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Recap: Passover Seder with Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kossoff Gray

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Yes, this recap a bit late, but I keep thinking about this fabulous meal, so I decided I simply must tell you about it.

Last month, I found myself attending a Passover Seder with a close friend of mine. The event was to celebrate the publication of the new cookbook The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes by Chef Todd Gray and his wife Ellen Kossoff Gray.

Neither of us had ever attended a Seder before, so we spent the better part of the afternoon texting one other questions neither of us had the answer to. “What kind of food do you think is served at a Seder?” “What are you supposed to wear to a Seder?”

We walked into Equinox restaurant and were led to a private room that was tastefully decorated with several tables decked out with candles and accoutrements for the ceremony. We made our way to our table, which was marked by Matzo bread placeholders baked with Cori Sue’s name (just call me Backup Bitch).

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The waitress offered us a choice of red or white Israeli wine provided by Israeli Wine Direct. The Seder began shortly after our glasses were filled with the crisp, delicious Midbar Southern White 2010 wine. To help us newbies follow along with the ceremony we were provided with a guide book that was written in both English and Hebrew and was read from right to left.

The ceremony was interactive, and we were put to work lighting candles, toasting and drinking wine (this is definitely a ceremony I can get behind), speaking—or butchering if you’re me—Hebrew, and cleansing our hands. When the ceremony was finished waiters began dishing out the food. While I didn’t understand the ceremony completely, there is one thing I am certain of: The food was phenomenal.

The first course that was placed before us was a beet salad that was perfectly prepared. The beets were crisp but soft enough to cut with the fork, and the dressing that covered them had a nice tangy flavor. It was a nice way to begin the meal.

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The course that followed was made up of a brisket fillet with a thin potato base underneath and a spoonful of steamed spinach. The dish was to die for, and had I not been in a room full of strangers I probably would have licked my plate clean.

The piece de resistance was the dessert that rounded out the meal: a flourless (this is Passover) chocolate cake with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was so delicious I barely got a chance to take a picture. It was moist, rich, and chocolatey. Basically everything I look for in a dessert.

While we walked into the Seder knowing absolutely no one and little about the experience, Todd and Ellen made us feel as if were an extension to their own family. They made us laugh, guided us through the Seder, and for a few hours let us take a peek inside the Jewish culture, something we knew very little about.

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While I’m not a very good cook, the dishes were so phenomenal I would definitely give cooking these recipes a shot. The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes is available for purchase now. You can order the cookbook online, or pop into Equinox where the chef himself will sign your copy for you!

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