantes.  By combining traditional secrets with contemporary production, Los Amantes is the most genuine and sophisticated Mezcal ever to reach the outside world.

Available online at Astor Wines.

Watch the BBC story here.

Don’t Be a Monkey, Vote!

October 26th, 2012
With the election right around the corner, U.S. of Awesome has launched their “Don’t Be A Monkey, Vote!” campaign. U.S. of Awesome, founded in 2011, has created a line of All-American soft cotton and blended t-shirts that celebrate Americana and our shared experiences as Americans. “Don’t Be A Monkey, Vote!” is a cheeky and pretty darned adorable video featuring a toddler in a monkey costume wrecking a voting booth. The video, produced by Gotta Kid To Feed Productions, is meant as a non-preachy reminder that one of our most awesome and hard fought rights is our right to vote. As one of our greatest Americans, Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today”.

Don’t Be a Monkey, Vote! Video:

U.S. of Awesome also features some really cool (and oh so comfortable) t-shirts meant to rile everyone up for the elections.

Speaking of Mr. Lincoln, U.S. of Awesome has a whole line dedicated to the president. With two new movies coming out this fall portraying Lincoln as both a leader determined to end slavery and a principled vampire slayer, we are reminded how Abraham Lincoln is still very vital in our cultural and political consciousness. The shirts feature original designs and inspiring quotes by the man who on top of being one of our greatest Presidents was also one of our most inspiring writers.












Now remember, Left wing, right wing, chicken wing… it doesn’t matter how you vote – just exercise your right!

- jennifer


midnight train to georgia

August 21st, 2012

summer, unfortunately, is coming to a close. school, lectures and sweater weather are just over the horizon. i’m usually, like most students, never extremely exuberant to return, but this year i’m even more dreading the unavoidable return. don’t get me wrong, i’ve been away from my friends and family for a while now, and do look forward for things to get back to “normal” and slip back into my normal college life routine. but i mean, come on, i lived in new york city this summer, you can’t blame me for being reluctant to leave this lavish lifestyle i have somehow acquired here.


photo courtesy of tumblr

this summer held a bunch of firsts for me. i lived with my sister, alone, for the first time since high school, we tackled the subway for the first time, and i started my first ever job. not my first “real” job, but my first job ever. this city has so much to offer and so much to teach. i feel like i’m not done here yet. but, alas, i must leave. not only because my lease is up next week or the fact that i have no money to my name and could never rent an apartment on my own. no, for the soul reason, my parents would kill me if i didn’t come home. so, for the fear of what my parents could do, i leave new york this sunday and make my way back to georgia. i’ve always loved new york, but georgia will always be on my mind.

photo courtesy of tumblr