Going Kosher Grows in Boulder

Going Kosher Grows in Boulder

Boulder community members enjoy at the Kosher Taste of Colorado (photo:Tsivya Weisgrau Frieder)

by Rebecca Rosenthal - BOULDER, CO

September 19, 2006

Smoky sweet pastrami, lamb and pine nuts, couscous spiked with kosher harissa flown in from a Parisian suburb and more filled the air with piquancy atypical of kosher events. But then the Kosher Taste of Colorado hosted by Chabad of Boulder was indeed, an atypical event.

Over 150 Jewish foodies nibbled on a menu of morsels drawn from memory’s kitchen, and recreated, not by the impersonal hand of professional caterers, but by members of Boulder’s diverse community. Bite by bite, to the strains of a jazz and a concert pianist, Coloradans tasted the family memories that flavored the exotic Jewish foods, celebrating continental varieties of kosher cuisine in the course of an evening that, said Chabad of Boulder representative Chany Scheiner, developed a “magical atmosphere.”

“People really connected, felt really good, and just stayed around and schmoozed.”

Sylvain Hayoun, originally of Tunisia and late of Paris, drew on memories of the fish served at his bar mitzvah to complement the couscous he spiced up for the event. Four hours of active cooking – from dredging the fish in flour and frying it, to mincing garlic for sauce and dousing it with vinegar to finish – brought Hayoun back to his childhood when “every occasion was a way to create community around food,” he said, and Friday turned into Shabbat when spicy scents wafted from his mother’s kitchen.

Hayoun, a vice president of business development at Income Properties Specialists, joggled kitchen space with Rick Ackerman, a stock options and commodities trader. “It was the most amazing controlled pandemonium,” said Ackerman. With memories of his Egyptian grandmother’s lachma b’ajeen fine tuned from printed recipes, Ackerman brought out unexpectedly savory flavors from the lamb that was special ordered from Denver, some 30 miles away.

Fresh kosher meat is uncommon in Boulder. Chabad runs a kosher market out of the JCC. Scheiner has seen the customer base of 300 grow as “the kosher trend becomes more popular over the years.” Kosher restaurants in Boulder are as rare as heat waves in Rockies, so Mike Stutzer, a professor of finance at University of Colorado, said the novelty of choosing between hand-cut deli, succulent brisket, and Hayoun and Ackerman’s middle eastern specialties was “a big simcha,” using the Hebrew term for a joyous occasion but not a snooty one. “It wasn’t an event where you sip wine from snifters,” said Stutzer. “It’s not that kind of crowd.”

Judge Murray Richtel dug into potato kugel and knishes from the American Deli table, sipped Emerald Riesling, and really got a kick out of seeing the Chabad rabbis and their families. “Boulder is an extremely liberal community” where Jews blend in, so seeing young families, wearing their Judaism on their sleeves and on their hemlines made for “a very fun evening.”

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