Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

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

Thursday, 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.


christmas: the most wonderful time of the year

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

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“it’s the most wonderful time of the year
with the kids jingle belling
and everyone telling you “be of good cheer”
it’s the most wonderful time of the year
it’s  the hap-happiest season of all”
~andy williams

christmas is definitely one of my favorite holidays. just something about it is completely magical, and everyone around you is in good cheer. it’s as if fairies stopped by and sprinkled enchanted pixie dust across the town, making all things seem a little rosier, cozier, and simply just delightful.  even in new york, when things are bustling and hustling most of the time, things seem to slow down. people stroll the streets enjoying the city’s night skyline or slowly peruse through outdoor farmer’s markets in union square, stopping to, literally, smell the roses, lovely inspiring scented-candles, and perhaps the occasional whiff of hot chocolate brewing in a nearby stand.

one of the things i love to do during the holiday season is to go to a nearby cafe or bakery and sit by the window with a toasty latte in my hands and people watch. the perfect place to do this? bryant park. located between 40th and 42nd streets & fifth and sixth avenues, bryant park is an amazing place to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee, do some last minute holiday shopping at one of over 100 cute boutiques and gift shops, or even ice skate (for free!). there’s also plenty of benches and places to sit and take in the oasis-like winter wonderland curiously situated in the middle of a large and busy city. where will you be enjoying the holidays?


vosges chocolates: what’s haut for valentine’s day

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

valentines day and chocolate go together like well, valentine’s day and chocolate. no company has quite mastered valentine’s day chocolate like vosges haut chocolate. decadent and luscious, these chocolates are a far-cry from your saran-wrapped drugstore chocolates. Here are our favorite gifts for your valentine:

1. luxe sweet coquette truffle collection

for your own aphrodite: using ingredients such as chinese star anise, ancho chillies and mamajuana, these luxurious chocolates are bound to seduce you and your loved one.  enclosed in a limited edition, keepsake victorian box these aphrodisiac truffles are the perfect touch for a sensual night.

2. flaming hearts of love

for the foodie: these hearts are a perfect gift for the adventurous chocolate lover. each bite fills the palate with enchanting and contrasting flavors, meant to heighten passion and desire. try the smoked almond and sea salt barcelona, the captivating cherry rooibos or the smoldering red fire made from ancho and chipotle chillies and ceylon cinnamon.

3. love goddess chocolate cake mix

for the baker in your life: you’ll want to skip dessert at the restaurant and head straight to the kitchen with vosges’ love goddess chocolate cake mix. devilishly dark and moist, this cake will leave you pining for more.

4. bacon and chocolate gift box

everything is better with bacon. for the guy in your life: a bacon lover’s paradise. this gift box contains vosges’ famous mo’s bacon bar, mo’s bacon chocolate chip pancake mix, bacon caramel toffee and flying chocolate pigs with, you guessed it, bacon.

5. travel the world through chocolate steamer trunk

two words: chocolate nirvana. for the ultimate chocolate lover this vintage, handpicked steamer trunk is filled with the entire ethereal vosges haut chocolate line as well as notes from owner katrina and a map to aid you in your confectionery expedition.


find some real peace

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

image courtesy of new york magazine

let me start by saying i love the holidays. and i love being in new york for most of the holidays. but as if just living in a place like new york city doesn’t make one want to get out for a couple days every once in a while, it becomes almost necessary to disappear for at least just a weekend when the inevitable added holiday stresses (that, admit it, we all love to hate) are thrown into the mix.

so where does one go for just a day or two without breaking the bank? i’m hoping to check out the mohonk preserve (pictured), which apparently is new york’s largest non~profit nature preserve.  depending on the season there are various activities, but really i’d just like to meander around and perhaps go sit in that gazebo?

if you’re interested in looking into other great new york city winter weekend trips, check out this new york time’s article “winter weekends: 12 easy getaways.”  mohonk preserve is just one of the places featured here, so you’re bound to find something that sparks your interest and hopefully will rejuvenate your senses.