Furthermore from Equinox: My High Holidays Dinner Party
This story originally appeared on Furthermore from Equinox, the official wellness partner of The Related Life.
When Brooklyn-based writer Leah Koenig set out to compose her sixth cookbook on Jewish food, she wanted to strike a balance between the classics (think matzo balls and brisket) and surprising, lesser-known dishes. The result, The Jewish Cookbook, is a tome of more than 400 recipes that represent the diverse Jewish communities around the world.
The High Holidays Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) take place in September and early October, so Koenig shared how she entertains family, friends, and neighbors.
“I love that the High Holidays coincide with the beginning of autumn,” Koenig says. “Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are all about slowing down and setting intentions for the year to come. Somehow, the return of brisker, moodier weather helps set the tone perfectly for the holidays.”
Koenig enjoys crafting a meal to share with guests, as well as the tradition of dipping freshly baked challah into honey to symbolize a sweet new year ahead.
Here, she shares her choices for decor, wine, and food:
“On a trip to Rome many years ago, my husband and I ate stracotto, which is an Italian Jewish take on pot roast. The braising liquid is based on full-bodied red wine and aromatics. I include the recipe in The Jewish Cookbook and consider it a must-serve on Rosh Hashanah. I like to cover the table with colorful salads and mezze-style spreads. One favorite is Moroccan orange and black olive salad. It is refreshing with complex flavors and makes a perfect companion to a rich, meaty dish.”
What we’re drinking
“I love welcoming red wine back to the table after a summer of chilled whites and rosés. Anything deep and robust with bursts of jammy fruit hits the spot. Covenant, a Berkeley-based winemaker, produces some truly spectacular bottles. We recently traded our traditional stemmed wine glasses (which we seemed to break at every dinner) with stemless ones. They are just as beautiful without the inevitable crash somewhere through the meal.”
“I don't focus too much on decor, but I do love fragrant centerpieces. More often than not I forego flowers and scatter the table with jars of fresh herbs —things like rosemary and lavender—that are beautiful, but also lend an extra layer of spice and scent to the meal.”
The guest list
“Too often with holidays, you end up having to choose between celebrating with family or friends. At my dream party, everyone would magically have the plane tickets they needed to be in the same place, and the table would expand enough to include biological family and chosen family.”
What we’re listening to
“My husband's band Sandcatchers plays this mix of Middle Eastern-meets-Americana music. My husband Yoshie plays the oud (a lute-like string instrument) and his bandmate plays the lap steel (kind of like a slide guitar), and the combination is so gorgeous and is perfect for dinner parties.”
Photos: Evan Sung (food); courtesy of Leah Koenig (others)