Kosherfest Thoughts

The best way to describe Kosherfest is that it is an all day Kiddush for someone celebrating an event who has a very diverse family. Chassidim mixed with Asians, completely secular Jews and a whole bunch of slick looking Israelis harking their olive oil and wines filled this huge convention center in what could only be described as a free food fress fest.

I was planning on going to Kosherfest for quite some time, even though I was supposed to move south during the time it was to be held. Then I thought of an idea, why not try and get press passes as a blogger- which I promptly did. Then what happened next was what may be called divine intervention, my friends brother needed someone to go to kosherfest and give out samples of their iced coffee drink that they were marketing there. It was too late when they decided to do this to get a booth, so I wouldn’t be stuck behind some folding table covered in white tablecloth all day.

So not only did I get to attend Kosherfest for free, I got to take part in the event and I got paid $300 cash. Now that is what I’m talking about. I had a ball and amidst all the action I met a bunch of fans and some people whom I knew from various places.

Kosherfest is not just a simple Kiddush, it doesn’t even carry the minor complications of a two fork Kiddush that has both meat and fish – if it was that life would have been way simpler. But the fact of the matter is that it is quite important to strategize your eating at the kosherfest.

The number one problem for folks is when to switch from milk and parve to fleishigs – because for some folks who mistakenly eat meat early – they end up spitting out a half eaten piece of cheese when they realize their very serious mistake. I went into the event knowing beforehand that I wouldn’t eat any meat until at earliest 1pm.

When you walk around an event such as Kosherfest you end up seeing something new every time you turn down an aisle, it doesn’t matter how many times I passed certain stands\, suddenly there was a table of different pesto sauces and crackers which I could have sworn I passed numerous times. Then there was a table of butter cake I just never thought of going to.

My plan of attack was that there was no plan. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning and so I was on empty and ready to fill er’ up. I think I started with these delicate mushrooms from Italy with some sun dried tomato pesto on cracked wheat crackers. Then I had some bread dipped in this olive oil – the best plan is to find bread and wash hamotzy before going in for the attack – the bread in oil made me known to another issue at Kosherfest. What happens when you taste something you don’t like, I hate embarrassing people by spitting it out in front of them, so I would spit it into a napkin and throw it out somewhere else. I noticed several people doing this as well.

Some of the booths were regular affairs and some of them were super sexy with all sorts of designs and very appetizing displays. Koppers makes hundreds of different chocolate balls in a bunch of cool flavors, just seeing their stand made me think of the song “suck on my chocolate salty balls” of Southpark fame. The heimishe food booths were the funniest, because everything was pretty professional which I am not used to seeing when it comes to Chassidim, not in a bad way, I kind of like their non-corporate chilled out attitudes. Seeing Chassidic men interacting with “untznius” or “frei” women was something to see because it was all very cordial. Watching when fellow Chassidim came to the booths was also interesting because Kosherfest brings out Chassidic hockers in full force clad in their black coats with blue tooths sticking out of their ears and their blackberries pointing the way to the next food stand.

I was walking past the Pas stand which I had posted a picture of the Pas truck a little while back and the guy stopped me to thank me for my post. I didn’t even notice the Pas stand. He was making hot dogs and talking with some guy about pas yisroel buns and She Stadium.

One of the biggest problems with Kosherfest is a lack of readily available drinks, don’t get me wrong if you know where to go you can find whatever sugar filled Israeli juice nectar you want and if you want to get hammered you can have your pick of wines, slivovitz and speyside single malt Scotch- but when your coming off of eating some baklava or halvah which demand a drink right afterward to prevent cotton mouth its not the easiest thing to find. I of course mapped it out so I could always find the Prigat stand, the dread locked dude serving knew me by the end of the day as Red Grapefruit guy, I think depleted their stock. I would have preferred water but there was one water cooler in the middle of the hall.

If you want to get drunk it is very easy, I got a little tipsy because I had to try some of the wines, I was also forced into a L’Chaim at the slivovitz stand with the guy screaming at me in a heavy accent that I wasn’t a man for drinking a sip and putting it down, I remember slivovitz as being a little stronger then it felt going down my gullet.

The hottest girl at any booth award goes to the brown haired girl at the Kedem table, whew she was smoking and I saw some old folks hitting on her. There were a whole bunch of hotties, I was pretty impressed with the amount of womenage (I made that word up) there were some hot Channis and there were loads of good looking women and girls, most of them standing at booths beckoning the multitudes of men at the event to come over for a closer look. I mean who the hell wants sugar free jelly and wheat crackers, but when you have this super smoking girl serving it, then why the heck not? Great marketing on the companies part, and it was also a sanctioned time for flirtation. For instance at the booth I was keeping my stuff at there were two mildly cute frummy girls who had loads of visitors of the black coat variety doing a little yiddisher flirtation, it was very entertaining.

The Jewish Geography aspect of Kosherfest is great. “I know your face” or “Where have I seen you before?” were the most common phrases to begin a series of questions that would bring these two seemingly random people in touch through some wedding they met at in Lakewood 6 months ago.

I did get a chance to film a bunch of videos myself, but then Stephen Leavitt of Web Ads Israel found me and asked if I could do some interviews and general rants so he could post them on his site, Kosher Cooking Carnival, since he was kind of responsible for sending my to Israel for free I had to oblige. We ran around interviewing a bunch of people including the Australian tea guys, Shannon Road parve ice cream that has got to be the best non-dairy ice cream I have ever had, the fish folks from dagim with their Mexican guy dressed as a fisherman, I felt bad for him.

As with any Jewish event, I enjoyed most the people who came up to me because they knew who I was. The owner of Chai Pizza said he loved my video where I rant about Tempura Sushi and Chai Pizza in Monsey. A photographer for Vos Iz Neias came up to me and said he wanted to get some shots, I doubt I will get in. This other guy from Lakewood came up to me and we had a good chat about the shidduch crisis and me being his wingman for singles shabbatons, its kind of hard to find people who actually want to attend a shabbaton, I usually go alone.

I broke my milchigs (kind of like breaking a fast) at the Mikey Sauce table, this funny guy was the chef and he was making all sorts of meatballs and brisket, I had my share and moved on to other tables. I didn’t eat much cheese and to tell you the truth, the meat offerings weren’t that great. In fact I was expecting a little more from the festival, its more of a trade show then a Kiddush, although I did get a bag of goodies including a large helping of Elk Jerky, a bunch of Must gum, some butter cookies, and some fancy nougat – what on earth is nougat anyway?

One of the things I would have liked to see more of, was full on food instead of pickles and dips. For instance they had a lot of full on food but it was frozen or microwavable food that was cooked to show you the goodness of the taste- to me it was an affront because I came to Kosherfest to try exotic crazy foods, I understand it’s a trade show so what can I say, but I wish they had better stuff.

Check out the other videos taken of me at Kosher Fest