Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kosher with a Kick (and friends!)

If you're a food and wine person in Boston and you're on Twitter (or follow any other foodie communication source), chances are you've heard about The Urban Grape in Chestnut Hill.  They've only been open 12 weeks, but they have definitely made their presence known in the community.

My first trip to The Urban Grape was back in July for a Budget-Friendly tasting hosted by Michelle over at The Economical Eater. It was a great introduction to the shop. TJ (the owner) and his staff not only poured great tasting wines, but also taught us a lot! From different grapes to the different regions to the weight of each wine, I felt like I took a crash course in Wine 101 when I left.

I've been trying new roses for the last year, and I asked staffer Kate for some suggestions on new-to-me bottles (or boxes) to try.  I picked up some budget friendly roses, a kicking riesling, and headed home with my purchases.

A few weeks later, another favorite blogger of mine Robin (from Doves and Figs), sent out a note that she was hosting a Jewish holiday themed tasting at The Urban Grape: Kosher with a Kick. I'm pretty sure I signed up the same night. Since the hubby is not a wine drinker, I invited our friend Avi to join in the kosher wine fun!

I'd been corresponding online with TJ and Hadley (the lovely, enthusiastic owners) and was excited to get back to the shop for some more learning and wine.  What really kicked the evening up a notch (sorry...) was that The Fireplace provided delicious food pairings for each wine we tasted.  If you haven't been to The Fireplace, you are missing out. Every meal starts with fresh, warm bread. And of course everything they serve after that is also fresh, mostly local, and delicious. Now on to the tasting...

First up, a sparkling wine paired with artisanal New England cheeses, figs, and homemade garlic crackers. I'm pretty sure that Manischewitz doesn't make a kosher sparkler. This was a little sweet, but not Manischewitz sweet. TJ gave us some great information on how kosher wines are prepared and Robin shared some stories of her holiday traditions. She also gave great tips on holiday decorations, since Martha doesn't really have a Jewish New Year decorating guide. You can see her vases of apples in the photo below.

Next up, was a white wine paired with a delicious "gourmet potato chip" topped with smoked salmon. There was more food than people, and I wouldn't turn down a second bite of something so delicious. This wine was  smooth and paired great with the salty chip and salmon. I think Avi liked it too!

While I was snapping photos, we made some new friends who were also enjoying the salmon. We started chatting with Jordan and Noah and found out that they were new to the area and fellow food lovers! Before the night was over we had made plans for a brunch involving smoked salmon and a challenge for me to find a way to serve brisket as part of breakfast (I think I've got an idea...).

The next two wines were paired with two different tarts. The wine served with the first was my favorite of the night - a kosher pinot noir from Italy. Not only was it delicious, it also had a fabulous label. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you that if it has a spiral design I will buy it!  The second tart served was unbelievable. And as we all agreed, it was the foraged mushrooms that put it over the top. Buttery crust, gruyere, and foraged mushrooms. I think you would describe this as having umami. Savory, rich, umami.

Before we finished up with the dessert course, TJ took some more time to explain what makes a kosher wine kosher and why traditional kosher wines were never that great. In the past, they would bring the wine to a boil and almost pasteurize it, changing the flavor (almost a cooked flavor).  These are considered mevushal wines, meaning that anyone (Jewish or not) can uncork and pour the wine and it still remains kosher. I actually had never heard about this (we always had Manischevitz at our family meals). There are many articles online if you search, this post would be very long if I tried to summarize all the details.  The Urban Grape stocks a lot of kosher selections, and more coming in every day. There are kosher wines from all over the world - and as TJ put it, they are great wines that happen to be kosher. But they do have concord grape in the back if you have a craving for something sweet.

I was intrigued by the dessert pairing - a 10 year single malt kosher scotch with Taza chocolate cake with caramel and whipped cream. I've never really tried scotch, so my take will be very different from an experienced scotch drinker. The first sip made me do a 'wow, that's strong' head shake and scrunched face.

Then, the smokiness hit me. It was like I was standing downwind from a campfire. I gave it a few more sips, but it was just too smoky for me. But the cake was to die for. I love Taza and this cake showed off its unique stone ground deliciousness. Sorry for the bite missing in the photo, I couldn't help myself.

Taza Chocolate Cake and Kosher Scotch

What a wonderful evening! It was great to see Robin and her husband Mark, meet Noah and Jordan, and finally meet Hadley in person! It's always nice to have a face to put with the tweets. I took home refills of the two roses I bought on my first visit plus a bottle of the kosher pinot noir. It's going to be a treat for our Rosh Hashanah dinner on Wednesday night.

Thanks to Robin, The Fireplace, and TJ and Hadley for hosting a fabulous night!

Me, Hadley, and Robin


  1. Yay! I love KungFu Girl! I think it's great paired with strawberries...

  2. Thanks for the tip Kathy! I will have to try that!

  3. What was the name of the sparkling kosher? Was it dry or a little sweet?

    I vote for brisket hash...with leftovers coming to work! @renh77

  4. Brisket hash!

    And I love Kung Fu Girl Riesling!

    Sounds like a really fun event.

  5. It looks like such a fun evening! I was sad to miss it!

  6. What a fun event, I'm so jealous and wish I could have gone!

    btw have you tried the Kung Fu Girl riesling yet? Good stuff.


I love your comments! Let me know what you think!


Related Posts with Thumbnails